(Cue the crashing waves and eerie music.)
At 4 pm, my childhood home was fraught with excitement Monday through Friday as I sat down on the floor to watch the daily installment of the campy Gothic daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows. Neighborhood children were often in attendance. I’m not sure if it was because their parents wouldn’t let them view such a scandalous show in their own home, or if it was because they got a kick out of my mother greeting them at the door with her barred fangs.
My mother was an exotic creature, what with her inky black mane of hair and visibly pointy eye teeth. Which never really scared the children, especially the moment she spoke and a deeply southern and hospitable drawl dripped forth.
Soap operas were standard fare in our home, as both my mother and grandmother were deeply devoted to their stories.
The time was the mid to late 1960’s.
I don’t know if I actually watched Dark Shadows from its auspicious beginnings, or more likely if it came into my life some time after Barnabas Collins inhabited Collinwood. My mother would tell you to this day that she watched the show because she was an antique dealer, and was simply doing research, as Dark Shadows showcased wonderful Victorian furnishings.
I’ve no doubt that the show influenced her own taste in decorating, as we grew up with decidedly uncomfortable chairs, some dating back to the 1600’s. And not long after the show went off of the air, she fulfilled her dream of moving us into a Victorian mansion in Harrison, Ohio that was well over a hundred years old.
Many believed it to be haunted. We only lived there a year and a half, so I could never be certain. At the time, I liked to think that it was. Which only added to my own pubescent air of mystery.
I’ve maintained my nostalgic love of all things Dark Shadows since the show went off of the air in 1971. Although I’ve stopped short by never attending a Dark Shadows convention. I understand there was one in Burbank in 2008, many years after I moved away from Los Angeles.
On our flight out of Burbank airport when leaving Los Angeles in 1998, I spied David Selby (who played the dashing Quenton Collins). It was all I could do not to rush up to him and accost him for an autograph. But clearer heads prevailed (Fiddledaddy) and I admired him from afar. At that time he sported a full head of gray hair and I’m pretty sure that somewhere in his life, some little person called him grandpa.
I watched every House of Dark Shadows movie installment as a youngster. Those images still haunt me. At some point after cable was invented, I watched the television show from its beginnings when I was in my early 30’s.
All of this is fresh in my mind because I recently saw the trailer to the upcoming Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp. It is a campy homage to the original television show. It’s sure to be inappropriate and irreverent. And I CANNOT WAIT to see it.
At the risk of dating yourselves, any other Dark Shadows fans out there? Favorite character? I loved Angelique. She wasn’t all that bad. Simply misunderstood…