What Makes Dark Shadows of the 70′s THE Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows originally aired June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. Initially the director tried to experiment with gothic elements but stopped short of introducing supernatural characters. The problem was, the goth look without the powers can be likened to a gun without any bullets.

Inevitably, a year after its first episode aired, the character, Barnabas Collins the vampire was introduced. Barnabas was an immediate success, the show increased in ratings, and soon the show was awash with all manner of supernatural creatures from Quentin, Gerard the possessed, warlocks, witches, ghouls, etc.

Here is What You are Getting

Oh sure, the audio and video aren’t of the highest quality but this is the 70′s we’re talking about. Visually speaking, special effects looked amateurish, but considering the decade, it was ahead of its time! The classic Dark Shadows was about so much more than just “cool effects”, it stood out because of its characters and seriously confusing plot twists, like parallel universe, a stairway to the cosmos, a plotting best friend, etc. Still better than anything else out there!

Cult Following

Dark Shadows is considered a cult classic. The same took the 19th spot during the 2004 TOP Cult Shows Ever. It has more single episode runs than Star Trek! This was possible because Dark Shadows ran as a daily drama.

Secret to Success

There is no secret to the fact that vampires, werewolves, warlocks and witches sells. Okay, the vampires did not shimmer and the werewolves did not have 12 pack abs, but the story was actually worth watching. The script was well written, and even the funny missteps like the mic showing, or a stage hand appearing behind the scenes were part of what made Dark Shadows a classic.

How True to the Original was the Remake?

In short, it wasn’t! Aside from the same character names like Barnabas Collins, it was a complete blow (in my honest opinion). Oh sure, the gothic feel was there; the acting, costumes, sets, the stairways and a lot of the key elements were incorporated, just not well. In my opinion the recent movie starring Johnny Depp is a chopped off version of the entire series with all its plots and arcs.

I think Tim Burton simply “tried too hard.” The set ended up confusing the audience and the plot was just too shallow. I guess if anything, the remake stayed true to one thing: the anti hero gets away scathed but winning nonetheless.


  1. SirLizard says:

    “Quinn 1, Quinn 2″?! Really?! Do you mean Quentin? Arguably the most popular character on the series after Barnabas Collins (and perhaps Angelique).

  2. Hank says:

    I have seen the entire run of the original DS, the 1990 remake and the movie remake all at least twice through and I own all of all of them on disc, and I have to say I love the original best, but I enjoyed the remake.

    You have to consider the world in which both were produced. In 1966 they were filming DS live with little chance of edits. There were cameras that rolled into view, microphones that dropped from the ceiling, doors that got stuck, and lines that were forgotten and the actors had to deal with it (Roger Collins proclaiming his incestors were buried here). There were even flies that would land on the actor’s faces during their most impassioned monologues and the actors often just let them sit there instead of drawing more attention to the bug.

    Monster movies had introduced vampires to the American public, but until Jonathan Frid came along there had been no vampire in literature or movie history who was not a demon inhabiting the body of a corpse with a vague sense of the corpse’s memories, and no conscience about killing. Barnabas Collins was the first vampire with feelings of remorse or love or anything else. The new movie (don’t forget, House of Dark Shadows in 1970!) was made for a generation which grew up with vampires who are literary descendants of Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins, as you mentioned, vampires who are shiny and sexy and can walk in the daylight as much as they want.

    At the same time, the new movie tried to reach out to survivors of the 1970s by making allusions to politics & art, breakfast cereal & lava lamps. I roared with laughter when Barnabas found Elizabeth’s macrame collection and envied Carolyn’s bedroom. For those parts, I adore the new movie.

    The true “remakes” were “Night of Dark Shadows” and “House of Dark Shadows” – created by Dan Curtis and the DS cast, and if you want to see a bad bad bad movie, choose either of those!

    • John Willaford says:

      House Of Dark Shadows had the art just right. If ONLY it had rebooted to the point where they planned it to be a series of movies retelling the tale as pure horror.
      HODS is an okay movie.
      NODS is crap. Supposedly it makes more sense in it’s entirety and the cuts really kill it. But, i’m just lost during that whole thing.

      Maybe my Scooby Doo in Collinsport fanfiction will work out, ROFL. Yes i am doing it, and quite respectfully too believe it or not. If you can deal with talking dogs (considering Sarah Collins, the Vampires, Werewolves, Angelique and the Pheonix, give it a try anyway!).

  3. Flowbee Rida says:

    Actually the werewolf was Quentin, not Quinn

    • MaryMRevis says:

      @FlowBee Rida Actually Quentin was a ghost haunting David first. Only in the parallel time plot lines, was he a werewolf if I recall correctly *smile*

      • Barbara says:

        Quentin was a werewolf in the 1800′s when Barnabas went back in time, looking for a way to help Chris Jennings find a cure for his werewolf problem..Parallel time came later after the Leviathan episodes..

      • John Willaford says:

        Quentin’s ghost was nullified by Barnabas using Q’s IChing Wands, with Professor Stokes guidance. He tried to communicate with Quentin , but instead got astral projected back to his body in 1897 in the coffin and had to summon Sandor to free him from the coffin using his summoning power. Once Count Petoffi created the portrait of Quentin Collins to absorb the transformations of the werewolf, Quentin became effectively immortal and the Ghost never existed. No Parallel Time needed and not trying to help Chris Jennings either. They tried to help Chris Jennings in present time by finding Charles Delaware Tate and convincing him to paint Chris a painting, which would not work.

  4. Katie K says:

    I hate to quibble, but it was parallel TIME, not parallel universe.

