1. Headline
  1. Headline
IMAGE: Dark Shadows set photo
Matt Keeble  /  Splash News
Why is Johnny Depp slathered in clown makeup for his role as Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows"? That's Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters with him on the set of the movie.
By
TODAY.com
updated 9/14/2011 11:55:06 AM ET 2011-09-14T15:55:06

Gotta confess, I love "Dark Shadows." When I was a kid in the 1970s, it aired in a prime after-school timeslot and I watched with my mom. She was no fan of regular soap operas, but somehow "Dark Shadows," with its Gothic theme, vampires, family crypts and chained coffins, didn't seem like a soap. It had drama, action, intrigue and plenty of spine-tingling scenes. (That little ghost girl Sarah, Barnabas Collins' sister, haunted me for years.)

In fact, when I co-wrote "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops: The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," (shameless plug!) I made sure "Dark Shadows" got an entry all its own.

Slideshow: 'Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?' (on this page)

"Dark Shadows," it seems, was a childhood fave of Johnny Depp as well, and he's now starring as beloved head vamp Barnabas Collins in the big-screen edition, due out May 11, 2012. At the time I wrote the book entry, I wondered if the proposed movie version would ever get off the ground.

Slideshow: Many faces of Johnny Depp (on this page)

But when photos from the set started to trickle out, I stopped short. As played by Jonathan Frid (who's still with us at 86), Barnabas was an imposing, aristocratic leading man who was also the head of an established New England family. Yes, vampirism was thrust upon him thanks to vengeful witch Angelique, but even as a vampire he was stately and dignified. One thing he never was was a freak.

Slideshow: 10 horror-movie icons (on this page)

And yet that's exactly how he looks in these photos. Numerous blogs have compared this Barnabas to Michael Jackson or earlier Depp character Edward Scissorhands. (Tim Burton directed "Edward" and is directing "Dark Shadows.") Some have suggested that perhaps Barnabas needed the makeup to go out in the daytime.

I'm reserving judgment for now, but really, Johnny Depp — as a fan since childhood, you should know better than most not to mess with Barnabas Collins. Moviegoers have watched too many of our beloved childhood memories ("Bewitched," "The Flintstones," "Land of the Lost") get dragged through horrible film versions just because Hollywood doesn't have any new ideas. Fans will call down many a curse on your head should the beloved soap be trashed onscreen.

"Dark Shadows" fans, will Depp do Barnabas Collins justice? Weigh in on Facebook.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is TODAY.com's movies editor.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: 'Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?'

loading photos...
  1. Dynamite magazine

    Forget Highlights -- the cool preeteen read in the 1970s and 1980s was Scholastic's Dynamite Magazine. Sure, there were celebrity features, but fans also recall the Dynamite Duo superhero stories, cartoon vampire "Count Morbida," "Foxy Fiddler" the colt and kid-submitted "Bummers," which paid a whopping $5 per selected gripe. It's just one of 200 items from the 1970s and 1980s fondly remembered in the new book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Atari 2600

    Today, it's easy for Xbox aficionados to sneer at the simplistic graphics of the Atari 2600. But few gaming consoles have been as beloved. "Pac-Man" and "Frogger" were favorites, but fans also remember bizarre games like "Journey Escape," in which gamers tried to guide the band Journey to their spaceship. Don't stop believin'! Now new versions have been released, complete with the same cheesy fake-wood paneling. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Malibu Barbie

    The original Malibu Barbie came out in the early 1970s, but she was so beloved that multiple reproductions have been issued. This 2001 edition came with something the '70s original would never have dreamed of -- a bottle of sunscreen. Once more unto the beach! (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Barrel of Monkeys

    Barrel of Monkeys may have been one of the most low-tech toys ever made, but we loved them anyway. They're still around, and even made an appearance in the "Toy Story" movie series, where at one point the toys chain them together to try and rescue a fallen Buzz Lightyear. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 'Charlie's Angels' trading cards

    Boys had baseball cards, but girls fell for "Charlie's Angels" trading cards, issued in 1978 to capitalize on the hit show. The packs included stickers and that horrible dusty gum, and you were encouraged to collect them all and flip them over to assemble an enormous puzzle. No one ever did that. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Candy cigarettes

