Episode 477: We’ve Warned You

“What evil game are you going to play this time?”

“How do you do?” says the little man, as he emerges through the curtains and takes his place at center stage.

This is the opening of the 1931 Universal film Frankenstein, and since Dark Shadows is just beginning its own version of the story, it seems like an appropriate time to let this guy in and have him say his piece.

477 frankenstein unfold

This is Edward Van Sloan, by the way; he plays Dr. Waldman in Frankenstein, as well as Professor Van Helsing in Dracula, and Dr. Muller in The Mummy, so I’m kind of a fan.

Before the opening titles of Frankenstein, Van Sloan walks out through the curtains, and presents a few words on behalf of the producer:

“Mr. Carl Laemmle feels that it would be a little unkind to present this picture, without just a word of friendly warning.

“We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein — a man of science, who sought to create a man after his own image, without reckoning upon God.

“It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation — life, and death.”

477 dark shadows sleepy barnabas

But, hey, who doesn’t? We’ve been dealing with those two mysteries of creation for over a year now. For example: here’s Barnabas Collins, an undead creature recently returned to a more-or-less mortal existence, and he’s currently dealing with the two mysteries by wearing his awesome green dressing gown and falling asleep in a chair.

This might seem like a slightly unromantic pose for a creature of darkness, but he spent the last 172 years on the night shift. Not being a vampire anymore must be seriously messing with his sleep cycle.

477 dark shadows drift angelique

Then the doors open, and in wafts the ex-wife. Angelique is currently doing a tour of duty up at Collinwood, wearing a black wig and calling herself Cassandra, but this appears to be her night off.

She’s in her old Angelique outfit, and there’s some reverb on her voice, as if she’s calling Barnabas from a long way off. “Barnabas,” she calls. “I must see you, and tell you what the future holds.”

477 dark shadows dream barnabas

Barnabas hears her voice, but he can’t get up — he just kind of moans a little. Angelique explains that he’s having a dream, which is helpful.

They filmed the show live-to-tape with no editing, so a lot of Dark Shadows dream sequences begin with the character getting up from the bed, and then walking to wherever the dream is supposed to take place. It’s possible that this is actually what dreams were like in 1968.

477 dark shadows dream angelique barnabas

Anyway, in this case, the dream actually makes a house call, which is super convenient, although Barnabas doesn’t seem to appreciate it much.

She tells him, “I’m causing you to have a dream, so we can be together again, for just a moment.” This is apparently a thing that Angelique can do now; she can project herself into people’s dreams. I don’t believe that we’ve ever seen her do this before, but the powers of darkness must have some kind of Spell of the Month club or something, because she’s always manifesting some new mutant power like this.

477 dark shadows power angelique

Obviously, this isn’t just a social call; she’s got some business to attend to.

Barnabas:  Tell me what you want to say, and then go.

Angelique:  I came to tell you — to beware of dreams!

477 dark shadows game barnabas

This is not an easy instruction to heed. I’m not exactly sure what I would do if somebody told me to beware of dreams. I’ve mostly just been hoping that it wouldn’t come up.

Barnabas also seems unprepared.

Barnabas:  What do you mean? What evil game are you going to play this time?

Angelique:  Beware of dreams, Barnabas. Of yours, and of those of everyone about you. Because that is the way the curse will return to you again.

477 dark shadows dream curse angelique

Cut to Angelique, who seems very excited.

Angelique:  It will be… a DREAM CURSE!

Somewhere off-camera, Barnabas moans: “A dream curse…”

And just wait until you hear what the hell that means.

477 dark shadows wth angelique

“First, one person will have the dream,” Angelique explains. “And that person will remain terrified by the experience! Until they tell the dream to a second person.”

And then Angelique does what is possibly the most avant-garde thing that anyone has done on Dark Shadows so far. She turns away from Barnabas, and just addresses the audience directly.

477 dark shadows pass angelique

“Only this time, the dream will go a step further,” she says, “and be even more terrifying.”

She actually walks away from him, and crosses to stage right. This presentation is clearly not for the benefit of Barnabas, who’s behind her and has his eyes closed.

“And that person will not rest,” she continues, “until he has told the dream to a third person.”

