on January 21, 2012
The following review is dedicated to my favorite actor of all-time, Jonathan Frid who passed away peacefully in his native Canada on April 14, 2012. We will miss you Mr. Frid, but thankfully we have your years of work on DVD for posterity to remember you by. God bless you "Barnabas".
With the release film version of the 1960's cult classic daytime soap opera "Dark Shadows" starring Johnny Depp MPI Home Video has released "Dark Shadows-The Complete DVD Collection"! This has made all of us "Dark Shadows" fans extremely happy, especially those of us that haven't yet purchased any DVD sets of the series. All 1225 episodes from the ABC network daytime run (1966-1971) are available along with a slew of bonuses including interviews with series creator Dan Curtis and various stars of the soap.
Luckily for the show's fans all episodes of this soap opera exist except one (#1219) which is the "lost show" episode. However, the audio of that episode has been found by a collector and the studio has been able to recreate the episode using that audio and various still pictures. The fact that most soap operas had their episodes destroyed prior to 1979 and that all the shows of "Dark Shadows" exist is really a miracle as networks were proned to wiping soaps and daytime game shows as they felt no one would want to watch them again after their first airing, and also because videotape (which is the way "Dark Shadows" was produced) was very costly during the sixties.
The price for this beautiful box set is in the range of $400.00-$600.00, but when you consider what your getting it is a remarkable deal. The shows have been cleaned from their prints and look as if they were produced yesterday. Also, "Dark Shadows" has been released several times on DVD in various box sets that were nearly $60.00 per set and there were 32 sets to purchase so when you take all this into account the "Limited Edition" or "Deluxe Edition" is a collector's dream! If you had to purchase each one of the "collector's sets" individually the final price tag would be $2000.00 for all 1225 shows so again this is a fantastic price!
It is important to note as well that on the original individual box set that featured episode #451 a very popular "blooper" was omitted. The blooper featured an actress playing an old witch who went up on her line. You then could hear someone off camera telling her what the line was. In this "Complete Collection" set that blooper is being restored!
Also the first episode to feature Barnabas from 1967 was an old kinescope that was grainy and rough to view which was put on the original DVD set. Eventually on the last DVD set of "Dark Shadows" (from the "In the Beginning" series) a better copy of that episode was found, restored and included as a bonus. In this "new" set both the rough copy and the remastered version are being included.
Many have wondered if the two "Dark Shadows" feature films, 1970's "House of Dark Shadows" and 1971's "Night of Dark Shadows", would be included here and unfortunately the answer is no. Those films are not owned by MPI, but by Warner Brothers who have stated that both movies will be released on DVD and Blu Ray sometime later in 2012.
MPI has also announced that it is rereleasing all 32 individual box sets of "Dark Shadows" on April 3, 2012
UPDATE: MARCH 23, 2012: THE STREET DATE IS INDEED APRIL 10, 2012 WITH SOME ON-LINE RETAILERS ACTUALLY SENDING OUT COPIES TO CUSTOMERS THIS WEEK, TWO FULL WEEKS BEFORE THE SET ARRIVES IN STORES!!!
The following is a complete list of bonuses provided by MPI Studios and these are splendid:
1. Commemorative large Coffin package (housing 22 amaray cases)
2. A Deluxe Booklet with episode summaries and photographs
3. Special Bloopers, Treasure and Behind-The-Scenes DVD
4. Over 120 Bonus Cast and Crew Video Interviews
5. An Autographed Postcard from Jonathan Frid (Barnabas). This is an actual signed postcard autographed by Jonathan and not a preprint!!! (Thank you Gerard Heaney)
6. Limited Numbered Edition
7. Deluxe High-Quality Packaging (matte and foil coating, nickel hinges and black ribbon to hold lid when opened)
8. Box Dimensions: (Coffin), 13 1/2" L X 11 1/4" W (at widest) X 5 3/4" D
9. Shipping Carton Dimensions, 16.5" X 8.8" X 14"
10.Weight (Carton and Contents)-15.5 lbs
The actual box art comes in the shape of a coffin and is the size of a shoebox. The DVD's themselves are housed in individual plastic cases with the spines looking upward to show the entire body of Barnabas lying asleep in his coffin. Really neat!!! The cases house an amazing 131 DVD's.
