Episode 596: Spook Fortresses

“I know you are men! She is a woman! I know this is a basement!”

They said we were mad, those fools at the Institute, but who’s laughing now? We found a loophole in the laws of nature, thumbed our nose at God — and what’s more, we’ve done it twice. Barnabas and Julia, those celebrated myth makers, have once again stolen fire from the heavens, and gamma-radiated a brand new monster.

And so, with a scream, a sizzle and a sigh, we offload a tedious day player, and zap some life force into our Corpse Bride. At long last, mourning becomes electric.

596 dark shadows eve lfie

So please allow me to introduce Eve. She’s a new form of life, and she doesn’t have an off switch.

Dark Shadows is a bit of a patchwork creation itself, now that I think of it — a muck-encrusted mockery of a soap opera, stitched together from gothic novels, monster movies and psychedelic music videos. The mad genius of the show is its capacity for narrative collision — taking characters and situations from older sources, and chucking them into the storyline, just to see what happens.

In this case, they’re doing Bride of Frankenstein, which is a particularly challenging narrative to collide with. As we discussed last week, the Bride story is wafer-thin — the Bride only appears for three minutes, and she doesn’t have any dialogue. Now the Dark Shadows team has to figure out how to spin that into a character who can drive storyline on a daily soap opera.

596 dark shadows adam eve speaks

With no particular goal in mind, they decide to just hit every note they can think of, and sort it out later.

Eve starts out rather fuzzy, as if she’s waking up from a long sleep. Adam is amazed that she can speak, and she gives him a drowsy grin. “Who are you?” she asks, and when he answers, she chuckles, “How appropriate. The first man I see is named Adam.”

596 dark shadows eve looks

But as she looks around, she starts to understand the scope of the problem. “Where am I?” she asks. “What is all this? Who are they? Why are you staring at me?” There are no easy answers to any of these questions.

I mean, imagine opening your eyes, and the first thing that you see is the Old House basement, stocked with mad science equipment. Where do you even start? You’d need some industrial-grade recap, and even that would only be enough to get you to the next filling station.

596 dark shadows eve manifestation

So they decide to bypass the whole problem, and just head straight for cray cray. She can’t quite remember what’s happened, and they do their new double-exposure camera trick as she describes waking up.

“It was as if I were watching a dream,” she says.

Julia is puzzled. “You know about dreams?”

Eve wrinkles her nose, and spits, “Of course.”

“Barnabas, how can she?” Julia asks. “How can she speak? How can she know everything that she does?”

Eve starts to exhibit distress, giving us more facial expressions per minute than any actor who isn’t Grayson Hall.

596 dark shadows adam eve chaos

This is Marie Wallace, a new actress who’ll end up playing three different characters on Dark Shadows. This is not even the weirdest one.

Marie is tall and strange and stunning, and her first acting gigs were basically modeling assignments, wearing a sexy costume for walk-on parts in Your Hit Parade and Car 54, Where Are You?

She broke into Broadway theater in 1959, as a chorus girl in the original cast of Gypsy, and then appeared in The Beauty Part, Nobody Loves an Albatross and The Right Honourable Gentleman, none of which I’m familiar with. In 1966, she appeared in the original production of Sweet Charity, with choreogaphy by Bob Fosse.

Marie has learned what every former chorus girl learns, which is that if you want bigger parts, you need to get the audience’s attention. She’s very good at it.

596 dark shadows eve confused

When Marie auditioned for Eve, the casting director said that she was a good actress, but producer Dan Curtis wanted a different physical type for the role. But her agent kept pushing, and got her a callback with Dan.

She described the second audition in a Dark Shadows DVD interview:

“I looked at the other two women, and they were gorgeous, and they had long hair — blonde, brunette… And I thought, hmmm, I’m very different than they are. So I teased my hair up wild, because I had long hair, but it wasn’t long like theirs, that long, straight, Vampira-ish look. So I teased my hair up, made it very sexy, and the whole thing. I also said, I’m not going to be first out there. I’m going to watch them, and see what’s happening.

“The blonde went on, the brunette went on, and I saw what they wanted. It wasn’t acting anymore — now, it was looks. Walk forward, turn around, give us this look, give us that look. And I said, ahh, I know what they want. I went on with my teased-up hair, my sensual look — I thought — and I did all the little walks and stuff. And people told me that when I did my little stuff, Dan Curtis said, ‘That’s it! Let’s hire her.'”

As we’ve seen, one of Dan’s greatest talents was his unerring ability to spot the crazy. This was a good call.

596 dark shadows eve adam until now

So here’s Eve, with her black gown and her teased-up hair, taking a chunk out of the scenery. She doesn’t really have a coherent point of view, so they’re just throwing dialogue at the problem — and Marie takes that confusing instability, and turns it into a character. More than any other Dark Shadows actor, Marie excels at being straight-up unhinged.

“If you have a memory, you couldn’t have lived until now!” Barnabas says, somewhat obscurely.

“But I have!” Eve cries, starting to get restless. “Only — where? When?”

She turns on Barnabas like a caged animal.

You know!” she growls. “You must! You know! You brought me here!”

