Friday, April 30, 2010

Jonathan Frid Returns as Barnabas Collins!

Anyone who knows me fairly well is probably aware that I'm a passionate Dark Shadows fan.

When I was a nine year old kid Dark Shadows was an enormous thing in my life. I was already an obsessed fan, even though I had yet to see a single episode of the TV show and wouldn't for about another year.

Forrest J Ackerman's
Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine first introduced me to the existence of the groundbreaking series, but it wasn't playing on our local television stations. Still, I was intrigued to say the least. Just imagine! A daily series starring a vampire, featuring witches and warlocks and werewolves! That was even better than the weekend Creature Features. Seemed too good to be true.

I glumly suspected that I might not ever get to see Dark Shadows, although cousins in another state sometimes told me about it during their holiday visits, after noticing the poster of Barnabas Collins I already had on my bedroom wall. To my delight, I soon discovered the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic books at a local drug store and bought every issue I could find.

Then Famous Monsters released its classic "House of Dark Shadows" coverage about the new feature film and--suddenly, like a magic spell--the series began broadcasting locally at 4 o'clock every weekday, starting in about the middle of the Gerard storyline. Several of my friends even confessed to me that they had nightmares of being haunted by the disembodied head of the evil warlock on the show. Pretty strong, creepy stuff for daytime television.

And, yes, I really did run home from school every day to watch it. I remember developing triple-crushes on Lara Parker, Nancy Barrett, and Kate Jackson when I was ten years old.

All the kids in the neighborhood tuned in, too. It was quite a craze. On Halloween a bunch of us tried conducting a very scary seance "just like on Dark Shadows", and a neighbor girl named her kitten "Angelique."

I bought the
Barnabas fangs, that came with the board game, from a kid at school for a dime. They were much more realistic that the common plastic Trick or Treat fangs you could purchase at the time. I was Barnabas that Halloween, drawing those spiked bangs across my forehead with my Mom's eyebrow pencil, and creating a crude version of his distinctive walking stick out of a bamboo cane with a Mini-Dragon head attached to the handle.

We also acted out episodes from the show in my neighborhood all year long, often stopping in the middle of a scene because we'd creep ourselves out.

Ahh...those were fun days...!

Beginning this summer the original Gold Key Dark Shadows comics are going to be published in classy hardcover editions. Also, the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows motion picture is in pre-production, reportedly to be released on the IMAX screen.

Just when things couldn't seem to get better for Dark Shadows fans, now, after more than forty years, the distinguished actor Jonathan Frid is reprising his iconic role as Barnabas Collins, the original tragic vampire-hero, for a new audio drama.

Horror/fantasy news just doesn't get any cooler than this!


  1. I'm a Dark Shadows fan too, having caught it on the SF Channel. I wish they'd pick the series up again. I guess I might have to put this on Netflix. Wow, I hope the Burton film actually gets made. All this Dark Shadows new, very cool. Fun reading about your childhood reminisce.

  2. That's really cool about Frids reprising his role via audio; it will be interesting to see how his voice holds up. Mr. Powell, did you read Barnabas' appearance in the latest Kolchak annual? If so, what did you think?

    Any idea if Moonstone has ever explored the comics or prose rights for the series? Would that interest you greatly to contribute to such a project?

  3. Hi Luke,

    Just call me Martin. We're all in this together.

    I haven't yet seen the Moonstone comic book you mentioned, but I did read Mark Dawidziak's original short story that it was based on in KOLCHAK: The Night Stalker Chronicles,Vol. One, and I liked it very much.

    By the way, I have a Kolchak short story, "The Abominable Ice Man", in that same collection.

    If Moonstone, or any publisher, decided to once again produce a DARK SHADOWS comic book series, you'd better believe that I'd be interested! In fact, I can't think of anything else I'd like to write more.

    Thanks for stopping by!