This episode of the Horror TV Shows We Miss video series was Written and Narrated by Niki Minter, Edited by Adam Walton, Produced by John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.
It’s not weird that we do this one first, right? Shhhh. We don’t have to actually tell anyone. One of you is going to give me shit, aren’t you? I think if we did do Dark Shadows OG, we’d have to do a whole Dark Shadows week. If you want that please send your love notes to the higher ups. That’s said, let’s crank the Joy Division and take a step into the trashy romance novels of horror soaps, Dark Shadows Revival 91. Yes, we’re adding the 91.
Dark Shadows was such an enormous thing. Just mentioning it brings certain folks out of the coffin to lend a pointy ear. My voyage with the series started out with this one. I had seen moments of the original series here and there, but it never pulled me in. When I was obsessed with Chiller, I happened to catch the revival in the middle of a marathon and that was it. Everything about it was right up my alley. It also helped that the lead shared my name. I just don’t prefer to be called Vicki. It was a bit upsetting when I found out that 12 episodes was all I would get. The episodes themselves had me engaged like I was watching the NWO saga unfold and then it’s just over. I’ll rage over this a few more times throughout I’m sure.
Originally, Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis wasn’t even anywhere near bringing back his most beloved series. The original run started in June of 66 and went until April 1971 which encompassed six seasons with 1,225 episodes. The head of NBC programming in 1987 reached out to Curtis in an attempt to bring it back, well, he didn’t just reach out the exec pestered him until Curtis reluctantly agreed. The revival is somewhat in line with the original. It does veer off in slightly different directions using different characters, but essentially we get to a similar point. If you’ve never heard of Dark Shadows, which would be wild, this tale begins with Victoria Winters arrival at Collinwood to begin work as a governess to the youngest member of the Collins family, David. During her time there she falls in love with a 200-year old vampire, uncovers family secrets, and travels back in time to set the present right. They skimmed it down quite a bit for the revival. Curtis said looking back that some of the crazier plot points just wouldn’t have panned out in this reworked version. I mean, he also probably didn’t know at the time that the show would only last as long as it did. Plenty of time for crazy if you go for six seasons– insert whichever long past its prime series you want here.
Episode 1: The beginning of the journey for Victoria Winters. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, and you’ll need it. It’s not even a debate on whether it’s a favorite episode and more of an essential. You also get most of your character intros which includes actors like Joanna Going, Ben Cross, Barbara Steele, Jim Fyfe, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jean Simmons, Roy Thinnes, Michael T. Weiss– it’s pretty stacked here. If the cast feels elevated it’s because it is. I think the hardest performance to top would be the original Barnabas, Jonathan Frid. While it’s the same character, they are playing at two different versions. This one being a little more brooding, sexy, and all around 90s. Movies like Fright Night, The Hunger, and The Lost Boys had brought your typical vampire to a new level in the 80’s. This episode will always be a favorite of mine because it started a whole new love for me. I’m still upset with the unnecessary treatment of Willie though.
Episode 5: Why is Ben Cross kinda hot? I mean, not all vampires have this charisma. At first I had no idea how he was going to sell to us that he was this brooding type that could sweep Joanna Going off her feet, but he absolutely does and then some. Also, if you aren’t fully engrossed in the story yet this is where it will happen for you. I would throw money down on this wager, but like monopoly money because this just isn’t the right time for crazy ideas like that. This is the episode that I landed on when I first saw it so a lot of my wager might have to do with that. Victoria winds up at Barnabas’ place for a sleepover which is the old Collinwood estate that he grew up in. The location and costuming are pretty much a goth girls dream, well this elder goth girls dream. I got all swept up in the romance then Barnabas ruined it by feeding on Carolyn who was just dropping by. He was doing so well. This is definitely the one girl you want to make your companion though… Maggie is a close second.