596 dark shadows eve lived

Barnabas urges Julia to prepare a sedative, which obviously she has at her fingertips at all times.

Eve screams, “How could I have not LIVED until now! I am fully grown! I know you are men! She is a woman! I know this is a basement!”

596 dark shadows eve julia injection

Eve recoils as Julia comes toward her with the syringe.

“I know about pain!” she screams. “You will not touch me! Stay away! Don’t come near me!”

596 dark shadows eve shriek

She takes a step off the table, and then she shrieks, and falls into a faint. It’s fantastic. Oh, I could watch this all day.

596 dark shadows julia stokes magnets

So Barnabas and Julia are at a loss; they have no idea how to deal with this bizarre creation. Then, happily, Professor Stokes shows up, and he’s got a newsflash from the refrigerator door.

596 dark shadows leona eltridge magnets

Stokes has brought over a board with magnetic letters, and he spells out Leona Eltridge — the name of the mysterious woman who volunteered to die, so she could provide Eve with a life force.

596 dark shadows stokes hands

“Watch my hands,” Stokes says, as he rearranges the letters.

596 dark shadows danielle roget magnetic

Barnabas and Julia watch as he painstakingly spells out a different name — Danielle Roget.

Barnabas asks who she is, and Stokes says, “Don’t you know? I’m surprised. She was the most evil woman the 18th century produced!”

596 dark shadows stokes anagram

And that’s that, as far as the Professor is concerned. He was introduced to Leona Eltridge earlier in the evening, said “That’s an odd name,” and then dashed home for his magnets. He’s realized that Leona Eltridge is an anagram for Danielle Roget, and therefore the woman that they met was a demon conjured from Hell by the evil warlock Nicholas Blair.

Julia and Barnabas just stare at him, stunned, clearly thinking, well, “Professor Stokes” is an anagram for “Spook Fortresses”. What the hell does that prove?

596 dark shadows stokes barnabas standoff

Barnabas pooh-poohs the idea, saying, “Professor, you have a vivid imagination.”

Stokes barks, “I have a vivid sense of reality, Mr. Collins!”

And that’s the end of the argument. How dare you oppose the airtight logic of magnetic letters?

596 dark shadows julia barnabas right

The marvelous thing is that, obviously, he is exactly correct. Professor Stokes is the wise old man, whose crackpot theories are downloaded directly from the writers’ crackpot plot points. If Stokes says that they ought to destroy Eve immediately, then he’s right. That’s his job.

He is the Spook Fortress. Ignore him at your peril.

Tomorrow: The Three Faces of Eve.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Before Eve rouses, Adam objects to Julia testing Eve’s sensations with the prick of a pin. Barnabas scolds, “Adam, we must let Julia do what she thinks best. She’s only half-alive. Now we must find out!”

Eve talks over Barnabas’ line, and then he gets it backwards anyway:

Eve:  I was so tired. It was as if I could do nothing.

Barnabas:  If you — if you —

Eve:  Where did I come here from? Tell me!

Barnabas:  If you have a memory, you couldn’t have lived up until now!

When Julia joins Barnabas and Stokes in the drawing room, Stokes asks, “Is Adam coming?” Julia fumbles, “Not for — immediately, I don’t think.”


Behind the Scenes:

One more early-Eve story: They originally intended for Eve to have stitches around her neck, to indicate that her head was sewn on to another body — but when they did a camera test, it looked like she was wearing a necklace. They took off the scars, and just decided that Julia did a better job assembling Eve.

Tomorrow: The Three Faces of Eve.

596 dark shadows danielle roget letters

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

14 thoughts on “Episode 596: Spook Fortresses

  1. Since the entire original Adam experiment was supposed to transfer Barnabas’ life force AND consciousness into Adam, I’m not sure why they are so surprised that Eve knows something about life. Okay, she should have been speaking French, but apparently Nicholas also implanted fluency in modern day English when he brought Danielle Roget back from the dead. In any case, the only reason Adam didn’t turn into Barnabas in a new body was because the experiment went kerfluey and was stopped mid way. So all this angsting and sturming about how can Eve know things is Julia and Barnabas not paying attention.

    I do enjoy Eve and Marie Wallace was a great addition to the cast.

    1. Danielle Roget died in Collinsport, I’m pretty sure, after living there for several years. She had to flee from France on a frigate. English was her second language, but she was fluent. She had relationships with Americans who probably didn’t speak French.
      It might have made sense if her first words were in French, but she does speak it soon enough.

      I’m suddenly wondering, is there any policy about spoilers or speaking about things that haven’t happened yet? Not that I would dwell on it, but was wondering, just in case. I’ve seen it so many times, I forget it might be new to some, so I don’t want to give things away.

      I actually liked Erica Fitz, she was such a 60’s girl. I almost expected her to have a British accent, because of her look. She’s got a bit of a Catwoman in her voice and she looks like she could be dating Keith Richards or Mick Jagger. For some reason I think of Anita Palenberg, Honor Blackman, Marianne Faithful. I remember girls like that who weren’t famous.
      It’s been said that Carolyn is the most 60’s character on the show, and that’s very true, but when I she Erica, “It’s the late 60’s!” pops right into my head, every time.

