Tuesday, 6 November 2012

New Merchandise

I wanted to let you all know I've decided to make copies of my Angelique portrait from Night of Dark Shadows available to buy. I recently had the original scanned to send a copy to Lyndhurst for their Halloween celebration and it's been on display there throughout October.

The quality of these replica prints is superb. When reprinted on canvas using the Giclee process, they are identical to the original and look like a real oil painting. For more information and ordering details, visit the Store.

Night of Dark Shadows has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray and is now in stores, along with the Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie. Look out for them!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A Recent Chat

Here's an interview I did last month for the Dark Shadows News Page, discussing the Dark Shadows movie and my new novel, Wolf Moon Rising...

So Lara, what was your reaction when you heard that Dark Shadows was heading to the big screen?
I never thought it would get made – I was so pessimistic. This is a reinterpretation, and I feel – with all humility – that it's to Dark Shadows' credit that someone can find a new way of doing it. That's what we did on the original show – we reinvented things like Dracula and Turn of the Screw and Dorian Gray...

Do you think this film is still Dark Shadows as we know it?
When I was on the set, seeing what was going on, I could tell that the tone was significantly different. I had misgivings, I’ll admit. I thought hopefully it would be OK, but it could be a real bomb. But then I saw the first trailer and was kinda taken with it! It's an homage – it's a recognition of the value of the original material, to have made Tim Burton's imagination take off with it the way it has.

Director Tim Burton has spoken a lot about wanting to capture the 'vibe' of the original show. What do you take that to mean?
I've been asked so many times what I think was the most distinguishing characteristic of the TV show, and I think it was that the acting was realistic. Now that's not true of everyone... There were some more arch performances – people like Grayson [Hall] (Julia Hoffman) and Chris Pennock (Jeb Hawkes) – but for the most part, we played it with conviction. We were encouraged to be believable, so when a bat came in the room – and it was a Halloween toy dangled by some anxious prop man – there was no question of rolling our eyes or letting the audience in on the joke. It was played with total conviction. So here were all these absurd situations – telling ghosts to go back to their graves – but played with total conviction. That gave Dark Shadows its tone. I think audiences are smarter than they used to be. Tim Burton is letting the audience in a little more on that joke.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Angelique Overseas

Hey, everybody! As amazing as it seems, ANGELIQUE'S DESCENT has gone global! The covers are as varied as the cultures where the books have been published. Different people have different interpretations, and they have even given the books new titles. Should I care? No. I'm thrilled they have translated the text, all 428 pages, and sent the book off to find new fans! This is all part of the Dark Shadows legacy. Is there a lesson here about re-imagining and re-invention?

Shown below are covers for France – La Malediction D'Angelique (The Curse of Angelique); England (ebook format); Italy – La Maledizione di Angelique (The Curse of Angelique); Poland – Mroczne Cienie: Narodziny Angelique (Gloomy Shadows: Birth of Angeliuque); Brazil – Sombras da Noite: A Queda de Angelique (Shadows of the Night: The Fall of Angelique); Hungary – Angelique Hagyatéka (Angelique's Inheritance). Click on the images to see larger views.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Criticism of the Dark Shadows Movie

Beware that the voice of the critic should drown out the poet’s.

Here’s a quote from Laurence Sterne:

“Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting.”
                                  Tristram Shanty, vol. 3 chapt 12.

There have been a lot of reviews of the Burton/Depp movie, some bad, some so-so, some good. Irate fans have felt compelled to post everything negative they can find in a furious effort to vent their frustration after watching a movie that was different from the show.

But . . .

Critics are self-indulgent wordsmiths, and what they write is “writing” just like any other. They want to turn a phrase. They want to be witty and clever, and they want to show the world how perceptive and articulate they are. There are many more negative words in their vocabulary than positive ones.

I love this definition:

“A critic is a person who goes out on the battlefield after the battle is over and shoots the wounded.”

It is appalling to me that someone who has never created a work of art can sit for half an hour in front of his computer and verbally demolish a year of another creative person’s life while blithely dismissing all the toil that went into it.

A critic is someone who can't make art, but who loves to show the world he would have been wonderful at it—if only he could!

Both the New York Times and The New Yorker praised the film and Burton’s magical touch. Those are the only two reviews I care about because they are the smartest critics out there.

Those fans who are disappointed should remember that the show they loved inspired a major motion picture with first class talents. Because of the movie, Dark Shadows will live another day, another year, another decade. Because of all the renewed interest, the DVDs have been reissued, the two films will be reissued, my books were reissued, Kathryn has written another book that is selling extremely well along with all her others, and Dark Shadows will not fade away. The legacy has been resurrected one more time.

This movie is another brilliant chapter in the history of our show. It does not replace it or erase it. It enhances it and celebrates it.

Those who feel the movie dishonored, denigrated or disrespected the TV show should keep in mind that the greater success the film enjoys, the longer the legacy will last. To excoriate the film is a bad move, no matter how you feel. If you want to see Dark Shadows remain on the cutting edge of pop culture, you should come from love and find things to praise, and there are many.

