The other day I was listening to my favorite radio station and the two DJs stopped playing music to interview some young adult who was standing in line in LA to catch the premier of the new Twilight movie. The DJs went on and on talking to this young girl. I finally had to change the station if I wanted to hear music and not some babble about Twilight and “vampires.” If there was ever a movie out for young tweens and teens it seems to be Twilight. I admit I have viewed thus far, both the movies, not the third yet, and was left rather unimpressed, though I can see why young people go nuts. It seems like Twilight is more like Vampires 90210.and it got me thinking…
In my day, if you wanted to get a little frightened, all you had to do is turn the TV on in the afternoon and watch the soap opera, Dark Shadows. The original series, in black and white, was kind of spooky to a young kid like me. In fact so spooky, that as a kid, I kept a silver cross and clove of garlic under my pillow while wearing a turtle neck to bed to keep my neck safe. I awoke each morning checking for any sort of bite marks. I have to admit, I was never bitten! I cant’ say Twilight would leave me wanting to place garlic under my pillow.
This Goth styled soap opera started in 1966. I was only 8 or 9 years old. The story took place in a very spooky castle called Collinsport in Main. It ended after 1,225 episodes in 1971 and was replaced with General Hospital.
Dark Shadows was a different type of TV series/soap opera. It added elements that were very provocative for the 60s. It featured ghosts and werewolves, it had zombies, plenty of witches, warlocks and it had some great time travel not to mention parallel universes.
What would Dark Shadows and Collinsport be if not for its resident vampire Barnabas Collins? He was a 175-year-old vampire that was used on the show to actually save its poor ratings. Dark Shadows at first was a flop. Then after the blood sucking Collins appeared, it became a hit.
One would wonder why this classic haunted soap opera would be a flop. Didn’t Americans want something different? This was the occult on daytime TV so kids like me could rush home from school and get spooked for a few. I would gather my silver cross and garlic clove, a box of Cracker Jacks or Screaming Yellow Zonkers and a glass of Kool-aid and watch this haunting soap opera with my mother and sister. Thank goodness it ended before my father got home. He hated the fact that we watched this show and that on most days; we were all a little spooked by the end of the day’s episode.
Dark Shadows was a cult phenomenon I think because it attracted all ages. It was unique and gave everyone what they wanted for that time frame. This was a time period where people were doing hallucinogens. One did not have to do LSD to watch this show. As a kid, all I had to do was just tune into the TV, make sure my silver cross was in hand and tune out.
I am unsure why vampires are so popular. They were big in my day, and they are big today. Of course today’s vampires are all Hollywood. Most look like they belong to some boy band or Madonna’s entourage. In the past, at least to me, vampires appeared to be spooky and thanks to Dark Shadows were brought to us on a daily basis.