Episode 1201: Willie Loomis Must Die: The Movie

“You’re just as frightened as both of us!”

“Hurts… everything hurts!”

Five months ago, Willie Loomis snuck out to the Collins family mausoleum, looking for buried treasure. Opening a hidden mystery box, he unleashed one hundred and seventy-two years worth of hunger and fury into the world.

“Don’t! Don’t hurt me!”

His name is Barnabas Collins, and he has been using Willie as a housekeeper, a carpenter, an accomplice, a snack bar — and, now, as a patsy, who’ll take the fall for Barnabas’ crimes.

“Is it dark?”

Now Willie’s in the hospital with five bullets in his back, gunned down by law enforcement while trying to warn one of Barnabas’ victims.

“Is it dark outside?”

The vampire knows that if Willie tells the police what he was doing, then his secrets will be exposed. He has no choice: Willie Loomis must die.

“I’m afraid of the night! Don’t let it be dark, please! Don’t let be dark!”

But Willie has lost his mind, from pain and horror and fear. He is hopelessly insane, and he’s shipped off to a sanitarium, to live out the rest of his shattered life.

“Don’t hurt me! Please, don’t hurt me!”

And then seven months later, Barnabas needs him to come back and clean up after his new pet Frankenstein, and Willie says sure, no problem, we’re total besties.

So when Dark Shadows fans say that someone should remake the show, telling the same story but skipping the Dream Curse and the Leviathans, then you have to ask: if a writer isn’t desperately trying to fall downstairs and land on their feet every day to churn out another half-hour of daytime television by any means necessary… Does the story of Dark Shadows actually make any goddamn sense?

And here is the answer that no one expected, from S.E. Hinton of all people: Hawkes Harbor, an actual book published in 2004 that tells the thinly veiled story of hopeful drifter Willie Loomis, and his terrifying adventures with his con-artist friend, his vampire boss, and the therapist who tries to help him recover from trauma and madness.

I mean, technically, it’s not actually Willie. He’s called Jamie Sommers in the book, which takes place in Delaware in 1965, because Hawkes Harbor is not officially a Dark Shadows book. It’s hard to say exactly what it is. All I know is that I love it.

Now, there are things that I know about this book, and things that I do not know, because Hawkes Harbor is a complex space-time event.

Let’s start with what I know. S.E. Hinton is famous for her young adult novels, starting with The Outsiders, which she published in 1967, when she was eighteen years old. The book is about two rival gangs of teenagers in Tulsa, Oklahoma: the working-class greasers, and the upper-class Socs. The protagonist, 14-year-old Ponyboy, is being raised by his older brothers after their parents died in a car crash; he’s an intelligent kid, but forced by circumstance into a life of gang violence. It’s a misunderstood-teen story that you should have read when you were in middle school, and if you didn’t, then I don’t know how you ever learned that life was full of tragic choices.

After The Outsiders, Hinton published three more books about desperate teen life in Tulsa: That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), Rumble Fish (1975) and Tex (1979). There were a bunch of movie adaptations of her books, most of them starring Matt Dillon. Hawkes Harbor was her first novel in fifteen years, and her first marketed as an adult novel, so it was kind of a big deal.

On the book tour, Hinton said that Hawkes Harbor was inspired by Treasure Island and David Copperfield, which is nonsense. It was inspired by Dark Shadows, and specifically by episode 329, which I called “Willie Loomis Must Die” — when Willie was shipped off to Windcliff, terrified and broken.

Hawkes Harbor was originally intended to be published as part of HarperCollins’ short-lived series of Dark Shadows novels, following 1998’s intriguing Angelique’s Descent and 1999’s hilariously terrible Dreams of the Dark.

The book wasn’t called Hawkes Harbor back then, of course; I don’t know what the original title was. All I know is that HarperCollins was probably very excited that a famous writer was interested in writing ridiculous fan fiction for them. Then Hinton sent in her draft, and all of a sudden they weren’t that interested anymore.

The lore is that HarperCollins objected to the sex scenes and explicit language in the book, which is probably true. But they may have been moving away from Dark Shadows anyway; in 1999, HarperCollins acquired Avon Books, and merged their HarperPrism science-fiction imprint with Avon’s imprint Eos, so they had other things going on. Also, Dreams of the Dark was seriously enough to put you off publishing Dark Shadows tie-ins for life.

But Hinton didn’t want to let it go, so five years later, she rewrote the novel, changing all the names, dates and locations so that it didn’t use copyrighted intellectual property anymore, and she published it as Hawkes Harbor.