I suggest we begin a list of the things we liked, or loved, instead of concentrating on the elements we felt were unnecessary or unsuccessful.

Here’s mine:

Please add to it!

Things I liked in the movie:

The entire opening sequence with the sailing schooner in the mist.

The two children looking at one another.

Johnny Depp’s precise diction, and his deep melodious voice.

Barnabas standing in front of the Great House at Collinwood, hand on hip.

The entire town of Collinsport rebuilt, including the harbor. Wow!

“Nights in White Satin” over the titles.

“He’s coming!”

The grand foyer of Collinwood with the giant staircase, the carved mermaids and the chandelier.

Johnny Depp’s long (Edward Scissorhands) fingernails and his Nosferatu make-up, a tongue-in-cheek film reference and a reincarnation of the earliest film vampire.

Eva Green’s red dress!!! Her red fingernails, her red Barracuda, her red panties, and her red lips!

Johnny Depp sitting up straight and proper on a bean bag chair talking to Carolyn.

Chloe Moretz dancing stoned to Season of the Witch.

Johnny Depp’s tender, touching, bewildered, romantic performance as Barnabas.

Alice Cooper rocking out as only he can. The line, “The ugliest woman I have even seen.”

The “fab four” appearing at the door.

Johnny Depp hanging from the light fixture and sleeping in the linen closet.

Michelle Pfeiffer’s pale matriarch, glimmering with heartbreak.

Helena Bonham Carter’s American (!) accent. Gully McGrath’s soulful boy child.

Angelique’s and Barnabas’s gravity-defying sex scene.

Angelique’s face cracking like an eggshell.

Elizabeth with her shotgun.

Johnny Depp’s elegant, dead-pan delivery.

The statue coming to life and grabbing Barnabas.

Julia waking up as a . . . wait a minute. Wasn’t that in THE SALEM BRANCH?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Story For the Fans

So . . . a boy falls in love with a lovely, serious and soulful young girl. It is their time of innocence and discovery. Their lives are made whole by their devotion to one another, and so they marry. For five years their happiness is complete, and every day brings a new episode of delight. Then, sadly, she goes away.

The boy grows older but never finds another to compare to his beloved. He visits their old haunts and keeps pictures of her on his wall. He watches the home movies they made together over and over. He keeps her memory alive in his heart.

Then when he is much older, more cynical and less easily impressed a vibrant young woman falls in love with him, and she wants to become his wife. She is laughing, elegant, wickedly witty. But she is very different from his first love. When he is with her he can only see those differences, and not the charms she is offering to him, and he says to her, “No, I cannot marry you. You are not serious. You are not soulful. Because you are not like her, I cannot love you.”

And he misses his chance for happiness a second time.

Monday, 14 May 2012

In Cinemas Now

The new Dark Shadows movie from Tim Burton is now in cinemas everywhere and includes a cameo scene featuring Jonathan Frid, David Selby, Kathryn Leigh Scott and myself. Please go and see the movie and keep an open mind.

I've watched it twice and, I loved it both times. Eva Green is gorgeous and Johnny Depp creates a new and memorable Barnabas. It's gloriously entertaining and lavishly filmed. Enjoy it as another chapter in the Dark Shadows legacy, adding to the joy we have all shared.

To celebrate the release, I've added some new autographed pictures from the filming to the Online Store. Take a look!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Jonathan Frid

I am so saddened to hear of the death of my good friend and fellow actor on Dark Shadows, Jonathan Frid. He was a warm-hearted and compassionate man with a lovely sense of humor, and he was a staggeringly charismatic actor, who is personally responsible for the lasting success of the Dark Shadows TV show in so many ways,

His introduction on the soap opera saved it from cancellation and initiated five years of wonderful stories, of which his character of the reluctant vampire was most often the centerpiece. It was his choice to make the vampire terrifying but also tortured by guilt, and in doing this he became the heartthrob of thousands of housewives across the country watching him over their ironing. They longed to be bitten!

My personal association with Jonathan was life changing. I had been in New York just over a week when I auditioned for the part of Angelique on camera with Jonathan, doing the scene in which I tearfully entreated him to love me and not my mistress Josette Of course my head was spinning but he leaned in before the red light went on and said, “You know, she’s a witch.” Without that bit of information, I might never have put the evil spin on the moment that snagged me the role. How fortunate for me that he was there! He also whispered in my ear, “I hope you get it,” which sent my confidence soaring.

When I had been on the show for several weeks, I was doing another “tearful scene” of heartbreak and rejection. He said to me during rehearsal, “You should stop trying to be the heroine.” I was shocked to receive this bit of criticism. “Stop crying,” he said. “You’re the villain! You have the plum role.” Once again, his presence in my life was a gift. He gave me the best advice. When I insisted that I was not “the jealous type,” he simply said, “Dig deeper.”

I played countless scenes with Jonathan, and as is now well known among the fans, he often forgot his lines. He famously told us that once when he performed Shakespeare in a college production, he found himself saying lines from Hamlet in the middle of Richard III! When he “went up” on camera during a scene with me, I could tell by the panic in his eyes that he had lost his way, and I often had to get him back on track.

