Thursday, March 31, 2011

News Round-up

  • Donna McKechnie (Amanda) will be performing her acclaimed one-woman show My Musical Comedy Life at New York's Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 4. For more information, click here.
  • Amazon are currently offering the two recent Dark Shadows compilation DVDs, The Vampire Curse and The Haunting of Collinwood at a bargain price, reduced by 40 percent. To order, click on the hyperlinked titles.
  • Ragged Isle is a spooky new web-serial inspired by Dark Shadows, featuring heroine Vicki Burke travelling to begin a new life in remote Maine. To view the show online, click here.
  • And finally, it is with sadness that we learned of the death of longtime Dark Shadows fan Vera Marano, who contributed many articles to the main site. Vera passed away in December, following a battle with cancer. Our condolences go out to her family and friends.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cross-Hatched Shadows

It's a delight to share these wonderful Dark Shadows illustrations, courtesy of site reader Jack Kusler. The images are the work of comic book artist Bret M. Herholz, reinterpreting some of Collinwood's finest in a style somewhere between Edward Gorey and Tim Burton. Pictured right are Cassandra, Adam, Barnabas and Nicholas Blair menacing Victoria Winters, and below is Bret's take on the classic 1967 Dark Shadows cast photo.

"As an avid comic book collector, I have been collecting Bret's books for years," says Jack. "We've chatted a few times and I commissioned him to do some Dark Shadows characters because of his unique style. He worked from still photos and I was extremely impressed. His stylistic approach with the elongated bodies, roundish heads and simple defining of facial features are all present. Even more wonderful was that I think he was able to convey the characters well, and present them in a unique, whimsical way."

Click on the images for a larger view. To learn more about Bret's artwork, visit his online blog by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jonathan Frid Video Interview

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation has just released an extensive new interview with Jonathan Frid (Barnabas) as part of their Archive of American Television initiative. The programme is working to create an oral history of television from key contributors across the industry.

This two-hour discussion, conducted in 2008, covers Jonathan's career in detail for posterity, including his work on Dark Shadows. To view the video online, click here.

Movie to Feature Young Barnabas

Deadline New York reports that Thomas McDonell has been cast to play a young Barnabas Collins in the new Dark Shadows movie. The actor is soon to be seen in the upcoming Disney film Prom, and has appeared in Twelve and The Forbidden Kingdom. Deadline also says that Michael Sheen is in discussions to play Roger Collins, following speculation over the weekend. To read the full article, click here.

Meanwhile, actor David Selby, who played Quentin Collins on the original series has written about the new movie on his official blog: "The fans of Dark Shadows should have no doubt about the talent and commitment Burton and Depp will bring to the project," says David. "And – yes! – I would love a cameo." To read more, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Movie Appointments

As pre-production continues, IMDB has reported more behind the scenes personnel for the new Dark Shadows movie. Rupert Smith is the production's visual effects co-ordinator. His other credits include The Wolfman and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Nikeah Ford is visual effects assistant co-ordinator, having also worked on Dawn Treader and the mini-series The Pacific. Finally, Rebecca Thomas is the unit's action prop buyer. Her other work includes Hot Fuzz, Dorian Gray and Inception.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Picture of the Week: Jungle Fever

This week, here's a rare still of Diana Millay (Laura Collins) from Tarzan and the Great River, which was released in 1967 and filmed prior to her first stint on Dark Shadows. Produced on location in Brazil, backed up with some rather obvious stock wildlife footage, the movie has become a minor schlock classic and was recently released on DVD.

If you would like to submit an image for Picture of the Week, email

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Michael Sheen for Dark Shadows Movie?

Online entertainment blog The Playlist reports that Welsh actor Michael Sheen is in talks to join the cast of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie. Playlist has "confirmed with sources close to the production" that the actor is "in early discussions for supporting role in the film, though it's not yet clear just who he'll been playing."

Michael Sheen is an acclaimed character actor, with a distinguished list of credits including many biographical roles. His work includes Frost/Nixon, The Queen and Alice in Wonderland for Tim Burton, along with recurring roles in the Twilight films and television's 30 Rock.

Speculation has begun that his potential role might be that of Roger Collins, originally played by Louis Edmonds. The character was the troubled brother of Collinwood's matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, set to be played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the new film; So far, it has not been confirmed if Roger features in the film's storyline.

Meanwhile, IMDB has reported several new crew appointments for Dark Shadows. Samantha Fazackerley is the project's visual effects assistant co-ordinator. Her other work includes Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Sebastian Lochmann has joined the art department as a sculptor. His credits include Speed Racer and the upcoming Wrath of the Titans. And finally, Roy Halfpenny is the film's prop model maker. His past work includes Where the Truth Lies and the new Captain America movie.

