Friday, February 5, 2010
It's getting exponentially difficult to find good vampire stories with all the vampire mania going on in Hollywood these days. Most will get one or two aspects right, but screw the pooch on all the rest. Because of this I find myself going back to my personal favorite Vamp classics. Stoker's book, Anne Rice's Chronicles, Robert Lumley's Necroscope series, etc. For film & tv, there's one series that I was reminded of just recently, and as it turns out, is back on sale on DVD. The series was a short lived one; only thirteen episodes. It was called Dark Shadows. I first heard about it when it aired on tv in the early 90's. But that's not where the Dark Shadows story begins.
Back in the 60's, the television geniuses at ABC came up with an idea for the only soap opera I would EVER consider watching. Dark Shadows had EVERYTHING, ghost stories, vampires, zombies, and even TIME TRAVEL!! I mean come on blending fantasy horror and sci-fi time travel on ONE SHOW!!! Fucking Amazing!! The only drawback was as it was a soap opera they had to have romance in it, but at least it was goth!! After seeing the 90's revival of it, I went back and checked out the original, but given the craptastic production values and what passed for acting in the 60s, I couldn't bring myself to continously watch it. But I loved the idea, and the revival in the 90s was amazing!
The portrayal of the vampire has never been static. It always reflects the deeper, darker impulses that general society only dabbles in behind closed doors. That's the point of the vampire archetype. In today's media, the vampire has lost that Victorian edge of restraint that gave the monster a sense of nobility in favor of random wanton indulgence of every desire. The interesting thing about today's vampire is the concept of the "good" vampire. Heroes like Abraham Van Helsing & Jonathan Harker have slowly been supplanted by vampire heroes like Lestat, Angel, and Blade.
Dark Shadows brought back a great many of the classic traits within the vampire archetype. The casual arrogance of the alpha vampire that gave it an air of sovereignty. The veneer of old school manner & behavior that is only matched by the awesome cruelty of the vampire's violence. And yet, the revival blended the old school archetype with a modern mentality and gave proper respect to BOTH. It was awesome to watch!!!
The story follows the vampire Barnabas Collins, who is released from his tomb on his estate, Collinwood Manor, in the first ep after being trapped there for 200 years. He promptly assumes the role of a relative from England and starts romancing the new governess, Victoria Winters. Near the middle of the series, something goes wrong with a seance and Victoria is teleported to the year 1790 and immediately runs into Barnabas. During her adventures in the past, Victoria finds out that Barnabas is a vampire. And at the end of the 12 episode run, she is returned to present day. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled at that point, so there's no real resolution to the story.
And just to make it cooler, a couple of my favorite actors made appearances on this show before going on to their own lead roles: Michael T. Weiss, who later took up the mantle of Jarod: The Pretender, and Adrian Paul, who later gained a different type of immortality in Highlander:The Series. Now that it's on DVD, it's on my wishlist. One day soon, I will purchase it!!
Bonus news: It looks like Johnny Depp is also a fan of Dark Shadows, and is working on the big screen version with Tim Burton! Click this link to check out the details!!