Back in the late 1960s, I would literally rush home after school to turn on the TV to watch my first day-time
drama soap opera, “Dark Shadows.”
Literally, NOTHING would have interrupted this 5-day (Monday-Friday) routine.
I would put my books down, go into the refrigerator, grab a “Fresca” soda, and scramble to the
family room to watch the gothic trials and tribulations of the wealthy Collins family of Collinsport, Me.
This was no ordinary family; the soap opera’s characters included-ghosts, vampires, a witch and a werewolf.
I could hardly wait to watch the next episode. In all, over 1,225 episodes of Dark Shadows were created from 1966-1971. Not bad for a low-budget TV series.
It never entered my mind at the age of 13-why this family could have so many weird relatives. It was just super exciting to watch this 30-minute, ABC soap opera drama, which by the way, was the first soap opera to be shot in color.
Did you know, the Collinwood mansion’s exterior- as seen in the introduction- was filmed at a mansion located in Newport, RI. It is called the “Seaview Terrace,” or the Edson Bradley mansion. It is one of the largest mansions in Newport.
During this last weekend, I gleefully discovered TCM Network was airing back-to-back Dark Shadows movies: House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). It brought back my youthful teen years, not to mention, super movies to watch to get into the Halloween spirit.
What was the original storyline for the original Dark Shadows horror daytime TV series?
It would take several pages to explain the entire scary Collins family afflictions and misfortunes, but I’ll give it a shot.
First, you have the mansion of mansions (Collinswood) where the wealthy Collins family reside in Collinsport, ME. Next, a young woman (Victoria Winters), who is an orphan comes into town wanting to find out more about her own mysterious past. Victoria is then hired by Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, who is the Grande Dame of Collinwood. to be the governess of a young boy (David), who is Roger Collin’s troubled son. Roger is Elizabeth Collins Stoddard’s brother. Another main character is Carolyn Stoddard who is Elizabeth’s troubled attractive daughter. Then enter Barnabas Collins, who is a long-lost distant relative of a Collin’s ancestor, who just happens to be a vampire. Barnabas Collins pursues “Maggie,” a local waitress who is a friend of Victoria’s. Barnabas saw Maggie as the reincarnation of his beloved Josette from the year 1795. Barnabas tries unsuccessfully to brainwash Maggie to become Josette and finally marry him. Enter Angelique Bouchard who is a beautiful- but bitter witch that put a spell on Barnabas Collins back in the late 1700’s because she had a love-hate relationship with him because he jilted her for Josette. Quentin enters the series later, as a ghost who eventually works with Barnabas. Other characters were Willy Loomis who was the person who dug up the grave of Barnabas, to begin with; and Doctor Hoffman who plays a live-in psychiatrist to the Collin’s family-who is intrigued by Barnabas when she finds out he is a vampire, and wants to cure him of his affliction…..but instead falls for him. (Of course, there is so much more!)
In 2012, Tim Burton directed a comedy horror film based on the Dark Shadows TV Series, but it wasn’t quite the same as the original Dark Shadows, which was produced and directed by Dan Curtis.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Dark Shadows TV series. The Dark Shadows Festival was held on October 29th, in Hollywood, Ca. Several original cast members showed up for the event. (Sorry, I missed it.)
Sadly, the actor Jonathan Frid (who played Barnabas Collins-The vampire in Dark Shadows), died in 2012. He was definitely one of my favored Dark Shadows characters, along with Quentin, who played a good-looking troublesome ghost and zombie on the show. Jonathan Frid’s thousands of fans will miss him dearly.
If you want to see the original episodes to Dark Shadows, they can be found on YouTube.