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.


  1. Wish I could have been there. My twins girls are now big fans of the original series- and together we are watching our way through all of the episodes- now on collection 14! I have read 2 of your books and enjoyed them very much- looking forward to the next one! Could you plan a convention in the south so we can attend? Thanks so much-

    1. Where in the south should I come? I'm putting together a book tour starting August 20 when Wolf Moon Rising comes out.

  2. So very well put Lara! Thank You for sharing this with all of us. You are well loved and I still wish you continued success, as well as all the Dark Shadows cast of players.

    Peter Hoerner

  3. So many of us wish we could attend each and every festival, but alas, finances and Life will prevail! You and I 'met' over the weekend in August 2011 in Brooklyn. The whole weekend was magical for me. Mostly because at 61 (birthday trip for me), I got to 'relive' another magical teens... (a little bit) through the reminiscences of Dark Shadows.

    I have to ask IF there is any way that some of the festival events can be reprinted on DVD, that would be great. WERE recordings made of the performances spoken of here? Maybe a POD sort of thing. I have a show from the UK that was a POD and I got to watch it (Woman in Black on Brit TV). IS this a new enterprise for a DS fan to get into, making key moments of the festival(s) available for purchase?

    In the past, there have been little uTube snippets, but of course, those are hors d'oeuvres, not a meal. It was be fabulous for those of us who can't BE at the weekend, to SEE the weekend. It's not the same, but these posts are little hard for those who envy those who went.

    Mostly, never worry that DS will 'die out.' Just like fans of silent films, or of vampire lore in general, the genre lives on with new acolytes each generation. Those individuals who recognize that DS is now a classic, will keep it alive. And each new generation creates its own chapter in the book, so to speak. So Johnny Depp/Tim Burton's vision is one view (to embrace or cast aside). Just as the Ross books weren't for everyone, ditto DS The Movie cannot be. A lot of us were let down by the 1991 DS nighttime t.v. show. But we watched anyhow! ;0), so great was our curiosity. DS captured horror classics and made them live again for a new generation. Each new 'invention' does the same. THIS generation is more 'tongue in cheek,' more camp. Good for them, because we HAVE the 60s show, TOO.

    Thanks Lara for your part in keeping it alive for the rest of us, How do we thank you for the hours you put into doing just that.

  4. Thanks for sharing that, Lara!

    1. I also wish i was there. Wonderful post Ms Lara! I love reading yours & Kathryn & David Selby's!

      Thank you!

  5. Dear Ms. Parker,

    I believe there is an untold story line for Angelique and Barnabas...the next generation of the Dark Shadows generation...

    Angelique's twin daughter's born of her illicit affair with Barnabas in Martinique...they carry their mother's extraordinary powers. Left behind in Martinique, cared for by relatives of Countess Nathalie Dupree, brought up as poor servants, abused and alone, these two girls unaware of their latent powers, begin a journey of self discovery, their hidden powers and pain passively call to the heart of their mother setting in motion a mother's love and Anqelique sets out to find her lost daughters, and to reclaim for them their blood lineage and heritage as the sole heirs of Barnabas Collins' vast estate and fortune.

    Anqelique's heart broken with grief kept safe the memory of her two daughter's throughout time, Not knowing of their fate and who they've grown up to be, she will enter a journey into her past, to save her daughters, a reunion that will unshackle the twins servitude and awaken their powers...Anqelique wills to introduce the Bouchard twins to the society of the Collins family...and introduce them to their legendary and powerful father Barnabas Collins...

    Angelique will change the future of the Collins family forever, and rise as the Mistress of the Collins Manor...Barnabas will face a danger that his powers cannot protect him from, the love for his daughters...Will he try to stop Anqelique's plans to claim her and her daughters rightful place in the Collins history and fortune? It is modern day in Collingwood, however it is the past that is coming to change future and fortunes for the Collins...

    Ms. Parker, your fans await the next generation of the Collins family legend......its all in Angelique's hands, and eyes....

    1. Interesting that you should submit this idea. My third book due out August 20 is called WOLF MOON RISING, and in it Angelique has turned herself into two people, like your twins, only they are incarnations of Angelique herself. Together they struggle to win over Barnabas. We were on the same track, you and I.

  6. I have followed Dark Shadows since the beginning, and it has been a part of my life for quite some time. I just finished watching the complete series after not having seen it since it originally aired. (I was one of those youngsters who ran home every day from school to watch!) Thank you, Ms. Parker, for everything you do to keep the legend alive. Have read your book "The Salem Branch" and listened to your audio book, "Angelique's Descent" and am so impressed with your writing!! Please keep us supplied with your gothically- inspired masterpieces!

    May the "real" Dark Shadows reign forever and ever!

  7. We would love to have you swing through Iowa some time when you are on a book tour, Lara. I am 26 years old and became a fan of the original television show after seeing Burton's film. (I started with episode 1 and am currently on episode 835!) All the Baby Boomers out here in Iowa that I've talked to said that they watched Dark Shadows religiously. There has never been a lot of entertainment out here in the Midwest, thus so many kids from that era would rush home to watch it right after school. You have a lot of fans in these small rural towns. :)

  8. I could come to Io Iowa. I went to school at the University in Iowa City. What town should I come to?

    1. Lara: If I were selfish, I would suggest my town, Emmetsburg, which is about the size of Collinsport. You may have bigger receptions in larger cities like Fort Dodge, Des Moines, or Iowa City though.

  9. Angelique was always my favorite on DS. So happy to find your doing so well.