The following review is dedicated to my favorite actor of all-time, Jonathan Frid who passed away peacefully in his native Canada on April 14, 2012. We will miss you Mr. Frid, but thankfully we have your years of work on DVD for posterity to remember you by. God bless you "Barnabas".
With the release film version of the 1960's cult classic daytime soap opera "Dark Shadows" starring Johnny Depp MPI Home Video has released "Dark Shadows-The Complete DVD Collection"! This has made all of us "Dark Shadows" fans extremely happy, especially those of us that haven't yet purchased any DVD sets of the series. All 1225 episodes from the ABC network daytime run (1966-1971) are available along with a slew of bonuses including interviews with series creator Dan Curtis and various stars of the soap.
Luckily for the show's fans all episodes of this soap opera exist except one (#1219) which is the "lost show" episode. However, the audio of that episode has been found by a collector and the studio has been able to recreate the episode using that audio and various still pictures. The fact that most soap operas had their episodes destroyed prior to 1979 and that all the shows of "Dark Shadows" exist is really a miracle as networks were proned to wiping soaps and daytime game shows as they felt no one would want to watch them again after their first airing, and also because videotape (which is the way "Dark Shadows" was produced) was very costly during the sixties.
The price for this beautiful box set is in the range of $400.00-$600.00, but when you consider what your getting it is a remarkable deal. The shows have been cleaned from their prints and look as if they were produced yesterday. Also, "Dark Shadows" has been released several times on DVD in various box sets that were nearly $60.00 per set and there were 32 sets to purchase so when you take all this into account the "Limited Edition" or "Deluxe Edition" is a collector's dream! If you had to purchase each one of the "collector's sets" individually the final price tag would be $2000.00 for all 1225 shows so again this is a fantastic price!
It is important to note as well that on the original individual box set that featured episode #451 a very popular "blooper" was omitted. The blooper featured an actress playing an old witch who went up on her line. You then could hear someone off camera telling her what the line was. In this "Complete Collection" set that blooper is being restored!
Also the first episode to feature Barnabas from 1967 was an old kinescope that was grainy and rough to view which was put on the original DVD set. Eventually on the last DVD set of "Dark Shadows" (from the "In the Beginning" series) a better copy of that episode was found, restored and included as a bonus. In this "new" set both the rough copy and the remastered version are being included.
Many have wondered if the two "Dark Shadows" feature films, 1970's "House of Dark Shadows" and 1971's "Night of Dark Shadows", would be included here and unfortunately the answer is no. Those films are not owned by MPI, but by Warner Brothers who have stated that both movies will be released on DVD and Blu Ray sometime later in 2012.
MPI has also announced that it is rereleasing all 32 individual box sets of "Dark Shadows" on April 3, 2012
UPDATE: MARCH 23, 2012: THE STREET DATE IS INDEED APRIL 10, 2012 WITH SOME ON-LINE RETAILERS ACTUALLY SENDING OUT COPIES TO CUSTOMERS THIS WEEK, TWO FULL WEEKS BEFORE THE SET ARRIVES IN STORES!!!
The following is a complete list of bonuses provided by MPI Studios and these are splendid:
1. Commemorative large Coffin package (housing 22 amaray cases)
2. A Deluxe Booklet with episode summaries and photographs
3. Special Bloopers, Treasure and Behind-The-Scenes DVD
4. Over 120 Bonus Cast and Crew Video Interviews
5. An Autographed Postcard from Jonathan Frid (Barnabas). This is an actual signed postcard autographed by Jonathan and not a preprint!!! (Thank you Gerard Heaney)
6. Limited Numbered Edition
7. Deluxe High-Quality Packaging (matte and foil coating, nickel hinges and black ribbon to hold lid when opened)
8. Box Dimensions: (Coffin), 13 1/2" L X 11 1/4" W (at widest) X 5 3/4" D
9. Shipping Carton Dimensions, 16.5" X 8.8" X 14"
10.Weight (Carton and Contents)-15.5 lbs
The actual box art comes in the shape of a coffin and is the size of a shoebox. The DVD's themselves are housed in individual plastic cases with the spines looking upward to show the entire body of Barnabas lying asleep in his coffin. Really neat!!! The cases house an amazing 131 DVD's.
