Decades before Twilight there was Dark Shadows, the first-ever gothic soap opera, its supernatural stories captivating audiences young and old for almost 45 years.
With its alluring tales of Gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became one of the most popular daytime series of all time. Since first airing on ABC-TV from 1966-71, Dark Shadows has earned the reputation of being one of the most unusual and enduring TV programs in history.
Thanks to MPI Home Video, that iconic Classic returns with two special DVDs compiling episode scenes from two of its most popular story arcs, one featuring the character Barnabas Collins, the vampire, the second disc featuring Quentin Collins, the werewolf.
Each disc, sold separately, contains about three hours of content, which includes selected scenes from color episodes as well as a new interview with the actor whose character is spotlighted.
Dark Shadows: The Curse of the Vampire, is devoted to the original beloved blood sucker from the realm of the undead - Barnabas Collins.
Barnabas, the 175-year-old guilt-ridden and love-lorn vampire, was portrayed brilliantly by the classically trained actor Jonathan Frid. Frid, now, in his 80's, was interviewed for this special compilation disc.
Dark Shadows debuted in June 1966, but faced cancellation because of poor ratings within a year. Creator Dan Curtis, desperate to save the show, decided to "go" supernatural, so he launched various spook-filled stories that led to the introduction of Barnabas.
Released from his chained coffin after nearly 200 years, Barnabas arrives at the Collinwood estate claiming to be a relative from England. Although noticing Barnabas' resemblance to his "ancestor" in a foyer portrait, the Collins family did not realize he is the same Barnabas who lived at Collinwood in the 18th century. As Barnabas moves into the Old House on the property, those around him are unaware of the horrors that will soon follow.
The vampire was to be a temporary character that would be killed off following a reign of terror, but Frid's compelling characterization caused Barnabas to remain throughout the series as ratings soared. Not only was the series saved from cancellation, but it became an international phenomenon boasting more than 20 million daily viewers! Frid also became incredibly popular, a sudden idol and sex symbol among teenaged girls.
In this special disc, the origin of Barnabas is told. From the Collinwood drawing room of 1967, the family governess, Victoria Winters, portrayed by Alexandra Moltke, is transported back in time via a seance ends up in the Collinwood of 1795. In the past, the Barnabas Collins of that era, BEFORE a vicious curse had turned him into the blood-thirsty vampire.
Barnabas is about to wed the love of his life, Josette Du Pres, but a jealous servant of Josette's with whom Barnabas had brief affair, successfully plots to ruin their relationship. The servant, Angelique, portrayed with verve by Lara Parker, is actually a witch born who uses her supernatural powers to wreck havoc on everyone in Collinwood. It is Angelique who places the curse of the living dead upon Barnabas.
The core brilliance of has made Dark Shadows endure are the eternal themes it illustrated: Love, death, fear, longing, revenge, obsession, lies, secrets, loyalty and betrayal all played out against a compelling backdrop of Gothic sensibilities that included vampires, werewolves, zombies, seances, time travel, ghosts, mystery, murder, intrigue and a constant dose of the unexpected.
This "soap opera" managed to transcend its genre by bringing a taste of Gothic horror and science-fiction fantasy to the hum-drum world of the afternoon drama. There had never been anything like it before - and there never has been since!
In addition to Frid, Parker and Moltke, primary co-stars on the disc are: Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Ford, Clarice Blackburn, John Karlen, Anthony George, Thayer David, Jerry Lacy, Craig Slocum, Sharon Smyth, and Joel Crothers.
Note: The entire series is available on DVD, also produced by MPI Home Video.