An unlikely daytime TV hit that became a cultural touchstone for generations of viewers, the gothic serial Dark Shadows continues to cast a spell on fans old and new. Now, the actor who played the series’ tormented vampire Barnabas Collins is profiled in a compelling new biographical film, DARK SHADOWS AND BEYOND – THE JONATHAN FRID STORY. The documentary arrives on digital platforms, on MPI Home Video DVD and Blu-ray on October 5, 2021.
Soon after its debut on ABC-TV in 1966, Dark Shadows gained devoted fans, who thrilled to the eerie goings-on at the haunted Collinwood estate in Maine. The series broke the rules of traditional soap operas by blending stories of gothic romance, horror and the supernatural. Storylines centered on ghosts, witches, demonic possession, and time travel. The breakout character was Barnabas Collins, a 175-year-old vampire, who after being unintentionally released from his chained coffin, arrives at Collinwood to begin a new life.
Frid’s portrayal was a key reason the series, which ran until 1971, became must-see TV for 20 million daily viewers. Dark Shadows, which spawned two theatrical films starring its original cast – as well as a 2012 reimaging with Johnny Depp – has been cited as a key influence for contemporary genre films and series such as Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampires Diaries. Almost six million DVDs of the original series have been sold and or over four decades Dark Shadows fan conventions have been held nationwide.
This first documentary devoted to Canadian-born star Jonathan Frid covers the fascinating life and career of the Shakespearean actor, who became a TV icon in the role of Barnabas Collins. The feature-length film reveals the man beneath the vampire’s cloak, exploring Frid’s personal and professional struggles, artistic triumphs, and rise to fame in part through his personal letters read by actor Ian Buchanan.
DARK SHADOWS AND BEYOND – THE JONATHAN FRID STORY is from producer Mary O’Leary, a multi Daytime Emmy winner for General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. O’Leary says, “Jonathan’s years on Dark Shadows have been well covered in print interviews. To gain insight, I chose to interview people who were close to him, ranging from his years at Yale, to his work in regional theater, to those involved in his one-man shows, which he toured across the country in his later years.”
Among Frid’s family, friends and colleagues, who offer fresh views are veteran talk show host and Yale Drama School classmate Dick Cavett, actresses Marion Ross (Arsenic & Old Lace) and Christina Pickles (Oliver Stone’s Seizure), San Diego National Shakespeare Festival associate Anthony Zerbe, and Dark Shadows co-stars David Selby, Lara Parker, Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, Kathryn Leigh Scott and James Storm.
Special features of the DVD and Blu-ray include: rare performance footage; archival material from Frid’s private collection; a PBS-TV discussion with Frid; promotional pieces with the actor; Frid reading an excerpt of Washington Irving’s classic tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the compilation video, The Best of Barnabas, rounds out this expanded and collectible release.