Among the MANY bonuses are the rare Jonathan Frid "Merv Griffin" interview from 1969 and Joan Bennett's appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show". What is also nice to hear are the original ABC network voice-overs during the credit crawl at the end of the episodes.
MPI I thank you from the bottom of my vampire heart!!!!
UPDATE: MARCH 28, 2012: Well folks I almost dropped dead when a man came to my door today as I didn't anticipate getting the set until the street date. I opened this big cardboard box and there lying in all its glory was my beloved "Dark Shadows"!!! Trust me...everything you've heard about the set is true. As "Mayday" explained..."MPI hit it out of the ball park with this one". This set is everything I dreamed of and more. The packaging is strong, sturdy and almost made out of a combination of cardbord and strong tin. Where the coffin opens there are two hinges made of medal that are tightly screwed to the case. Inside the DVD's themselves are all lined up nicely and safely and are NOT in paper sleeves, but actual strong DVD cases. When I opened my set I was dismayed not to find my collectable booklet, but upon inspection I realized it is put at the very end along where the DVD's themselves are housed. The book is gorgeous with rare black and white pics and all the ABC original airdates and summaries of each show are included. The autograph postcard of Jonathan Frid is indeed authentic and is signed in beautiful red ink.
I also looked at the bottom of the set and I am #2462 out of 2500. There is a seal that states this is a limited edition and has your number there.
All in all a beautiful set that has to be seen to be believed.
UPDATE: MARCH 29th, 2012: O.K. MORE NEWS! MPI HAS BEEN SO IMPRESSED WITH THE HUGE SALES OF THIS COMPLETE SET OF "DARK SHADOWS" THAT ON JULY, 10th, 2012 ANOTHER SERIES OF SETS OF "DARK SHADOWS-THE COMPLETE SERIES" WILL BECOME AVAILABLE!!! HOWEVER, ON THIS "NEW" SET THE DVD"S, THE COLLECTABLE BOOKLET AND THE WONDERFUL PACKAGING OF THE COFFIN WILL REMAIN THE SAME, BUT MISSING WILL BE THE JONATHAN FRID POSTCARD AND THE "LIMITED #" ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SET. THE JULY 10th RELEASE WILL BE AN UNLIMITED SET MEANING THOUSANDS WILL BE PRODUCED, NOT JUST THE MERE 2500 THAT WERE MADE. THE REASON TOO FOR THIS DELAY IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE PACKAGING OF THE COFFIN IS DONE OVERSEAS AND IT TAKES TIME FOR THEM TO BE MADE AND SHIPPED TO THE U.S..
UPDATE: ON THE EVENING OF APRIL 6th, 2012 AMAZON HAS STOPPED TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR "THE LIMITED SET" SIGNALLING THEY HAVE NO MORE FOR SALE, BUT THEY ARE TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR THE "DELUXE EDITION". Also, as of July 20th the Deluxe Edition has already sold signalling the second printing of this delightful box set (even without the Jonathan Frid autographed postcard) is in very high demand by consumers. Way to go "Dark Shadows" fans!
UPDATE: April 13, 2012: As of this date all on-line retailers, including Amazon, have completely sold out the Limited Edition set of "Dark Shadows" which means if you were fortunate enough to purchase a copy you are now sitting on a gold mine! Actually, many stores sold out this remarkable collection weeks before the actual street date which was April 10, 2012 including MPI the company that produced the set.
UPDATE: July 18th, 2012: Warner Brothers has announced that both "House of Dark Shadows" and "Night of Dark Shadows" will arrive separately on both DVD and Blu-Ray on October 30th, 2012!!!!!
