Sunday, September 11, 2011


Marie Wallace and Daniel Silvio during a DS FEST in the 1990s

Mike Stroka and Donna J. Silvio (Stack) pose at a 1990s DS FEST

Dark Shadows Fandom: Information from

Dark Shadows Fandom: Information from


The Pittsburgh Dark Shadows Fan Club was founded in 1987 for fans of Dark Shadows in southwestern Pennsylvania and the nearby counties in Ohio and West Virginia. Founder Dan Silvio also began Shadows of the Night as the club's official fanzine. The club may be contacted c/o Dan Silvio, 4529 Friendship Ave., 2nd Fl., Pittsburgh, PA 15224.
Shadows of the Night (4529 Friendship Ave., 2nd Fl., Pittsburgh, PA 15224) is the name of two different vampire fanzines. Dan Silvio edits the one dedicated to Dark Shadows and serves as the official publication of the Pittsburgh Dark Shadows Fan Club. Silvio founded the fanzine in 1987. Each issue contains news, fan art, photographs, and reports of festival gatherings. It also publishes materials about the Collinsport Players.

Dark Shadows ABC-TV trading cards from PITTSBURGH, PA

 Follow this LINK for an Article from the PAST about DARK SHADOWS trading cards from Pittsburgh, PA.

Dark Shadows ABC-TV trading cards


Pittsburgh and Dark Shadows mention.....from Dark Shadows News Page.

 This Article mentions PITTSBURGH and Dark Shadows and I share it here for you. Please visit THE DARK SHADOWS JOURNAL website.

Picture of the Week: Safety First

Here's a candid snapshot of Nancy Barrett modelling a hard hat on location for Night of Dark Shadows in 1971. In the movie, Nancy played novelist Claire Jenkins, a relatively straight role compared to her previous Dark Shadows characters. Speaking to The Pittsburgh Press during filming, Nancy joked about being spared from the supernatural for once: "The girl... isn't bloodthirsty, she isn't even possessed by anything. All I'm afraid of is that when I kiss a guy in front of a movie camera, I'll forget and bite him instead."

If you would like to submit an image for Picture of the Week, email

The Pittsburgh Press and DARK SHADOWS 2 - 1991

The Pittsburgh Press
Sunday, January 13, 1991
Section J, Page 6
TV Review
“Dark Shadows” When: Two-part mini-series air tonight and tomorrow at 9; premieres in its regular time slot at 9 p.m. Friday on NBC.
Stars: Ben Cross, Jean Simmons, Joanna Going, Roy Thinnes.

Good Gothic Fun Lurks In ‘Dark Shadows’
By Robert Bianco

Fangs for the memories, Barnabas, but we do have a slight problem: Can a country facing Saddam Hussein still be scared by some English guy with a neck fetish?

Maybe not, but it could be fun watching him try.

In a season that has shown every intention of disappearing without a trace, this "Dynasty" in the dark is a welcome burst of silly style. The style may wobble a bit (all the humor is not intentional), and the show is hardly up to its "Jane Eyre" antecedents, but for four hours, at least, it's good Gothic fun.

Fans of the original will notice the change in scenery (production values have skyrocketed) and in our unhappy Prince of "Dark"-ness, Barnabas. Ben Cross makes Barnabas more somber and more overtly sensuous. Sex brings out the blood lust in him, don't you know.

Otherwise, the plot should seem familiar. Victoria Winters (Joanna Going) arrives in Collinwood to be the governess of the Collins' family bad seed. Thanks to crazy Willie the Caretaker (Jim Fyfe), who went snooping around the family tombs despite his mother's best advice ("It will only lead to trouble"), the family soon gets another visitor, Barnabas, who claims to be a long lost cousin from England.

Before you know it, Victoria and Barnabas are in love and blood-free bodies are popping up all over. For some reason, no one seems to suspect the only stranger in town, but then, people in horror movies always do have trouble picking up on the obvious.

While "Dark Shadows" never aims for camp, it does sometimes hit it unintentionally. A sympathetic vampire is, in itself, a campy creation. To honestly sympathize with him, you'd have to take his ridiculous plight seriously. There's
also some strange sexism going on here: Male vampires get to look normal, but female vampires have to run around with ratted hair and too much lipstick.

Then there's the dialogue, said with that straight-faced seriousness you find only in horror movies and medical shows:
"If she lost all that blood, where did it go?"
"Doctor, the curse of my existence is beyond the realm of your science."
"I think she's stable enough to try it. It just... might... work."

And perhaps it might.

Cross is as "horribly romantic"” (his pun, not mine) as a vampire fan could wish, though he might try being just a shade less intense. Jean Simmons, as matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, is a welcome sight whenever she appears, but she doesn't appear frequently enough. The rest of the cast overacts just enough to stay within the tone of the show.

Supernatural fantasy is a tough genre to sustain in series form; eventually you start to wonder how so many strange events can happen to one family. (In its five-year soap run, Collinwood turned into the Grand Central Station of the spirit world.) But for now, all we have to worry about are the first four hours, and those four hours are fairly entertaining.

And if Barnabas is a little mild for the '90s, well, who needs TV to scare us when real life is doing such a good job of it?

The Pittsburgh Press and DARK SHADOWS 1991

The Pittsburgh Press
Sunday, January 13, 1991
Section J, Page 1 (continued on J6)

'Dark Shadows' Rises From Dead
By Robert Bianco

LOS ANGELES — It walks among us, a blood-sucking creature of the night. Try though you might to kill it, IT KEEPS COMING BACK TO LIFE!

