Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Chat With Round 2

As recently reported, model kit company Round 2 have recently acquired a license to reissue the classic 1960s Dark Shadows kits, originally produced by MPC. We caught up with James Hood at Round 2 to talk about the new range:

Tell us a little about Round 2...
Round 2 is an innovative hobby and collectibles company located in South Bend, Indiana. Round 2 and its creative team are dedicated to producing detailed, quality collectible items that appeal to the young and the young at heart.

How did the decision to revive these particular kits come about?
One of our objectives is to take advantage of the [classic kit manufacturers] AMT and MPC's tooling banks, to uncover and bring back long-out-of-production kits like the Dark Shadows models.

Have any release dates been set?
Our current plan is to bring out the Barnabas kit in April 2011, the Werewolf in August and the Barnabas Collins Vampire Van in December.

How closely will the new releases match the originals?
They will match the original kits almost exactly. The only changes we may consider are alterations to make sure the kits fit together properly. Some MPC kits from that era from lacked positioning pins or tended to assemble with noticeable gaps at the seams. We'll look at correcting issues like that. We also plan to use reproduction artwork from the original packaging, though we usually need to make compromises here and there to satisfy licensor demands for modern logos and trademarks.

The classic figures came with poseable rubber arms and glow-in-the-dark parts. Will those be reproduced?
We will be looking into the possibility of injecting the arms in standard hard styrene plastic as well as the softer PVC of the originals. We want to be loyal to the content of the original kits, but builders today want to make their models as impeccably as possible. The soft plastic would cause some problems achieving a perfect look, and we've found that the flexibility of the arms is rather limited anyway. If we can inject them in styrene, we will include copies of the arms in both materials. Optional glow-in-the-dark parts will be included just like the original release.

Where will fans be able to buy the kits?
The kits will be available through standard hobby stores. Bricks and mortar stores are becoming fewer and fewer, but there are many online retailers that also carry
our products, which
can also be purchased through our website.

And finally, if these reissues are a success, would Round 2 consider producing all-new Dark Shadows kits?
As we say to most inquiries we receive, anything is possible.

Update: The Barnabas Collins model kit is now available and can be ordered online by clicking here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

News Bites

  • David Selby (Quentin) has updated his official website with a new personal welcome message. Pay a visit by clicking here. David's recent film The Social Network is due out on DVD in January and can be pre-ordered from Amazon by clicking here.
  • Marie Wallace (Eve) is interviewed in the latest issue of Scary Monsters magazine, discussing her work on Dark Shadows and beyond.
  • Alec Newman (2004 Barnabas) can be seen alongside Sir Derek Jacobi in a new production of King Lear at London's Donmar Warehouse. The show runs until February 5 and tickets can be booked by clicking here.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt's (1991 David) hit summer movie Inception has just been released on DVD. To order it from Amazon, click here.
  • Los Angeles' Greystone Mansion, Collinwood in the 1991 Dark Shadows series and 2004 pilot, was featured in the December 12 finale of CBS' The Amazing Race. Contestants had to make it to the estate, which marked the finishing line for the competition.
  • And finally, for a limited time, Amazon are offering the complete Dark Shadows Revival Series DVD for just $9.99, a 75% discount on the regular retail price. To order, click here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Third Comics Collection Announced

Hermes Press have confirmed that a third collection of Dark Shadows comic strip reprints is in preparation for publication in 2011. Dark Shadows: The Complete Series Volume 3 will collect issues 15-21 of the classic Gold Key stories digitally restored in collector's hardback format. Provisional cover artwork is shown right.

As previously reported, Volume 2 was due out in November, but has now slipped back in the schedules until February 2011. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon at a discount price by clicking here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Colleen Atwood Confirmed as Movie Costume Designer

At the beginning of the year, we reported that Colleen Atwood would be designing the costumes for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, and despite the delays in beginning shooting, The Seattle Times has this week confirmed that she remains attached to the project.

