Exclusive: Kathryn Leigh Scott Talks Dark Shadows, Dark Passages, and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Kathryn Leigh Scott Talks Dark Shadows, Dark Passages, and More!

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For this writer one of the highlights of this past July’s San Diego Comic-Con was the chance to sit in on the “Dark Shadows” panel, which included actress turned author Kathryn Leigh Scott, whose first fiction novel, Dark Passages, was recently released by Pomegranate Press. To coincide with the release, Dread Central interviewed Ms. Scott about not only her new book but also the time she spent working both on the “Dark Shadows” TV series and in the Playboy Club during its heyday. We also managed to garner a tiny bit more info on what’s in store for fans of “Dark Shadows” in the upcoming Tim Burton film adaptation.

Kathryn Leigh Scott

Dread Central: “Dark Shadows” began airing 45 years ago, and now all these years later there’s a major motion picture based on the series on its way. How do you account for its continuing appeal to so many generations?

Kathryn Leigh Scott: I think its appeal lies in the chemistry among the actors who originated the roles, the plots based on stories from classic literature, and the sheer inventiveness of the series. It was so ahead of its time, and now it’s become a classic.

DC: Can you recall a time over the last 45 years when it wasn’t as popular, and if so, what do you think caused that decline?

KLS: There’s never been a time when the show was not popular, largely because it remained on the air in reruns and then was available on VHS and DVD. Also, the continued interest in “Dark Shadows” has much to do with the response of the fans to our annual festivals and to all the books the various “Dark Shadows” actors have written about the show. We’ve really supported the series. As a result, we now see a fourth generation of new fans!

DC: Any regrets about leaving the show when you did, especially since it ended just a few months later?

KLS: No regrets. It was time to move on, and even Dan Curtis wanted to try his hand at new projects … and there’s no truth to the rumor that the show went off the air because I left!

DC: You played, if I counted them right, five different characters on the show: present day governess Maggie Evans, Josette DuPres (Barnabas’ lover circa 1795), governess Rachel Drummond (circa 1897), Kitty Soames (aka Lady Hampshire, also circa 1897), and Maggie Collins (Quentin’s wife in parallel time 1970). Was that at all confusing for you? I know I’m confused just writing about the roles! What methods did you use to differentiate each one?

KLS: The roles were all so entirely different, and the time periods alone helped keep the characters very individual. I was invested in each one and appreciated the challenge of defining and developing more than one character on the show. What a gift for a young actor! The confusing part was in keeping the storylines straight! To this day, the fans watching the reruns seem to have a better grasp of the plots.

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jonathan Frid in Dark Shadows

DC: Getting off the horror track for a second, the rights to your book The Bunny Years, a firsthand account and recollections of the time you spent working in the New York City Playboy Club before joining the cast of “Dark Shadows”, have been acquired by Imagine Television as a potential source of episodes for the upcoming new NBC TV show “The Playboy Club”. Besides the obvious influence of the phenomenal success of “Mad Men”, what do you think is the reason for the public’s ongoing fascination with the 1960’s?

KLS: It was a time of explosive change in our society, especially for women … a time of redefining the roles and relationships of the sexes, particularly in the workplace, which is really what The Bunny Years is about. Bunnies, stewardesses, and secretaries are all very much a part of that 60’s story. It was also a time of glamour, sophistication, and romance … as soon as cigars, martinis, banquette seating, and smart cocktail dresses came back into vogue, I knew we were in the midst of rediscovering the era.

DC: What about how women’s roles have changes since the 1960’s? Are you ever nostalgic for those days, or do you feel much better off now?

KLS: Women’s Lib was about equal opportunity and equal pay in the workplace, and we have come a long way. There’s greater respect for everyone’s rights, and I think we’re all better off. I also have great nostalgia for that period and don’t necessarily think the changing roles of men and women robbed us of what was wonderful about that time. There is a coarsening of our culture, and I think many other factors are to blame for that.

DC: Aside from The Bunny Years, you’ve primarily written non-fiction books regarding your time on “Dark Shadows” such as My Scrapbook: Memories of Dark Shadows, The Dark Shadows Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection, and The Dark Shadows Almanac: Millennium Edition for Pomegranate Press, the publishing company you launched in 1986. What made you decide to try your hand at fiction after all these years?

KLS: I’ve always wanted to write fiction, but it’s harder to sell than nonfiction, where subject matter is the key. Also, it’s taken me a while to develop the skills to write fiction. I think it was a “now or never” proposition, and I just dived in. I also had stories I wanted to tell and could only do so with fiction.

DC: There’s been a huge resurgence in popularity for vampire-themed movie and TV projects that started out as books such as Twilight, “True Blood”, and “The Vampire Diaries”. What do you think sets your new book, Dark Passages, apart from the rest of the pack?

KLS: I didn’t start out to write a paranormal novel with a vampire theme. I wrote the entire book as a coming-of-age story set in the early 60’s. When I finished it, I suddenly thought, “What if?” and then completely rewrote the book. So Meg Harrison in Dark Passages was a fully defined character with a complete story before I added the vampire dimension and gave her the added challenge of living as an “other” among mortals, some of whom are even family members.

DC: What else can you tell us about Dark Passages (review here) that you think both your followers and fans of “Dark Shadows” will find interesting? How much of it is autobiographical?

KLS: Even one of my brothers wondered why I didn’t call Dark Passages a memoir … and the answer is: None of it is true! Only the setting is drawn from real life and my knowledge of that time and place. Readers of my nonfiction books about “Dark Shadows” and the Playboy Club know what really happened … Dark Passages is about what could have happened.

