Dark Shadows

I knew it would happen eventually. With the vampire mania of the last few years, it was just a matter of time until someone resurrected the cult 60’s series Dark Shadows. As much as I have eschewed the current vampire offerings, I must offer full disclosure and admit that I was hooked on the show. I negotiated hard with my mother to let me watch every afternoon for the half hour after school. I think she relented only so that I wouldn’t be a social pariah, since it was the main fodder for daily lunchtime discussions in the cafeteria.

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, Dark Shadows could best be described as a gothic soap opera. But that really doesn’t capture its overwhelming appeal. It was a massive series, with over 1,200 episodes (more than all of Star Trek,  to put it in perspective). It’s not surprising that the dazzling director of the dark Tim Burton, decided to pick it up. It’s perfect material for his somewhat cryptic creative sensibility. Even Burton recalls running home after school to watch and Quentin Tarantino, Madonna, and new Dark Shadows star Michelle Pfeiffer all admit to being fans as well.

In fact, Pfeiffer was such a fan that as soon as she heard Burton was making the film, she put a call in to be cast. The plot centered around vampire Barnabas Collins, to be played by Burton favorite Johnny Depp – Depp and Pfeiffer in a sneak peek above. Although not introduced until after the first year, Barnabas’ appearance catapulted the show into its stratospheric popularity. The series was characterized by high melodrama, wide ranging storylines and plot twists and yes, highly atmospheric interiors!

Collinwood, the estate in the original show, featured interiors full of gothic drama. The exteriors were shot at Seaview Terrace, a French Renaissance style chateau from the 1920’s in Newport. Designed for Mr. and Mrs. Edson Bradley, architect Howard Greenley, won an American League of Architects medal for the house, shown above. It closely beat out Lyndhurst, below, the famous Gould estate in Tarrytown, NY for the honor. Lyndhurst was, however, subsequently used in both movie versions (yes, there were two).

Although they did not shoot inside, many of the interior elements of Seaview, such as the chandelier and stained glass window below, served as inspiration for the set design.

The Burton version is being filmed on a set in Beckenham Place Park, in South East London, below.

There don’t seem to be many images around but you can get a tiny peek here with Burton, Pfeiffer and Jonny Lee Miller on set.

From what we can discern so far, it looks like we may have some stylish interiors and costumes. I think if Tim Burton would borrow a little of the Nancy Meyer’s/Downton Abbey sensibility in the set department, he could draw in a whole new crowd. If I were the set designer, for example, I’d conjure up for Collinwood something like the gothic splendor of Birr Castle in Ireland. Shot at night, like most of the scenes will be, the rooms would have an even richer, darker appeal.

photos of Birr Castle by James Fennell from The Irish Country House

But we’ll have to wait until May to find out. In the meantime, if you’re curious what Dark Shadows is all about, take a peek at this video character summary to get a feel for this gothic cult classic!

31 thoughts on “Dark Shadows

  1. Unbelievable! Haven’t thought of that show for far too long. We used to sneak over to our neighbors house, where the mom would have the show on as she ironed her husbands shirts. Wasn’t the woman named Angelina?? Is it more than a coincidence that the house is Collinswood and the family in the Twilight series are the Collins? Thinking back, there are many similarities between the 60’s soap and the recent movie series. No wonder I can’t sleep at night! Wonderful post, xo ebh

  2. As a big fan of Tim Burton’s work, I am definitely looking forward to this too.

    Only you Stacey, could make a post on “Dark Shadows” a glorious tour of great home design. ;)

  3. Dark Shadows?????????!!!!!!!!! I thought that I would never hear that title again. That is exactly what we all did at Duke at lunch time: run to the cafeteria so that we could watch Dark Shadows… funny that your posts provoked such great memories. It was pretty scary, too.

  4. I too ran home after school to watch Dark Shadows with my sister. I loved the show and the historical interiors and costumes even then. However, after many incidents of disruptive nightmares, viewing privileges were revoked. I occasionally snuck in a show, but had to rely on my sister to stay abreast of the plot to participate in the lunchtime dialogue. I can’t wait to see this one since i missed so much of the first!!! And I love all these details you provide. I had thought the whole thing was filmed at lyndhurst so thanks for correcting.

  5. Have to admit, I haven’t really jumped on the vampire train. But after your recommendations for Downton Abbey – no a Golden Globe winner – I’ll trust you and check it out!!!

    Stay warm today. Brrrrrr!

  6. What amazing news on this Arctic day. Tim Burton and “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp as Barnabas. Yet another reason to look forward to May. My friends and I ran home every day to watch and we dressed up as Barnabas and Angelique for Halloween, as well as role playing around our old school with it’s nooks and crannies.

    Can’t wait!

  7. Oh, I can’t wait! I am not usually into this type of movie, but I was also addicted to Dark Shadows. I most likely watched every episode.
    I love the Gothic design and will be curious to see exactly how they decorate for the movie. I also love Michele Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp, so I am really looking forward to this movie!
    Thank you for sharing. Had fun watching the Golden Globes last night. So happy to see some older women at the forefront! I thought it was one of the best ever.

  8. Dark Shadows! Great series and like you, not a huge fan of the Twilight series. Beautiful pictures however I am Claustrophobic and wouldn’t care to head down to the basement! Fun post –

    Enjoy you day!

  9. Oh I’m so intrigued! I missed Dark Shadows when it aired, but do remember my mother talking about it. Sounds like Tim Burton is a good match for bringing it back to life – although I do hope that he takes some of your lovely interior recommendations. They are gorgeous! I’ll definitely keep and eye out for this come May! Thanks Stacey.

  10. I had no idea this was underway, thank you for posting about it! If Tim Burton has his A-game going it could be brilliant. I was forbidden to watch it when I was growing up, so you can imagine how eager I am to see it on the big screen.

    Sending you a smile for a wonderful week to come,

  11. I have to see this! I never heard of the series until just now, but it sounds super cool and this cast and crew is composed of all my favs, so what a treat it will be! Thanks Stacey for posting about this–can’t’ wait!

    xo Mary Jo

  12. O.M.G. Remember it was on a 4pm???? Yes, I watched it too!!! Wow, isn’t that something and who knew we should have paid more attention to a young Johnny Depp?? Thanks for bringing back these fun memories!! Loved that show!

  13. I have never heard of this show….learn something new everyday! Michelle is a goddess…the setting of a castle will have me watching just to see the interiors! You know I love Lyndhuest….on of mys favs along the Hudson (and where I had my daughter’s party last year!) BTW, love your writing and congrats on your recognition!!

  14. You have me intrigued. I am going to love this. I did not see the original but I see myself as a newer version cult follower. Be sure to give a heads up when you see it viewing. Thanks for keeping me current

  15. Wow – it looks intriguing! I had never heard of the original show. I would never have recognized Johnny Depp – will have to check it out when we are stateside again – May is perfect timing. :)

  16. The original “House of dark shadows” with the real cast in it is supposed to come out on blu-ray this year also

  17. I’ve been dying for this show to come out! I used to love Dark Shadows! And I definitely loved Twilight! This should be fun but I totally agree with you about making the set as wonderful as Downtown Abbey! Thanks for sharing this! It was a fun post!
    Carolyn Bradford

  18. And now, years later, we can say that while the original “Dark Shadows” was and is still enjoyable, the Burton version, with Johnny Depp as Barnabas – “sucked”.

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