Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Importance of Knowing Barnabas Collins

My mother helped my father run our family business.  As a result, I spent a fair amount of time in my pre-school years at Grandma's house.  No doubt this was good for Grandma as well; she was blind in one eye and not terribly mobile by the time I came along, but she was supremely patient and an excellent and doting teacher.  I gave Grandma a sense of usefulness in her old age, and she was a superb caretaker.
Grandma loved soap operas and afternoon talk shows.  I'd sit and play with plastic toy animals while she watched such classics as The Mike Douglas Show, General Hospital, and One Life To Live.
But then she'd leave the TV running so I could watch Dark Shadows.
I never understood much of it, but episode after episode engrained into my preschool consciousness a sense of the gothic.  Long before I could read Dracula, long before I'd ever heard of The Mysteries of Udolpho, I internalized the concept of grim, lonely mansions trapping innocent young girls and holding the secrets of vaguely threatening but attractive older men.
In the original Dark Shadows, the wind blows all the time, rustling the bushes -- but never displacing a single hair of the characters.  The Collinwood Mansion on Widows' Hill always looks gloomy -- because the early episodes were filmed in black and white.  And isolation is a definite theme.
Is it any wonder I started writing vampire stories by the time I was eleven?
Honestly, people, I could identify Barnabas Collins as early as I could identify songs by the Beatles and the Monkees.  I was morbidly attracted to Barnabas -- only Robin on the Batman show held more wonder for my three-year-old mind.
And now Johnny Depp is going to turn it all into humor.
I can't WAIT!!!
The trailer is SO funny!  ("Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!")
In preparation, I borrowed DVDs of episodes 73 to roughly 90-something of the original show from the public library.  And those seem funny to me now.  ("My name is Victoria Winters....")  Barnabas hasn't even appeared in the story yet.
In any case, the new movie is a total must-see for me this summer.  I love Johnny Depp anyway, and Dark Shadows is just such a part of my past.....
I wish I could tell Grandma.  She just might have found all this amusing, too -- even if she preferred General Hospital.


  1. I can't wait either! Depp of all people it will be fantastic! I too, as a child saw bits and pieces of Dark Shadows, and in my mind it's still the one and only (coolest) Soap Opera! I will be at the very first showing of it too!!!

  2. I saw the trailer the other day. Of the two vampire movies being advertised (by the same director no less), this is the one I'll probably see.

    I've never heard of the show until your post.

  3. Hello Paperback.

    I am also looking forward to seeing the movie. I've heard of the TV show, but I've never seen any of the episodes. However, I agree with you that the previews do look funny, so it is added to my "Must See" list.

  4. Johnny Depp is always good, even in the rubbish films.