Atwood has collaborated frequently with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, working on films such as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. Her work can currently be seen in Johnny Depp's latest film, The Tourist. In addition to winning Oscars for Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha, her other credits include Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

"Tim [Burton] and I really hit it off on our first interview," she explains. "We had a few laughs and we've been laughing ever since." To read the full article, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More from Johnny Depp

As the press junket for Johnny Depp's film The Tourist continues, the forthcoming Dark Shadows movie has again been a subject of discussion. In an interview with MTV, the actor has spoken about the script development and the character of Barnabas:

"He's coming around," says Depp of the new interpretation of the character. "He's a guy who I think is going to be very interesting. He's going to be a lot of fun in a very outside and strange way. I'm excited." To read the full interview, click here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Johnny Depp in Vanity Fair

Johnny Depp features on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which includes an in-depth profile by Patti Smith. Amongst the topics covered are the upcoming Dark Shadows film, which Depp touches on briefly:

"That's something I really want to do. The script is really close now, really close... it's just a question of myself and Tim [Burton] and the writer, basically the three of us, getting together and signing off on various scenarios. But it's really gotten good. In the last three weeks, it's gotten f**kin' good."

The full interview can be read in the magazine, available in shops now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unsung Heroes

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how sprawling and diverse Dark Shadows was. Collinwood.net was established over 10 years ago to celebrate the show in all its forms, both on and offscreen, but it's impossible to cover everything properly. With over 1200 episodes and hundreds of actors and behind the scenes contributors, it's easy to overlook so many things. To this end, I've set myself a challenge – to find five things that I've not written about before. So, in no particular order, here are a few aspects of Dark Shadows that I think deserve a little more praise.

1. The Blue Whale Set
Sy Tomashoff's designs for Dark Shadows were nothing short of genius. With limited resources and studio space, he created a whole world for the show to live in. My favourite set is, without a doubt, the Blue Whale pub. Why does no one ever talk about this? It's a truly beautiful piece of design. Of all the Dark Shadows settings, it feels the most distinctive, and the most like a real place. From the sea reflections at the windows (such a lovely touch, achieved in low-tech style by a stagehand rippling a tray of water), to the little details like the hanging fishing nets and lanterns, you can almost smell the beer and cigarette smoke.

2. Violet Welles
During my recent 1897 re-watch, I became mildly obsessed with the episodes by the mysterious Violet Welles, an occasional writer on the show. She's seldom discussed, but for my money, hers was the voice that captured Dark Shadows best. With clever, sometimes raucous dialogue, a heartfelt sense of character, and a penchant for particularly bonkers dream sequences, Violet's scripts made me fall in love with the show all over again. She's also the writer responsible for Count Petofi, giving Dark Shadows its most entertaining villain. Surprisingly, she wasn't a full-time writer, earning most of her living as a Broadway theatre publicist. I'd love to know more about what influenced her and drove those wonderful, passionate scripts. Alas, information about Violet is scant, but somehow that adds to her appeal all the more.

3. Mrs Johnson
Spare a thought for Collinwood's perpetually-anxious housekeeper, played to perfection by the late Clarice Blackburn. With her quavering voice and frayed nerves, Mrs Johnson's semi-regular appearances were always a particular delight. Compared to rest of the characters, with their increasingly-convoluted melodramas, Mrs Johnson's greatest virtue is that she barely changed during her four years on the show. Most soap characters evolve beyond recognition, but Mrs Johnson remained resolutely the same – no one at Collinwood ever became familiar enough to dare call her Sarah. Endearingly anxious, God-fearing, and ever-so-slightly nosy, amidst Dark Shadows' gods and monsters, it was great to have one character whose ambitions extended no further than doing the dusting.

