My fascination with all things creepy began early in life. While I was still in elementary school, fourth or fifth grade, I’d rush home each day to watch the next installment of Dark Shadows. I’m sure I’m not the only fan of Charlaine Harris and other vampire-themed novels who was first bitten by the bug, so to speak, watching Victoria Winters and Barnabas Collins.
Last spring my husband found DVDs of the show when he was browsing through a catalog of books and videos. Remembering how I had talked about loving the series, he was thoughtful enough to point it out to me. Now, he probably wishes he hadn’t. We promptly ordered the first episodes, and I was astonished to discover that Barnabus, the vampire, doesn’t appear until six months into the series. It was a wonderful treat to sit down and watch THE VERY FIRST episode of Dark Shadows! Of course, like potato chips, one was never enough, and I found myself begging to watch a couple of them every evening, although my husband soon wanted a change in the menu.
I’m delighted to report that the series is every bit as good as I remember. In fact, even better. As an aspiring writer of the mysterious, I’ve spent some time over the last few years studying the mechanics of plotting and suspense, and Dark Shadows offers a good deal of instruction for anyone interested in crafting their own kind of creepy.
What was it that drew me and so many others to the series? The atmospheric black-and-white shot of the breaking tide that cuts to the huge, gloomy pile of Collinswood Manor looming on the cliffs above, accompanied by actress Alexandra Moltke ‘s perfectly pitched voiceover: “My name is Victoria Winters…” that opens each show sounds all the Gothic themes that appeal to something deep and primal within our collective psyche. As do the mysteries surrounding the Collins family for whom Victoria has come to work. As do vampires and secrets.
Not everyone’s cup of tea. But for those of us who can’t get enough of things that go bump in the night, who enjoy a vicarious frisson, this series made the perfect introduction to the pleasures that can be found in exploring the darkness and shadows that lurk within the human condition.
How do you account for this fascination with the dark, the world of shadows, the supernatural, the unknown? And what are your favorite spooky treats (books, TV, or movies)?