The 1960‘s Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows is a hot topic here in the Hudson Valley, and if you are wondering why, it’s because it has very special meaning to the folks at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Dark Shadows, a Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film project, is bloody fabulous from a comedic perspective. . The resurrection of Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins, the leading “undead” man, was an interest to Depp for quite some time. He too is a Dark Shadows fan. The movie released in May 2012 following the untimely death of our beloved vampire Jonathan Frid. By now you are probably wondering, What does this have to do with the Hudson Valley? Well, I will share that with you because it seems to be the best kept secret around.
Filming on Location
The popular Gothic soap opera spun off into a full-length film in 1970 called House of Dark Shadows. The Dark Shadows film was shot on location at the Lyndhurst Gothic Revival mansion and at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The most amazing and extremely rare features of Lyndhurst are the furnishings. As each family moved out, they left their furniture and trinkets behind, leaving us with a rich historical account of the lives and deaths of those who once lived there. This was a great attraction to location scouts for House of Dark Shadows, as many scenes show items which are still in the house today. Fans will recognize desks, beds, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, trompe l’oeil painted walls, Gothic doorways from the movie set. Many scenes were shot at the carriage house, children’s playhouse, rose gardens, green house and other out buildings on the property.
Luckily, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was located just miles from Lyndhurst and made the perfect setting for the entrance of the Collins’ crypt and final resting place of a 200-year-old vampire.
Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow were the perfect backdrop to tell the story of a love-sick vampire who yearns to walk in the daylight.
Gothic Romance Incarnate
If you are enamored with Eric Northman or Bill Compton of HBO’s True Blood series, the infatuation of the vampire is not much different today from the vampires of the past. You may even think of Barnabas Collins, formerly played by Jonathan Frid, as being old school, but he is eloquent and you get sucked in to his old-fashioned mannerisms that mesmerize and intrigue.
This Gothic love story transcends hundreds of years. House of Dark Shadows unleashes the vampire Barnabas Collins on his unsuspecting family and their neighbors. Released from his crypt by the Collins’ drunken caretaker, the undead Barnabas becomes obsessed with claiming his family home and rebuilding his life as he falls for a local girl, Magee Evans, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his long-lost love Josette Dupree. Barnabas believes that Magee is the reincarnation of his former lover and plans to make her his bride for eternity. Fangs flash and blood flows as the Collins family’s darkest secret are exposed.
House of Dark Shadows is closely based on the soap opera that aired from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. Many of us have very fond memories of rushing home just dying to see what will happen next.
“I remember watching this show after school. Barnabas was the quintessential vampire. Great stuff and wondrous memories!”
Paul F. M.
So many memories, rushing home from junior high to catch it on TV. it was so campy and low budget, shaky sets and hammy acting. but i loved it so!
I couldn’t wait to get home from school to watch Dark Shadows. I was madly in love with Quentin. I Learned to play the ‘Blue Whale’ theme song on the piano. I was very lucky to babysit for the character, ‘King Johnny Romamo’ ( Paul Mitchel’s kids). I have a script from the show that is signed by him! Also still have my scrapbook of the show. It was the best!
Barbara Roth B.
My name is Victoria Winters…
I recall running home from the bus stop and planting myself in front of the TV with my mother to watch my favorite TV show. I loved the opening scene with the angry ocean hitting the shore. The dimly lit mansion seemed just about to slide off the cliff. I was enamored with Barnabas Collins as if he glamoured me through the TV screen. That Christmas I received the best gift ever, The Barnabas Collins Dark Shadows (1969) game! Whoo hoo! The game came with a coffin to hold all the pieces and glow in the dark fangs. You had to spin the spinner and build your skeleton on a scaffold to win Barnabas’ ring. That kept me busy for hours. Today my treasured Dark Shadows item is a realistic Barnabas Collins Doll that no one dare touch or I will stake them!
I am not the only one with fond memories. As a matter of fact, Dark Shadows has a strong cult following. The Dark Shadows Festival is a popular event for fans. Each year it is held on a different coast.
Bringing Dark Shadows Back
Am I excited about the remake? Hell yes! I have every confidence in Johnny Depp’s performance I will probably be drooling in the front row. Finally, a vampire for big girls. I wasn’t as excited until I read that Johnny’s goal was to play Barnabas true to life and that makes me happy. Tim Burton is a little out there at times, but I do enjoy his films. Why wait until 2012 to become a Dark Shadows fan? Here are some things you can do right now.
- Tour the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery by Lantern. Almost all tours enter the Receiving Vault where the footage for Barnabas Collins’ crypt was shot.
- Visit Lyndhurst Estate home of the fictitious Collinwood Estate.
- Watch the entire series on NetFlix on Demand.
Ready to delve into the world of House of Dark Shadows?
Plan your visit to Lyndhurst:
635 South Broadway
Tarrytown, N.Y. 10591