TV Terror Guide: Dan Curtis' Frankenstein (1973)
Air Date: Jan. 16, 1973 (ABC Wide World of Mystery)
Production Companies: Dan Curtis Productions
Running Time: 125 min.
Available on: DVD (Dark Sky Films)
Written by: Sam Hall and Dan Curtis
From the novel by Mary Shelley
Directed by: Glenn Jordan
Cast: Robert Foxworth, Susan Strasberg, Bo Svenson, Heidi Vaughn, Philip Bourneuf, Robert Gentry, Jon Lormer, William Hansen, John Karlen, George Morgan, Brian Avery, Willy Aames
As a special treat this week, I present an excerpt from a feature I wrote for the upcoming We Belong Dead publication, Masters of Terror. In it, I discuss the influence of gothic literature on Dan Curtis and how it was reflected in a number of 1970s TV horror films that he produced, as well as the daytime series, Dark Shadows (1966-1971), which he created. Please enjoy this sneak peek, and keep your eyes and ears open for information about purchasing the book...
With the exception of Dracula, all of Dan Curtis’s gothic horrors were shot on videotape. With 1970s technology, this sometimes cheapened the look of the production. With its elaborate laboratory sets and special effects, Frankenstein suffers the most. More often than not, it looks more like a daytime soap opera than a television movie. Then, when the action switches from inside to outside, the difference between artificial and natural lighting is stark. However, none of this lessens the story, which, with a few exceptions, is about as faithful to Mary Shelley’s original novel than any adaptation up to this point.
Dark Shadows featured a variation of the Frankenstein story as part of its Adam & Eve plot, which aired over the course of 169 episodes (466-636) between April 8 and December 2 of 1968. Dr. Eric Lang (Addison Powell) discovered that Barnabas Collins was a vampire and devised a way to cure him by transferring his life force into the man he assembled from parts of dead bodies. Although Lang died in episode 546, a victim of the evil temptress, Angelique (Lara Parker), his creation, Adam (Robert Rodan), lived on for almost 100 more episodes and eventually demanded a mate. If Barnabas and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Greyson Hall) didn’t comply within four weeks, he would kill everyone at Collinwood. Eve (Marie Wallace) is brought to life in episode 595, but is killed in episode 626. Although Barnabas ultimately shoots Adam, he survives his injuries and Professor Stokes (Thayer David) helps him escape.