Dark Shadows

Okay, I’m gonna carbon date myself here…  I am watching HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS on Chill and remembering how addicted I was to Dan Curtis’s supernatural gothic soap opera, DARK SHADOWS.  It used to scare me – one episode gave me such nightmares my mom wouldn’t let me watch it for a week (thus making me a miss an integral plot and character shift; when Cassandra comes back as Angelique – thanks a lot, Mom!).

In the course of its run, DARK SHADOWS jumped the shark over and over again, but the basic premise is the stuff that most modern day paranormal romances are made of: sexy vampire finds reincarnation of his lost love and vampiric hijinks ensue. There were witches (Lara Parker, who no doubt gave many a young boy ideas), werewolves (and didn’t Quentin have the beefiest sideburns you’ve ever seen?), troubled children (de rigour for a gothic), innocent governesses (did I mention reincarnation of lost love?) lovelorn doctors (“show me your neck, Julia!), scientists with questionable motives (Professor Stokes, played by the same actor who was Count Sacknussem in JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH)., time travel, parallel universes and a dream curse.

And of course, there was Barnabas Collins, centerpiece of the show.  Played by Jonathan Frid sporting a black double cape and silver wolf-headed cane, Barnabas Collins was an icon in those days.  I didn’t find him sexy (I was 4 years old when the show started so perhaps this is no great shock), but the whole concept of undying love certainly made an impact.  And, as mentioned above, the show scared me.  I liked being scared, so this was not a huge problem (unless I kept Mom up with my nightmares).

I watched an episode a few years back and was amazed at the glacial pace.  Sample dialogue between two characters:

“Is that the key?”

“The key?”

“Yes.  The key.  The key to the room.”

“The key to the room?”

“Yes, the key to the room.”

” The key to the room that hasn’t been open in a hundred years?”


And so on.  The scene ends after a close-up on someone’s feet walking on tiled floor, ominous music building with each step until the feet stop and the music gives a resounding ‘Da DAH DAAAAHHHHH…’

Ah well.  What scares a four year old cannot be held up to the critique of a grownup.  And even with the silliness, stilted dialogue and on-screen boo boos caused by single takes per scene), DARK SHADOWS  definitely helped shape my imagination into the rather scary place it is today.

11 thoughts on “Dark Shadows

  1. I loved this post. It’s true that things do change as we age. I’m just into my thirties and I think completely different than I used to. I expect another shift to happen soon, before 40.

  2. It’s so funny, Lacresha, ’cause I think I’ve gone through a major shift in the latter part of each decade! I don’t always like the process, but I do like where I end up!.

  3. I too loved Dark Shadows. I watched it in the summer, but when school started, my grandmother would watch and tell me about it when I got home. I’d sort of forgotten about it.

    Times have changed since then, for sure. The dialogue was slow in those days, but it was the norm. Just like books have changed in content and pace over the years.

  4. Marvin, Dani has nagged me unmercifully in the past re: pictures on posts really adding to the attractiveness of a blog, so I’ve been trying to add more. Your blog is very appealing just in content and background!

    Helen, did you ever watch NIGHTSTALKER? It was another Dan Curtis production, but wathcing it nowadays it seems a lot snappier than Dark Shadows…Of course, there was about 5-10 years difference, I guess.

  5. Oh, dear, could I reminisce to some even more stilted shows. But I won’t. Enjoyed the post, but at my age that was only yesterday. I like to watch 60s and 70s reruns to see if I can spot some of today’s stars in their infancy, so to speak, and am amazed that we thought of some of them as good entertainment. Course I can remember the very first tv set. We received one from my parents in March after we married in December. There, that dates me doesn’t it? Fun.

  6. “Why are you wearing that scarf, Julia?”


    “It’s not cold, Julia.”

    MUSIC: oooohhWEEEEE!

    “Take it off, Julia. TAKE IT OFF!”


  7. Velda, I wish you WOULD reminisce about some of the other old stilted shows! I probably remember them too! And so do a lot of younger people thanks to Nick at Night and DVDs…

    Heh. OtherLisa has seen the show…Except it wasn’t Barnabas, it was Professor Stokes, methinks.

    Dave, you have some catching up to do!

  8. Oh, my. I have found friends. I used to watch Dark Shadows (I’m either a few years older than you, or slightly precocious, or both – I would definitely have called Barnabas sexy, if the word “sexy” had been in my vocabulary then.) I can still hum “Quentin’s Theme” (the song the music box played). I have some of the episodes on VHS. My mom used to laugh at me – I’d watch DS but only through a door cracked open slightly – I’d sit out in the hall and watch with one eye. (I think I was all of a worldly SIX, maybe seven, to your FOUR.)

    Nightstalker? Of course I watched it. How about Night Gallery? “What’s Hell to some is Heaven too others.” (If you saw that episode, you know exactly what I mean.)

  9. Holly, my new friend! Now my pal Maureen and I still don’t find Jonathan Frid sexy,but I getthe appeal. And yes, you might have been more precocious than me. 🙂
    The music box actually played Josette’s Theme, but Quentin’s theme was another classic. I..er…I have the record of all the show;s music, including the Blue Whale theme.

    LOVE Night Gallery. I don’t remember that specific episode, but I bet if I saw it, I’d recognize it immediately. What about the ear wig episode? Eeeuwww!!!

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