Friday, June 25, 2021


If you were to ask who is the biggest fan of Dan Curtis productions, the answer would be Jeff Thompson. Dan Curtis was an American director, writer, and producer of television and film, known among fans of horror films for his afternoon TV series Dark Shadows and TV films such as Trilogy of Terror. Dark Shadows originally aired from 1966 to 1971 and has aired in syndication for nearly 40 years. Jeff did a ton of research over the decades and wrote a number of books (including second editions) for McFarland Publishing about Dan Curtis productions and it seemed fitting to do a brief interview about his work. 

You have written more than one book about Dan Curtis and his product-ions.  What appeals to you about his television and film work versus the prolific work of others?


I began watching Dark Shadows (1966-1971) in 1967 when I was eight years old.  I watched the show until the end and read Dan “Marilyn” Ross’s Dark Shadows Gothic novels and Gold Key’s Dark Shadows comic books along the way.  I began writing for Dark Shadows fanzines such as The World of Dark Shadows in 1975 and continued writing for them into the 1990s.  By then, I also was writing articles for Movie Club, Midnight Marquee, and other magazines.  By the 2000s, I was writing about Dark Shadows for multi-author books such as You’re Next! (2008).  In the 2010s, I wrote the introductions to eight Hermes Press books reprinting the Dark Shadows comic books and newspaper comic strip.

In 2006, I was completing the course work for my Ph.D. in English and popular culture, and I was pondering the topic for my doctoral dissertation.  I was thinking about writing about film noir in general and Chinatown (1974) in particular when Dan Curtis died in March.  A terrific website calledScoop asked me to write Dan Curtis’s obituary for its weekly e-zine.  I wrote the article essentially off the top of my head because I had studied and written about Curtis’s life and works for decades.  Suddenly, I realized that I should write my dissertation about Dan Curtis, whose diverse oeuvre of horror, mystery, Western, war, drama, and more should be documented.

I wrote my dissertation about Curtis’s horror productions in 2006-2007 and earned my Ph.D. in May 2007.  I then contacted McFarland, a publisher in North Carolina, about shaping my dissertation into a book.  In early 2009, McFarland published The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis: Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker, and Other Productions, 1966-2006, and my book was nominated for the Rondo Award.

After I wrote The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis, I realized that there was much more to say about Dan Curtis in addition his unforgettable horror productions.  I went on to write House of Dan Curtis: The Television Mysteries of the Dark Shadows Auteur (2009), focusing on Curtis’s crime dramas and Wide World Mystery productions, and the Rondo Award-nominated Nights of Dan Curtis: The Television Epics of the Dark Shadows Auteur (2016), spotlighting Curtis’s Dracula, The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and Intruders: They Are Among Us. All three of my books cover all four dozen of Curtis’s productions, but each book takes a more in-depth look at different ones.

In 2019-2020, I produced revised second editions of all three books because researching and writing each of my books had increased and refined my knowledge of Dan Curtis’s productions, including dozens that Curtis had planned but never produced (e.g. Diary of a Gunfighter, The Last of the Crazy People, Wuthering Heights, et al.).  Curtis’s work—paired with Robert Cobert’s music—always appealed to me because it is daring, sometimes shocking, and always heartfelt.  Curtis could tell almost any kind of story and did.



What first got you hooked on Dark Shadows?


In September 1967, I was home sick from school and turning the television channels.  I came upon a scene that two decades later became the first clip on one of MPI Home Video’s Dark Shadows compilation tapes.  A girl and a boy my age were in a spooky cellar containing a coffin.  The coffin lid opened, and the vampire Barnabas Collins emerged.  I was instantly hooked on Dark Shadows and watched, read, drew, wrote, collected, and (at Dark Shadows Festivals) performed from that moment on!  (I wrote and directed humorous skits that other fans and I performed at the Festivals.)  At home, I have a Dark Shadows guest bedroom, a Joan Bennett wall, and a Psycho bathroom!  



What made you decide to do second editions of your three books?


In 2019-2020, I brought out revised second editions of my 2009, 2010, and 2016 books because in the intervening years, I had learned much more about Dan Curtis’s productions and because new Dark Shadows events had occurred (e.g. the Big Finish audio dramas, a new movie, the documentary Master of Dark Shadows, anniversaries, deaths, etc.).  My new editions feature a great deal of never-before-seen photographs of and new information about Dan Curtis, Dark Shadows, and Curtis’s many other productions.  I invite you to read and enjoy my new opera!  “That’s plural for opus; I presume you’ve written more than one,” as Christopher Plummer says to Christopher Reeve in the exquisite 1980 film Somewhere in Time, written by Dan Curtis’s friend and frequent collaborator Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker, Dracula, Trilogy of Terror, et al.).



All authors have a funny or cool story to share regarding their books.  Superb fan letter?  An autograph from a Dan Curtis cast member that came out of the blue?


I always love reading a good review of one of my books, a congratulatory email from an enthusiastic reader, or a nice post card from someone like film-music expert Jon Burlingame (“great work, beautiful presentation, love all the references to music throughout”) or film-music composer Robert Cobert himself (“Congratulations!  What a great job!  Incredible scholarship!  Dan would have loved it!”).  Curtis’s friend and frequent collaborator William F. Nolan (The Norliss Tapes, The Turn of the Screw, Burnt Offerings) wrote, 


Another terrific book on Dan, who was shamefully ignored as a 

“TV hack” (so incredibly untrue!).  He was a master, a great pal, a man 

who loved his work, who laughed and ranted and worked to make each 

thing he did as perfect as possible.  What a great director!  

You deserve much credit for your fine books on Dan.  He would 

have been proud.  “Would have”?  Hell, he is proud of you wherever he 

may be!  




Dr. Jeff Thompson

8701 Sawyer Brown Road

Nashville, Tennessee  37221-1415


615-662-3064  home

615-495-4751     cell

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Lone Ranger Rides Again

After 20 years of research, I am pleased to announce that our book, The Lone Ranger: The Early Years, 1933-1937, was published this week and shipped to fans of the radio program. Add another 20 years of research from my co-author, which pre-dated my efforts, and that makes a total of four decades of archival diggings. Both Terry and I tracked down individuals who were involved in the weekly radio productions, along with family relatives of actors, writers, directors, and so on. 

As of this week, the index was completed so the book is going to the printers.

You can order your book now through the website below.