Movie Scriptwriter Speaks

Collider has interviewed writer Seth Grahame-Smith about his upcoming screen projects, including the new Dark Shadows movie, which begins filming in May. In the article, Grahame-Smith confirms that revisions on the script are still underway and that he has worked closely with Johnny Depp on the character of Barnabas Collins:

"I could meet with Johnny and sit down with him and hear him say these lines and talk to him about how he's going to perform this character. That absolutely dictates the way that you write because you have a basis in which to imagine these words being said... I know what the palette of that is and I can draw on it."

Speaking of the screenplay, Grahame-Smith reveals: "My job on Dark Shadows was to make it fun and funny, first and foremost. It can still be dark and it can still even be gory and gothic at times, but it also needed to be fun and it needed to be an experience that people would enjoy having. I came at it from, 'Let's not be afraid to be funny. Let's make Barnabas funny. Let's see this movie through his eyes and really see a man who is trying to come to terms with what he is, where he is and when he is.'

"I think we really got there with the script. We're still making some tweaks, and there are rehearsals coming up in a couple weeks... but I think everybody is really excited, me included, about where we got." To read the full interview, click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Movie Set Construction Begins

British newspaper The Guardian ran a piece on England's Pinewood Studios earlier this week, confirming that work has begun on building sets for the new Dark Shadows movie. The feature says that: "projects underway... [include] a huge gothic entrance hall being built as the centrepiece for Tim Burton's latest offering, Dark Shadows."

The article also goes on to say that the studio backlot's "biggest project is the creation of an entire New England fishing village using Pinewood's enormous outdoor water tank, which takes more than a week to fill." Though the article does not say which film this set is earmarked for, it seems likely that it will provide exteriors for the seaside town of Collinsport. To read the full article, click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Picture of the Week: Short-Lived Servant

This week it's a rare shot of Matt Czuchry as Willie Loomis from the 2004 Dark Shadows pilot episode produced by Warner Bros. Targeting a more youth-orientated audience this time around, the modern Willie was re-imagined as a teen pin-up, even gaining a girlfriend to act as his grave-robbing partner in crime. Alas the network passed on a Dark Shadows redux and the unfinished pilot episode was promptly consigned to the archives, never to be broadcast.

If you would like to submit an image for Picture of the Week, email

Friday, March 18, 2011

More From Eva Green

Black Book magazine has interviewed actress Eva Green this week about her movie Cracks, with the talk turning to her upcoming role as Angelique in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows feature film, which is due to start shooting in May.

Asked about the Dark Shadows screenplay, Eva reveals: "I'm not allowed to say too much about it. It's extremely well written, very, very funny, in a Tim Burton way. It's very focused on the actors, and the characters are really rich. My character is a full-on witch and she's completely obsessed with Johnny Depp's character, and she'll do anything to get him."

"It's the weirdest thing I've ever read. There will be blood... It's always dark and poetic with Tim Burton. It's a mixture of Sweeney Todd and Beetlejuice – back to his old roots. But he wants to focus more on the actors this time and the relationships." To read the full interview, click here.

In other movie news, IMDB has reported more Dark Shadows behind the scenes appointments. David Allcock has joined the art department as storyboard artist. His previous credits include the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, The Wolfman and the television series Merlin. Andrew Ryan is Dark Shadows' special effects technician. His past projects include The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd and Robin Hood. And finally, Emma Pill is the production's supervising location manager. Her other work includes The Bourne Ultimatum, Alice in Wonderland and Inception.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eva Green Talks Angelique

While promoting her new movie Cracks, actress Eva Green has spoken briefly about her role as the witch Angelique in the new Dark Shadows feature film, a part originally played by Lara Parker.

In a video interview for website Cinema Blend, the actress revealed "I'm shooting Dark Shadows in a month in London. It's a great piece, an amazing crazy role. I'm looking forward to it." Speaking of her inspirations for playing the character, she cites "Bette Davis and Janis Joplin, mixed together." To view the full interview, click here.

In a longer interview for MTV's Movie Blog, Eva confirmed recent speculation that the film will have a retro setting and that Angelique will still be blonde-haired. "I haven't seen the TV series, but from what I've seen... it's very different. My character is very different. She's American, blonde, cool, in the seventies. She is this sexy witch, very powerful in town, she's very cool. She has many faces."

