How to Select and Attack a Vampire Victim by Barnabas Collins

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve been revisiting Dark Shadows (circa 1897) and boy, is it awesome–and by it, I mean Quentin’s sideburns. I’ve been noticing a lot of things I didn’t notice before, and I’m prepared to share some of my knowledge. So to appease all you (hallo)weenies who whine about this blog’s lack of Dark Shadows content, here’s a brief tutorial on how to select and attack your vampire victims, as demonstrated by the master that is Barnabas Collins.

1. Go to the docks. 

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It’s the best place to find victims because, as you can see, the place is crawling with people–er, barrels. I think there’s a deleted subplot in On the Waterfront about this.

2. If you see something on the ground, (in)conspicuously pick it up.

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Especially if it’s a compact. Because you may need to glance at your reflection and–oh, wait, you don’t have a reflection…Pick it up anyway. It may be useful.

3. Eavesdrop, startle, and start a conversation about a lost item which you have…

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Eavesdrop on any conversations you may hear to pick up important details such as “I’m gonna go look for my compact.” Hover creepily so you can startle your victim. Then begin a conversation by asking if you can help her find something which you conveniently have…

4. Don’t mention your name. 

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Especially if you’re a Collins. Don’t want people to get the wrong idea–like that members of the Collins family actually leave Collinwood and interact with common, everyday folk who aren’t their servants.

5. Play “hard to get.” Pretend to get “cold feet.” In other words, act like you have to go to the bathroom REALLY BAD!! 

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“I don’t understand you. What’s the matter with you?” Haven’t you heard? Barnabas Collins has a really small BLADDER!! Also: you don’t look like Josette reincarnated, so you have negative one thousand percent of a chance with this guy.

6. When your cover is blown, remain calm. 

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Try not to look like you just crapped your pants when your victim asks why she can’t see your reflection. It just looks bad.

7. Just do it. 

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There’s no turning back now. Go in for the kill. Cue horrible scream. This show is never short of GREAT actors.

Good night and good luck and happy Halloween,

The Count(ess) Petofi

More Tributes to Jonathan Frid

Since the news of Jonathan Frid’s death yesterday, there have been several tributes. Here’s some links to a few of my favorites:

  • Johnny Depp issued the following statement: “Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch Dark Shadows. His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honour to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original.” Classy.
  • This article, from Jonathan’s hometown newspaper The Spec, is an excellent illustration of his everyday life. It also includes many great quotes and anecdotes from Frid’s nephews and friends.
  • Collinwood.net’s reflections on Jonathan’s passing and enduring legacy here.
  • Matthew Hall, son of Sam (original Dark Shadows writer) and Grayson (Dr. Julia Hoffman) and also a writer on the Dark Shadows revival series, recorded a few memories of Jonathan here.
  • Lara Parker recently launched a new website and blog. She posted her own moving tribute to Jonathan here.
  • David Selby’s poignant letter to Jonathan on his blog here. I think this is my favorite.
  • And as linked below in my post about Jonathan, Kathryn Leigh Scott paid tribute to her colleague and friend on her blog here.

I’m sure the tributes will keep coming–something that probably would have baffled and humbled Mr. Frid. I was saddened to find an envelope from Dark Shadows in the mail last night. It was full of advertisements, promoting various books and audio dramas about Dark Shadows, the Dark Shadows movie première party in Los Angeles in a few weeks (wish I could go!), and “A Day at Collinwood” event in July–with special appearances by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and Jonathan Frid. 

I’m still working through yet another rewatch of the 1795 storyline, and I reached the end of a disc, which always includes a bonus interview with one of the actors or crew members. This particular disc included an interview with Jonathan Frid in which he discusses his introduction to the show. He finished a production of The Tempest as Caliban and decided to further pursue his academic career when his agent informed him of the opportunity to audition for Dark ShadowsHow strange it is that I am finishing yet another study of that particular Shakespeare play. And how I would have loved to see Frid as Caliban! What an extraordinarily talented man he was. He will be missed.

Remembering Jonathan Frid: 1924-2012

Jonathan Frid died peacefully in his sleep last week on April 13, aged 87. The news was unleashed early this morning, led by Kathryn Leigh Scott’s tribute to Mr. Frid on her blog. As fate would have it, yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of a stranger, introducing himself as a cousin from England, arriving at the great house of Collinwood.

“Oh, madam–if you would, you may tell her that it’s Barnabas Collins.” 

Jonathan Frid will always be best remembered for his portrayal of the reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins, a role intended to last only a few weeks in a last-ditch attempt to boost the ratings of a failing show. Just as that hand–with its signature black onyx ring–grasped Willie Loomis by the throat, however, Frid too grasped us all and held us there for the duration of the show. He was the show’s undisputed star. He was the reason so many kids ran home to watch Dark Shadows. He was the reason so many people fell in love with the show through re-runs, VHS tapes, and finally DVD sets. He was the reason I wanted to hop on bus to New York as an 8-year-old to attend a Dark Shadows Festival at which he would be appearing. (Guess who didn’t let me go? That’s right. Mom and Dad thought I was a little young to be going to New York by myself. Oh well, we will meet on the flip side, Jonathan.)

Starring Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, just as it should be. 

This is not to disregard all the other talented actors who appeared on the show (and there were many), but Barnabas Collins was the heart of the show. His cruelty and kindness drove the show’s storylines. And he was played to perfection by Jonathan Frid. There were, of course, technical mishaps, flubbed lines, and wandering flies, all of which endear rather than taint the show, yet the performances of the actors–most of all Frid–transcend those imperfections. The audience fears Barnabas, pities him, and ultimately loves him as if he were a member of their own family–all because of the great skill and conviction with which Frid portrayed him.

I started re-watching the 1795 storyline this week. It breaks my heart every time to see Barnabas robbed of happiness and mortality. Mr. Frid was, I think, blessed with both of those things. He leaves behind a remarkable, unforgettable body of work and legions of dedicated fans whose lives he indelibly touched. May he rest in peace.

Love ya, JFrid. Always.