QUESTION: Recently you recapped the saga of Laura Collins the Phoenix from the old Gothic Soap Opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971). Do you plan to review any of the other story arcs from the show?
ANSWER: At this time I don’t but I would emphasize that the original series is always fun to watch for people who like horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Like early Doctor Who episodes, part of the charm comes from the unrefined, seat-of-their-pants, low budget nature of the 5 day a week Dark Shadows.
Even people who aren’t fans of the show seem aware that it featured a vampire, a witch, ghosts and a werewolf. There were also warlocks, a Dorian Gray figure, mad scientists, zombies, an artist whose works came to life because his canvases were made from enchanted wood, plus lots and lots of time travel.
In addition to the aforementioned Phoenix and other tales, Dark Shadows featured two other fun storylines which I’ll summarize briefly:
The Leviathan Cult: The supernatural Collins family clashed with what was basically an imitation Cult of Cthulhu. Dan Curtis (creator and guiding creative force behind Dark Shadows) made the undersea entity worshiped by the cult be Leviathan from the Bible. (“Try suing us NOW, Arkham House!” I’m kidding.) Other serpentine figures from world mythology were tied to the Leviathans, too, like Nagas.
You know the drill: the Leviathans ruled the world long before the dawn of humanity and wanted to rule it again with the help of their human cultists. The thwarted Leviathans punished Barnabas Collins by returning the curse of the vampire upon him. (In a disastrous move that was up there with New Coke, the show’s creative team had actually had Barnabas cured for a while, but babes just didn’t go for the less-than-smoldering Jonathan Frid without his fangs.)
Even the witch Angelique had given up her evil pursuit of Barnabas for a time and had settled down with wealthy publisher Sky Rumson (Geoffrey Scott of First and Ten). When it turned out Sky was really one of the Leviathan worshipers, the heart-broken Angelique was once again free to stalk the re-fanged Barnabas.
The second of the two storylines came by way of Mary Shelley
Adam and Eve: Evil Nicholas Blair engineered the creation of an artificial man called Adam. If you know Mary Shelley’s actual novel Frankenstein you know that was the name that the Monster went by.
You also know that the monster didn’t stay stupid like in most film adaptations. Adam’s intellect grew at an exponential rate and he threatened all manner of violence if Dr Frankenstein did not create a mate for him, a mate with whom he could retreat to the jungles of South America, far from human beings.
Dark Shadows capitalized on the novel’s stated fear of Dr Frankenstein: that the creature and its mate might reproduce and spawn a new race that would wrest mastery of the world from us puny humans. Nicholas Blair wanted to conquer the world with Adam and Eve’s offspring but his ambitions were defeated.
FOR MY REVIEW OF THE LAURA COLLINS PHOENIX STORYLINE CLICK HERE
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16 responses to “ASK BALLADEER: DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971)”
I loved this show! Im glad you covered some stories a lot of people forget about.
Thanks for saying so!
I may check this show out.
I hope you enjoy it!
You’re the first man I’ve seen who likes Dark Shadows!
What can I tell you?
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Yeah that leviathan cult was just a ripoff of Lovecraft.
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Jonathan Frid was only sexy as a vampire.
I dunno. Have you ever seen him in his cocktail waitress outfit? (I’m kidding.)
I never understood the love for Dark Shadows.