When asked about director Tim Burton's vision for the project, she suggested that "It's something that he's never done... It's much more focused on the actors. It could almost be a play. The script is very powerful and funny. [Angelique's] relationship with Barnabas, that Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? relationship, very love-hate – it's very funny." To view the full interview, click here.

Treasures Of The Night

Site reader Allen Hendrix has written in to share some memorabilia owned by his parents, who were on set for the filming of Night of Dark Shadows at Tarrytown's Lyndhurst estate in 1971.

"My mom was the main tour guide during filming and my dad was on-set security, and were given a few items," says Allen. "The glasses are shown early in the movie and the painting is the one of Charles Collins."

The picture of David Selby is one of several paintings created for the production. The only other piece known to survive is the portrait of Angelique, which was given to actress Lara Parker, who still has it today. In addition to the drinks glasses, Allen's parents also own an original bound script, embossed with
Dark Shadows II, the film's working title.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From the Archives: March 1969

Here's a great interview recently added to the Google news archives, "Dark Shadows Director Crosses Into Male World". First published in the March 12 1969 edition of Charleston's The News and Courier, it showcases one of the show's greatest contributors, lead director Lela Swift.

Lela oversaw more episodes than anyone else, eventually taking the reins as the show's producer in 1970. I love the little lost details of the show captured in contemporary pieces like this – I can just picture her arriving at the studio in early morning gloom with her red briefcase full of scripts.

Speaking to Joy Stilley of the Associated Press, Lela was described a "diminutive brown-eyed blonde", declaring herself a "terrifically high-energy person". Breaking into television had taken time; she was initially warned she would only find work directing cookery shows. "I believe women can do anything," reflecting on her status as one of the few women working in drama. "When I was an assistant director, they passed over me five times because I was a woman... I guess they became embarrassed, because I was finally promoted to director."

"We never have enough time," said Lela about Dark Shadows. "The big thing is to keep the door creaking – we have to maintain a high level of suspense. The moment we put a ghost on, there was an enormous audience reaction. When Jonathan Frid went on as the vampire, again the ratings shot up. He was supposed to be on for only 13 weeks, but now we involve him in everything."

To read the full piece, click here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Movie Costume News

London-based fabrics specialists Schultz + Wiremu have announced that they will be working on the new Dark Shadows movie, as pre-production continues apace. The company's credits include the Harry Potter film series, along with many theatre and television productions.

Speaking on their Twitter feed, they report: "We started on Monday setting up Dark Shadows, ready for the team to come over from LA next week..." adding that this Monday "we will be seeing the costume supervisor for the first time and costume designer Colleen Atwood arrives! Dark Shadows here we go!"

Picture of the Week: An Uplifting Role

This week, it's a nightmare scenario for Jonathan Frid (Barnabas) in a rare post-Dark Shadows film role. Seizure marked Oliver Stone's directorial debut, featuring Jonathan as a horror novelist tormented by his own creations. Incidentally, the actor doing the hoisting is Henry Baker, who appeared on Dark Shadows as Istvan the gypsy in 1969.

If you would like to submit an image for Picture of the Week, email

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Audio Dramas: A Chronology

As regular readers will know, one of my main connections to the Dark Shadows world is my work on Big Finish's series of officially-licensed Dark Shadows audio dramas, which I've been working on, variously, as producer, writer and director since 2006. Over the past five years, we've recorded over 20 new installments in CD format, reuniting over a dozen original Dark Shadows actors, including David Selby (Quentin), Lara Parker (Angelique), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie), John Karlen (Willie) and even a special one-off appearance from Jonathan Frid recreating Barnabas.

One of the things I get asked most about the range is its chronological placement within the show's continuity. In the early days, when we began our full-cast stories, continuing where the show left off, we were very wary of explicitly stating dates for two reasons: Potentially we might have to incorporate dozens of new episodes in time, and didn't restrict ourselves too early on, and more importantly, everyone involved wanted the stories to unfold as a new continuation. To the casual listener, saying we were in 1982, however factually correct that might have been, would have just sounded distant and less exciting – the crucial thing was that these events were happening to our characters now.

But, times change, and now it doesn't seem quite so necessary to keep these things under wraps. We still avoid using explicit dates in the ongoing full-cast dramas, but for interested listeners, below is a guide to the various stories. And, if you want to catch up on the audio dramas, click on the linked titles in the story key below to purchase online. Beware, spoilers lie ahead...

Also, speaking of the audio dramas, Dark Shadows: The Night Whispers, last year's audio drama starring Jonathan Frid, has been nominated for a Rondo Horror Award in the Best Horror Soundtrack category. Public voting is open until March 28; to vote for the story online click here.