UPDATE: January 1, 2014. It has been awhile since I last updated this review. Looking at the latest amounts of "Limited Edition" copes of "Dark Shadows-The Complete Original Series" on Amazon I noticed prices from private sellers are between $1300.00 to $3500.00 U.S. !!! Collectors...take care of those coffins! LOL
on January 27, 2012
I have seen the entire series many times and starting when it was first on TV many years ago. To say that I love this TV series would be a major understatement. There is just something about it that makes me want to see it again and again. Maybe because it mentally transports me back to a time when I was a kid at home after school, a time before my parents were deceased, a time when all seemed right in the world and the scariest thing about life was Barnabas and Angelique in Dark Shadows.
on May 7, 2012
I am so beyond thrilled with this collection, but furious at how Amazon shipped it. I too watched the series in the 60's-70's. Unlike those who rushed home from school to watch, I rushed from elementary school to the neighboring nursery/pre-school I previously attended to watch (the Catholic nuns who ran the school watched it!). I had to wait there for my parents to pick me up after work (was 6 when the series began). They still remember if they arrived before 4:30, they would HAVE TO sit in the car to wait for DS to be over.
Anyway, my mother pre-ordered the collection for me, it arrived on April 11. Unfortunately she tried to make it even more special by having it "gift wrapped". What a joke! Amazon removed the coffin from its plastic bag, placed it in an UGLY blue canvas tote bag (THAT was the gift wrap), discarded all of the perfect original packaging. Placed the canvas bag in a box, padded only by inflated cellophane baggies. When it arrived, the baggies were popped, the coffin ripped in multiple places. I was sick. Called Amazon, and of course it was sold out. Had an RMA issued and immediately went to eBay to purchase it. Thankfully there were still a handful available.
Had to pay almost $100 more than the Amazon price, but not as bad as the next day when the prices had nearly tripled. (Of course, after our beloved Jonathan Frid passed, some were being sold for $1500-2000!!!) My "replacement" arrived on April 13, and I started watching an episode or two very late that night (technically the 14th). Sadly a few days later I found out that was the very evening Mr. Frid passed.
(I still gave a 5-star review, since I am so excited to own this, and especially treasure Mr. Frid's autograph. If I could give the product and Amazon separate reviews, it would definitely be 5 to 1!)
on April 12, 2012
I am a longtime collector of VHS, LD, DVD, and BD. I have many limited collector's editions in my library. This DARK SHADOWS coffin of the complete series is a crown jewel in the collection. The weight of the coffin itself lets you know you're in for something special. With a whopping 134 discs, it comes in a boot size coffin and seems to be very sturdy. It is not flimsy like some of the recent special releases from major studios. I honestly don't know if i'll ever watch all 134 discs but it has its nostalgia place in my heart. I remember watching DARK SHADOWS in my youth with my mother, and being completely captivated by its gothic location and supernatural storyline. This Limited Edition of 2500 is already sold out and I'm sure glad I have one. I urge any collector that missed the boat, to rob a grave if you have to, but get your hands on this edition. You will not be disappointed!
on March 21, 2012
Got my hands on this monster today (March 21, 2012) and I have to say it's even cooler than it looks in the promo photos!
Much has been written about Dark Shadows, it's cast, its strengths and weaknesses, and its place in television history. I won't bother regurgitating that information here. Suffice to say that I find it one of the most interesting, unique and compelling broadcast offerings ever, one that I have strong emotional ties with..
The discs in this Limited Edition set are the same as those released previously by MPI with the exception of the reinsertion of some previously omitted bloopers. To answer a previous question, I can find no closed-captioning.
Since many fans already own some or all of the 32 previously-released sets -- and since I obviously have not had time to watch these new discs yet -- I will restrict my initial review to the collector's packaging.
While listed at nearly 16 pounds, the box doesn't seem quite as heavy or as large as I had anticipated (although it's not light, either). Yet the coffin box seems pleasantly and surprisingly sturdy, as do the hinges connecting the lid to the box. The words "Dark Shadows" are scripted in red foil letters.
As illustrated in publicity photos, the spines of the 22 individual amaray cases combine to depict Barnabas Collins at rest in his coffin. The image is more detailed and striking than what appears in the photos. An awesome effect!
