Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Chat With Round 2

As recently reported, model kit company Round 2 have recently acquired a license to reissue the classic 1960s Dark Shadows kits, originally produced by MPC. We caught up with James Hood at Round 2 to talk about the new range:

Tell us a little about Round 2...
Round 2 is an innovative hobby and collectibles company located in South Bend, Indiana. Round 2 and its creative team are dedicated to producing detailed, quality collectible items that appeal to the young and the young at heart.

How did the decision to revive these particular kits come about?
One of our objectives is to take advantage of the [classic kit manufacturers] AMT and MPC's tooling banks, to uncover and bring back long-out-of-production kits like the Dark Shadows models.

Have any release dates been set?
Our current plan is to bring out the Barnabas kit in April 2011, the Werewolf in August and the Barnabas Collins Vampire Van in December.

How closely will the new releases match the originals?
They will match the original kits almost exactly. The only changes we may consider are alterations to make sure the kits fit together properly. Some MPC kits from that era from lacked positioning pins or tended to assemble with noticeable gaps at the seams. We'll look at correcting issues like that. We also plan to use reproduction artwork from the original packaging, though we usually need to make compromises here and there to satisfy licensor demands for modern logos and trademarks.

The classic figures came with poseable rubber arms and glow-in-the-dark parts. Will those be reproduced?
We will be looking into the possibility of injecting the arms in standard hard styrene plastic as well as the softer PVC of the originals. We want to be loyal to the content of the original kits, but builders today want to make their models as impeccably as possible. The soft plastic would cause some problems achieving a perfect look, and we've found that the flexibility of the arms is rather limited anyway. If we can inject them in styrene, we will include copies of the arms in both materials. Optional glow-in-the-dark parts will be included just like the original release.

Where will fans be able to buy the kits?
The kits will be available through standard hobby stores. Bricks and mortar stores are becoming fewer and fewer, but there are many online retailers that also carry
our products, which
can also be purchased through our website.

And finally, if these reissues are a success, would Round 2 consider producing all-new Dark Shadows kits?
As we say to most inquiries we receive, anything is possible.

Update: The Barnabas Collins model kit is now available and can be ordered online by clicking here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

News Bites

  • David Selby (Quentin) has updated his official website with a new personal welcome message. Pay a visit by clicking here. David's recent film The Social Network is due out on DVD in January and can be pre-ordered from Amazon by clicking here.
  • Marie Wallace (Eve) is interviewed in the latest issue of Scary Monsters magazine, discussing her work on Dark Shadows and beyond.
  • Alec Newman (2004 Barnabas) can be seen alongside Sir Derek Jacobi in a new production of King Lear at London's Donmar Warehouse. The show runs until February 5 and tickets can be booked by clicking here.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt's (1991 David) hit summer movie Inception has just been released on DVD. To order it from Amazon, click here.
  • Los Angeles' Greystone Mansion, Collinwood in the 1991 Dark Shadows series and 2004 pilot, was featured in the December 12 finale of CBS' The Amazing Race. Contestants had to make it to the estate, which marked the finishing line for the competition.
  • And finally, for a limited time, Amazon are offering the complete Dark Shadows Revival Series DVD for just $9.99, a 75% discount on the regular retail price. To order, click here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Third Comics Collection Announced

Hermes Press have confirmed that a third collection of Dark Shadows comic strip reprints is in preparation for publication in 2011. Dark Shadows: The Complete Series Volume 3 will collect issues 15-21 of the classic Gold Key stories digitally restored in collector's hardback format. Provisional cover artwork is shown right.

As previously reported, Volume 2 was due out in November, but has now slipped back in the schedules until February 2011. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon at a discount price by clicking here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Colleen Atwood Confirmed as Movie Costume Designer

At the beginning of the year, we reported that Colleen Atwood would be designing the costumes for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, and despite the delays in beginning shooting, The Seattle Times has this week confirmed that she remains attached to the project.

Atwood has collaborated frequently with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, working on films such as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. Her work can currently be seen in Johnny Depp's latest film, The Tourist. In addition to winning Oscars for Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha, her other credits include Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

"Tim [Burton] and I really hit it off on our first interview," she explains. "We had a few laughs and we've been laughing ever since." To read the full article, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More from Johnny Depp

As the press junket for Johnny Depp's film The Tourist continues, the forthcoming Dark Shadows movie has again been a subject of discussion. In an interview with MTV, the actor has spoken about the script development and the character of Barnabas:

"He's coming around," says Depp of the new interpretation of the character. "He's a guy who I think is going to be very interesting. He's going to be a lot of fun in a very outside and strange way. I'm excited." To read the full interview, click here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Johnny Depp in Vanity Fair

Johnny Depp features on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which includes an in-depth profile by Patti Smith. Amongst the topics covered are the upcoming Dark Shadows film, which Depp touches on briefly:

"That's something I really want to do. The script is really close now, really close... it's just a question of myself and Tim [Burton] and the writer, basically the three of us, getting together and signing off on various scenarios. But it's really gotten good. In the last three weeks, it's gotten f**kin' good."