A vampire? Of course not — "Dark Shadows."

Yes, neckbiters, that Gothic groaner, that classic '60s soap concoction of witches, werewolves and weirdness, is coming back for a nighttime run. The vamping starts tonight at 9 with the arrival of a two-part NBC mini-series (part two airs tomorrow at 9), and continues Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC with the regular premiere of the "Dark Shadows" series.

In this bigger budget, big-name remake, Ben Cross ("Chariots of Fire") takes over from Jonathan Frid as vampire extraordinaire Barnabas Collins, America's Phantom of the Soap Opera. Hollywood
great Jean Simmons lends class as matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, played in the original by the late Joan Bennett.

The force behind the show is producer Dan Curtis, who created the original series before going on to produce such TV classics as "The Night Stalker," "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance." Considering some of his casting choices in "War," you might think Curtis enjoyed working with the living dead, but he says it took NBC officials two years to convince him to return to the "Shadows."

"It was never my idea," Curtis says. "I never intended to do it again. But it wouldn't die, for all these years it stayed alive... It is more popular today than it was even then."

Well, maybe not more popular in terms of mass appeal; the original ABC soap opera was a pretty big deal there for a while in the late '60s. But certainly the intensity of its popularity with its core cult has done nothing but increase. "Dark Shadows" videocassettes are best sellers and fan clubs abound. And when cable's Sci-Fi network debuts this spring, it will air the original "Shadows" twice a day.

Began in 1966

Not bad, considering the show's inauspicious 1966 beginning.
"It started off as an attempt at a Gothic romance/mystery. It was never intended to show or actively be involved with the supernatural. There were a lot of conversations about locked rooms and howling in towers, but you never saw anything.
The show was rapidly going down the tubes."

As "Shadows" neared the end of its 26-week order, it became clear to Curtis that ABC would not extend its run.

"My kids, who were 9-10 years old then, said to me, 'Daddy, if it's going to go off the air, why don't you at least make it scary?' And I said, 'All right, why not?'"

So he scrapped the Gothic plot in mid-story and wrote a new story around "some jerky kind of a ghost." When the ratings immediately picked up, he decided to go for broke.

"I decided I would find out how far we could go, what would the audience accept. Now for me, as a kid, the scariest thing was always a vampire; that was my personal scary monster. I decided, I'll put a vampire on this show, and then we'll kill him off."

Frid was added to the cast as Barnabas, and a star was born — or unearthed, maybe. And if there's one thing that's harder to kill than a vampire, it's a star.

"We couldn't kill him off. He became an instant matinée idol. This guy was out there ripping throats out, he was doing everything awful, and they all went crazy over him. The women went insane; the kids went crazy."

I can't testify for the women, but I will admit to being one of those kids who ran home from school to see who Barnabas would put the bite on next. We made Curtis' life prosperous but difficult.

"Now I had to solve the biggest problem: How do I perpetuate a vampire? So we made him a reluctant vampire."

High hopes for show

In his own way, Barnabas was a precursor to all those sensitive '70s heroes. A romantic at heart, he didn’t mean to treat women so badly. He just had these, well, urges.

Who knows if Barnabas' ratings magic can strike twice, but if there was ever a season that could use some new blood, it's this one. The network has been frantically promoting the series, a show that NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield hopes will be the season's first "break-out" hit.

Actually, NBC first became interested in "Dark Shadows" during the 1988 writers' strike; the network figured the show had five years worth of scripts just waiting to be remade. Curtis, however, was busy completing "War and Remembrance" and the idea got shelved.

A year later, Littlefield says, "We sat down with Dan Curtis and we screened the 'Dark Shadows' feature, and we loved it.
We just felt it was different. It was fun. It was sexy. It was scary. And we just kind of said this would be great television."

Producing great television turned out to be a bit more complicated than NBC first thought. Curtis says he couldn't use any of the old scripts; they were too repetitious. He's rewritten the show, keeping the same tone and most of the same characters, but changing some of the plot specifics.

"The basic parameters of the story are the same," Curtis says. "The incidents within have all been replotted. So there are new and different ways of getting to some of the same places that we got to."

Unlike those old ABC soap viewers, we won't have to wait a year for Barnabas to arrive. He makes it to Collinwood by the end of the miniseries' first half-hour -- still bemoaning his extended existence, and still pining for his first love, Josette. But there is one change in his love life, Curtis says.

Character change

"The difference between this and the old show is that the Victoria Winters character, the governess, is now the reincarnation of Josette, something we would have done then if we'd known what the story was going to be."

Now Curtis not only knows where the story is going, he knows how to get there. He won't stick in any normal, everyday plot devices because he tried those in the original and they didn't work; every plot has to deal with the supernatural.

Under today's TV standards, he could make the new show more violent, but he’s not interested in that path, either. "We see no reason to show any more blood than we show.... This is not going to be a terrifying show. It never was."

And that's the key. For all its vampires, for all its ghosts, for all its strange music heralding visitors from beyond the grave, "Shadows" is at heart a romance. A scary romance, perhaps, but a romance nonetheless.

Curtis may have put it best: "This is not a horror story. This is basically a fantasy."

Will a '90s audience be interested in a '60s fantasy? Only the shadow knows.

(Robert Bianco is The Pittsburgh Press TV-radio editor.)

September 11,2011