4. Fashions by Orhbach's
Though its heart was rooted in the past, the Orhbach's department store on West 34th Street kept the residents of Collinsport firmly connected to the present. In return for an on-screen credit, the store supplied free clothing for all the contemporary storylines. Occasionally the Ohrbach's credit would confusingly run on a flashback episode, so perhaps they had a Young Republic department tucked away in the basement. Carping aside, it's fair to say that a small but significant part of the Dark Shadows look can be traced to Orhbach's. From Victoria's trademark sleeveless dresses (a speciality in various shades of shapeless nylon) to Barnabas' cape (cheaply made by cutting up two identical coats from Menswear), Orhbach's deserves a little love for their seemingly-endless range of plaid shirts, and for giving the spectrum a particular shade of bilious lime green not seen before or since.

5. Dan Ross
When I first discovered Dark Shadows as a teenager in the mid-1990s, there were no episodes available here in England, so all I had to go on were a couple of magazine articles with blurry photos. Something instinctive told me that I would love Dark Shadows if only I could get to see it, but America and actual episodes seemed unobtainable and far away. All was not lost, when I discovered some yellowing copies of the Dark Shadows Paperback Library tie-in novels at a London comic fair. Suddenly Collinwood (or Collins House, depending on which book you were reading) was alive and real, and I steadily began to track down copies. The books were written by author Dan Ross, under the more marketable pseudonym Marilyn. Ross didn't have access to broadcasts of Dark Shadows at his home in Canada, so relying on scripts and story outlines, he crafted his own alternative Collinwood, where the supernatural was usually explained away in Scooby Doo fashion by the final chapter. With hindsight, it's easy to dismiss these stories as flawed, pulpy tie-ins, but for giving me my first proper chance to experience those characters and storylines I loved them dearly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Johnny Depp Talks Dark Shadows

In an interview promoting his new film The Tourist, actor Johnny Depp has spoken briefly about his upcoming role as Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows feature film. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Depp says: "We start [Dark Shadows] in April and I can't wait to sink my teeth in. Bad pun, I know. I can't wait to start and get into that dark mode."

To read the full interview, click here. The Tourist can be seen in cinemas from December 10.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jonathan Frid at 86

Many happy returns to Jonathan Frid, who celebrates his 86th birthday today. As vampire Barnabas Collins, Jonathan's contribution to the success of Dark Shadows was immense, and more than 40 years on, he continues to maintain his ties with the show.

In addition to appearing at the annual Dark Shadows Festivals in recent years, Jonathan remains active with his personal website, which features special dramatic presentations, an interactive message board and exclusive autographed merchandise. Pay a visit by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tim Burton Talks Dark Shadows

In an interview with MTV's Movie Blog, director Tim Burton has touched briefly on the development of the new Dark Shadows feature film. "I'm working on the script... It's been kind of a long time coming, but I think I'm getting a script that I like. I don't really like talking because I'm not really sure what's happening yet but I'm excited about it. I think, yes, finally for me, it's getting to be the right tone."

Dark Shadows is due to begin filming in April 2011, starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. To read the full interview, which also discusses Burton's other upcoming projects Frankenweenie and The Addams Family, click here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

News in Brief

  • The 2011 Monsterpalooza convention is to feature a Dark Shadows cast reunion, with actors Jerry Lacy (Trask), Lara Parker (Angelique) Christopher Pennock (Jeb) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie) set to appear. The event takes place at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel, in Burbank, California on April 8-10. For more information, visit the event's website.
  • David Selby (Quentin) was one of the celebrities taking part in the Los Angeles Memory Walk on November 7; The annual charity event raises funds for the Alzheimer's Association.
  • Journalist Ed Gross, who has written extensively about Dark Shadows, has launched a new blog devoted to the series. Blog of Dark Shadows includes features and interviews, including Jim Pierson talking about his role as consulting producer on the new Dark Shadows feature film. To pay a visit, click here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Addison Powell: 1921-2010

It is with sadness that we report the death of actor Addison Powell, who died in Vermont on November 8 at the age of 89. Addison played Dr. Eric Lang, Dark Shadows' first bona fide mad scientist in 1968, along with occasional appearances the ghost of Jeremiah Collins, Judge Matigan in 1795 and Judge Wiley in 1840.