    There's always a rumor that candy cigarettes have been made illegal in the US, but it's not true. However, many brands have relabeled them "candy sticks" or simply "candy," and they're harder to find. Check the bottom shelves of your favorite gas-station snack department, and smoke 'em if ya got 'em. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Love's Baby Soft

    Love's Baby Soft was practice perfume, and even strict moms often gave their OK. Many an impassioned Oscar acceptance speech was delivered into a bottle of Love's, clutched firmly in a 12-year-old's hands. Need to reacquaint yourself with this sweet scent? We found it still being sold at Sears. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Dapper Dan

    Dapper Dan had his cotton-stuffed finger on the fashion pulse of the '70s. He was supposed to teach kids to snap, button and zip, but really, he taught us a lot more about what colors do NOT go together. Dapper? Not so much. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Free to Be ... You and Me'

    A boy who loved his doll, a girl getting chomped by tigers, and a dog fixing a sink? They all lived together happily inside the pages of "Free to Be ... You and Me," which was also a record album and a TV special. A 35th anniversary edition of this inspiring Marlo Thomas project was released in 2008, and in 2010, Target used the main song in a TV commercial. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Funny Face drink mix

    It wasn't Kool-Aid, but Funny Face drink mix was beloved by tribes of thirsty kids in the 1970s. Jolly Olly Orange, seen here, wasn't that flavor's original name. It started out life as Injun Orange, which was quickly yanked. Chinese Cherry was also hastily redubbed Choo-Choo Cherry, thanks to stereotypical drawings on the original packages. The drink is gone, but the plastic mugs live on in many a thrift store. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces

    Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces was also the man of a thousand nightmares. He was kind of the boy equivalent of the Barbie Styling Head. You could affix any number of provided disguises on him, including a scary scar, a wig, glasses and a goatee. There's now an online version, of course. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Metal lunchboxes

    Some metal lunchboxes can still be purchased, but most stores sell softer meal containers now, which makes you much less likely to crown your playground rival over the head. Still, the designs on these retro boxes make our mouths water..."The Fall Guy"! "Starsky and Hutch"! "Holly Hobbie"! (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mego superheroes

    Holy enduring memories! The Mego Superheroes were only 8 inches high, but they were super-powered in any kid's play arsenal. The female heroes, dubbed the "Super Gals," had bouffants that put the Ronettes to shame. Mego filed for bankruptcy in 1982, but the figures remain beloved. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Mystery Date

    Open the door ... for your Mystery Date! This is the 1972 version, but this goofy game lives on today, as there is reportedly even a "High School Musical"-themed version. You try to collect the three cards required for each themed date, from skiing to a formal dance. If you opened the door to the Dud, the brainy dude with glasses, you lose your cards! We're pretty sure the Dud was Bill Gates. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Pepsi Light

    The time is right! For Pepsi Light! At first, this lemony cola took out only half the calories, but eventually it moved to a one-calorie version. Its light burned out around 1986, but don't give up hope. Pepsi tried another lemon cola , Pepsi Twist, in the 2000s. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Transistor radios

    Transistor radios came in all shapes and sizes in those days before iPods. This one's the Panapet, which was hauled around on a chain leash, a futuristic dog that barked staticky Barry Manilow songs. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. G.I. Joe

    G.I. Joe first invaded toyboxes in 1962, but in 1975, he was relaunched as part of an "Adventure Team." Kids fell for his Kung Fu grip, even though all it did was replace his hard-sculpted hands with soft rubber. That phrase lives on: In the 2009 movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," Marlon Wayans' character comments that another character has a "kung fu grip." (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Pop Rocks

    Pop Rocks were the candy that fought back while they were inside your mouth. Eventually they spawned a glorious urban legend about Mikey from the Life cereal commercials chowing down on Pop Rocks and Coke and exploding. Not true, but still fun to torment your little sister with. Pop Rocks live on, and there's even a chocolate-dipped version. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Pudding Pops

