Cryptic Collectibles

Cryptic Collectibles: A Look at STRANGE PARADISE Memorabilia!

on May 14, 2012 | 6 Comments

In addition to my Dark Shadows coverage for this month’s issue of Rue Morgue, I was fortunate enough to be able to write a piece on the obscure Canadian TV series Strange Paradise - a program which was actually created to take advantage of the success of the monster-filled DS. A fantastically offbeat show featuring supernatural elements like voodoo, reincarnation, witchcraft and demonic possession, it ran here in Canada weekday afternoons (on the CBC, believe it or not) from October 1969 to July 1970. Though never to enjoy the same level of popularity as Dark ShadowsStrange Paradise did spawn a few pieces of memorabilia, some of which I thought I’d showcase here.

Probably the most popular items to stem from the show are three paperback tie-in novelizations published by Paperback Library (the same company that released a series of Dark Shadows novels) in 1969/70. Penned by prolific author Dorothy Daniels, the titles consisted of Strange Paradise, Island of Evil and Raxl, Voodoo Priestess.

Like the Dark Shadows books, the line also featured gold coloured covers as well as photos of the cast, which in this case consisted of Colin Fox as the wealthy, but cursed Jean Paul Desmond, who tries to bring his dead wife back to life; Cosette Lee as his all-wise voodoo priestess housekeeper, Raxl; and Kurt Schiegl as his mute strongman servant, Quito.

In 1993, Strange Paradise made its home video debut on VHS, via indie company Centaur Distribution Corporation. Unfortunately, only about half of the series’ 195 episodes were released and the show has to date, never received an authorized DVD release. However, the program has aired in syndication on television (most recently in 2007 on the now-defunct Canadian channel, Drive-In Classics) and episodes from that airing are currently available for viewing on YouTube.

Here’s one of the videocasettes, complete with an image of Jean Paul’s island castle home (the exteriors of which were shot at the Casa Loma in Toronto) and colourful, psychedelic cover art.

 

Here’s a shot of the Toronto landmark, taken during a recent visit of mine.

 

Fans of Strange Paradise can have their own replica of the castle with this little change/jewellery box featuring a miniature Casa Loma. It’s available from the Casa Loma gift shop.

 

Several of the cast members in Strange Paradise would go onto work in other Canadian-made horror and cult films, such as The Reincarnate (1971) featuring Jack Creley, Colin Fox and Trudy Young; and Deranged (1974) with Cosette Lee.

 

 

 

Tags: Casa Loma, CBC, Centaur Distribution, Colin Fox, collectibles, Cosette Lee, Dark Shadows, Deranged, Dorothy Daniels, Jack Creley, Jean Paul Desmond, Maljardin, Quito, Raxl Voodoo Priestess, Strange Paradise, The Reincarnate, tie-in novels, Trudy Young

Responses to Cryptic Collectibles: A Look at STRANGE PARADISE Memorabilia!

  1. David Goulet says:

    Great background on this lost oddity! I’d only ever heard of it because the rights to it currently sit with the company that owns Rocket Robin Hood — a childhood fave. CBC and horror – not a combo we’re used to seeing – more’s the pity.

  2. James Burrell says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, the rights to the show are owned by Nihali Entertainment, who (if I’m correct)put the two box sets for the Steve Krantz-produced Rocket Robin Hood, which is a childhood favourite as well.

    It would be great to see Strange Paradise get a proper DVD release – complete with special features like interviews, making-of featurettes, etc.

  3. Jon Strausser says:

    Hello All “Strange Paradise” Fans,

    Last year I was in contact with Mr. Dureja and Nihali Entertainment. From what I was told the series IS NOT remastered or digitized. At this time there is NO planned release. I have contacted Jim Pierson “Dark Shadows” MPI Marketing Director also. He told me several years ago MPI made a “generous” offer to Mr. Dureja and Nihali Entertainment to have the series released on DVD and they would “not play ball”. There is also another person in Toronto, Ontario named Bruce Raymond who has interest in the show. From what he told me he was an original financier of the series. I poured my heart out to him, Mr. Dureja and Nihali Entertainment to have this series released and basically got the attitude, “Put Up, Or Shut Up”! So, as of now, Like Jean Paul’s dead wife “Erica” it is waiting for a resurrection. I did try VCI Entertainment and they seemed interested and told me they would look into it. But, with the declining DVD market and Blu-Ray slowly taking over if it happens to be released it might be a MOD or a digital download. Also, It’s an older show and virtually unknown to the rest of the world. It would have to someway be marketed to tie in with “Dark Shadows” for people to be interested in it. Younger audiences may appeal to it for it’s “gothic” feel but that’s where it will end. Don’t get me wrong, I am very optimistic on a DVD release but it just seems it’s not going to happen any time soon unless some independent DVD company picks it up and spends a lot of money. Also, there are obstacles when licensing a tv series (especially a soap opera). First of all, EVERYONE has to be paid that was involved in the series. That includes, Estates, Writers, Directors, Actors, Copyright Owners, Music Publishers, Music Composers, Music Performances,etc. That could run into millions of dollars. Then you have to negotiate a deal with the owners of the series. If they deny it you have to start all over again and most times they will not return future offers from said company again. It’s ashame this has to happen but if they have to be paid I am all for that because they worked hard to put this show out almost everyday! Well, I hope now you can understand the difficulties of trying to release “Strange Paradise” on DVD.

    Thank You & Take Care,

    Jon Strausser

  4. James Burrell says:

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the comment and for making us aware of your efforts to have STRANGE PARADISE released to DVD. It’s such an fantastic show and it’s great to know there are fans out there who are advocating for its release.

    It’s a shame that Nihali Entertainment appears to be so disinterested in putting out the program on home video. But perhaps it is due to costs, as you suggested. Or it could also be a rights issue as well. Despite this, I’m still holding out hope that the program will appear on DVD or Blu-ray sometime down the road.

    Thanks again for the comment!

  5. Joan Watts says:

    I just discovered “STRANGE PARADISE”&I like it very much.I own every episode of “DARK SHADOWS” on VHS & DVD.Apparently Bob Costello was involved with S.P.I am wondering who wrote the music for S.P.It sounds much like Bob Cobert.

    • James Burrell says:

      Hi Joan,

      Yes, Robert Costello was indeed involved with STRANGE PARADISE.

      And though the music does sound like it might be something that DARK SHADOWS composer Robert Cobert would have written, the show’s score was in fact created by Score Productions, headed by musician Bob Israel.

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