Episode 6: This is the most intense costume party I have ever been subjected to, wait, the second most intense. Forgot about Eyes Wide Shut. I was pretty excited thinking it was going to be a night of romance, dancing, and fun then I realized that the Collins’ family are cursed. Actually they don’t seem much different from any other functioning family there’s just vampires and curses which might make the dysfunction more entertaining at least. I love how open they all are to conducting the seance. Roger’s reaction to all of it is pretty much, “Okay whatever” because he’s got that girlfriend who is into tarot cards and astrology. I’d like to point out how all over the place Carolyn is. Barbara Blackburn in this role is the essence of “mark me down as scared and horny”. I also wish they had left that deleted scene in of hers where she was howling like a wolf. It’s pretty incredible. This episode also ends on the time travel cliffhanger which was probably a lot to wait a week for.
Episode 8: Josette comes home and everything just goes downhill from here. When we first meet Angelique in the previous episode, she doesn’t seem so terrible and then in this episode for a short minute you still kinda feel this way then she just ruins everything. How did we not see it? It’s almost blatant at points. Oh, I also want to point out the only thing with Victoria that bothers me here. She literally does everything you shouldn’t do when the time period you are in is still conducting witch trials especially if you are a time traveler. Vicki is a highly educated lady. She has to know that her behavior is going to be a massive red flag. Anyway, so Angelique decides to cast a rather deep love spell on Josette and Barnabas’ brother, Jeremiah. This goes so far that it leaves us ending with a pistol duel at dawn between the two siblings. This does not go well or as planned. Glad no one saw Angelique dancing and chanting on the rooftop. Good grief.
Episode 12: This is the most horseshit episode of the entire series and it’s also the last. I’ll be honest, watching this over it’s like watching it for the first time. By the end I’ve almost hyperventilated and the last image I’m left with is an awkward still of Barnabas staring deep into my soul. All of this aside, the episode does well with pacing and creating suspense. Going nails it here like she does in all the other episodes, and I’m convinced at times if she wasn’t cast this series just wouldn’t be the same. I almost don’t want to reveal any of this so you can go down the same rollercoaster of emotions that I did. I wouldn’t say it ended terribly. I think it was an exceptional cliffhanger that I certainly need more answers on. Who can I ask my questions to now? If anyone from the cast or crew would like to give me a buzz, I would appreciate it.
Where to Watch: It’s on YouTube actually, and I don’t even have to feel dirty saying it. If you are a collector of VHS like myself then you can find it floating around in a couple of different places. If you are fond of DVD then that’s around too and might be a little cheaper.
What happened? Where is it now?:
Sadly, the revival didn’t even get a great revival at all. The coverage of the Gulf War drowned viewership of the series. Like many of the series we cover this one left off with a bit of a cliffhanger as mentioned with much anguish before. Curtis had written the follow up which was set to go for the next season. Fun to mention here– NBC received 7,000 letters in protest to the cancellation and many of those fans went to headquarters in an effort to picket. That’s dedication. Also, someone somewhere said there was a teaser for season two and I can’t find that anywhere. So unless I’m blind and running off fumes, which is entirely possible, I just can’t locate it. Anyone out there part of the lost media community? Could you help a Horror gal out?
Last year there were rumors that the series would be given life again, but it seems to have stalled. This is one I can be open to seeing another version of. While I’m not a huge fan of a network like The CW trying to tackle it, they might actually give it the right sort of dramatic flair, if you will. Why do I immediately regret saying this? Maybe give it to someone like Mike Flanagan? Del Toro?
You can pick up the limited run that Innovation Comics did for the series. It’s got some fun side stories but a lot of it is just interwoven with what we’ve already seen. The single issues are pretty decently priced. A whole set isn’t even that much if you were truly interested. I myself may actually try to get them because I love the cover art for several of the issues.
Did I spend most of this episode fangirling? Probably, but I am allowed to have a couple here. If we cover Swamp Thing 2019 it will likely happen again so just a warning. Dark Shadows 91 absolutely deserved another season, or maybe even a movie to wrap up the cliffhanger and give us all some sort of closure. I have none and never will, but that’s what keeps me going back to the series. It’s so enthralling that I’m okay with being subjected to the same end result every time. Sure, the OG series was one of the game changers for television, however, revival should have its own spotlight to burn just as bright.
A couple previous episodes of Horror TV Shows We Miss can be seen below. If you’d like to see more, and check out the other shows we have to offer, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/dark-shadows-1991-2/