If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
This week, Tim Burton’s take on DARK SHADOWS hit DVD/Blu-ray
in North America. Since the day of its theatrical release this past May, a
sharply divided public has argued the film’s merits. Some felt that Burton
offered the perfect balance between homage and spoof of the classic TV series,
while others stated they would have preferred a more serious work.
Then there were the naysayers who trashed the film simply
because it was called DARK SHADOWS. This was nothing new, as any SHADOWS fan
can attest to.
In 1969, when I was in the 8th grade, I was called a
“faggot.” “Ha ha,” laughed my tormenters. “He’s such a queer, he even watches
DARK SHADOWS!” Three decades later, at a horror con I attended, I was
branded a “loser” by a fellow fan. Because I like—love—DARK SHADOWS.
DARK SHADOWS was, in 1967, my introduction to the Gothic
horror genre. This odd, ambitious daytime soap opera, with its alluring,
non-soap tales of vampires, witches, werewolves and ghosts, inspired me to
start attending showings of the latest Hammer films in Brooklyn, New York,
where I grew up. Then I discovered Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
CREATURE FEATURES on Channel 5 soon caught my eye, and the Universal monster
movies it showcased gave me nightmares.
I would never have sought these things out had I not first
seen Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) get out of his coffin and bite Josette
(Kathryn Leigh Scott) on her neck. By the time I first saw James Whale’s
FRANKENSTEIN in 1968, I had already witnessed Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall)
and Dr. Eric Lang (Addison Powell) create Adam (Robert Rodan) on DARK SHADOWS.
Among those who view the series as an influence on their
careers are Burton, his SHADOWS star Johnny Depp, Stephen King, Joe Dante and
many others. Luminaries like Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg and
Oprah all admit to being devotees. Scott received fan mail from Paul Newman and
Joanne Woodward. When Burton announced his big-screen take, superstar Michelle
Pfeiffer publicly campaigned for a role, freely admitting that she too was a
lifetime fan. Back in the day, no less than Jackie Kennedy Onassis admitted
that she “gave DARK SHADOWS a whirl.” The series, was, at its peak, seen each
day by 20 million mesmerized viewers.
In spite of its enormous popularity, there has always been a
virulent anti-SHADOWS backlash, which, in recent months, has been gleefully
egged on by certain members of the mainstream press. In late July 2012, three
months into the moderately successful theatrical run of Tim Burton’s DARK
SHADOWS, MSN.com film critic James Rocchi declared the film a “bomb.” In his
snooty, provably false diatribe, Rocchi
stated that “DARK SHADOWS came and went from theaters so fast you’d think
someone staked it through the heart.” He also said it was “a 50-year-old
supernatural soap opera TV show no one wanted to see on the big screen.” If Mr.
Rocchi had done his homework, he might have discovered that DARK SHADOWS
remains, to this day, a thriving franchise, still adored by millions.
Actress Scott can attest to the show’s enduring popularity.
She appeared on the TV version’s very first episode, and stayed with it for
four years. Post-SHADOWS, she played dozens of roles on TV and in film; in
1986, she launched Pomegranate Press, an independent publisher that has issued
many titles relating to classic TV history, including at least a half-dozen
books pertaining to SHADOWS. It’s highly unlikely that Scott would have
published so many volumes about the series if no one was interested—the lady
has in fact sold quite a few books, and continues to do so. Scott’s TV co-star
Lara Parker has followed in her footsteps, penning three well-received novels
about Angelique, the evil, lovesick witch she portrayed on the series.
UK-based Big Finish Productions is also part of the current
DARK SHADOWS revival. A few years ago, the company issued a SHADOWS audio drama
on CD, with original cast members verbally reprising their TV roles. The disc
sold so well that Big Finish issued 23 follow-ups, with more in the works. The
company’s Joseph Lidster offered this statement to Fango: “The audios, which
were already doing well, have increased their audience over the past year.
We’ve not only kept old fans buying them, but have seen quite a few new
listeners subscribing—and that was long before the film was released. With the
audios, comics, books and DVDs, I think DARK SHADOWS is clearly establishing
itself as a title in which more and more people are interested, in both the old
stories and the new.”
What was that about comics? Just ask Nick Barrucci, owner of
New Jersey-based Dynamite Entertainment. As of this writing, Dynamite’s DARK
SHADOWS comic has seen six issues published, with plans to continue. Barrucci
just launched a second title, DARK SHADOWS/VAMPIRELLA, a crossover saga in
which Barnabas Collins meets the legendary, uber-sexy sucker from the planet
Drakulon. People must be avoiding Mr. Barrucci’s comics in droves for him to expand
the series, huh, Mr. Rocci?
“DARK SHADOWS has endured the test of time and influenced
pop culture since the show aired,” Barrucci tells Fango. “We’re proud to be
releasing the DARK SHADOWS comics and the crossover with VAMPIRELLA, and we
have new and exciting plans yet to be announced.”
Hmmmm…I wonder if Mr. Rocci did any fact-checking before he
wrote SHADOWS off?
Oh, and getting back to those audio dramas: co-producer Jim
Pierson contacted Fango at the 11th hour to point out that such projects on CD
“are not at the cutting edge of entertainment in the 21st century.” But Pierson
informs us that Big Finish “recouped their investment, paid the actors a
reasonable talent fee, generated a modest profit and, above all else, given the
fans an opportunity to enjoy new stories involving classic DARK SHADOWS
characters voiced by many of the cast members of the original TV series, as
well as several from the 1991 revival. It’s a very special and unusual
circumstance that has allowed DARK SHADOWS to live on in this format, and Big
Finish has worked hard to pull together the creative elements as well as
following business parameters to allow it to work.”
From this writer’s point of view, it’s hard to believe that
all these people would put so much effort into producing new DARK SHADOWS
material if no one was interested. And as far as that movie that Mr. Rocci says
“no one wanted to see on the big screen,” Burton’s DARK SHADOWS will be
concluding its theatrical run with a worldwide gross of $240 million. The film
will continue to make money as it appears on disc, pay-per-view and premium
channels. While Mr. Rocci is certainly entitled to his opinion, he is not
entitled to his provably false “facts.” We would hope that in the future, he
and other journalists will try to avoid speaking for us, and allow us to enjoy
the show that gives us so much pleasure.
DARK SHADOWS is alive and doing great!
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment