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Barnabas Collins

Fictional vampire character on the supernatural drama series "Dark Shadows".

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Long Before "Fatal Attraction" There Was Barnabas Collins

  • Aug 19, 2010
Barnabas Collins (originally played by Jonathan Frid) is one of the most tragic figures in the realm of modern fiction.  He was an aristocrat engaged to marry the beautiful Josette DuPres but made the mistake of giving his attention to her maid servant Angelique.  Angelique not only turned out to have a "fatal attraction" to Barnabas but she was a powerful witch.  When Barnabas later spurned her, she put a curse on him that caused him to become one of the living dead.

When Barnabas in his new form tried to reclaim his beloved Josette, she committed suicide by throwing herself off Widow's Peak onto the rocks below the high cliff.  When Barnabas' father learned what he had become, he chained Barnabas in his coffin where he was to remain prisoner for more than 150 years.

Having been released from his chained prison by Willie Loomis, a fortune hunter looking to steal Collins family jewels, Barnabas seeks to reunite with the present day Collins family.  He shows up at the Collins mansion, Collinwood, claiming to be the descendent of the original Barnabas Collins who had supposedly gone to England to start a family.

As part of the central plotline of the 1960's soap opera Dark Shadows, the character of Barnabas Collins soon became the most well-known character of daytime television.  Through the series he was constantly looking for someone to recreate his beloved Josette and would always be disappointed.  He would be aided by a blood specialist, Dr. Julia Hoffman who would help find ways to change his blood that would allow him to function during daytime hours. 

Audiences knew that Julia was madly in love with Barnabas but he never seemed to consider her any more than a dear friend.   When the show ended abruptly in 1971, the Barnabas story was never properly resolved.  Barnabas and Julia made a trip from the past back to present day Collinwood with Barnabas still a creature of the undead.  Many fans speculate that had the storyline continued, Barnabas would have eventually come to love Julia and they would have married. 

There was a movie version of the Dark Shadows series with Frid playing a very evil Barnabas called House of Dark Shadows.  That was the last we saw of Frid playing the role.

Frid had a small role as a mute in a made for tv movie during the 1970's but that was the last time tv audiences would see him.  He went on to doing one-man Shakesphere shows around the country and would sometimes do these performances at Dark Shadows conventions.

The show was reborn in 1991 many fans hoped that the show would have a more complete telling of the Barnabas tale with Ben Cross now donning the Barnabas cloak, black onyz ring and wolf's head cane.  That was not to be as the show was canceled after a half a season. 

Dan Curtis the creator of the series tried making a pilot of a new iteration of the series in 2004 with yet a third actor (Alec Newman) as Barnabas but no network would pick up the show so it never got beyond the pilot.  Shortly thereafter Curtis died and the Dark Shadows franchise was sold to Johnny Depp, who plans to take on the Barnabas role himself for a new Dark Shadows film planned for 2013.

Depp doing Barnabas is very intriguing and maybe he can make a new version of Barnabas that could rival his Captain Jack Sparrow in popularity.  Only time will tell.

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October 10, 2010
Thanks for the heads up on this. As with Orlok, I wasn't aware that Depp had bought the rights to this series. Nice review!
August 19, 2010
Well, I'm quite pleased that you posted this review. I wasn't aware that Depp had purchased the rights to the series. Hopefully that means he'll re-release the DVDs in a cheaper box set!
August 19, 2010
Here is a link to the latest info I have on the Johnny Depp production:
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Barnabas Collins is a fictional character, one of the feature characters in the ABC soap opera serial Dark Shadows, which aired from 1966 to 1971. Originally played by Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, Barnabas Collins is a 175-year-old vampire who is in search of fresh blood and his lost love, Josette. The character of Barnabas Collins was introduced to the serial in a last-effort attempt to resurrect the flagging ratings. The role of Barnabas Collins was originally intended to be a brief one, to run but a mere 13 weeks, but the popularity of the character and the quick spike in ratings resulted in him continuing on and becoming virtually the star of the show.

In the 1991 NBC revival series of Dark Shadows, British actor Ben Cross played the role of Barnabas Collins and in the recent series of audio dramas produced by Big Finish Productions he was portrayed by Andrew Collins. He will be played by Johnny Depp in the 2011 film by director Tim Burton.

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