Bay of the Living Dead: My Name is Victoria Winters…
My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning, a journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past with my future, a journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widows’ Hill, a house called Collinwood, a world I’ve never known, with people I’ve never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows……
Those words, spoken by actress Alexandra Moltke on June 27, 1966, ushered in the strange, terrifying yet romantic saga of Dark Shadows. A short-lived (five years) daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows enthralled a daily audience of some twenty million viewers at it’s peak–that peak lasted from roughly late 1967 through early 1970.
This was a daytime drama like no other–it told somewhat traditional soapy tales of lost and unrequited love in a most non-traditional way–lead character Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) was a lovesick, guilt ridden 175 year old vampire. The supporting cast included a wide array of monsters and madmen: werewolves, ghosts, witches, mad scientists–Dark Shadows was, for all intents and purposes, a Universal Studios monster movie draped in the trappings of a soap opera. Audiences ate it up.
When Dark Shadows was abruptly and unexpectedly cancelled on April 2, 1971–three months shy of it’s 5th anniversary–there were a number of unresolved loose ends. Chief among them was the show’s initial mystery–who was Victoria Winters? What was her connection to the Collins family? Dark Shadows scribe Ron Sproat later told several interviewers that he was about to reveal the answers to those questions when Alexandra Moltke chose to abruptly depart the series in 1968. Two attempts at recasting the role of Victoria were rejected by viewers and so the series never resolved the mystery.
Now, Dark Shadows cast member Lara Parker, beloved by fans for her portrayal of the lovesick witch Angelique, takes a step back into the Shadows to answer all the burning questions regarding Victoria Winters. Parker, who has also taught English and creative writing at the high school and college levels, chatted with BrokeAssStuart.com about
Dark Shadows: The Heiress of Collinwood, her fourth novel. Like Parker’s previous efforts, Heiress serves as both a sequel and a prequel to the TV series, which retains a strong cult following. Parker said that she doesn’t know if Alexandra Moltke is aware of the new book–Moltke has chosen to not participate in the show’s still active fandom.
“Our show show is a Gothic romance,” Parker explains. “Our vampire–Barnabas Collins–was a Byronic hero. On our show the vampire’s bite was like making love. There was seduction, penetration and orgasm. It was a metaphor.”
But don’t call Dark Shadows a horror show! “We didn’t think of our show as horror,” Parker said. “There’s a difference between horror and terror. Terror takes place in the audience’s imagination–it draws you in. You care about the story and the characters.”
In her prior Dark Shadows novels, Parker explored the backstory of her own character Angelique, a maniacally jealous witch who placed the vampire curse on Barnabas Collins after he rejected her love. Parker tells us why she made Victoria Winters the focus of her latest work.
“The audience was left hanging with Victoria,” she said, also noting Victoria’s strong connection to classic literature–Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis saw Victoria Winters as a 20th century Jane Eyre. “Victoria identifies very strongly with Jane Eyre,” Parker said. “So I refer to it a lot–it makes the story richer. The book is in the first person and follows along the skeleton structure of Jane Eyre–Eyre’s Mr. Rochester is a Byronic hero, like Barnabas.”
Parker says that her latest work will most likely be her final Dark Shadows novel.”I don’t think I have another one in me,” she said. “I need an idea, and I don’t own these books. I’m just a writer for hire,and I have to split the proceeds.”
She also notes the continued support she gets from the Dark Shadows fan base. “I’m very touched by the fans,” Parker said. “It warms my heart–I’m so grateful.”
Parker added that writing novels outside of the Dark Shadows universe are a possibility.
Dark Shadows: The Heiress of Collinwood is now available on Amazon, as are Parker’s other Dark Shadows novels.
You can also order a personally autographed copy by sending $20 to:
Topanga CA 90290
If you’re a Dark Shadows virgin or would like a souvenir of those long ago days when you rushed home from school to watch the show, then the affordably priced Dark Shadows: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is for you.
This six disc set includes The Best of Angelique, which includes Parker’s best episodes from across the series run–the still beautiful actress introduces each of her chosen episodes in newly shot footage. Selections include the fateful night in 1795 when Angelique uttered “the curse” which doomed Barnabas to walk the earth as “one of the living dead”. The disc also offers Angelique’s backstory–journey back to the year 1692 when Angelique was known as Miranda. It was the evil warlock Judah Zachary who gave her all the terrible powers she possess.
Parker also hosts The Best of Barnabas disc, which offers ten of Jonathan Frid’s finest performances as Barnabas Collins.
The box set also includes The Vampire Curse, a three hour Dark Shadows “movie” culled from various scenes and episodes from the show’s iconic 1795 storyline, believed by many fans to be the show’s finest hour. The Vampire Curse tells the almost Shakesperian saga of how Barnabas and Angelique first met in the 18th century and shows the events which led to her placing of that terrible curse upon the man she claims to love.
If you feel that you must watch the complete series–and can afford it–you can also purchase a coffin shaped box set which features all 1225 episodes of Dark Shadows.