The Dark Shadows of the Past

The original series Dark Shadows was the brain child of TV producer, Dan Curtis. The hugely popular show ran from 1966-1971. It centered around the strange supernatural occurrences that surrounded the rich Collins’ family in their estate home of Collinwood.

Set in the fictional Colinsport, ME, the Dark Shadows first episodes introduced the Collins family to it’s viewers. Classified as, but not your typical “soap opera”, Dark Shadows was watched faithfully every week by millions of enthusiasts who just couldn’t get enough of the highly addictive show during it’s run on ABC.

The series opens with the introduction of the Collins family matriarch, Elisabeth Collins Stoddard, who for some reason hasn’t left her ancestral home in over 18 years. Her brother, Roger, daughter Carolyn and Roger’s young son David all inhabit the estate. So far, the weird part is the arrival of orphan girl, Victoria, who, no one seems to know anything about, winds up at the Collinwood estate hoping for clues as to her existence. Following the arrival of Victoria, it seems that it was discovered the character of Burke Devlin literally came off the same train as she did.

Then, there’s the mention of con man Willie Loomis, who was later identified also as a thief, and finally the long awaited arrival of the shows most famous character; Barnabas Collins. It couldn’t be overlooked that he showed up right after Willie the thief came up missing after he broke into the family tomb to steal precious, valuables from the Collins family; or that this man looks identical to the portrait hanging in the Collins manor. Stranger yet this Barnabas Collins guy is over 200 years old. The explanation of his existence given to us by the writers of this glorious dark gothic “soap opera”, well, Barnabas Collins is a “vampire” of course.

What drew so many viewers to the Dark Shadows series wasn’t just the long anticipated arrival of the “vampire”. The shows many plot twists of ghostly warnings and past suicides that took place in the made up town of Collinsport, left viewers hanging on the edge of their seat each and every week, anxiously awaiting the next episode to air. The draw was the wait to see what was would happen next.

The supernatural has always been a fascinating subject to the public. It is not so surprising that stories of vampires, witches, werewolves and ghosts have been around to entertain us on television for decades. Shows like the Dark Shadows preceded the shows of today that continue to tantalize our generation.

If we really think about it, there most likely wouldn’t be any of the beloved vampires like Damon or Stephan on TV shows like the Vampire Diaries every Thursday night, if it wasn’t for characters like Barnabas Collins, the vampire of the Dark Shadows.

So is the Dark Shadows’ movie anything like the popular TV series? Does it do justice to our memories of the show of the past? Most fans say “not so”.


  1. Fred Githler says:

    The movie was reminiscent of the show but it picked up where it left off in the 1970 and it did not try to be an exact duplicate, therefore it was fun.

    • D.W. says:

      Just wanted to give you a reply as I’ve come to a strange understanding I’ve puzzled over for quite sometime.

      Those of us over at fanfiction dot net, altering and re-arrange Collinsport to fit certain interests. And truly, with some of the stories I’ve read I don’t even recognise them as being “Dark Shadows” related beyond names and physical descriptions of people.

      That being said, I have a hard time understanding what the big hostility is over the film. Okay, so some people with a lot of dough worked hard to create their own version.

      Aren’t we all doing the same thing in our own little way?

      Really, the Dark Shadows film of 2012 being Oh-So-Evil and repugnant in terms of accuracy is almost laughable. :)

  2. You might want to change “Her son, Roger,” to “Her brother, Roger”… in the third paragraph, second line…. :)

  3. Char says:

    No. I had first become excited when I heard of the movie. Johnny Depp even excited me…Michelle Pfifer. Then the dreaded name Tim Burton. I refused to go see it. I even enjoyed the remake that came out after the original and was so disappointed when it was canceled after the first season. I enjoy Vampire Diaries but nothing beats the original.

    • Sharon says:

      You didn’t miss anything, Char. Depp’s one-dimensional rendering of a very complex character (with waaaaay too much pancake make-up) ruined it for me. Willy was relegated to a tottering old man with hardly any part or purpose and Angelique was nasty but not at all intriguing. Bleh! I tried to look at this as just a new movie with no ties to the original but it still sucked–in my humble opinion.

  4. Dennis M. Eaton says:

    Whoever wrote this article missed the whole point of the show. As far as the new Dark Shadows movie goes I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. But if you didn’t know what went on in the original series, youwouldn’t have understood a lot of the parodies that were in the movie.

  5. admin says:

    @ Jody – thanks its Fixed :)

  6. Kate says:

    I loved watching the reruns of the orignal series with my dad when I was little. We went to see the movie together and were pleasantly surprised at the result. I enjoyed the humorours way that the material was handled, Burton picked up and ran with some things that Curtis had started in his orginal series and subsequent remakes that I hadn’t noticed before. Though, Dennis is right, if you weren’t familiar with original material, you probably missed out on alot of the parodies that were employed.

  7. Erica says:

    I think ABC or maybe a cable network should have run an original Dark Shadows marathon in the months leading up to th newest Dark Shadow’s movie release date. Unless you are over appx 50 yrs of age, you probabably don ‘t know much about the original series. They could have really hyped up the marathon, and gotten people hooked! I’m bit younger and stumbled upon the episodes available on Netfix. I was hooked and bought the full box set which includes every episode. I’m about 1/2 way through, but I Love it more than anything on TV now. I gave my sister a set for her birthday. We are both too young to have seen it when it originally aired, but now Love discussing it from across the Country. Every one of my younger friends that’s come over & watched it with me is hooked! I’m not sure if Tim Burton was a great fit, but he still missed a great opportunity by not running this idea by networks.

