The Tarrytown Diaries of Professor Stokes



Haunted Tree

Roger asked Diana, Lara, and Terry about their memories of making the movies. “I remember my one line as the nurse, ‘Here is the blood, doctor,’” Terry recalled. Diana mentioned that something frightening had happened to her when she was staying the night in the tower room. She didn’t give away too many details, but said that the story would be included in an anthology that Craig Hamrick is soon to release.  Lara recalled doing her own stunts for the hanging sequence. “They put a harness around my waist and told me to jump off the platform and start kicking. I had to twist my head a little so that it looked like my neck was broken.” There was also a disagreement between Lara and Roger over what time of the year the movie had been filmed. Lara distinctly remembered the trees being in blossom, but Roger claimed that there were dead leaves on the ground. (He wasn’t in Night of Dark Shadows, so I’m not sure how he would know this.) Lara also mentioned that this was her first time visiting Lyndhurst since making the movie. “My taxi driver said to me,‘Wow, you must be so excited!’ I don’t know. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Are you excited?” she asked Diana and Terry. “Oh, yes,” they insisted. “Very excited!” The actresses also talked about how they had gotten involved in the film. “When Dan made the first movie, he left me back at the studio to hold down the fort,” Lara explained, “but he promised that when he made the second movie, I could star in it. Well, he eventually decided that it would be better to let the film star David Selby and Kate Jackson. That young couple hadn’t been a part of the original vision.”

Lara Parker, Terry Crawford & Diana Millay

Lara Parker, Terry Crawford & Diana Millay

Diana mentioned that Dan Curtis had convinced her to be in the movie because of a great scene he had written for her and Charles in the tower. Unfortunately, that fabulous scene was one that ended on the cutting room floor, and Diana didn’t seem too happy about it. Both she and Lara had worked in the tower room and they agreed that it had been difficult because the area was so cramped. "Quentin and Angelique had a love scene, and we practically had the cameramen breathing down our necks. Dan Curtis, the crew, the lights and cameras were all in the room with us," Lara remembered. Another difficult scene was for Diana in the poolhouse. "Quentin was supposed to drown Tracy and flash back to Charles drowning Laura. So Dan wanted me to get in the water, but there were sparking wires all around the pool. I had a young son at home. I wasn’t going to risk my life for a movie, and I told him no. Then, Kate Jackson jumped right in and started swimming around the pool. She even dived underwater and stayed there until she almost ran out of air. Dan expected me to dive in too, but I wouldn’t do it. Finally, they brought me back to the studio and filmed me in a tub while somebody poured water over my head. It looked ridiculous, and most of it ended up being cut anyway." Somebody asked if the ladies had understood the film’s ending. Neither did. "It’s whatever you imagine happened, how you would want the film to end," Diana said. Another person inquired whether the scenes of Angelique’s corpse dangling from the tree had really been Lara Parker or a dummy. "I think it was me," she said. A similar question came up regarding Carlotta and whether Grayson Hall had had a stunt double jump from the tower. The actresses believed that a dummy had simply been tossed off the roof. Lara also remembered how Kate Jackson would warm-up for rehearsal by "cursing like a sailor." It was part of a new acting technique that she was studying that was meant to help her loosen up and feel more comfortable in her roles. Needless to say, the tactic left her co-stars disconcerted. Lara thought that Kate had been working under Sandy Meisner’s guidance at the time. Terry and Diana also remembered this particular coach. "He was like a Svengali," Terry said. "He held me after class one day and told me, ‘You have potential. You can be a great actress."  He then began to outline the course she would have to follow under his direction, but his controlling demeanor put her off.   "I never went back." Diana had gone through the same thing. "He told me, ‘I shall create a new identity for you. You will not be yourself anymore, but you will be my own creation, somebody completely different. What do you think of that?’ I said, ‘I think I want my mother.’"