Dark Shadows-not a movie review but a refresher course of my childhood

I was one of many children of the late sixties, early seventies that was addicted to the daytime soap opera Dark Shadows that ran from 1966-1971. My sister Janet and I were so dedicated. As the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film advertising started, I believe it triggered the memories of many of us. I mean MANY!

My friend Sherry told me how the school bus would drop her off a block or two from her home and she would run as fast as she could to get there by 4pm to watch it. Ahhh the days before DVR, or VHS, when we had to be especially glued to the tv. Funny thing – as much as I watched it, I could not remember the story line. All I remembered was it was scary, suspenseful, Barnabas Collins, werewolves, witches, ghosts and vampires. It was the Twilight of our time! I had a post in Facebook about it and several others admitted to their addiction.

So I was ready for a modernized version Dark Shadows that would retell the story and we got it. We learned about how Barnabas Collins was turned into a vampire by the witch Angelic because she loved him so much and was hurt by his rejection. About how the Collins family built their wealth in America on the fishing industry in New England. About the Collins family curse. How the Collin family mansion built a mismatch of a family members and friends but family was core to their values. All the shots of the mean ocean waves hitting those wicked looking cliffs. Oh and something I forgot – Barnabas was a stud?

I’m not even going to address the “other” generations beyond that era. They had no idea it was a remake of something else. They just know Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. One young woman said, ‘so it’s a remake of a movie?’ I said no, a tv show. ‘Oh so a tv show?’ I said, ‘not just any tv show but a daily soap opera.’ That made me think – yes, it was perhaps one of the most unique and creative television shows of my time.

Leslie Ann Spears-Collins…I could have been the normal cousin!

So I got two tickets to see it at Harkins Theaters in Bricktown; kidnapped someone from their work in downtown, who of course will remain nameless, and went to the opening day 3:30pm screening. My movie buddy was one of the ones that didn’t know it had been a tv show so we had two different perspectives.  It was a rainy day so being inside a theater, watching a movie about everything haunted was a perfect opportunity.

What I didn’t realize is that the modernization would start back up in 1972, perhaps because it was canceled in 1971?? There were plenty of references to that era including awesome rock music, hippies, pot smoking, Alice Cooper, red lava lamps that totally mess with Barnabas’ desire for blood, clothing, macrame, cars. Talk about triggering other memories.

We both agreed Michelle Pfeiffer was perfect in the role as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and that she is aging extremely well. Johnny Depp is always good and most weird. Oh and sex and blood are much different in today’s movies than yesterday’s 1960s tv shows.

I really didn’t want this to be about a movie review. I just wanted to talk Dark Shadows – the tv show. It truly was a phenomenon of the 1960s/70s. I’m glad there was a movie made. Whether you like the movie or not, it was time for the tv show to get some homage paid. Thanks to Tim & JD for triggering a unique childhood memory. That’s right, I was 7 years old and watching an afternoon soap opera with ghosts, vampires, werewolves and more.

I dedicate this blog to my sister Janet Talley and our latch-key childhood (for which we didn’t know we were latch-key children at the time).


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