Going to camp with DARK SHADOWS

In 1966 my neighbor was addicted to Dark Shadows. There was no point even trying to talk to her between 4 and 4:30. Dark Shadows came on and she shut out the world. I, on the other hand, was not a fan of the show. I’ve never cared for vampires. I’m easily frightened. In the case of Dark Shadows I was frightened by the boring story and melodramatic acting. It just wasn’t for me.
Dark Shadows is an American gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis. The story bible, which was written by Art Wallace, does not mention any supernatural elements. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began.
The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles (as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor). Major writers besides Art Wallace included Malcolm Marmorstein, Sam Hall, Gordon Russell, and Violet Welles.
Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, unusually adventurous music score, and broad and epic cosmos of characters and heroic adventures. Now regarded as something of a camp classic, it continues to enjoy an intense cult following. Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series produced for English-language television, including Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek television franchise. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Now with the looming debut on May 11th of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of Dark Shadows there will probably be a lot of talk about the original show and its fans. For those who are hardcore fans from the 1960s I think they might end up offended that comedy is front and center in this version. There were a lot of us who thought the original was funny, unintentionally funny.

I found this tv tie-in book at my post office book exchange table. There were thirty-two books in the series.
Dark Shadows Books (1966-72)
The Paperback Library began releasing novels based on the TV series Dark Shadows in December 1966. There were thirty-three novels released through to 1972, all of them written by Dan Ross under the pen name Marilyn Ross.
All of the novels, with the exception of House of Dark Shadows were part of one shared continuity separate from the history supplied in the original television series. House of Dark Shadows was an adaptation of the MGM film, House of Dark Shadows and as such, represented a separate continuity.
Many of the 1st printings of the novels featured covers with production stills from the television show. Invariably, the photographs represented on the covers had little if anything to do with the actual stories inside. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To see a list of books click here.

Click on any image to see it larger.

The one actor I remember from the show is Jonathan Frid who played the vampire Barnabas Collins. Wondering what became of him I found that he died just a few weeks ago from an accidental fall. Sad that he won’t be around to revel in the reintroduction of the character he created.

I will admit that I watched the NBC remake of the show in 1991 with Ben Cross as the vampire. Ben Cross was the reason I watched the show, though after a few episodes I was again having trouble with the whole story. I’ve never been a fan of gothic romance. I’ve never been able to imagine myself as a lady running away from a dark castle. I would have been too clumsy for that and would most assuredly have fallen and been caught by the vampire. And I’m not fond of blood dripping from someone’s neck, most especially my own.

Now que the creepy music.


  1. Oh, I rushed home every day from school to watch this show! My friends and I could not wait to see what happened next to Barnabas, Maggie, Quentin and Angelique. As far as the movie remake, I understand that Jonathan Frid actually had a small cameo part in the upcoming movie and was quite pleased with it and with Johnny Depp's part as Barnabas. I was at first quite put out with the remake (not being a Depp fan), but the more I think about it, it sounds quite campy and fun and will be a great tribute. Thanks for your wonderful post, it brings back great memories!

  2. Oh, I'm so glad somebody else remembers the 1991 Ben Collins version! I have been getting so many odd looks lately when I mention that; I was beginning to think it existed only in my fevered, Ben Cross-loving imagination!

  3. It was on last night on the CLOO channel.