Dark Shadows – What Makes Collinsport Spooky?

It might be the year or the theme or the actors themselves – but there’s no question that the Dark Shadows TV series was one of the spookiest to be aired during the 70’s. The show is set in a fictional town called Collinsport with the story revolving around the high-living Collins family.

The Dark Shadows series is categorized as a gothic horror soap opera. Unlike shows today which mostly dwell on one specific supernatural (werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc.) the Dark Shadows series included everything in the mix. That’s probably one of the reasons it’s so spooky.  Viewers never know what to expect. Will it be a vampire this time or something much more sinister?

Of course, the fact that Collinsport is portrayed as a fishing village adds to the scent of fear for viewers. In the city, the idea of the supernatural is shrugged off.  But, in a locale with old school traditions, it’s downright spooky and very realistic sounding.

The high life of the Collins family also contributes to the scary factor. After all, what’s a gothic horror soap opera without the infamous Haunted Castle? In this case, it’s the home of the Collins clan dubbed the “Collinwood Mansion”. The mansion spans several acres of land and has more than enough rooms for the family. Repeated throughout the soap opera is the haunting of the mansion by Josette Collins.

Although the setting definitely contributes a lot to the Collinsport charm, there’s no question that the soundtrack is the most spine-chilling element of the drama. Even the introduction sequence portraying the water and the castle are made chillier by the soundtrack. It’s the anticipation of a scary episode that makes Dark Shadows very terrifying. Add that to the well-thought out music inserted throughout the show and you’ve got a very good reason why Dark Shadows is still considered one of the best gothic horror soap operas today.

The characters themselves are very intriguing and have definitely contributed to the already creepy situation in Collinsport. Actors play several different roles during the series.  In one episode you will see the actor portraying one character and then the same actor portraying a different character in another episode.

The memorable plot twists,  combined with out of this world episodes (clue: time travel and alternate dimensions) kept the show on the air for several years.

Some people today might find the old school approach to scare tactics a bit mundane considering the kind of graphics the TV industry has now. But, Dark Shadows is the kind of show that relies more on a well-written plot and suspense to work – not just high-tech CGI. Unlike some TV shows today, Dark Shadows will place you at the edge of your seat and keep you there until it ends.


  1. Stokes says:

    I enjoyed reading your article about one of my favorite shows, Dark Shadows. I will check out all the other articles about it on this site. Thanks!

  2. Gina Smith says:

    Dark shadows began in the 60′s and ended in the 70′s. What made Collinsport so spooky was it was always storming, the lighting was dim.

  3. Barnabas makes it spooky plus that house he lived in i liked the room that changed to another time.The show should be put back on tv on sci fi maybe

  4. Patrick says:

    Part of it was that the early episodes were taped in black and white. Though most people had B&W sets at the time of the original broadcast, now that color has become universal, the old B&W episodes do have a chill in them because they’re unique now in that regard. When they did transition to color, what becomes very apparent is the amount of time that they spent in giving attention to detail. Period costumes look very authentic, as do the sets, well, the interiors, mainly. Add actors who were able to give a good performance, day after day, five days a week. and that gives it credibility. Unlike the recent Johnny Depp movie, the original show took itself seriously, if there were vampires, there WERE vampires. Also, it was the first time that anyone had pushed the daytime envelope in the soap opera genre so far. That it still holds up some 40+ years later is a testament to it being a jewel in the crown of television from that era.

  5. The secret rooms. I just loved that. Secret panels, the closed off West Wing (or was it the East Wing?) It was the best series, created and directed by a Syracuse alum (like me!) Dan Curtis! DEP Dan, and DEP Jonathan! Just got my DVDs today…but the quality on the laser discs is sooooooo much better! I just hate turning them!

  6. mary says:

    What makes CollinsPort soo spooky….The setting the graveyard along with the fog on a very lonely nite!

  7. Carolyn Bennett says:

    The series ran from 1966 to 1971. It came on at 4:00 PM. I used to rush home from school everyday just to watch it

  8. Nina says:

    Dark Shadows was the best show ever. I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of watching the old shows to enjoy what they’ve missed. Once they watch the shows they too will see the greatest of it and will always want more. I watch my old VHS and DVD’s late on Friday and Saturday nights and I’m not ashame to say I look forward to watching. I pop a big bowl of popcorn, then I cuddled on in my favorite blanket and hit the play button and just enjoy. It even better when it’s the fall when it’s dark and chilly out it feels just like I’m in Collinwood where it’s always cold and rainy. I love love love it and never bored.Awwwwwwww, just talking about it makes me smile and look forward to it :-)

  9. Nina says:

    What made Collinwood spooky? I have to say because it was always dark, and rainy there. I swear it was only daylight for an hour. Something was always going on the residents seems to always stay up late and walk thru the woods. When they did sleep they were having bad dreams and any good fan would notice Barnabas always seem to wear the same outfit :-) he was also very demanding. Poor Willie was doomed the second he open his coffin. I can talk about Dark Shadows and Collin wood all day. Who’s up for talking with me :-)

  10. Hidoll22 says:

    I loved it when Barnabas got rid of Jason Mc Quire, Nathan Fobes, and Trask<<< was a jerk he claimed to be a man of God or the almighty yet he was the main cause of Vikki almost being hanged.Jason was a crook I was so glad when Barnabas got in when he nosed around in the basement. Nathan started out being good then he got greedy. Each of these men deserved what happened to him

  11. mary says:

    i love barnbus hes my favorite and the house its awsome wish it was mine thats my favorite show no vampire movie will ever take his place not to me.

  12. susan says:

    he was good in it., but so was everybody

  13. Becky says:

    I just finished watching every episode filmed..! BUT, the last few episodes focus on parallel time in 1841 and Collinwood is haunted by Brutus Collins who made a curse on the family in 1680. Chosen by a lottery, one family member had to spend a night in the locked room Collinwood…LOL Collinwood was not built in 1680!!!!! What were the writers thinking!!!! Collinwood was not built until 1792!!! Remember when Vickie went back in time and was hung as a witch and Collinwood was just being built..? The family home in 1680 was the “OLD” house!

  14. Walter Lauinger says:

    Dark Shadows should come back as an updated show. Like Grimm maybe. Could be ongoing but also episodic, to satisfy today’s shorter attention spans.

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