Dark Shadows Stars from Original Series Appear in New Dark Shadows Movie
By David Block
Some old TV shows cannot stay dead and buried and the ABC horror soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971) is a key example. It underwent various reincarnations, from movies, House of Dark Shadows (1970), Night of Dark Shadows (1971), to the short-lived NBC revival series (January to March 1991), and to additional productions.
Its latest resurrection is the recently released movie starring Johnny Depp as Vampire Barnabas Collins and directed by Tim Burton.
This past May 10, the night before the movie’s release, Dark Shadows stars from the original series along with numerous fans packed the Vista Theatre in Los Angeles to see the new movie along with the House of Dark Shadows. In attendance was the Grammy Award winning jazz singer Diane Schuur.
“I watched Dark Shadows when it first aired back in ’66,” Schuur said, who has been blind since birth. “I loved the music, the acting, and the storylines were great.”
Four of the stars from the original Dark Shadows series had cameo roles in the new movie: Jonathan Frid (Vampire Barnabas Collins), Lara Parker (the evil witch Angelique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott, (Maggie Evans, the first love of Vampire Barnabas Collins when he was released from his coffin in the 20th century and David Selby (Ware-wolf Quentin Collins).
For Lara Parker, being part of the Johnny Depp movie was exciting and memorable. “We got a call Thursday night that we were to leave for England that upcoming Tuesday and then we’d be filmed two days later,” said Parker. “I had no time to shop for clothes or get my hair done. The only thing I had time to do was to get a new passport because my old one expired.”
When the four of them arrived on the movie set, they saw that Johnny Depp was in make up. “He had long yellow fingernails and Barnabas’s curls,” said Parker.
Parker explained that Jonathan Frid observed Johnny Depp and said to him, ‘I see you have the curls.’
Parker said, “Johnny Depp said to Jonathan (Frid), ‘None of us would be here if it wasn’t for you.’”
According to Parker, when Tim Burton announced to everyone on the set that they were from the original series, they received a standing ovation.
Parker had a long conversation with Eva Green, who portrayed Angelique in the Tim Burton film. “I did not need to give her pointers on how to play Angelique,” said Parker. “We just had a great conversation.”
Kathryn Leigh Scott was also thrilled to have a cameo in the movie. “It’s seldom where original cast members who originated the roles are included in a new production,” said Scott. Scott attributed this exception to Depp and Burton being long time fans of the original Dark Shadows series. “We felt like we were part of this new family,” said Scott.
After viewing the Johnny Depp movie, both Scott and Parker said that they loved it.
Roger Davis, another star from the original Dark Shadows series, also enjoyed the movie. (In the series, Davis portrayed a number of characters including a vengeful ghost and a vampire.) “I hope there are five sequels,” said Davis.
All the fans and the stars from the original series in attendance were sad that Jonathan Frid could not see the movie. He died this past April 13 at age 87.
Memories of Jonathan Frid
Lara Parker credited Jonathan Frid for coaching her to portray an evil character. “Jonathan used to tell me, ‘Stop trying to be the ingénue. Realize you’re the villain.’ We did hundreds of scenes together.” Parker said that the show was never edited and that Frid frequently forgot his lines on camera. “Whenever he’d forget his lines,” said Parker, “he still made the scenes look good.”
Kathryn Leigh Scott remembered: “One day in the dressing room, the hairdresser was trimming Jonathan’s hair. We were talking about all the fan mail that he was receiving. The hairdresser said to me, ‘you collect his hair because some day it will be worth a lot of money.’” Scott explained that the hairdresser placed Frid’s hair in an envelope and gave it to her. Nearly thirty years later, Scott sold some of his hair at a charity auction.
Lisa Richards, who portrayed the secretary Daphne Budd in the House of Dark Shadows (starring Jonathan Frid as Vampire Barnabas Collins) was his first victim after he was released from his coffin.
“I’ll never forget how Jonathan bit me on the neck,” said Richards.
Nancy Barrett, who often fell victim to Frid’s vampirism in the series, remembered that he was a true gentleman and great to be around, both on camera and off. “He was absolutely adorable,” said Barrett.
James Storm, who in the original series, portrayed the Ghost of Gerard Stiles, and whose infamy was firmly cemented after his character destroyed the Great House of Collinwood, was flattered that Frid remembered him.
“We hadn’t seen each other in over 35 years,” said Storm, “and he remembered so much about me. He even remembered my son’s name.”
The actors and fans in attendance enjoyed the Johnny Depp movie.
Unlike the series and previous movies, the current version shows signs of the time. The movie takes place in 1972, and therefore the movie touches on the War in Vietnam, the drug culture and Alice Cooper. Moreover, the movie shows Barnabas struggling to adapt to the 20th century, unlike the previous productions, which focus his thirst for blood. Johnny Depp is the first Barnabas Collins to confront a moving car and a TV set. As the Carpenters sing Top of the World on television, Depp’s character breaks the TV and orders the “tiny songstress” to show herself.
To learn more about Dark Shadows and its reincarnations, you can purchase Kathryn Leigh Scott’s 2012 book, Dark Shadows Return to Collinwood by logging onto her website, www.kathrynleighscott.com
For over 20 years, David Block has worked as a documentary producer/director and a freelance journalist. He is also legally blind and has been that way since birth. See some of David Block's works at http://www.blindfilmmaker.com.