477 dark shadows terror angelique

“And THAT person will have the dream! And he will tell it to a fourth!”

So here’s what’s going on. They’ve got a big new storyline starting tomorrow, and it’s kind of high-concept. The last time they launched a special story like this, it was the trip to 1795, and they made a promotional announcement that aired for a week, giving viewers a heads-up that we were going to go back in time and learn about Barnabas’ origin story.

The Dream Curse isn’t as mold-breaking as the 1795 trip was, so they don’t make a special bumper for it. Instead, they just go ahead and do the promotional announcement during the show.

But the logic here is exactly the same as Edward Van Sloan introducing Frankenstein. They’re not actually worried about your emotional well-being. They know that if they flag how scary the story is about to get, then the nervous anticipation that you feel will make the experience more exciting.

As it turns out, both of these introductions progress along very similar lines.

477 frankenstein think

“I think it will thrill you.”

477 dark shadows intro angelique

“And on and on it will go, and each time the horror of it will increase!”

477 frankenstein shock

“It may shock you.”

477 dark shadows unbearable angelique

“And the terror will mount! And the fear will be more unbearable!”

477 frankenstein thrill

“It might even — horrify you.”

477 dark shadows tell angelique

“Until — finally — someone tells it to you, Barnabas.”

477 frankenstein strain

“So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain…”

477 dark shadows then you angelique

“And then you will have the dream. Step by step you will go, until the very end.”

477 dark shadows frankenstein chance

“Now’s your chance, to, uh…”

477 dark shadows ice angelique

“And the dark and terrifying thing that you will find there — will turn your blood to ICE!”

477 frankenstein warned

“Well… we’ve warned you!”

Tomorrow: What Dreams May Come.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the start of the episode, Carolyn rings the bell, and Cassandra lets her in. She’s apparently just coming back from a trip to Boston with David, but… she doesn’t have a key to her own house?

After Cassandra takes the cigarette lighter from Tony’s briefcase, she only latches one side of the case. He doesn’t seem to notice.

When Cassandra hypnotizes Tony with the lighter, the flame goes out mid-spell, and she has to click to light it again.

At the beginning of Barnabas’ dream, Angelique steps on his line:

Barnabas:  What are you doing to me?

Angelique:  Nothing!

Barnabas:  Yes, you are!

Angelique:  It’s because you’re —

Barnabas:  Why can’t I move?

Angelique:  It’s because you’re having a dream.

Tomorrow: What Dreams May Come.

477 dark shadows warned barnabas

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

30 thoughts on “Episode 477: We’ve Warned You

  1. I thought at first this was an older Bela Lugosi – I actually just watched his last film ‘The Black Sleep’ which ironically is about a lunatic brain surgeon who experiments on live subjects in order to cure his wife of a brain tumor. I found this old picture of Lugosi during filming of that movie (his last) so you can see the resemblance. Also there is the famous ‘grave robbing’ shot from Frankenstein – this background should have been ‘chromakeyed in’ for the Jeff/Lang grave robbing scenes. Also I love the Dream Curse story – I would have been just as happy watching this story and eliminating the Adam and Eve story altogether..

  2. The problem with the dream curse was that it did not live up to its buildup. It ended up being buckets of dry ice and cheesy special effects.

    They could have really spiced it up by building on something that the characters were truly afraid of. Have Vicky relive Trask and her hanging. Have Maggie relive scenes from her captivity with Barnabas. Have Willie dream of Jason McGuire chasing him. Have David dream of the burning shack where his mother had lured him. Have Mrs. Johnson relive Bill Malloy’s death. Have Julia dream of Woodard, have Liz dream of being chased by Paul…

    1. I think that’s a much better idea. My problem with the Dream Curse, aside from it not being scary…at all…is it’s repetitiveness. Basically it’s people opening doors over and over and over and over and usually the first three doors are things we’ve already seen. This has the result of making the Dream Curse tedious and ultimately boring.

      1. The Dream Curse sequences are the only times I ever fast forward through a scene….truly awful television.

        I love your re-envisioning.

      2. Pedro: I totally agree with to it about his individualizing the dream curse would have made that storyline SO much more effective.

