Beginner’s Guide to Dark Shadows

My name is Maynard Winter. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of gothic horror to me. With the theatrical adaptation of Dark Shadows looming just a year away, my goal is to watch as much of the original series as I can, and share my thoughts on the happenings in the mysterious mansion on top of Widow’s Hill.

One has to come to this series with an open mind, and accept the production value, the acting and the story telling with an understanding that Dark Shadows was created as a daytime soap in the sixties. The gothic concept was unheard of at the time. There is a certain charm to the black and white imagery, the eerie music and the campy acting. I feel that I’m at a disadvantage because I’m watching it on a computer screen, and not on a television.

So far I’ve watched the first six episodes, and I’ll admit that I’m hooked. Without the commercials, the episodes are roughly twenty minutes long. It’s not the show I was expecting, and the storyline is very slow. So slow in fact that I haven’t seen any paranormal elements. Again, I have to keep in mind that this was produced in a time in TV history when shows like this was new to daytime TV.

What’s hooking me in is the story itself. It’s mysterious at every turn. Even the protagonist, the young and curious Victoria Winters is a mystery. The opening of the first episode starts off with her voice over, “My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past to my future.” As she arrives in the small New England fishing town of Collinsport for the first time, she’s immediately met with repeated warnings to return to her home in New York City. In fact the mood is always dark, and the black and white camera-work adds to the tense situations that Victoria comes across.

The theatrical adaptation set for 2012 will be directed by Tim Burton, and written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who is also adapting his novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the big screen. The Dark Shadows movie will star Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.

I will keep watching and report on my findings in the Collinwood mansion…if I make it back.

5 Responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Dark Shadows”

  1. The Dead RedHead and I watched all 1,245 episodes when they ran them on the Sci Fi Network a few years back. Here’s hoping you become as completely, obsessively HOOKED as we did!

  2. deadredhead

    Maynard! Skip to right before Barnabas shows up…Willy starts acting freaky, past the Irishman trying to marry Mrs. Stoddard…THEN it gets FABULOUS! OH and the interplay between Barnabas and…THE HOFFMAN! And then we go back in time and …oh I get all excited and tingly! So glad you’re enjoying it! – Dead Redhead

  3. Oh my God! I am so hooked on this article! Redhead is right, skip to right before Barnabas comes….it is so campy, it’s fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    and my master actually watched them when they were on actual she’s OLD!!!!!! (ha ha meow, I better watch it, blogging priviliges will be revoked again!)

  4. Dead Redhead & Illustrator X: My jaw dropped when I read there were THAT many episodes! I’m definitely going to take your advice and skip to right before the Barnabas episodes. The episodes are already starting to become hard to find online. I don’t have Netflix, but I’m considering it. I inadvertedly read that there were episodes that go into the past, so I’m very interested in seeing what they do with that.

  5. Rocco: Hey! I’ve seen so much about Barnabas that I was expecting to see him right away. Not that I’m complaining, but I didn’t realize he doesn’t appear until later in the series. The thing is, in the new movie, Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas, so I wonder how they are going to work that out. I’m already a little nervous.

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