The Original Episode of Dark Shadows, the 1960s TV Series That Inspired Tim Burton’s New Film

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For millions of American kids growing up in the late 1960s, it was a thrill to run home from school and flip on the TV in time to hear the creepy theremin music at the beginning of Dark Shadows. A soap opera with a vampire! There was something strangely subversive about it. As a headline writer for The New York Times recently put it, Barnabas Collins (the undead star of the show) was “The Vampire Who Came Out in the Afternoon.”

Tim Burton was one of those kids who ran home to watch the show. “I should probably have been doing homework or playing sports after school instead of watching ‘Dark Shadows,'” Burton told Terrence Rafferty for the Times article. “But seeing that show every afternoon, at home, in Burbank, it just doesn’t get much weirder than that.”

It might get just a little weirder tonight, with the American opening of Burton’s campy new film adaptation of Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. The movie has been getting positive reviews. Manohla Dargis in The New York Times calls it “Mr. Burton’s most pleasurable film in years.” To help get you in the spirit, so to speak–and to add perspective–we’re taking you back to the very first episode of the original series (above) from June, 1966. Alas, Barnabas Collins didn’t make his appearance until episode number 211, a year later. The actor who played Collins, Jonathan Frid, died last month at the age of 87. He makes a cameo appearance in Burton’s movie. For a preview of the film, see below. You can purchase the complete Dark Shadows TV series on DVD here, which comes in a nice package of 131 discs.

Related Content:

Vincent: Tim Burton’s Early Animated Film

Frankenweenie: Tim Burton Turns Frankenstein Tale into Disney Kids Film (1984)

Tim Burton’s The World of Stainboy: Watch the Complete Animated Series

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Comments (3)
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  • Steve King says:

    The series can be seen through streaming on Netflix—-absolutely the best gothic soap you’ll ever have the pleasure to watch. Whether it’s Barnabas or Buzz, the quasi-hippie biker, you’ll have fun…

  • Kim says:

    Hi there!
    My friend and I have been doing quite alot of research into this tv series and we would like to know if anyone knows where we could find the rights for it?
    We want to do a stage performance on it and hopefully travel with it one day.
    But legally that’s not happening.
    Please help us!

  • Brad says:

    I would suggest getting in touch with the Dan Curtis family. Dan was the creator of Dark Shadows.

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