Full-Cast Dramas

c1755 Barnabas Collins travels to Martinique, where he murders a man to end the curse of Celeste (TB12)c1792 Feud with Oswald Gravenor and the Collins Family (AD1.4)
c1825 Nathan Hawkins is born (TB4)
c1855 Ten year old Gregory Trask is adopted by Elias Trask (TB7)
1859 Living in Massachusetts, Elias Trask marries Matilda Bentham (TB7)
1860 Gregory frames Matilda Bentham (TB7)
1861 Civil war begins and Gregory and Elias begin preaching in the western territories (TB7)
1865 Gregory and Elias settle in Salina, KS (TB7)
1868 Elias Trask dies (TB7)
c1870 Gregory leaves Salina as his church falls empty (TB7)
1871 Gregory leads a witchhunt in Derby, CT (TB7)
c1886 Jade is murdered and buried at London’s Empire theatre, beginning her curse (TB13)
1897 The ghost of Carl Collins appears to the dying Gregory Trask (TB7)
1899 Quentin visits New York and encounters the Skin Walkers (TB5)
1906 In November, Quentin visits London where he meets Rosie Faye (TB13)
c1918 Quentin visits Paris (TB11)
c1915 Chandres Tessier escapes the cult of the Blue Rose (TB11)
1925 Charlotte Howell comes to Collinsport (AD1.2)
1926 Charlotte is trapped by the book (AD1.2)
c1929 Quentin returns to Collinwood (TB11)
1929 Quentin visits Chicago, where he becomes involved with Chandres Tessier and the Blue Rose cult (TB11)
1941 In wartorn London, Quentin reunites with the dying Rose Faye (TB13)
c1948 Six-year-old Maggie Evans meets the Sandman (TB3)
1955 Construction begins on the new Collins Enterprises premises (TB11)

c1963 Willie Loomis and Jason McGuire visit Singapore and later Jamaica (TB8)
1967 Maggie encounters the Sandman while at Windcliff (TB3)

1968 Angelique visits Willie Loomis during his time at Windcliff (TB8)
1971 Quentin leaves Collinsport in mysterious circumstances; Maggie returns from Windcliff during the summer and is dismissed (TB4); David Collins sent to boarding school (TB4); Nathan Hawkins arrives in November (TB4)
1973 Dr. Gretchen Franklin comes to Collinwood (TB8)
c1973 Disgraced minister Reverend Hartswood begins retirement as the new caretaker of the Eagle Hill Cemetery (AD2.1); David begins medical studies (AD2.3)
c1977 Mr Strix sends the Collins family into hiding, with Barnabas dying at his hands (AD1.1); Collins Enterprises ceases trading (AD1.1); Lost people stalk Collinwood soon afterwards (AD1.1)
c1979 Ed and Susan Griffin take over the Blue Whale after an accident forces Ed to retire from his job at Collins Enterprises; David arrives incognito at Windcliff (AD2.2)
1982 Quentin returns to Collinsport (AD1.1–1.3)
1983 The Lorelei comes to Collinsport (AD1.4); Seraph escapes from the Underworld; Carolyn Stoddard and David return to Collinsport; Quentin and Barnabas leave town; Jessica Griffin arrives in town (AD2.1–2.4)
1985 Angelique begins self-imposed exile near Collinsport (TB6)
c1986 Barnabas reclaims his true body (unplaced)
1990 The stairway of Isiah Mason appears at Collinwood and Angelique is reclaimed by Diabolos (TB6)
1995 Barnabas is haunted by the ghost of Celeste (TB12)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bella Heathcote Joins Twitter

Bella Heathcote, the actress recently cast as heroine Victoria Winters in the new Dark Shadows movie, has joined the micro-blogging site Twitter. She's already touched briefly on Dark Shadows, promising that the film is "gonna blow your socks off!" To follow her updates click here.

Speaking of Bella, original Dark Shadows actress Kathryn Leigh Scott tells us that, as with the 1991 revival series, it is expected that the actress portraying Victoria Winters in the new movie will also represent the character of Josette duPres, Barnabas' long-lost love. Kathryn played the character in the original daytime series.

Elsewhere, IMDB continues to report on behind the scenes appointments for Dark Shadows, with Mila Hermanov is now listed as costumer buyer. Her previous credits include Nip/Tuck, Dancing With The Stars and TRON: Legacy. Also, Alison Levine has joined the project as a costumer, having previously worked on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and the upcoming X-Men: First Class.