      1. The Dream curse truly is boring the best part, if there is one, is having Vicky having the strength to withstand telling Barnabas. Vicky finally saves the day!

    2. Individualizing each dream to each person’s fears would have definitely made this storyline much more compelling.

  3. I thought of the Dream Curse the other day when I walked into a shop selling a) wigs and b) plastic skulls. With a bit of dry ice I could re-create my very own Dream Curse in my own home!

  4. “At the start of the episode, Carolyn rings the bell, and Cassandra lets her in. She’s apparently just coming back from a trip to Boston with David, but… she doesn’t have a key to her own house?” I don’t see any lock or keyhole on the outside of the door at all!

    1. You know, that’s a really good point. That must be why they tend to stay in the house. If you go outside, you never know if somebody will be there to let you back in.

    2. She doesn’t have a key because no one ever locks that door no matter what century they’re in. I know families like this in upstate NY. They never lock their doors, and if they did, they would be locked out of their own house because they don’t even know where the keys are!! Can’t do that in Brooklyn!

      The real question is, why does Carolyn wait so long at the door? Wouldn’t she just breeze past the stranger in the doorway?

  5. I’m just rewatching the show now after I saw it originally (or at least some of it) as a kid in the original broadcast. I don’t remember the Dream Curse storyline, so I’m more or less coming into it cold, aside from seeing various comments casting aspersions on the storyline. Anyway, my point here is that, hearing Angelique describe the Dream Curse, it really makes little sense to me. Why is she putting a new curse on Barnabas? Just for grins? To compound his torment? To give him a new curse in case he somehow ends up truly escaping her original vampire curse? And exactly what is the end game? Barnabas will see something when the dream comes back around to him that will “turn his blood to ice”? What exactly does that mean? And while it doesn’t sound pleasant, it doesn’t exactly sound like the Most Awful Curse in the World or even The Curse Even Worse Than Your Vampire Curse. Too much lack of narrative clarity, both in terms of the plot motivation and the plot direction and endgame. This just all leaves me scratching my head and saying, “What the hell?”

  6. Somewhere off-camera, Barnabas moans: “A dream curse…”

    And somewhere out in TV land the Dark Shadows repeat viewer moans “The Dream Curse storyline…”

    1. It was on-camera, and dumb looking.

      But Lara saves the scene quickly.

      I wish that she would have ended her speech with those big eyes opened fully wide. Like Eve does later.

  7. Tony: “I can’t find my lighter. And there’s no way to light a cigarette in this room with over 200 lit candles”

  8. The Dream Curse is the perfect open-ended plot.
    Need to pad out ten minutes of script? Have a Dream Curse installment!
    Need a dramatic build to a commercial? Dream Curse!
    Cliffhanger ending? Dream Curse!

    The only limit is how many characters are in the cast. (But you can always bring in day players.) And eventually, somebody has to tell Barnabas.

    My question is, why didn’t Mrs. Johnson tell her son about the Dream Curse?
    (By the bye, what became of him? Is he still poking through drawers? Somebody should tell him how dangerous that is, since almost every drawer in Collinwood has a loaded gun in it…)

    1. I thought the Dream Curse dragged on too long– and besides, I wanted Barnabas to become a vampire again.

  9. The dream curse certainly seems like a lot of work in order to “re-curse” Barnabas. Why didn’t she simply go with the tried and true puppet bat bite on the neck?

  10. The dream curse is like a new character. It needs to tell a joke, make a friend, and move the plot forward. It doesn’t do any of these things well or at all.

  11. Tony Peterson has to leave immediately in search of his lost lighter because he doesn’t know how to light his cigarette with any of the dozens of lit candles right in front of him.

  12. Danny: Loved your comparison of Edward Van Sloan’s pre-credits opening to FRANKENSTEIN to Angelique’s introducing the Dream Curse.

  13. The dream curse was super boring to me. Even when it aired. Every time you saw it, it was the same lame thing, appended with another lame thing. It lasted way too long, but you have to fill those five episodes a week somehow I suppose. And just like always, someone always has a solution for everything. I also don’t understand why Cassandra needed Tony. She’s got serious witch game, what good is a mortal? Also, can I just slap Vicky?

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