The full interview can be read in the magazine, available in shops now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unsung Heroes

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how sprawling and diverse Dark Shadows was. Collinwood.net was established over 10 years ago to celebrate the show in all its forms, both on and offscreen, but it's impossible to cover everything properly. With over 1200 episodes and hundreds of actors and behind the scenes contributors, it's easy to overlook so many things. To this end, I've set myself a challenge – to find five things that I've not written about before. So, in no particular order, here are a few aspects of Dark Shadows that I think deserve a little more praise.

1. The Blue Whale Set
Sy Tomashoff's designs for Dark Shadows were nothing short of genius. With limited resources and studio space, he created a whole world for the show to live in. My favourite set is, without a doubt, the Blue Whale pub. Why does no one ever talk about this? It's a truly beautiful piece of design. Of all the Dark Shadows settings, it feels the most distinctive, and the most like a real place. From the sea reflections at the windows (such a lovely touch, achieved in low-tech style by a stagehand rippling a tray of water), to the little details like the hanging fishing nets and lanterns, you can almost smell the beer and cigarette smoke.

2. Violet Welles
During my recent 1897 re-watch, I became mildly obsessed with the episodes by the mysterious Violet Welles, an occasional writer on the show. She's seldom discussed, but for my money, hers was the voice that captured Dark Shadows best. With clever, sometimes raucous dialogue, a heartfelt sense of character, and a penchant for particularly bonkers dream sequences, Violet's scripts made me fall in love with the show all over again. She's also the writer responsible for Count Petofi, giving Dark Shadows its most entertaining villain. Surprisingly, she wasn't a full-time writer, earning most of her living as a Broadway theatre publicist. I'd love to know more about what influenced her and drove those wonderful, passionate scripts. Alas, information about Violet is scant, but somehow that adds to her appeal all the more.

3. Mrs Johnson
Spare a thought for Collinwood's perpetually-anxious housekeeper, played to perfection by the late Clarice Blackburn. With her quavering voice and frayed nerves, Mrs Johnson's semi-regular appearances were always a particular delight. Compared to rest of the characters, with their increasingly-convoluted melodramas, Mrs Johnson's greatest virtue is that she barely changed during her four years on the show. Most soap characters evolve beyond recognition, but Mrs Johnson remained resolutely the same – no one at Collinwood ever became familiar enough to dare call her Sarah. Endearingly anxious, God-fearing, and ever-so-slightly nosy, amidst Dark Shadows' gods and monsters, it was great to have one character whose ambitions extended no further than doing the dusting.

4. Fashions by Orhbach's
Though its heart was rooted in the past, the Orhbach's department store on West 34th Street kept the residents of Collinsport firmly connected to the present. In return for an on-screen credit, the store supplied free clothing for all the contemporary storylines. Occasionally the Ohrbach's credit would confusingly run on a flashback episode, so perhaps they had a Young Republic department tucked away in the basement. Carping aside, it's fair to say that a small but significant part of the Dark Shadows look can be traced to Orhbach's. From Victoria's trademark sleeveless dresses (a speciality in various shades of shapeless nylon) to Barnabas' cape (cheaply made by cutting up two identical coats from Menswear), Orhbach's deserves a little love for their seemingly-endless range of plaid shirts, and for giving the spectrum a particular shade of bilious lime green not seen before or since.

5. Dan Ross
When I first discovered Dark Shadows as a teenager in the mid-1990s, there were no episodes available here in England, so all I had to go on were a couple of magazine articles with blurry photos. Something instinctive told me that I would love Dark Shadows if only I could get to see it, but America and actual episodes seemed unobtainable and far away. All was not lost, when I discovered some yellowing copies of the Dark Shadows Paperback Library tie-in novels at a London comic fair. Suddenly Collinwood (or Collins House, depending on which book you were reading) was alive and real, and I steadily began to track down copies. The books were written by author Dan Ross, under the more marketable pseudonym Marilyn. Ross didn't have access to broadcasts of Dark Shadows at his home in Canada, so relying on scripts and story outlines, he crafted his own alternative Collinwood, where the supernatural was usually explained away in Scooby Doo fashion by the final chapter. With hindsight, it's easy to dismiss these stories as flawed, pulpy tie-ins, but for giving me my first proper chance to experience those characters and storylines I loved them dearly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Johnny Depp Talks Dark Shadows

In an interview promoting his new film The Tourist, actor Johnny Depp has spoken briefly about his upcoming role as Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows feature film. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Depp says: "We start [Dark Shadows] in April and I can't wait to sink my teeth in. Bad pun, I know. I can't wait to start and get into that dark mode."

To read the full interview, click here. The Tourist can be seen in cinemas from December 10.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jonathan Frid at 86

Many happy returns to Jonathan Frid, who celebrates his 86th birthday today. As vampire Barnabas Collins, Jonathan's contribution to the success of Dark Shadows was immense, and more than 40 years on, he continues to maintain his ties with the show.

In addition to appearing at the annual Dark Shadows Festivals in recent years, Jonathan remains active with his personal website, which features special dramatic presentations, an interactive message board and exclusive autographed merchandise. Pay a visit by clicking here.