A Revisit To Dark Shadows With a Modern Twist

“My name is Victoria Winters.  My journey is beginning. A journey I hope will open the door of life to me.  And link my past with my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place at the edge of the sea high atop Widow’s Hill.  A house called Collinwood, a world that I have never known and people I never met. People who tonight are still only shadows in my mind who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows… “

So began the first episode of Dark Shadows which aired June 27, 1966 on ABC.  It was based on a dream by Dan Curtis who created the series.  Many people wondered what he ate before he went to bed that night.

Victoria Winters was searching for her past in Collinsport, a Maine seaport with secrets, deadly secrets.  Her job was as governess to David, a moody child whose mother had deserted him years before, so his father Roger and Aunt Elizabeth said.

Collinwood sits on a cliff overlooking the bay.  It is an immense manor house with wings shut off during its two-hundred years history while nearby the Old House, first home of the Collins family when they came from England, decays with its mysteries.

The haunting music added a certain noir to the series.  Dark Shadows was hardly noticeable until the ghost of Sarah Collins appeared to David at the Old House.  After that a whole slew of bizarre characters and creatures would make their appearance.

It was the complex character of Barnabas Collins which would make Dark Shadows a cult-hit.  Barnabas faced the ups and downs of a man destined to love and to suffer.  Being cursed by a spurned witch he became a creature of the night—a vampire who struggled with his curse and humanity.

There had not been a vampire like Barnabas before whose curse was so formidable and inescapable and yet so human.  In many ways Barnabas was a hopeless romantic.  For some reason a number of teenagers identified with him.

Perhaps, it was the times in which they found themselves. The late 60s and early 70s were difficult times for young people in a fast changing world.

The series ended on April 2, 1971.  There were 1225 episodes and two movies.

In 1991 NBC revived the series as a serious nighttime serial.  It was big budget production which did not catch on with the viewing public because the country was facing war with Iraq.  Watching a Gothic production was not what was needed at the time. I found it to be enjoyable and have it on DVD.

Now, in 2012 Tim Burton and Johnny Depp will bring the Dark Shadows Saga to the digital screens of the world in May.  However, as my senior administrative assistant said to me, the trailer is not your Dark Shadows.

Will it be a hit with both fans and non-fans?  Tim Burton and Johnny Depp hope it will since Johnny Depp had wanted to play Barnabas Collins since he was a child.

Based on the trailers, it is as campy as the original series. The cast looks like a good mix of young and old.  It appears that the 87-year old Canadian actor and WWII Navy veteran Jonathan Frid, the original Barnabas, will be in this film with three other members of the original cast.

Sadly, Jonathan Frid died Friday, April 13, 2012 in Hamilton, Ontario.  He is survived by his nephew.

Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch ‘Dark Shadows,'” Depp said in a statement, reports the Los Angeles Times. “When I had the honor to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original.” CBS NEWS

Kathryn Leigh Scott, Jonathan Frid’s co-star and love interest, said,

I am so grateful to have worked with Jonathan, and to have known him as the charismatic, entertaining, complex and plain-spoken man that he was. What fun we had working together! He was irascible, irreverent, funny, caring, lovable and thoroughly professional, and in the end became the whole reason why kids ‘ran home from school to watch’ ‘Dark Shadows.

“I am so grateful that nearly five decades later, Jonathan, David Selby, Lara Parker and I were invited to play cameos in the new ‘Dark Shadows,’ directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. How wonderful for the four of us to work together again and celebrate the legacy of ‘Dark Shadows.’ I won’t ever forget the moment when the two Barnabas Collinses met, one in his late 80s and the other in his mid-40s, each with their wolf’s head canes. Jonathan took his time scrutinizing his successor’s appearance. ‘I see you’ve done the hair,’ Jonathan said to Johnny Depp, ‘but a few more spikes.’ Depp, entirely in character, replied, ‘Yes, we’re doing things a bit differently.'” CNN


G. D. Williams       © 2012

Dark Shadows Episode 1 June 27 1966


Dark Shadows 1991


Dark Shadows: Every Family Has its Demons


Jonathan Frid December 2, 1924-April 20, 2012




Kathryn Leigh Scott


Robert Colbert’s DARK SHADOWS Theme


Barnabas Collins—You Say It Best


Shadows of The Night (Quentin’s Theme)


Josette’s Music Box


EPILOGUE / DARK SHADOWS by The Robert Cobert Orchestra