Wednesday, 1 May 2013

We're Still Here!

Two years ago in August we were all wondering whether we were attending our last convention. Jonathan was still with us and the fans were crowding around him at the festival just trying to get a glimpse.

By then he had journeyed to England with Kathryn, David and myself to perform our very brief cameo in the Dark Shadows movie, and we were all wondering what sort of impact the film would have on the Dark Shadows legacy. Everything seemed to depend on Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

Most of us believed it would be a huge success, garnering thousands and thousands of new Dark Shadows fans across the globe. But others were fearing a monumental flop, especially after the trailer was released and its dark comic tongue-in-cheek undertones were revealed.
Then, on April 14, 2012, we lost Jonathan. Sadly, he would never get to see the moment on screen when he passed the torch to Johnny Depp. A month later, on

May 11, 2012, the film opened to not-so-bad, not-so-good reviews. It didn’t bomb, but it didn’t take the world by storm either.

And the arguments began. Some fans walked out, others saw it ten times. Some wrote reviews overflowing with venom, some composed peons of praise. Almost everyone commented on the gorgeous photography and Johnny Depp’s witty and endearing performance. But the rants raged on.

I tried to reassure any unhappy fans that Tim Buton’s movie had not eclipsed the original television show, but had added to its heritage, a classy tip of the hat, if you will, to an enduring classic.

Then everything quieted down and the fans came back to the show they love. Last weekend in Coronado in a hotel by the sea, a smaller but select group of devotes attended still another convention. A new independent film was shown featuring three Dark Shadows actors, and a musical tribute to Dark Shadows by David Selby left the crowd speechless with delight. The legacy is intact.

Those lucky enough to be there witnessed a most unusual Dark Shadows weekend. Saturday night we trooped to the stunningly restored Art Deco movie theatre--the sister of the Vista in Hollywood—the Coronado Village Theatre. There we watched the premiere of DR. MABUSE, a 30’s era film noir concoction written and directed by a talented new director, twenty-one year old, Ansel Faraj. Jerry Lacy gave a spine tingling performance as the evil villain out to take over the world, and Kathryn Leigh Scott and I played spooky soothsayers who tried to warn others of his wicked plans.

Fully in the vein of Dark Shadows, DR MABUSE was dark and creepy, drenched a lush powerful score, confusing at times, but always mesmerizing. It was a special treat, and the fans loved being there.

What they didn’t realize (until the Q & A after the film was shown) was that the entire movie had been shot in front of a blue screen in Ansel’s tiny one car garage, and that the backgrounds were digitally inserted later. The result was weird and hypnotic with a very cool tone. And, it seems there will be a sequel, with Chris Pennock also in the cast.

Sunday brought more delights. David Selby, accompanied by his wife Chip and Jim Storm on the guitar, sang a collection of twelve original songs he had composed as a tribute to Dark Shadows and to the fans who had always welcomed him into their lives. In an age where cynicism reigns and no one admits to sentiment, such a tender show of affection was deeply moving. Some beautiful lines and melodies reminded us of how important the show had been to us all, and there was many a teary eye when David finished. We felt honored to have seen another side of this gifted actor, and to be, now more than ever, safe in the Dark Shadows fold.