Picks and Pans Review: The Dark Angel
In this febrile Victorian thriller, Beatie (Highlander) Edney plays a young heiress who misplaces her trust in a villainous uncle (Peter O'Toole).
It's a gothic trove: family skeletons, innocence deceived, musty manor house, ragged ruffians, ghostly apparitions, banging shutters, stormy nights and lugubrious cello music. Unlike NBC's vampire fogfest, Dark Shadows, this movie earns its air of menace and mystery. And that's quite an accomplishment because, like most foreign TV shows, this British production uses much more natural light than we are accustomed to and thus looks, well, pale and unnatural. Director Peter Hammond, however, creates striking visuals through imaginative camera angles and numerous reflected images.
There are wonderful performances by O'Toole, the very worm-eaten soul of decadence as the uncle, by Alan (A Very British Coup) MacNaughtan as the girl's imperious father and by Jane (Piaf) Lapotaire as her sinister, sadistic governess.
Be sure to catch Mystery! host Diana Rigg's introduction. The story of Sheridan Le Fanu, who wrote the 1864 book Uncle Silas, on which this film is based, is truly macabre.