Looking at the photos, I had hoped that the inside lid of the coffin was made of quilted felt or velvet. Alas, it is merely a cardboard representation. It looks great anyway! The outside bottom of the box contains a sticker that tells a little about the set and a collector's number. Mine is No. 795 out of 2,500.
Each of the 22 amaray are the same: stark black with the words "Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series" in larger red letters on the cover. Underneath, written in white lettering, are the words Discs 1-6, Discs 7-12, etc. The back of each case has more detailed information on what episodes or special features are on each of the six discs inside.
Like the coffin box, the amaray cases are quite sturdy. Each snugly holds six discs. Time will tell, but I would say that the discs seem well-protected. Unlike the discs from the previous series, which had artwork on them, these discs are all similar to their cases: Jet black with red lettering ("Dark Shadows," "Disc No. XXX," and "Complete Original Series"). Everything is tied in so that you know you're dealing with a special set. The only downside is that if you ever have to replace a bad disc with one from the general sets it won't match the others. No big deal unless you're more interested in collecting than watching. Perhaps you can buy replacements from MPI?
The 22nd and final case includes five extra discs. Most have been sold separately elsewhere.
Special Programs and Compilations: (Scariest moments, a DS tribute, The Best of Barnabas, and a 25th Anniversary special)
Bloopers and Treasures: (Bloopers, outtakes, DS music videos, DS In Salem, Game Show Appearances, Promos and a commercial).
Featurettes and More: (The Making of Return To Collinwood, A Dan Curtis spot, a Joan Bennett Spot, a rehearsal from 1970 with Lara Parker, Promos with Jonathan Frid, etc.)
Special Edition: (DS "Nightmares and Dreams," DS on location, Inside the Shadows, a Spanish episode, rare TV commercials and a photo gallery)
Dark Shadows reunion: (With interviews, promos, etc.)
Included in this set is a small booklet with a listing of the episodes on each disc and a one-paragraph summary of each. A small paper sheath holds a 4x6 picture card of Barnabas Collins (him standing next to his portrait in the Collinwood foyer) that is handed-signed by Jonathan Frid in permanent ink.
I have eagerly anticipated a complete box set of Dark Shadows for years. I breathlessly awaited its arrival since I first read about this collector's edition and ordered it more than six week ago (for $362, a fraction of what it costs for the 32 individual sets). Time will tell whether the discs are well-manufactured with a minimum of defects. But for now I am extremely pleased by what I see. From a presentation perspective this set is everything I imagined and more.
Great job MPI. And Thanks!
PS: My coffin box came in a plastic bag packed inside a sturdy cardboard shipping box with hollow cardboard buffers all around the inside. Very safely packaged. Since the inner-packaging so conforms to the coffin-shaped box -- and the outer packaging details what's inside -- I'm assuming they all come that way, no matter which seller you choose. It does say "Made in China" on the packing box.
on May 6, 2013
Please buy this set from Amazon, if you buy it anywhere else for cheaper you're probably getting a CHINESE COUNTERFEIT like I did. I bought the set from Amazon after getting my money back for my counterfeit set and I couldn't be happier with it.
I bought this set from a seller on eBay for a song back in March, I should've wondered why I got it so cheap.
I knew something was wrong right off the bat.
Here are the tell-tale signs of the counterfeit Dark Shadows DVD set:
I confirmed ALL of these with MPI Home video.
1. This will tell you if your set is fake right away. The real DVDs are DUAL LAYER FORMAT. Meaning if your discs are all 4.35 GBs(single layer), THEY ARE FAKE. The real DVDs are 6 to 8 GBs and have a gold look to them.
2. The coffin box. It is very cheaply made and usually torn in spots, the coffin lid "stopper" or prop is not included on the counterfeit. Colors are very faded looking. The coffin box should not be shrink wrapped but encased in a special form-fitting cardboard box and the coffin box is also in a special plastic bag.