Kathryn Leigh Scott's Dark Passages

DC: Checking IMDB, it appears your last acting project was Parasomnia – as a fan of both you and horror films, I was glad to see you return to the genre. Aside from your cameo in Tim Burton’s upcoming Dark Shadows (which we’ll get to next), any other acting projects on the horizon? And are you yourself a horror fan? If so, what horror films are among your favorites?

KLS: Parasomnia was fun because the director actually named the nurse I played “Margaret Evans, RN” because he was a fan of “Dark Shadows”. I enjoy some horror classics but not the current blood and guts movies. I need a good story that’s character driven.

DC: Now, about that cameo. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to attend the “Dark Shadows” panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and learn that you, Lara Parker, David Selby, and the great Jonathan Frid were all flown to Pinewood Studios in England to participate in the film. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

KLS: We’ve not only been sworn to secrecy, we had to sign confidentiality agreements! I can only tell you that it was a joy for all of us to be so wonderfully transported into this new era of “Dark Shadows” … and this sort of homage and inclusiveness is rare! Johnny [Depp], Tim [Burton], Helena [Bonham Carter], Michelle [Pfeiffer], and everyone else on the set of the new Warner Bros. film made us feel so welcome and honored. And they are making a darn good movie!


Our thanks to Kathryn Leigh Scott for her time and to her publicist Darlene Chan for facilitating the interview. To stay up-to-date on what Ms. Scott has going on, be sure to visit her official site KathrynLeighScott.com.

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A Demon Within Emerges With Eye Candy

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We just scored you cats a fresh batch of stills from A Demon Within, which you’ll be able to dig on once it hits select theaters and VOD on January 12, 2018, via Blue Fox Entertainment. As we mentioned in our last article debuting the trailer, Blue Fox holds the worldwide rights and is currently selling the film internationally.

Charlene Amoia, Julia Larsen, Clint Hummel, Jeremy Miller, Patricia Ashley, Michael Ehlers, and Cole Crawford star in the film from directors Ayush Banker and Justin LaReau.

Synopsis:
In 1914 Crestwick, a demonic spirit named Nefas surfaced to prey on a family, which ended with the death of an innocent young girl. The mysterious events haunted the Midwestern community for years. Now, decades later, a skeptical doctor must stop history from repeating itself by confronting his personal demons and fighting to save the life of a teenage girl who has become possessed in his family’s old house.

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Annihilation – New Trailer and First Stills!

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We’ve been talking about Alex Garland’s new film, Annihilation, for a couple of years now, and finally Paramount has released some eye candy for you to digest in the form of a brand new trailer and several stills! Dig in!

Based upon Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, and Gina Rodriguez.

Look for it in theaters on February 23, 2018.

Synopsis:
A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

Left to right: Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Annihilation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Natalie Portman plays Lena in Annihilation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

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Desolation Review: Campers + Lunatic = Simplicity, But Not Always a Better Product

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DesolationStarring Jaimi Page, Alyshia Ochse, Toby Nichols

Directed by Sam Patton


I’m usually all in when it comes to a psycho in the woods flick, but there was just something about Sam Patton’s Desolation that seemed a bit distant for me…distance…desolation – I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere. Either that or I’m suffering from a minor case of sleep-deprivation. Either way, make sure you’ve got your backpack stuffed, cause we’re hitting the timber-lands for this one.

The film focuses on mother and son tandem Abby and Sam, and the tragic notion that Abby’s love and father to her son, has passed away. The absence has been a crippling one, and Abby’s idea of closure is to take her adolescent offspring to the woods where her husband used to love to run and scatter his ashes as a memorial tribute. Abby invites her best friend Jenn along as emotional support, and together all three are planning on making this trip a fitting and dedicatory experience…until the mystery man shows up. Looking like a member of the Ted Kaczynski clan (The Unabomber himself), this creepy fellow seems content to simply watch the threesome, and when he ultimately decides to close the distance, it’ll be a jaunt in the forest that this close-knit group will never forget.

So there you have it – doesn’t beg a long, descriptive, bled-out dissertation – Patton tosses all of his cards on the table in plain view for the audience to scan at their leisure. While the tension is palpable at times, it’s the equivalent of watching someone stumble towards the edge of a cliff, and NEVER tumble over…for a long time – you literally watch them do the drunken two-step near the lip for what seems like an eternity. What I’m getting at is that the movie has the bells and whistles to give white-knucklers something to get amped about, yet it never all seems to come into complete focus, or allow itself to spread out in such a way that you can feel satisfied after the credits roll. If I may harp on the performance-aspect for a few, it basically broke down this way for me: both Abby and Jenn’s characters were well-displayed, making you feel as if you really were watching long-time besties at play. Sam’s character was a bit tough to swallow, as he was the sadder-than-sad kid due to his father’s absence, but JEEZ this kid was a friggin malcontented little jerk – all I can say is “role well-played, young man.”

As we get to our leading transient, kook, outsider – whatever you want to call him: he simply shaved down into a hum-drum personality – no sizzle here, folks. Truly a disappointment for someone who was hoping for an enigmatic nutbag to terrorize our not-so-merry band of backpackers – oh well, Santa isn’t always listening, I guess. Simplicity has its place and time when displaying the picture-perfect lunatic, and before everyone gets a wild hair across their ass because of what I’m saying, all this is was the wish to have THIS PARTICULAR psycho be a bit more colorful – I can still appreciate face-biters like Hannibal Lecter and those of the restrained lunacy set. Overall, Desolation is one of those films that had all the pieces meticulously set in place, like a house of cards…until that drunk friend stumbled into the table, sending everything crumbling down. A one-timer if you can’t find anything else readily available to watch.

  • Film
2.5

Summary

Looking for a little direction way out in the woods? Look elsewhere, because this guide doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.

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