Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Dark Shadows Changed the World, At Least Mine Anyway.

Originally posted in May 2011, today's announcement of the passing of Jonathan Frid, the original Barnabas Collins, on Friday April 13th, compels me to re-share my thoughts and personal connection to Barnabas and Dark Shadows.

They say never begin your story on a train and never in a dream.  That’s exactly how the iconic gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows, got its start.  Film lore has it that Dan Curtis woke one morning and told his wife about a strange dream he’d had about a mysterious woman on a train.  He pitched the idea to ABC and a classic was born.  Just not right away.  The paranormal elements did not appear until about six months in.  Then one year in a earth changing event occurred …Barnabas Collins arrived in Collinsport.

Like many tweens (I know, the term didn’t exist then) I ran home from school so that I could be firmly ensconced in from of the television by 4:00.  Many days, I sat on the phone with one of my best friends, Peggy in an early version of a chatroom except with real voices.  It has taken forty years for Skype to catch up. Peggy was the writer then; I was just a victim of my own vivid imagination.

Dark Shadows forever altered the direction of the paranormal genre.  It introduced us to likeable (okay loveable—alright, already -- lustable) vampires and werewolves.  If you are a Laurel K. Hamilton fan, you are familiar with the vamps vs. weres camps.  Back in the ancient times before flat screens, even before widespread color TVs, Dark Shadows fans were Barnabas or Quentin fans.  For those who have not had the pleasure, Quentin was the primary werewolf.

How little things change. 

It is one of the reasons I write what I right.   Dark Shadows led me to Anne Rice’s Lestat, Laurell K’s Asher (I love the tortured souls, even if they may not have one) and countless others.

Now comes the ultimate thrill, Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins and directed by Tim Burton.  Expected release is one year away in May 2012.  I may have to plan some vacation time and the Mayans will just have to wait.

Who was your favorite Dark Shadows character?  What storyline did you enjoy?  And most important of all: Do you like you hottie furry or fanged?