3. The actual DVD cases are very cheaply made and incredibly scuffed up. The real set has very nice, high quality cases.
4. Many of my DVDs had scuffing, scratching, and other marks. The Paint wasn't quite right on a lot of Discs.
5. The booklet is made of cheap quality paper and the printing is substandard at best.
You would never think a DVD set of this kind of complexity would not be counterfeited but the money is just to tempting for counterfeiters to resist. Any big ticket DVD or CD boxset can and will be counterfeited.
eBay refunded my money but I am out the return shipping. I took extensive pics of the counterfeit set for anyone interested.
I bought the real set here at Amazon shortly after and couldn't be happier with it. 5 stars all the way.
on August 17, 2012
This is beyond amazing! I am enjoying the set so much and it is captivating, even without the special effects of today. I still get "creeped out" watching and am nowhere near Barnabus's first appearance.
What I will never understand is why ABC took the show off.
And it is sad that we don't have script writers today that can captivate and scare the audience without a lot of gore and special effects. Surely someone can write a new Dark Shadows that works. It doesn't get any better than this.
on April 28, 2012
I received my collection on April 16th and have already watched 97 episodes. The collection is beautifully packaged and exactly as described. The quality of the casings and DVD's themselves are top notch. I feel very fortunate to be among the first 2500 to receive this classic treasure.
on May 3, 2012
The whole series in one box? $400 bucks? Yes, it's worth it, especially since it contains the Bloopers & Treasures DVDs and a wealth of other bonus material. And if you have any concerns with postage then don't. I live in Australia and my box set arrived in A1 condition. It was certainly very well packed and protected. Not one DVD was dislodged or any problems with the coffin box itself. My parcel was opened by the Australian customs though...wonder what they thought they would find??
Long before vampires were turned into sparkling emo teenagers, they were imbued with a sense of old-world romance and mystery.
And for a lot of people, that came from "Dark Shadows." This gothic soap opera had its cheesy moments here and there, but it had that rare quality of being addictive and entertaining even as it had vampires, ghosts and werewolves. Even better: it drips with traditional gothic atmosphere, with a young woman afloat in a dark, gloomy house filled with secrets.
Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) arrives in Maine to be a governess to the reclusive Collins family, intending to find out about her past (since she seems to have some kind of connection to them... or something). Instead, she finds a big stew of weird -- the mansion of Collinswood apparently has ghosts and magic, as well as a vampire in the mausoleum.
Yes, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) is in the mausoleum... and his entrance (and subsequent transformation into the primary character) is the point when the show went from "okay" to "awesome." From then on, the story unfolds into a long, complicated tangle of lost love, amnesia, time travel, witchcraft, MORE ghosts, reincarnation, golems, body-swapping sorcerers, the ancient Leviathans and a parallel universe -- all centered on the Collins family.
It's really quite hard to summarize the entire series, but suffice to say that "Dark Shadows" is a pretty delicious series -- it drips with romanticized gothic atmosphere, with plenty of classic tropes (vampires, ghosts, even a Frankenstein monster). And for a soap opera of any type -- be it supernatural or mundane -- it's actually very well written, with distinct plot arcs and ongoing plot threads.
The slowest part of the story is actually the beginning parts, which were fairly low on supernatural events and focused on Victoria. But once "Dark Shadows" embraced the supernatural, it blossoms like a black rose. Does it have cheezy moments? Yes, sometimes -- but unlike the cheeziness of a lot of vampire-themed TV/movies, there's a dignified, almost classical quality to "Dark Shadows."
And it has a pretty decent cast over all, with Lara Parker, David Selby and Grayson Hall as a few of the most prominent standouts. But the best one is undeniably Frid as Barnabas Collins -- his character was such an intriguing one that he not only became one of the primary characters, but evolved from a tortured villain into a selfless, heroic anti-hero.
As for the layout of this series, nobody is 100% sure at this time of the content, but if it does have 131 discs it almost certainly has the complete series, both with and without the vampire subplots. But don't expect any special extras, probably.
For people burned out on current vampire stuff, "Dark Shadows: The Complete Series" is a refreshingly classic look at vampire/supernatural soapiness. It might take awhile, but it's worth watching.