Although Barnabas Collins became the focus of the show, “Dark Shadows” didn’t limit its population of monsters to vampires alone. Over the course of its five-year run, “Dark Shadows explored nearly every classic theme of horror, as SyFy recounts, and the supernatural from folklore, literature, and film. From ghosts to witches to werewolves to zombies, the show that began as Dan Curtis’ modern Gothic homage to Jane Eyre became a veritable monster mash after its slow-burn first year. “Dark Shadows” would even touch on its own Lovecraft-inspired version of the Cthulhu mythos near the end of its run.
Curtis spoke about his love of the horror genre in an extensive interview. “When I was a kid, I used to love horror films,” Curtis said. “Any horror film that came out, I used to go to it. We’re talking about the original ‘Frankenstein,’ all the ‘Wolfman’ stuff with Lon Chaney Jr., and the ‘Dracula’ picture with Bela Lugosi. … I was scared the most by the ‘Dracula’ picture.”
With Barnabas as an analog to Dracula, “Dark Shadows” paid homage to the unholy trinity of Universal monster movies, with its own takes on both “The Wolfman” and “Frankenstein.” Rivalling Barnabas in popularity was Quentin Collins, whose branch of the family was damned to lycanthropy. To round out the trifecta of classic creatures, the series introduced Adam, a hulking, childlike beast cobbled together by a mad scientist from the bodies of the dead.