I don’t have a good source for keeping up with the latest entertainment. I usually find out about movie “coming attractions” only through the newspaper, and rarely get too excited until I might learn more through friends who recommend. I am more than happy with Netflix and at that, only occasionally. I had a recent laugh at myself when listening to a radio host speak of his uncertainty in allowing his eight-year-old son to see “The Avengers,” and I was just mystified as to why this child would be interested in Emma Peel and John Steed. I really didn’t understand…I don’t know comic book characters, either.
But I literally giggled on an early drive into work when I looked up about a month ago and saw a billboard promoting the release of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” Nostalgia came over me just like…just give me one– the dark sweeping cloak of a vampire. How can someone who rarely sees movies get this excited over just a title?
Well, let me tell you. And some of you can play along, because you remember!
ABC debuted the series, Dark Shadows, as afternoon programming on June 27, 1966. The timing, I’ve discovered, was planned to “hook” kids on summer vacation, telling the story of the prominent Collins family and the spooky happenings on their creepy Maine estate. The plot line of the show moved very slowly, but promised the intrigue of seances, apparitions and time travel in which actors also played their characters’ ancestors.
The show only did so-so in the beginning, but then, Look Out! In comes Barnabas Collins (played by actor Jonathan Frid), and the show took off! Teenagers, and I was one of them, rushed home by 4:00 every afternoon to tune in to see what Barnabas was up to. Diane Werts of Newsday described Frid in his role as “an unlikely teen idol–a soulful 40-something vampire, trendsettingly tortured by his bloodsucking urges.” I love that description!
Of course there were also werewolves and witchcraft, in live-to-tape black and white production–early television with its grainy, therefore spooky, quality, and for its time, I suppose, very edgy with eerie music and primitive special effects. There was nothing like it on television at the time; certainly nothing in the afternoon after school!
In our household this held some controversy. Everything this show was about went against what my parents thought proper, but I was 14 and just starting high school in 1966 and I think my parents very wisely looked around at all the potential trouble out there calling my name and decided that if a melodramatic soap opera could get their teen-aged daughter home by 4:00 every afternoon, they’d cut their losses.
I haven’t seen even minutes of an episode since the show went off the air in 1971. The Complete Original Series/Limited Edition DVD collection went on sale today…131 discs sold in a coffin, a “bargain” at $600 for all 1,225 episodes. It looks like I still won’t be seeing any episodes.
The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp “Dark Shadows” will be in theaters this Friday. From trailers and publicity I’ve followed–and a certain knowledge of the mind of Tim Burton–this will NOT be my childhood story of Barnabas Collins, Josettte DuPres and the lovely Angelique –she was secretly a witch!
Johnny Depp will make a fine character, however, and it’s time for something fresh. Depp claims to have watched the show as a child and has his own obsession with the characters and plot line. He was hoping to pay tribute to actor Jonathan Frid, who does have a cameo role in this production, but sadly passed away April 13th at the age of 87.
In tribute to Frid and in expectation of seeing the movie this weekend, you might want to take a peek at the two film clips below.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the new movie, and if you remember the original show, do share with me. I’m all school-girl over this! You didn’t know I had a dark side, did you?
- Dark Shadows’ Original Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid, Passes Away (tor.com)
- Dark Shadows Star Jonathan Frid Passes Away at 87 (mediocrityisthenewgenius.com)
- Dark duo; Johnny Depp, Tim Burton re-team for big-screen version of Dark Shadows. (vancouverdesi.com)