Collinsport; Maine is a small town that’s every bit as strange as the family it’s named after. The Collinses’ inhabit a majestic old mansion on the coast and seem destined to remain haunted by the ghosts of their family history, figuratively and literally. As if their own secrets aren’t dark enough, the darkest one of all belongs to their cousin Barnabas Collins; an ancestor who has lived on through the ages as a vampire.
Though Barnabas manages to co-exist alongside his family, his true nature is constantly in danger of being exposed as he and other Collinsport inhabitants must deal with all other manner of supernatural creatures, including werewolves, ghosts, malicious witches and age old curses.
Dark Shadows can be called the first horror soap opera, for up until then all daytime soaps concentrated on human drama and romance. Originally it was intended that the show be grounded in reality with a dark and gothic backdrop and feel. But when ratings declined , series creator Dan Curtis took his young daughters advice and had the writers introduce actual supernatural events. The overwhelmingly positive response from viewers saved the show, but the final nail in the coffin came when a vampire was brought into the cast of characters and couldn’t be gotten rid of.
The enigmatic Barnabas Collins was innovative in that he was the first on screen vampire to show remorse for his actions, a rather different attitude from that of his predecessors, especially the world famous Count Dracula. This was not originally intended (the plan was to have the vampire be a prominent villain who would meet his end at the conclusion of the story arc), but the audience loved Barnabas so much that the writers had no choice but to change things and make him the star of the show. As a result, Dark Shadows became a solid hit that attracted a youthful fanbase, another innovation since soaps were mostly aimed at middle-aged women. Dark Shadows continues to keep the attention of vampire enthusiasts and remains one of the top cult shows of all time.