    Pudding Pops is actually a generic term, and more than one company make them. But the most famous variety came from Jell-O, and Bill Cosby made their ads ubiquitous in the 1980s. They melted away in the 1990s, but returned around 2004, when Jell-O licensed the name to Popsicle. True fans complained that the shape and the recipe were different. We're not finding the Jell-O brand on shelves now, but depending on where you live, there may be other varieties. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Quisp cereal

    Quisp and Quake cereals were released in 1966, and went to war in 1972 via a memorable ad campaign. There was a vote, and goofy alien Quisp beat out muscly miner Quake. You can still buy Quisp today, in certain stores and online. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific

    Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo stood out by its name alone. There was no Gee, I Think Your Butt Looks Smaller jeans, or Gee, Your Breath Doesn't Smell Quite So Rank mouthwash. We loved the pop-art packaging and the sweet '70s scent. You can still buy this shampoo online at the Vermont Country Store. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Scratch-n-sniff stickers

    Scratch-n-sniff stickers are still around, of course, but they exploded like a sneeze in the '70s and '80s. Sweet scents dominated, but daring kids were drawn to the savory stickers, even though "pizza" smelled less like tomatoes and pepperoni, and more like a late-night burp. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. 'Six Million Dollar Man' action figures

    Few action figures were cooler than Steve Austin from "The Six Million Dollar Man," who came complete with a huge eye to look through and peel-back rubber arm skin that revealed his bionics. Bionic Bigfoot was his worthy adversary, but really, who wanted his boring boss, Oscar Goldman? Truly, the world's first inaction figure. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Sweet Valley High

    There were approximately 50 jillion "Sweet Valley High" books in the 1980s. Liz was always a goody-goody, Jessica always a bit of a brat, and their sunny California town was teeth-shatteringly perfect. There's been renewed interest in the Wakefield twins lately. A new book, "Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later," came out in spring 2011, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody is working on a "Sweet Valley High" movie. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Fisher-Price Little People

    Fisher-Price Little People aren't so little any more. That crabby bully in the middle is an original, but he's surrounded by newer versions. They may be less likely to become choking hazards, but kids of the '70s and '80s still prefer the originals, which can be found easily at thrift stores and online. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. View-Master

    We're not claiming View-Masters are a 1970s original -- they first surfaced in the 1930s. But it did seem as if there was one at the bottom of every 1970s toy chest. And we all had a haphazard collection of reels, from favorite TV shows to tourist destinations. Get this: There is even talk now of a View-Master big-screen movie from DreamWorks. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Wacky Packages

    Wacky Packages combined three of kids' favorite things: goofy commercial mascots, paint-peeling stickers and really lame jokes. Topps started cranking out new ones recently, and even paying homage to their retro legacy with stickers that parody classic 1970s products. (Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Weebles

    You know what they say about Weebles: They wobble, but they don't fall down. For a while there, Playskool cranked out even weirder Weebles -- with arms! But in 2010, the original little ovals returned. Check out the new book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" for dozens more lost items from the 1970s and 1980s. (Ensemble Creative ) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Gael Cooper 1970's Items
    Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures
    Above: Slideshow (28) 'Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?'
  2. TODAY
    Slideshow (42) Faces of Depp
  3. Universal Pictures
    Slideshow (10) 10 horror-movie icons

More on TODAY.com

  1. 20th Cenrtry Fox via Everett Col

    Should you see ‘Gone Girl’? From Affleck to Fincher, 4 reasons to buy a ticket

    9/30/2014 5:37:22 PM +00:00 2014-09-30T17:37:22
  1. CDC confirms first Ebola case in U.S.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the first patient to accidentally carry Ebola to the United States has been diagnosed at a hospital in Dallas.

    9/30/2014 9:02:46 PM +00:00 2014-09-30T21:02:46
  1. J. Scott Applewhite / AP

    White House breach was ‘unacceptable,' Secret Service director testifies

    9/30/2014 6:37:10 PM +00:00 2014-09-30T18:37:10
  1. Detroit Lions via Twitter

    Fumble! NFL player injured while potty-training his puppy

    9/30/2014 4:23:14 PM +00:00 2014-09-30T16:23:14