Friday, July 13, 2012

Frid's fangs too big for Shadows movie, 1971


Jonathan Frid and Bats And Things That Go Bump
The Abilene Reporter News, May 24, 1971

EDITOR'S NOTE - There's not much call for vampires these days. But Jonathan Frid has managed to make a lucrative living out of the red-blooded profession. The vampire "hero" of a daytime television serial, Frid, fangs and friends are now starring in a movie version of the same game.

Associated Press Writer

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — This is Washington Irving country. Sleepy Hollow. The headless

Tarry Town, as the author described it: "In the bosom of those spacious coves which. Indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expanse of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators of the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail, and Implored the protection of St. Nicholas when, they crossed."

Irving wrote that "a drowsy, dreary influence seems to hang over the land and to pervade the very atmosphere ... certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs ..."

Now, some 150 years later, the Tappan Zee bridge snakes across that broad expansion of river and Sleepy Hollow refers as much to a local garage and the cemetery as the valley itself. And the people still  frequently see strange sights. Vampires for example.

Favorite Vampire
 It's true. Up there, at Lyndhurst. The Jay Gould family was the last lo live in that 19th century Gothic medieval castle until nine years ago. Now it's a house museum. With vampires.

It's Jonathan Frid, of course alias Barnabas Collins, the world's most popular living vampire. He's popular because of daytime television and the bizarre soap serial called "Dark Shadows"—which lias been on the air for four years. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, like all movie companies, ever infatuated wilh the other media's success, brought Frid, fangs and friends, up to Tarrytown and environs in an attempt reincarnate TV's good fortune on the wider screen for hopefully as wide an audience.

Indeed, "Dark Shadows" is a far, far taller tale of twilight superstition than even Irving conjured up in the hollow of the headless horseman. A 175-year-old vampire, bats and black cats, cryplo and ghouls, things that go bump in the night and bites on the neck ... Really?

6 Million Viewers
It is real to an estimated six million TV viewers Monday through Friday afternoon — housewives and teenyboppers. And to Fiid, now a three-year "zapping" veteran vampire?

"I just learn my lines and it all comes out in a funny way," says Frid, portraying a 44-yea-rold ex-Shakespearean actor in what is considered his real life "I'm hopelessly disinterested in the occult."

Frid, relaxing on the sprawling 67-acre Lyndhurst estate overlooking the Hudson, told of an award he received from the Dracula Society and their invitation to him to accept it in person. He declined.

"It's their thing," he said. "I'd just get the giggles."

As a professional actor-cum vampire, however, he's very happy with the role.

"It gives me flexibility, range as an actor. I'm aggressive. I'm passive. Sweet. Joyous. Loving ... I accept the premise and get the audience to build on it. The majority (of the audience) take it seriously. We "camp" at rehearsal, but we play it seriously."

Is he tired of playing the same role on TV for three years and now for the movies, with two more contract years to go on the serial?

"No. I'm not typed. I've kept he part flexible. I'm the least typed on the show. I've played compassion, violence, vampire self-pity, God, the devil.

"I'm not tired of it. The writers show fatigue. They've got the harder job. I was cured for a while once because the writers couldn't find things for me to do as a vampire."

In fact, he notes, the plot the TV show often is devised according to practicality and availability of the actors. MGM and producer-director Dan Curtis (who also does the serial) needed him out of the soap for five or six weeks make the movie. The ingenious writers chained him to a coffin for the duration of filming!

The movie, which carries over eight members of the TV cast including Joan Bennelt, is somewhat less intricate than the small screen version—and it has an end. There are other small differences in the switch to the cinema version. Frid's fangs appeared too big on the big screen. They had to be file down—and they broke!

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