This morning I received a press release from the fine folks at Hermes Press which informed the world that the classically trained actor Jonathan Frid had unexpectedly passed away on 4/13/2012. He was 87 years old and most famously known for his role on “Dark Shadows” as the vampire with a conscience Barnabas Collins. The Gothic Horror soap opera only aired for five years and from 1966-1971 but Frid only appeared on four seasons of it when he made his first appearance and took the show to an entirely new level and direction with his character. I was very, very young when this first aired but I do remember watching it with my Mother and then years later catching Frid’s performances and watching him become a cult figure like few others of his time. 2012 will see this character resurrected by Johnny Depp in a new “Dark Shadows” film and after seeing the trailers I can only attest at how frightening that actually is. Not horror fright, but shock fright as Tim Burton went comedy with the storyline and I never saw that coming.
On behalf of the PiercingMetal site and our absolute love of things that go bump in the night, we say Rest In Peace Mr. Frid, thank you for bringing the world so much joy with your portrayals and appearances. You will be missed but never, ever forgotten. Readers can learn more about the life of Jonathan Frid via his Wikipedia entry HERE.
While not as much an ancient as Barnabas Collins, I grew up alongside the original show and remember it fondly. As result it retains a special place in that corner of my mind that is generally reserved for those things that “go bump in the night”. I’m not lying about this. My mother loved the program and I would eventually get to enjoy its premise when I got older and could see it in syndication. I had to say that I preferred the happenings of the vampire Barnabas much more than anything else that was offered up on afternoon television (the mainstream soap operas and win big game shows). Well, outside of the classic Monster Week on the 4:30 Movie at least. It’s premise was unusual for its time and while I never felt the program was the strongest in every acting role, it was still much cooler than what else was out there. It appealed to the young comics and horror fan that I was inside.
That being said I had some excitement when I learned how there would be a new “Dark Shadows” feature film coming out in 2012. I learned this from the folks at Hermes Press who I met at the Book Expo America last year. “Cool” I said, “Who’s Barnabas going to be played by…..Johnny Depp????” The publicist at the table smiled and said yes. That made sense since he is in almost every Tim Burton movie that ever happens. Since I liked Depp as an actor I felt he might do some justice to the role and I would await the trailer like the rest of the fan boys or should I say “Fang Boys”? (I’m sorry that was too easy). The other day I learned that the trailer was online and I am posting a link to it here for you all and well, please judge for yourself.
I’ll be honest and say that I am less than thrilled with this as the output. Yes the show had some camp moments to it but that was by accident and not design. I really wanted to see a development from what we got when Ben Cross had played the role of Barnabas in the 70’s for the stellar drama series. That show lasted 13 episodes and can be owned in full on a 2 DVD edition while the classic original series in its entirety is coming out soon. That one will be pricy but something right up the fans alley. I’ve pasted links to Amazon.com so either one can be ordered. So what did you readers think of the clip? Am I wrong about thinking this is dreadful? Should this be treated as a farce instead of something edgy and dark? My problem is that I don’t see the classic fans being supportive of this at all as it insults the memory of the show and its characters. I like Tim Burton but cannot stand by him with this one. What’s next Tim? A Broadway sing along redo of “The Highlander”?