As a kid, I used to run home from school, up a big hill, in order to watch Dark Shadows. This is the show that generated my lifelong love for vampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, time travel, ghosts, parallel universes, and nearly every other type of supernatural and fantastical character and event possible.
The show itself started as a typical soap opera: a young woman, seeking answers about her past, comes to a spooky old mansion as the governess for the troubled young boy of a highly dysfunctional family. Apparently, when the ratings of the show faltered and the series appeared likely to be cancelled, the show’s creator figured, what the heck. Let’s go out with a bang.
That’s when Barnabas Collins entered the scene.
The 200-year old vampire, released from his coffin, brought whole new storylines to the soap and new life to the ratings. For the next five years, Dark Shadows introduced viewers to a wide array of supernatural creatures. Characters died, but came back as ghosts, or as their own ancestors in one of the time-travelling story arcs. When Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas (and, sadly, died just a few weeks ago), needed a break from being on screen so much, they writers introduced Quentin Collins, a menacing ghost who turned out to be a werewolf. This started the trend of vampires vs. werewolves still in fashion today, although Barnabas and Quentin did at times work together to banish some other supernatural creature threatening the Collins family.
I loved this show, and as a child was completely unaware of the campier side of the story. It became such a part of my life that years later, as an adult re-watching the show on DVD, I realized that the setting for many of my recurring dreams was in fact the Collinwood mansion!
Which brings me around to the point of this—the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie of Dark Shadows comes out tomorrow, and I’m torn about whether or not to go see it. On the one hand, I like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and the previews look funny. On the other hand, I don’t know if I want to see a comic version of the show that scared and thrilled me for so many years.
What about you? Anyone planning to see the movie? Anyone else remember watching the show as a kid?