I don’t go to very many movies, much less get excited about them. I rarely even watch T.V. I’d rather be reading a good book. Such was not always the case, however. When I was a child, my favorite shows kept me glued to the screen. And my absolute favorite was Dark Shadows.
It was my first introduction to the paranormal, and it enthralled me. I was both excited and terrified. I lived in Upstate New York and had never seen an ocean before. Collinsport, Maine, the fictional setting for the series, was as exotic as India to me. When the waves of the Atlantic crashed against those rocks and the eerie theme music played, I was transported. The great house at Collinwood! Who wouldn’t want to live in a mansion like that?
I was so jealous that David had his own governess and didn’t have to go to school. David was my first human crush. I had been in love with the cartoon character Johnny Quest, but there wasn’t much future in that. David was real. Yet he caused me much anxiety. His life was difficult, what with ghosts and vampires and all. I noted in my diary on October 1, 1967, “I am worried about David and I can’t be very happy until he is happy too.” (Also a memorable day because “somebody knocked over the offering basket in Sunday School and all the money spilled on the floor.”)
Watching Dark Shadows is mentioned in every entry. I always kept track of whether it was good or bad. Bad was having to sleep with a cross to make sure no vampires could bite me. Good was loving David “more and more every minute.”
October 16 was particularly harrowing. “Things are terrible on Dark Shadows. Dr. Woodard has been killed. He was the one who knew everything and could have solved the mystery. Now he’s dead.”
I don’t remember the details of that mystery or the convoluted plots. But certain images are seared into my brain forever. The Collins family mausoleum. Josette’s ghost removing her veil to show her shattered face. Angelique sticking pins in voodoo dolls. And the portraits. Especially the portraits.
Dark Shadows is the reason I write in the paranormal genre. The love never left me, even after David and I parted ways. When you read Fire and Shadow, you’ll see how my memories inspired me. And I don’t care how different the movie is from the television series. It’s still a return to Collinwood. If it’s good enough for Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and the late great Jonathan Frid to make cameo appearances in, it’s good enough for me. (Not to mention that I would pay to see Johnny Depp read the phone book.) So thank you, Dark Shadows. Something tells me that you are going to live forever.