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?”
“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.