His long career on stage and screen included roles in the films Three Days of the Condor, with Robert Redford, and The Thomas Crown Affair, plus television roles in The Adams Chronicles, The Mod Squad and latterly War & Remembrance, which reunited him with Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis. He also featured as the Gorton fisherman in a long-running series of commercials for Gorton's during the 1980s.

The Burlington Free Press has published an intimate obituary, which can be seenhere. Thanks to regular site reader John Hall for writing in with the news.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Look

Regular readers will notice that this blog has received a facelift, with a new design and features, to coincide with the latest announcement about the forthcoming Dark Shadows feature film.

You can also now follow the blog, using the panel in the right sidebar, and keep abreast of the most recent updates, plus share news stories on Twitter, Facebook and by email, using the buttons below. The coming months promise to be a truly exciting time for the world of Dark Shadows, and the Dark Shadows News Page will continue to chart all the latest developments.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dark Shadows Movie to Begin Filming in April

After a number of false starts, Deadline Hollywood reports that the new Dark Shadows feature film is finally due to go before the cameras in April 2011, with Tim Burton confirmed to direct. Johnny Depp will play Barnabas Collins, with a script by Seth Grahame-Smith.

We'll continue to report on the development of the project in the coming months, but suffice to say, it looks like Dark Shadows will be celebrating its 45th anniversary in grand style.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Win a Signed Script!

Big Finish Productions have just released their latest Dark Shadows audio drama, The Doll House, starring Marie Wallace as Jenny Collins and Terry Crawford as Beth Chavez. To celebrate, we have an original script from the production to give away, signed by both actresses! For your chance to win, just answer this simple question:

Which member of the Collins family was Jenny married to?

Send your answer, along with your name and postal address to webmaster@collinwood.net before November 30. The Doll House is available on CD and download from the Big Finish website.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Treat

A glimpse of the unseen 2004 Dark Shadows pilot episode has surfaced online, as part of the demo reel of VFX artist Dave Rinder. The mute clip features an impressive computer-generated opening shot of Victoria Winters on the train to Collinsport. To view the sequence, click here; The Dark Shadows portion begins at 5:43. Thanks to site reader David Ciminello for the tip.

Monday, October 25, 2010

News Bites

  • The 1991 Dark Shadows Revival Series DVD has been re-packaged a third time, this time with a more romantic cover of Barnabas and Josette, to capitalise on the appeal of Twilight; The discs themselves remain unchanged. New stock should begin trickling through to various retailers.
  • Barbara Steele (1991 Julia) was interviewed as part of BBC Four's documentary series A History of Horror. Barbara spoke about her work with Roger Corman and Mario Bava in the show's second episode.
  • The Greystone mansion, which was the filming location for Collinwood in 1991, is set to appear in this week's episode of CBS' The Mentalist. The episode airs on October 28.
  • Horror magazine Fangoria has devoted some coverage to Dark Shadows in recent months. Their August issue featured an interview with Jerry Lacy (Trask) and a chat with Chris Pennock (Jeb Hawkes) is slated for publication soon.
  • Sotheby's are to auction a rare piece of furniture once owned by Grayson Hall (Julia), as part of their Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale. The piece is a decorative table by Diego Giacometti, valued at $80,000; to read the sales listing, click here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Classic Model Kit Reissues

Model kit company Round 2 have announced that they are to re-issue three classic 1960s plastic Dark Shadows model kits, originally produced by MPC. The prototypes for the new editions were displayed at the recent IHobby Expo. Round 2 specialise in retro and cult-themed models, and have made many classic kits available to new audiences in recent years.

The original kits faithfully reproduced Barnabas Collins and a Werewolf, complete with glow-in-the-dark parts, and somewhat less faithfully presented young hobbyists with the Barnabas Collins Vampire Van, a dragster-style hearse for Barnabas to zip around Collinsport in. All three models will be reissued in deluxe collector's editions, available from Spring 2011.

