1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (Canada)
195 x 22 minute episodes
While the rank-and-file school kid of the early 70s was hooked on that cool vampire Barnabas in Dark Shadows, there were those who gave their heart to a bizarre syndicated clone series from Canada.
Where Dan Curtis’ classic epic had vampires and a werewolf, Strange Paradise had a dark old castle named Maljardin on a remote Caribbean island, an evil Frenchman who kept possessing the body of his look-alike modern counterpart to do nefarious deeds, zombies, and a formidable if elderly voodoo priestess with the mysterious name of Raxl.
Co-produced in the Ottawa studios of Crawley Films by Krantz Films Inc. of New York with Metromedia and Kaiser Broadcasting, the show had an all-Canadian cast headed by Colin Fox who played the dual role of wealthy and sensitive Jean-Paul Desmond and his malevolent ancestor, a Restoration dandy called Jacques du Brevet des Mondes.
As the series opened, Desmond was grieving over the death of his beautiful young wife and their unborn child. As he broods he’s struck by the similarity of his tragedy to that of his lookalike ancestor, Jacques, who built the castle 300 years ago.
Resolving to bring his wife back to life at any cost, he makes contact with Jacques.
Despite warnings of a family curse by Raxl, he listens to his ancestor’s spiritual advice and is soon caught in his evil spell.
His attempts to reach beyond the grave prompt a series of macabre events which include voodoo rites and black magic as a malicious spirit is let loose on the island.
Strange Paradise was filmed partly on location at Casa Loma, a castle-like building that is one of Toronto’s tourist attractions, although the sets were definitely “BBC £1.98 budget” and it was all done on the usual cheesy videotape. But as far as the series’ fans were concerned, Barnabas had nothing over Jean-Paul Desmond.
It didn’t hurt that Colin Fox was . . . um, really foxy, either.
A former radio announcer and graduate of the Candian National Theatre School, Fox had appeared in films and several other major CBC roles.
Jean-Paul Desmond/Jacques du Brevet des Mondes
Dr Allison Carr