We were, as you all know, taping 'live' with no opportunity to cut and start over, or to edit, and I always worried that his performance would suffer. But, the following week when we watched the show and that moment would appear on the screen, I was amazed! He was mesmerizing. His dreadful actor’s dilemma became Barnabas’s dilemma, and Jonathan’s anxiety made Barnabas all the more convincingly troubled. He had that rare quality as an actor to bring his own inner truth to the moment.

When Jonathan returned to the Dark Shadows festivals in his eighties he was always received with a standing ovation. He was beloved by the fans! It was hard for him to maintain his high standards in the festival environment, but he always assumed that jovial attitude and made his audience laugh with his generous wit, When he did his readings of Poe or Shakespeare, he always gave a rich and layered interpretation, putting to use his wonderful classic actor’s voice and bearing. What a treat for us all.

Often, after someone dies unexpectedly, it is easy to look back and see that the signs were there. Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Selby and I went to London to film cameos in the new Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp movie, and undoubtedly, we would not have been asked to come if Jonathan had not been willing to join us.

It was difficult for him. He was disoriented and felt helpless away from his house in Canada. The second morning we were there, he packed up his bags early and went down to the lobby. There he demanded a taxi to the airport and told the concierge that he wanted a plane ticket back to Hamilton. It was as though he yearned for that refuge where he was embraced by all that was familiar, where he could feel safe.

We were all excited and looking forward to our scene where the four of us could be together again, but now we were afraid that things might fall apart. Convinced to stay and participate in the cameo moment we were all anticipating, he rode with us in the car to the studio. “Why is it so far?” he kept asking. And then he said, “Are we on the island?’”

Of course we thought he meant the island of England and we assured him that we were. Once in costume and on the set, he seemed shaky and irritable as we rehearsed our “moment,” the four of us walking through the door of Collinwood at a grand party, and being greeted by Johnny Depp

Filming can be brutally tedious and we stood there for several long minutes, Kathryn holding Jonathan up on one side and I on the other, both of us clinging to him for dear life while lighting and camera adjustments were made. Hunched over now and leaning on his memorable cane, Jonathan seemed ready to collapse. But when the assistant director came over with a chair and offered it to him, he exploded in anger and banged his cane on the floor. “Why does everyone think I need a chair! I don’t need a chair!”

Temperament and pride were still a vital part of his character, and he was still holding on to that rage, I think now, against the dying of the light. But on the way back to the hotel he said again, “Where are we? Am I on the island?” as if he had a sense where he would be going.

I am heartbroken that Jonathan could not see the movie he journeyed so far to be in. I was looking forward to a big hug and kiss this summer at the festival, and another set of self-deprecating, witty remarks to his adoring audience where the love in the auditorium was always palpable.

I will miss him so much. I am grateful to have known him. Take care, Jonathan, now that you have reached your island. Hopefully it looks like Hamilton. Our love goes with you.

Jonathan Frid Remembered

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Welcome to the New Site

Greetings! I’m so glad you came to my website! I look forward to meeting you online and having a conversation with you. This is why I am launching a new website with a blog dedicated to Dark Shadows fans.

I hope you will write to me and tell me your feelings about my books, ask questions, make suggestions, even fight with me over my characters if you like. I don’t mind a little gentle criticism. I would also welcome any ideas you have for future Dark Shadows novels Those of you who have remained fans all this time must have many stories you wish could be told.

Many of you might be curious about my trip to Pinewood Studios outside of London to film a cameo on Tim Burton’s new Dark Shadows. Or perhaps you want to know what it was like working on the soap opera all those many years ago in New York City.

Happily, my first novel Angelique's Descent (which has been out of print) is being re-released with a new final chapter on April 10, 2012, along with a new edition of The Salem Branch. The third book in the series, Wolf Moon Rising will arrive in bookstores later this year. I am excited to finally have a series of books based on the television show that gave me my start.

Please comment on my blogs and write to ask questions. I want to get to know you!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dates For Your Diary

It's a busy time for me with the release of the new Dark Shadows movie and new editions of my novels hitting bookstores. Here's a handy guide to my upcoming signing appearances. Hope to see you there!

April 10
Re-release of Angelique's Descent and The Salem Branch. Available in bookstores everywhere; To order online, click on the hyperlinked titles.

April 14
Monsterpalooza: Burbank Airport Marriot, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505 (11:30–1:00).

April 21–22
Hollywood Collector’s Show: Burbank Airport Marriot, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505 (10:00–5:00).

May 6
Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention: Shrine Auditorium Expo Center, 665 West Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (11:00 -4:00pm).

May 7
Premiere of Dark Shadows directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp, at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Red carpet time!

May 10
Fan premiere screening of House of Dark Shadows and the Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp: Vista Theater, 4473 Sunset Drive, Los Angeles, 90027 (6:00pm).

May 13
Dark Delicacies Bookstore: 3512 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505 (2:00pm).

June 3
El Segundo Library: 111 West Mariposa Avenue, El Segundo, CA 90245 (12:45 – 4:45pm).

July 28-29
Dark Shadows Festival convention at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, NY.