  5. I love the original series, it was great, loved Barnabas and everyone, I do not understand how they could have agreed to the remake it was to say the least awful, should have just left it alone, I have a bunch of the cards with all their pictures on them they are pretty old but good shape does anyone know if they are worth anything, just curious if I should hold onto them

  6. Aavolan says:

    Just watched the remake….it was hard to follow because so much had been changed. Loved the cameo of the four original cast members!!!!
    The movie sucked (pardon my pun);)!!

  7. John Swanson says:

    I look on “House of Dark Shadows” as a film made in parallel time in which Barnabas never did have the relationships he needed with other humans to become human himself. He was denied those in that movie with his killing of Carolyn his own relative. From then on he went on a killing spree with only one thing in mind having the wedding with Joestte that he had been denied in his past life. Angelique didn’t need to show up in that film as he doomed his own life by his actions. The Tim Burton remake looked like Dark Shadows but aside from using the same names and similar looking sets it did not capture the true spirit of the original show. The characters in the new movie were seen to act in ways that they never would have been permitted to if Dan Curtis were still alive. I’d still like to see someone do a new Dark Shadows film and get it right this time.

  8. Tammy says:

    Love the new movie. I think it’s a much better movie version that even Dan Curtis tried to portray, using the original characters. And a statement someone made about Jonathan Frid and his co-star having a real life attraction to each other. For one thing they are acting, it’s not real, and I think Jonathan wasn’t attracted to women. I could be wrong, but as he never married and one of his co-stars also leaned in that direction, I don’t see how it could ever happen in real life. That’s what part of the problem is with people who are so adamant about the original being the only way to portray the story. Most were children when they watched. The housewives were either too busy getting dinner, or just didn’t want to get scared in the middle of the day. It was the children who fell in love with Dark Shadows, as I did, although I was a teenager when it started. I missed much in the middle, as I had a life to live outside of watching daytime Soap Operas, but came back to it when I had a baby, and was at home more. So I was there for the first and last shows. And while I loved it too, I don’t make it out to be more than it is, and looked forward to someone else’s take on it. I thought Tim Burton did a wonderful job of adding a little quirkiness to it, without going overboard….and Johnny Depp! Well you can’t get a better actor. I don’t care if people didn’t like the makeup or the humor, he can take any character and make him lovable, as he’s cutting someone’s throat or biting them on the neck. I just loved that Tim didn’t go too far over the top, and gave us the whole outline of the Barnabas, Angelique, and Josette story line. Taking 5 years of a TV series and trying to condense the most important parts and make it enjoyable, is no easy task. I dare say, Tim knows exactly what he’s doing and does it better than most. The music and the score were superb, and fit the events. I thought he caught the feel of the early 70s, and to have the music in the background as Barnabas crept around town, trying to understand the era he found himself in, was very well done. In fact the score for the movie was excellent!
    So complain all you want, I count myself a fan of the old and new, because I am always open to new ideas, and hope I stay that way till I die. JMO :)

  9. Dan says:

    I honestly don’t think the movie deserves the lashing that so many people want to give it. The big fans of the series wanted to see it recaptured in a two-hour movie. That’s just not possible. Tim Burton probably would have been better off updating it to modern day and getting rid of most of the characters from the old TV show, but he tried to capture some of the magic he remembered as a kid and I think he did that.

    Okay, so I’ll ask the question no one seems to be asking…
    Where is the TV show? It’s disappeared from television for at least 15 years. Reruns used to be shown on the SciFi (Yes, they once spelled it correctly) Channel, but no one has seen it for years. NetFlix has some streaming and the rest available on DVD, but there are those of us who would enjoy seeing it aired daily on some channel again. When I heard there was movie being made I thought surely some channel would pick it up and start showing the episodes again, but no. It’s nowhere to be found. Don’t you think this would be a great show for a network like (Ugh!) Syfy, or Chiller, or even Soap? Then those who saw the movie, and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, would be able to see why we love it so much. Someone bring it back!

  10. Michele says:

    I had never seen the original DS, but enjoyed the Burton/Depp movie enough to check it out on Netflix. Now, I hopelessly hooked on the series!

  11. Edna Janice Carr-Naugle says:

    Hate the remake. Watched on pay for view comcast..Loved the original series. When first on and then in reruns on sci fi channel..Even the movies that followed and books..They were so awesome..Hope they try another remake..Sad many of the original cast members have since passed on..

  12. Susan L Anderson says:

    tis apples n sour grapes.. Dark Shadows is w/out compare… I could write 1000 pages, but, don’t you, the viewer, find it uttterly annoying all the gimmickry utilized today on tv and in movies, most esp the weird (for effect only) camera sweeps… everything is so pretty, tis completely w/out nuance… Dark Shadows was great because it was genuine, NO APOLOGIES or explanations needed… the timeless themes (am still pondering fate vs free will n this show is no help!), wardrobe, makeup, music, setting, on n on… n the acting, such suberb acting which still leaves me in complete awe… yes, most of the actresses and actors were beautiful all the way around, but it was their ability to portray their characters will makes Dark Shadows the best of the best… well, Green Acres was one of a few greats too :) )

  13. Cynthia says:

    OK, OK, I have not seen the new movie. But I HAVE seen the entire series of the original, both when it originally aired, (I was a kid) and this past year. So I can honestly say, as far as keeping the integrity intact the new one simply is not DS, the original. (One can ascertain this, even from the trailer–which was at best, full of cheesy-looking, gimmicky effects.) If Burton had kept the gothic horror element without the campy crap, it seriously could have been impressive, because he has all of the money and acumen to pull it off flawlessly. But he chose to make it a parody, which is really a slap in the face to Dan Curtis, the creator of Dark Shadows. Had Curtis still been alive when this remake occurred, I feel he would have dissed it to the moon and back.

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