Halloween DVD Sale

Halloween is just around the corner, and Amazon are celebrating with some great discounts on the Dark Shadows DVD series. For a limited time, each four-disc volume is available for only $19.49, a saving of nearly 70% on the retail price. Here are ordering links:

Dark Shadows: The Beginning (pre-Barnabas episodes): Collection 1, Collection 2, Collection 3, Collection 4, Collection 5, Collection 6

Friday, October 15, 2010

People News

  • David Selby (Quentin) can currently be seen in the chart-topping new film The Social Network, which chronicles the rise of Facebook. The film is playing across the United States and opens in the UK this weekend.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1991 David) has reported the death of his brother via his Twitter account; Dan Gordon-Levitt died on October 3 aged 36. Our condolences go out to Joseph and his family.
  • Donna Wandrey (Roxanne) is to appear in a new production of The Glass Menagerie at the Vermont Stage Lake Regional Theatre. The production runs until October 24. For more details and to book tickets online, click here.
  • The Sag Harbor Express recently featured a column by Harvey Jacobs discussing Dark Shadows. Jacobs was working for ABC-TV when he was drafted in to work on the show during a technician's strike in 1967. To read the piece, click here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

February Start Date for Dark Shadows Movie?

News on the development of the new Dark Shadows movie has been thin on the ground recently, but Collider reports that the project is on track to begin filming in February 2011. The same website reports that actor Johnny Depp's commitment to the project may scupper plans for him to appear in the upcoming Tom Hanks film Triple Frontier.

Dark Shadows is set to star Johnny Depp as Barnabas, with Tim Burton directing a script by Seth Grahame-Smith. The film is currently slated for release in 2012.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Win Barnabas!

Jonathan Frid made a special return to the role of Barnabas earlier this year in The Night Whispers, an original audio drama featuring John Karlen and Barbara Steele. Courtesy of Big Finish Productions, we have two copies of the CD to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:

Which character did Jonathan Frid play on Dark Shadows other than Barnabas?

Send your answer, along with your name and postal address to webmaster@collinwood.net before October 31. For more information on Big Finish's range of Dark Shadows audio productions, click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Chris Pennock Comic Book

Chris Pennock (Jeb) has just written and drawn the latest volume of his autobiographical comic book series Fear and Loathing... and the Chakra Shack in Idyllwild, California, is hosting a launch party to mark its release, with Chris in attendance. The event takes place on October 23 and copies of the new title, Fear and Loathing on Facebook will be on sale. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Audio Dramas Update

Big Finish Productions have recently released Kingdom of the Dead, the long-awaited sequel to their first series of continuing Dark Shadows audio dramas. The four-part serial is available as a boxed set and as individual discs.

The cast includes David Selby as Quentin, Lara Parker as Angelique, Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie, John Karlen as Willie and Jerry Lacy as Reverend Hartswood. The guest cast includes appearances from Nancy Barrett (Carolyn), James Storm (Gerard), Marie Wallace (Eve), Alec Newman (2004 Barnabas), Lysette Anthony (1991 Angelique) and Emmy Award winner David Warner. Kingdom of the Dead is written by Stuart Manning and Eric Wallace, and directed by Darren Gross. For more information and to purchase on CD, click here.

Debuting at the end of this month is The Doll House, which explores the doomed bride Jenny Collins. The CD was recorded in New York City in May, with Marie Wallace returning to the role of Jenny, alongside Terry Crawford as Beth Chavez. The script is by James Goss, whose Doctor Who audio CD Dead Air has just been voted Audiobook of the Year by the Audiobook Store. To pre-order The Doll House from Big Finish, click here.

The Doll House concludes 2010's Dark Shadows audio releases, but more titles are planned for 2011, including a full-cast sequel to Kingdom of the Dead. For more news and information on therange, plus exclusive recording photos, visit the Big Finish Dark Shadows Audio Dramas Group on Facebook, by clicking here.