    • Ashley says:

      Erica, I am also a younger fan. My parents are in their 50′s and watched this growing up. I think I saw it growing up on the sci fi channel. I have the entire show now and love it. The problem with running it on tv is that I doubt abc or a cable channel would want to run an older show like that. They are more geared to younger generations and right or wrong wouldn’t think they would be interested. I have a younger sister who loves true blood and vampire diaries even the Ds movie but will not watch watch the original dark shadows because it is old. She is missing out on one of the best shows ever imo.

  8. BigM says:

    The Burton movie had its moments, but everything that was deliberately long and complexly maneuvered in the TV show was vulgarized and blunt in the film. Virtually everything that I loved about the series – the convoluted plots, the idiosyncratic villains, the time travel, the “rep company” feeling as the cast switched roles from period to period – was simply gone.

  9. Tom Freeman says:

    I disagree with the negative comments about the movie. I was also very upset to hear that Tim Burton was directing the film. However, the worries of the story being nothing but a comedy was not how it was. The movie was conceptually with both humor and SERIOUS horror. It grabbed me and I didn’t expect it to do so. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve missed a close to “masterpiece” story telling.

  10. John Swanson says:

    I made a feature film “Unearthly Harvest” that is a tribute to the original Dark Shadows but with new characters and a new storyline. I tried to look at Tim Burton’s re-make of Dark Shadows as a new interpretation which does not take away from the original but secretly I yearned for the original Dan Curtis story to be told. Dark Shadows was never meant to be a comedy. I felt like I had been slapped in the face when I saw characters that I know so well and love in the new movie behave totally different then originally created. I tried to keep an open mind but Dr. Hoffman was not a drunk and would not have had oral sex with Barnabas. As originally written she was very classy lady. Angelique also was portrayed as a slut with no redeeming qualities. Carolyn was a werewolf. A lot of things in that film did not make sense. I guess this is what people think an update of Dark Shadows should look like in this Generation but I long for a Dark Shadows film that encompasses all that the original was. The Dark Shadows remake was a good try but we deserve better.

  11. Joe Capuana says:

    God took mercy on Jonathan Frid and spared him the pain of the Johnny Dep Dark Shadows premier.

  12. DOMMA says:

    I cannot believe that anyone who was a true fan of the series would see this as anymore than a silly farce. The characters were a joke. Which is fine if that is what was intended. But to try and say this was a modern remake of the original is an insult to the original cast and crew.

  13. Tammy says:

    I appreciate the role Jonathan Frid, Lara Paker, and the cast from the original series did to bring us a wonderful soap opera to shake up the establishment, but I love the new film and would like to see more of them, but who knows if Tim will take the chance again. It was tough getting some of the old fans on board, but it definitely made a lot of new fans. I’m a fan of both, as I was a teen when the original series was aired. But I will re-watch the new movie much more than I will seek out the old film. Johnny Depp is wonderful as Barnabas and makes him much more likable. The soap opera made Barnabas very mean, and I really didn’t like him much, but he was intriguing. Much prefer Johnny Depp’s and Tim Burton’s Barnabas. :)

  14. leathrpaws says:

    Nice that this was put together, but too bad that the author didn’t bother to have it proofread before publishing it. It is hard to read; the spelling of the Collins family matriarch is similar to the song “Liza with a ‘Z’”, not n “s”. The whole section about Victoria Winters’ arrival at Collinwood needs to be rewritten, and her last name should have been included. One comment on something that bothered me when the first info about the movie came out- no mention anywhere of Maggie Evans, a pivotal character in the show. That little mystery was handled nicely, however. The movie wasn’t what I hoped for but it was entertaining in spots. The cameos by the four actors from the original series (just a short time before Jonathan Frid’s death) was very nicely done, also. Many probably didn’t catch Frid’s comment “It has sure changed a lot since the last time I was here”, which was nicely done. I would like to see a second movie, not helmed by Mr. Burton, that pays more attention to the original characters’ personas. The return of Laura Collins was good, also.

  15. Bruce says:

    I grew up watching the original DS. I was excited to hear that “fans” of the original series, “Tim Burton” and “Johnny Depp” would be making a movie. I hoped they would be true to the spirit of the the original but sadly they failed miserably. Luckily we have the 1225 episodes of the original on DVD, including the wonderful 209 episodes prior to the arrival of “Barnabas Collins” to enjoy. RIP Jonathan Frid, you were the best and only true Barnabas.

  16. Beth says:

    I will sum up my opinion of the *DSINO film quickly.
    Burton and Depp must be casual fans to have so thoroughly pissed on Dan Curtis’ masterpiece. They did not get it at all. The film should be called Scary Movie 10 Dreck Shadows, as it was a one off, poorly executed parody. I will no longer patronize either of their works. That is how offended I was by that trash, and I WAS a fan of both of them.
    *Dark Shadows in name only.

  17. Asif says:

    The Dark Shadows movie with Johnny Depp was a total let down. I think everyone was hoping that Burton would finally do justice to the often abused vampire genre but boy did he mess up! Really sad.

  18. Julie says:

    I liked watching Dark Shadows but I really liked the theme

  19. Denise Ress says:

    I loved the old series. I watched it as a kid. And got wrap up in it. The cast and special effects was awesome. The movie Dark Shadows was ok. I like Johnnie Depp. But loved the old series better.

  20. paul sousa says:

    The Dark Shadows movie was good, but not great. The casting of Jonny Lee Miller as Roger and Michelle Pfiefer as Elizabeth was good as well as the actress that played Julia. I also liked the beginning of the movie telling Barnabas’ back story.
    Also, they did a great job of recreating the outside of Collinwood to look like the mansion in Newport, R. I. used in the TV series. I wish the music had been done by Robert Cobert who did the original music on the TV series.

  21. Origen says:

    Burton’s DS movie was garbage pure and simple! It was an insult to the original series.

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