Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Shadows…

I remember as a child back in the late 60’s running home from school so that I could get there in time to watch Dark Shadows. My fascination with vampires started a few years before after watching the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi. In Dark Shadows,
Jonathan Frid played Barnabas Collins. The Canadian born actor was planning to move to California when he got the call that he had won the role of Barnabas. He only accepted the role because he believed it to be short term and it would give him the extra money he needed to move. His desire was to be an acting teacher. The fans of Dark Shadows had other plans for him. Dark Shadows had been on for almost a year before the introduction of Barnabas. It was close to being canceled because of low ratings, but the introduction of Barnabas changed everything. Dan Curtis, the creator of Dark Shadows, had a vision to have something on TV that had never been seen before in the infancy of daytime television. Dark Shadows was a gothic twist of vampires, werewolves, witches, time travel, and parallel universes. Thanks to Netflix, I have been able to watch over 120 hours of the show. The Netflix collection begins with the introduction of Barnabas and goes through to the end of the series. It was a horror lover’s dream show.

So you can imagine my surprise and pleasure to hear that Johnny Depp was interested in bringing the old TV show to the big screen. Johnny Depp is a very eclectic actor. The roles he prefers are unusual and often interesting. To hear that he and Tim Burton were fans of the original show gave me hope that they would respect the concept of the original Dark Shadows. From everything I have read they are keeping in close touch with the style and feel of the original. The actors involved are top-notch… Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, and Jonny Lee Miller to name a few. I also read that original cast members Jonathan Frid, David Shelby, and Lara Parker are making cameos. An interesting side line is that Alice Cooper is also making an appearance as himself… how he’s going to play into the storyline is anyone’s guess. For more information, check out this link: . The movie will hit the big screen in May 11th, 2012.

If you are a fan of vampires, you will benefit greatly from watching the old Dark Shadows series. Truly, Barnabas was what I envision a “true” vampire to be. So many vampire movies over the past 30 years have gotten away from the traditional vampire because they must have thought the concept needed to be spiced up a bit. While I have liked a lot of those movies, the traditional vampire will always be the best to me. A vampire needs to have the sense of dread in his demeanor. Think about the very real effects of immortality. Everyone you have ever cared about or loved, your family, your friends will all die. Yes, you have the power and supernatural abilities, but you also dwell in the depths of loneliness. I think that is the attraction to me… it is a catch 22 in every aspect. The highs and lows of immortality are lived to the extreme by traditional vampires. The anger and hate they feel for their condition is only equaled by their love of the strength and power. Vampires are the most interesting horror character in my opinion. I have spent the last 6 years writing a vampire novel with a historical twist. If you’re interested, check out this link: . Jonathan dreams of starting a new life in the New World across the Atlantic. On board the Arabella, Jonathan sets sail from England in 1630 to begin his new life, only to succumb to sickness and die. Jonathan is buried on the shores of Salem. Awakening that evening, trapped in a grave, Jonathan breaks of his tomb and claws his way to the surface. Thus begins a dark and deadly journey through the streets of Salem that brings deadly consequences to the town’s residents. Jonathan touches the lives of many and influences our early American history. Check out Jonathan Hale: The First American Vampire.

Frank Godbey

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