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Before <I>Buffy</I> There Was <I>Dark Shadows</I>

18 Oct, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Some monsters are made up and others are real. Both are the stuff of nightmares and DVD. Two series from executive producer Dan Curtis coming to video on MPI Home Video Oct. 29 offer both extremes.

While it's clear that the holocaust drama War & Remembrance is closer to Curtis' heart, he's still most recognized for the show borne of his own nightmares, Dark Shadows, the gothic soap opera that over and over breathed new life into classic movie monsters and its own live-to-die-another-day cast. Both stand the test of time.

“I'm pretty sure I know what makes that happen,” he said. “The story we told on ‘Dark Shadows' and the story we tell in War and Remembrance were tremendously good stuff, and it just never runs out of steam.”

A fan of classic monsters, Curtis incorporated most of the biggies -- Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, witches, zombies and more -- into the “Dark Shadows” story lines, but even he was surprised at the success of tragic hero Barnabas Collins.

“Vampires scared the hell out of me. Bela Lugosi scared the hell out of me when I was a kid, because he's evil in human form,” Curtis said.” The reluctant vampire just happened by accident. I brought him in as a marauder and was going to kill him off. Then he took off. Now there are reluctant vampires all over the place.”

Curtis admits he's never watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or the other modern vampire series because he's dissatisfied with the way most are executed (though he praised The Exorcist and The Omen as great horror films).

“I think it's unique and people have tried to copy it or copy some of the things that made ‘Dark Shadows' work,” said Curtis. “It's a love story across time, filled with a lot of magical elements. It's its own world. It's very bizarre. The fantasy elements just seem to work over and over again.”

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