Dark Shadows

(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…

13 Responses to Dark Shadows

  • I, too, ran home from school every day to watch Dark Shadows! *joining you in the front row!

  • We used to watch it too. It killed me because as soon as it went off every Monday and Thursday night Daddy announced it was time to take out the trash. In the dark. All the way to the end of the road. I made him watch as my sister and hauled the trash cans out all the way to the end of the driveway and then RUN back to the house.

    I normally detest movie remakes of TV shows, but I am looking forward to seeing this one. 😉

  • Me! Me! {hand waving in the air} i watched with my hands over my face and it is still probably the only scary anything I’ve ever watched. I read the novels in high school and still get shivers if I think of that creepy music. I think Barnabas was my fave. Having Johnny Depp play in the movie is genius! I can’t wait. I’ll be the grandmother with a scarf over her head in the back row, peeping out during the really scary stuff.

  • I remember watching it, but don’t remember a whole lot about it other than the music and Barnabas’ fangs. Ask me about every other soap aired on CBS and I can remember a lot about them. I remember being mad that the Watergate hearings preempted the soaps…. how sad. Even sadder that after years of not watching them, I could flip past one and still know the characters’ names.

  • Add me to the others going to see the movie. I have a girl friend or two that will come as well if hubby doesn’t want to go! I loved the house way up on the hill with the waves crashing around and the big entrance as you walked in into the room. Time to watch the old one before I go see the new movie so I can compare the too better, and remember how I loved this soap.

  • Me too. About 6 months ago, they were playing one of the old movies on TV, think it was Night of Dark Shadows.
    I even watched the short lived series in the early 90’s with Ben Cross as Barnabas. I can’t wait to see the new one with Johnny Depp.

  • Now I want to find Dark Shadows and watch it! LOL I am looking forward to the new Tim Burton movie. I’m sure my husband and boys will roll their eyes at me for wanting to see it. I will get told it’s weird and I, therefore, am weird for liking it. To that I say, “ok” ;0)

  • I was never a serious fan, mainly because I was a little young when it was on, and I’m not sure we weren’t watching reruns. However, my older brother watched it and thought it was a hoot because of the occasional shadow of the cameral moving across the set. That’s about all I can remember except for, as you mentioned, the music and crashing waves. 🙂

  • Wasn’t there a remake of the TV show in the late ’80s or early ’90s? I didn’t watch the original but seem to remember seeing some episodes while in college or right after. Haven’t seen the trailer but sounds interesting. I’m not a Johnny Depp fan though.

  • I vaguely remember Dark Shadows, but was never really a fan. Prolly because watching eerie, creepy fare was not encouraged in my staunch Baptist upbringing. “Regular” soaps were another story (no pun intended, but it works!). I rushed home from school each day to see Days of our Lives, The Doctors and Another World (which, trivia buffs, was the first soap to expand to an hour). And, like Karen, I was incredibly irritated when the Watergate trial pre-emptied my shows. College put an end to my devoted watching of those shows, but I picked up All My Children for awhile. Ah … memories!

  • Was I a Dark Shadows fan? Oh yes. Got off the school bus at 3:20 and at my house it was on from 3:30 to 4:00.
    I was born in 1957, so I believe it was on during my jr. high years. My favorite character? Well, since I am post menopausal and my memory fails me (haha) I do remember Barnabas, of course, but I did have a favorite character, who I believe was the love interest of Barnabas, a red-headed woman…or maybe dark hair. Forgot her name. We were big soap opera fans, and I quit watching them somewhere around 1990. General Hospital and All My Children were the two biggies. Seems like a lifetime ago…let’s just say my kids grew up a whole lot different that I did 🙂

  • Here’s another fan 🙂
    I wasn’t able to watch every single day because of some after school activities, but my friends kept me up-to-date on what I’d missed.
    It was a sad day when it ended.
    But that summer our gang became enthralled with the saga on All My Children, so the sadness didn’t linger long.
    Oh our fickle hearts!

  • Yes, I watched it,too, devotedly. I just noticed that they’ve re-released the plastic model kit of Barnabas that glows in the dark. I understand that Tim Burton is redoing it as a comedy, which is disappointing.