      1. About spoilers: I don’t know, I’ve been kind of struggling with that question for a long time. In the blog posts, I try to keep spoilers vague, mostly in the “we’ll see X again in three months” area. We don’t have any rules right now for what happens in the comments.

        The one exception that I can think of was that I deleted one comment because it talked about something important that happens in the last normal-time episode of the show. 🙂

  2. Of course, the bride in the novel his an even SMALLER role than the one in the 1935 movie. The TV movie FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY from 1973 gives her a much larger role, just as this does.
    Oddly enough, the Dan Curtis TV version of FRANKENSTEIN (from earlier in ‘ 73) follows the novel by not having her come to life at all.

  3. I like that they brought a supernatural element to Eve, like she may be, or is in fact , possessed by the ghost of an evil women from the past and is not just a patchwork person created by science.

  4. Eve was smart from the get-go – so I’m assuming this was a result of the life-force of Danielle Roget – so using that logic does this mean that Adam was child-like upon creation because of the life-force of Barnabas, who mostly acts like a spoiled child?

    1. Eve was completely developed because the host who brought the life force died during the experiment, so that Eve not only absorbed the life force, but also a fully developed personality and intelligence–which was how Lang’s experiment was supposed to have been carried out in the case of Barnabas and Adam. His thoughts and memories were to have been expressed through Adam, which is why Barnabas made preparations informing the folks at the big house that a cousin from England would be coming over to live in the old house. But because Julia cut the juice before the experiment could be completed, fearing for Barnabas and perhaps not wanting to lose him, Adam only absorbed the basic essence of Barnabas’ life force, which means as a blank slate he became a separate human being and eventually his own man rather than a carbon copy of Barnabas’ personality and memories. Rather than a spoiled child, Barnabas behaves more like the detached aristocrat with all the sense of entitlement that goes with his lofty place in the social register. He is a Collins, after all, and that means something. More than once he would remind others in conversation, “I am a Collins.”

      One can’t really blame Barnabas for his behavior. Having spanned centuries only to find himself in a world completely alien to the one in which he started, his existence among people must be plagued with a singular sense of loneliness that no other human being could ever comprehend.

  5. So clearly the question at hand is what kind of make-up Eve’s undertaker used…it survived her burial, disinterment, reassembly, bandages and reanimation and remains perfectly intact (albeit entirely unflattering in that 1960s cardboard-eyelash school of cosmetics).

  6. I’m also struck by Eve’s dress. One must presume, since she was assembled from spare parts, the either Dr. Hoffman, Barnabas, or Willie dressed her; and whoever is responsible exhibits some bizarre wardrobe choices. Rather than just slipping her into a hospital gown or robe, she’s in a black evening down with a vicious side-slit, black stockings and shoes. Like Bob Mackie dressed her for the Oscars. And if Adam is any indication, they intend to leave her in this same outfit indefinitely. They’re surprised when she stumbled once she’s gotten to her feet, but they’ve out her in high heels. Of course one cannot apply logic to DS often, but sometimes they get so far afield it’s unintentionally hilarious.

    1. “One must presume, since she was assembled from spare parts, the either Dr. Hoffman, Barnabas, or Willie dressed her;”

      Considering the three possible candidates, one can speculate on just which choice is the kinkiest. I’d like to think Julia livened up some dull hours by dressing her life-size Revenant Barbie. Maybe she let Barnabas assist (“and what do think of these shoes?”). The idea of Willie being responsible makes me a little uncomfortable, and besides, I don’t think Willie’s tastes are quite that sophisticated.

  7. I love that dress on her, those little buttons down the front, the sleeves, thigh high split the whole thing. And she’s French. French women really do know how to style themselves out with a few basic pieces and a bunch of accessories. In her case she accessorizes with crazy faces and screaming. The other outfit of the moment is Angelique’s o-so-perfect diaphonous lady vampire get up. We don’t often discuss the costumes in the comments but they are a big factor in my enjoyment of the show, especially some of the vamp victim nighties that the girls wear and Naomi’s gowns in 1795.

    1. Angelique’s wonderful new vampire getup looks a lot like a shroud —the kind of thing funeral parlors buried women wearing. This would make more sense if she died of a vampire bite and was buried by humans who assumed she was gone for good. Would she really choose this? But it looks great. She never gets the chance to appear in public and present herself as normal. Does any vampire do this but Barnabas?

  8. I don’t know if this has been explained, but what is the consensus on why Carolyn’s “life-force” was insufficient to animate Eve?

    Here’s a shot at the issue: Nicholas plainly thought it was worth the effort to bring this Roget woman back to life for this purpose ( a while back he had speculated on using Lucretia Borgia or Countess Bathory). Blair seems to think that an evil (and therefore “stronger”?) personality is required.

    But does Blair just want to maximize the potential for chaos? Or does it actually take a very narcissistic, possibly murderous character to dispense the extra life force energy to get the resurrection train out of the station?

    In essence, was Carolyn too nice a person, with no history of passionate destruction to fuel the transfer? If so, Angelique should have worked, but maybe Jeff was just lacking in knowhow to pull it off.

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