Among the MANY bonuses are the rare Jonathan Frid "Merv Griffin" interview from 1969 and Joan Bennett's appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show". What is also nice to hear are the original ABC network voice-overs during the credit crawl at the end of the episodes.
MPI I thank you from the bottom of my vampire heart!!!!
UPDATE: MARCH 28, 2012: Well folks I almost dropped dead when a man came to my door today as I didn't anticipate getting the set until the street date. I opened this big cardboard box and there lying in all its glory was my beloved "Dark Shadows"!!! Trust me...everything you've heard about the set is true. As "Mayday" explained..."MPI hit it out of the ball park with this one". This set is everything I dreamed of and more. The packaging is strong, sturdy and almost made out of a combination of cardbord and strong tin. Where the coffin opens there are two hinges made of medal that are tightly screwed to the case. Inside the DVD's themselves are all lined up nicely and safely and are NOT in paper sleeves, but actual strong DVD cases. When I opened my set I was dismayed not to find my collectable booklet, but upon inspection I realized it is put at the very end along where the DVD's themselves are housed. The book is gorgeous with rare black and white pics and all the ABC original airdates and summaries of each show are included. The autograph postcard of Jonathan Frid is indeed authentic and is signed in beautiful red ink.
I also looked at the bottom of the set and I am #2462 out of 2500. There is a seal that states this is a limited edition and has your number there.
All in all a beautiful set that has to be seen to be believed.
UPDATE: MARCH 29th, 2012: O.K. MORE NEWS! MPI HAS BEEN SO IMPRESSED WITH THE HUGE SALES OF THIS COMPLETE SET OF "DARK SHADOWS" THAT ON JULY, 10th, 2012 ANOTHER SERIES OF SETS OF "DARK SHADOWS-THE COMPLETE SERIES" WILL BECOME AVAILABLE!!! HOWEVER, ON THIS "NEW" SET THE DVD"S, THE COLLECTABLE BOOKLET AND THE WONDERFUL PACKAGING OF THE COFFIN WILL REMAIN THE SAME, BUT MISSING WILL BE THE JONATHAN FRID POSTCARD AND THE "LIMITED #" ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SET. THE JULY 10th RELEASE WILL BE AN UNLIMITED SET MEANING THOUSANDS WILL BE PRODUCED, NOT JUST THE MERE 2500 THAT WERE MADE. THE REASON TOO FOR THIS DELAY IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE PACKAGING OF THE COFFIN IS DONE OVERSEAS AND IT TAKES TIME FOR THEM TO BE MADE AND SHIPPED TO THE U.S..
UPDATE: ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 6th, 2012 AMAZON HAS STOPPED TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR "THE LIMITED SET" SIGNALLING THEY HAVE NO MORE FOR SALE, BUT THEY ARE TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR THE "DELUXE EDITION". Also, as of July 20th the Deluxe Edition has already sold signalling the second printing of this delightful box set (even without the Jonathan Frid autographed postcard) is in very high demand by consumers. Way to go "Dark Shadows" fans!
UPDATE: April 13, 2012: As of this date all on-line retailers, including Amazon, have completely sold out the Limited Edition set of "Dark Shadows" which means if you were fortunate enough to purchase a copy you are now sitting on a gold mine! Actually, many stores sold out this remarkable collection weeks before the actual street date which was April 10, 2012 including MPI the company that produced the set.
UPDATE: July 18th, 2012: Warner Brothers has announced that both "House of Dark Shadows" and "Night of Dark Shadows" will arrive separately on both DVD and Blu-Ray on October 30th, 2012!!!!!
UPDATE: January 1, 2014. It has been awhile since I last updated this review. Looking at the latest amounts of "Limited Edition" copes of "Dark Shadows-The Complete Original Series" on Amazon I noticed prices from private sellers are between $1300.00 to $3500.00 U.S. !!! Collectors...take care of those coffins! LOL