Sunday, 20 May 2012


This is the original television series that inspired the latest episode of the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton mutual admiration club. I've not seen the Burton film yet but I was pleased to finally catch up with the first incarnation of the television series which, until now, has remained unseen in England. The three disc DVD is nicely packaged and contains a 17 minute "highlights" of the series before picking up the story at the first appearance of Jonathan Frid as vampire Barnabas Collins whose adventures we get to follow for ten episodes. But, be warned, there is very heir little in the way of vampirism on show here and all the episodes are black and white. My first reaction was that the whole ting was pretty slow and boring but by disk two I was getting into the spirit. One has to remember that this was a daytime soap with only 22 minutes to play with each day and if you enjoy actors fluffing their lines, missing their marks, cardboard sets, collapsing props then it is quite fun. Its a bit like CROSSROADS with vampires. I've just ordered the 1990 reworking with Ben Cross as Barnabas (well, it does have Barbara Steele in it) and I'd probably buy more episodes of the original....if they were cheap enough. Rating **


Cerpts said...

DARK SHADOWS (the original soap) can indeed be rather heavy going -- even for those WITH an attention span like us -- and your points about the constraints of 22 minutes per day plus the low budget and live recording definitely leave a chasm between original intent and final execution. I think that DARK SHADOWS is definitely not a "vampire show" as you also mentioned; as I remember it now (and I was practically just born a minute before the show went on the air), it wasn't meant to be a horror show but rather that strange late 60's - early 70's infatuation with gothic romance. The same trend that, in the comic book world, resulted in many such comix titles as "DARK MANSIONS OF FORBIDDEN LOVE" or the ever-beloved "HAUNTED LOVE" (private joke) featuring a lot of ruffled nightgown-clad gothic heroines "Had-I-But-Known"-ing around crumbling manor houses, castles or stormy beaches. If you've got the gumption, DARK SHADOWS will soon change from B&W to colour and also later things will pick up (and get sillier) with more monster activity and time travel jaunts. However, as you well know, I would more strongly recommend the theatrical movie HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS which effectively takes who-knows-how-many-months-long of daily soap plots and condenses them into an hour and a half movie which is quite wonderful. Sadly STILL not available on DVD. Also, the 1990 "revival" telly programme with Ben Cross was fairly uninteresting . . . except as you rightly mention the appearance of Barbara Steele in a rare acting role at this stage of her career since by then she was solely focussed on her award-winning producing career. When all else fails, whip out the old DARK SHADOWS board game (which I once had but is now lost) and listen to the "hit single" (!) "Barnabas" by the Vampire State Building. Gee, why did THEIR career never take off, I wonder???

wellyousaythat© said...

I love the phrase "Crossroads with Vampires"
I feel that the Burton/Depp version looks like "The Brady Bunch with Vampires"

TCasteel said...

After I replied to you email I thought of this post I did back in March 2009 when I first started by blog. Thought you might enjoy it: