Did you know that, to promote the movie spinoff of TV’s iconically campy goth soap opera Dark Shadows, MGM once hosted a series of “Miss American Vampire” contests?
This incredible fact comes via Atlas Obscura (by way of Digg). Eric Grundhauser writes that House of Dark Shadows was due to hit theaters in September 1970, and they were looking for marketing opportunities. What better way than to invite young women 18 to 25 with “vampire looks” to be judged based on their vampire vibes and charm, poise, stage presence, and videogenic qualities for television”?
I’m sorry to report, however, that these events probably weren’t stunning performances worthy of Bela Lugosi:
Leading up to the release of House of Dark Shadows, regional beauty contests were held in a number of cities, from Dallas to Philadelphia to Miami. These prelims produced a handful of finalists, who traveled to Los Angeles to compete for the title on September 10, 1970. One of the judges for the New Jersey regional competition recalls her experience in the book The Dark Shadows Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection, saying, “It was fun for the first five minutes. After that it got terribly depressing. Some of the girls came in bikinis. Some of them came dressed as witches or vampires or dead bodies. One girl stood in front of me and just stared.”
Anyway, if you were looking to make a low-budget indie comedy set in 1970 and inspired by events too strange to be believed, you are welcome. So many directions you could take it! Read the full piece here.