The shocked reaction depicted was understandable: It was a big — make that monumentally big — deal that Dark Shadows was able to cast as the Collins family’s matriarch, Elizabeth, Joan Bennett, a well-regarded veteran of the big screen (as far back as silent pictures, for Pete’s sake).
Color Them Skeptical
Series creator Dan Curtis’ dream of a mystery woman on a train manifested itself in Alexandra Moltke as the original Victoria Winters, nanny to Collinwood kiddo David. Joining her in adding a grain of salt to whatever they were seeing were the aforementioned Bennett and Louis Edmonds (later Langley Wallingford on All My Children) as her brother, Roger Collins.
Interview With the Vampire
Never mind that he seemed to have no idea how a cane was actually used. Once Jonathan Frid emerged from the coffin of Barnabas Collins, he pumped new life’s blood into Dark Shadows — ironically, as his toothsome alter ego sucked it out of anyone foolhardy enough to stick their neck out.
Though Barnabas had an irritating habit of obsessing over women who reminded him of his late fiancée, Josette du Pres, the woman we’ll go to our graves believing was his destiny was the late Grayson Hall’s bonkers Dr. Julia Hoffman, who sought to cure the vampire of his bloodlust.
The Season of the Witch
Whenever Dark Shadows hit a dull patch, it would simply resurrect once more Lara Parker‘s Angelique Bouchard, a sorceress so magical, she could make ordering breakfast sound like a hex. Sometimes there were wigs, fake identities… It didn’t matter. Angelique was gold, no matter how often she was mined.
Hair Ye, Hair Ye
So adored as werewolf Quentin Collins was David Selby (later the Machiavellian Richard Channing on Falcon Crest) that in 1969, a Robert Cobert instrumental called “Quentin’s Theme” hit No. 3 (!) on Billboard magazine’s adult-contemporary chart. In your face, Kenny G!
Three Faces of Evil
Between them, Quentin, Angelique and Barnabas drove so much story, they all but owned the highway. Along with the inimitable Julia, they became what Dark Shadows Every Day called the kaiju, owing to their enormous presence and impact on the canvas.
The More the Scarier?
In 1970, the soap was spun off into the big-screen House of Dark Shadows, with Nancy Barrett’s Carolyn Stoddard doing her best to attract new fangs. The following year, Night of Dark Shadows further diluted the brand (and must have made future Charlie’s Angels scripts seem brilliant by comparison to Kate Jackson, who played Tracy Collins).
Once More, With Feeling
In 1991, Curtis shed new light on Dark Shadows with a primetime reboot starring Ben Cross as Barnabas. But alas, that light was, erm, quickly shut off. The series was slower to get going than it was to get gone.
Dark Shadows’ influence was keenly felt in 2000 when struggling General Hospital spinoff Port Charles unleashed vampire Caleb Morley on Livvie Locke, a dead — well, live — ringer for his late love. (How very Barnabas, no?) Though the twist gave viewers the best kind of chills, ABC still drove a stake into the soap’s heart just three years later, then gave new roles to Michael Easton and Kelly Monaco (who these days are Finn and Sam on General Hospital).
Best Foot Forward
Fans of Dark Shadows rejoiced when they heard that Johnny Depp was turning the soap into a big-budget movie directed by his pal, Tim Burton. Then they saw it, and… ugh. The best anyone could say about it was that, even in a crapfest that stinky, future Penny Dreadful star Eva Green (who took on the role of Angelique) came out smelling like a rose.
Much like the immortal vampire that became its focus, Dark Shadows can’t be killed, not really. In 2004, The WB shot a pilot for a reboot. In 2019, The CW was said to have yet another one in the works. So it’s less a question of whether the beloved soap will find its way back to our screens someday… but when.