The book is the story of young Jamie Sommers, who travels the world with his charming but black-hearted friend Kell Quinn, who takes him to Hawkes Harbor to blackmail a rich widow. Working on his own, Jamie breaks into a secret family crypt and wakes up a vampire, Grenville Hawkes. Jamie becomes Grenville’s abused slave, and an unwilling participant in Grenville’s kidnapping of a young waitress, Katie Roddendem, who the bloodsucker hopes to turn into his former love, Sophia Marie. Meanwhile, a doctor named Louisa Kahne tries to cure Grenville’s condition. Jamie is shot by the police while trying to help Katie escape from Grenville, and he’s sent to an insane asylum. When he’s made some progress recovering from the trauma, Grenville takes him back, and a different relationship develops between Jamie and Grenville.

Obviously, that basic plot summary is the one that we recognize from the show, but a lot of the details are different, including Grenville’s relationship with the Hawkes family, which is a lot more distant, and the depth of Jamie’s relationship with Katie.

I don’t know how much was changed when Hinton made the decision to publish the book as a standalone, and I would like to know what the original draft was like. There’s a copy-paste error on one page late in the book, where the text says “Roger” and “the Collins shipping industry” instead of Richard and Hawkes, which might imply that there was a simple find-and-replace name switch. If that’s the case, then this would have been a fairly bold rewrite of Dark Shadows canon anyway.

What makes this book interesting is that it takes Jamie/Willie completely seriously as a character, and examines his entire life, mostly through therapy sessions and flashbacks. To give you the gist, I’m just going to go ahead and quote a big chunk of the first chapter, which takes place at the Terrace View Asylum.

“So, Jamie, you’ve had a few weeks to adjust to Terrace View. How did you like it so far?”

Dr. McDevitt looked at the young man seated in front of his desk. A small, well-built young man who might have been handsome had it not been for his gauntness, the listlessness of his posture, the shadows around his shifting eyes.

He kept wringing his hands together.

“It’s okay,” Jamie answered, not looking up.

Dr. McDevitt wasn’t insulted at Jamie’s shrug, implying a well-run sanitarium wasn’t any better than that state institutional hellhole, Eastern State, where he’d been for the last few months. Right now the young man probably couldn’t tell one place from another. After all, he only recently could remember his name. And the brutal way he had been transferred here… Dr. McDevitt was sure it had set his progress back for weeks.

“Grenville Hawkes asked that you be placed here. Do you remember Grenville Hawkes?”

Jamie shook his head.

“You used to work for him — he wanted to make sure you received the best treatment. Do you remember working for Grenville Hawkes, back in Hawkes Harbor?”

Dr. McDevitt thought he discerned a small flinch in Jamie’s posture, but there was no change in tone, as he said, “No.”

He was improving, now. He slept on his bed, not under it. He startled far too easily, but jumped, no longer screamed. Still suffered from night terrors. He was terrified of most of the attendants (Eastern State could take credit for a lot of that, the doctor suspected) but let Nurse Whiting trim his hair. He was settled enough in his new surroundings for a first session.

Dr. McDevitt looked over the report once more.

Interesting case, a kind they rarely got at Terrace View. A criminal, apparently (Dr. McDevitt had a copy of Jamie’s police record as well as his medical reports), shot during a suspected kidnapping.

Dr. McDevitt winced as he read about the three bullets being surgically removed — God knew what kind of treatment Jamie’d received after leaving Hawkes Harbor Hospital for Eastern State. The doctor had heard stories about the infirmary there.

He watched with interest as Jamie’s eyes went to the window. Dr. McDevitt had chosen this time of day for the interview with reason.

Jamie shifted in his chair, looked around for a clock, gripped his hands together, wiped them on his pants.

Twenty-five. Dr. McDevitt would have guessed him slightly older — sun had burned lines into his face, pain had stamped dark circles under his eyes.

“Did you like the navy?”

“Liked getting my third mate’s papers. They’re real handy.”

“It gives no reason for your early discharge.”

“I got sick of taking orders.”

“There’s no report of any discipline problem on your previous hospital record.”

“Don’t want no trouble.” Jamie slumped down again. His eyes went back to the window. He swallowed.

“You know what time it is?” he asked.

“Sixish. Your former employer, Mr. Hawkes, gave us a glowing report, and assured us he still believed you innocent of any wrongdoing.”

Jamie looked confused.

“I’m referring to your… mishap with the Hawkes Harbor police.”

“I didn’t hurt anybody.” Jamie’s voice rose. “I know he shot me, but he didn’t need to, I wasn’t hurting anybody.”

“It’s all right, Jamie,” Dr. McDevitt said. “All criminal charges have been dropped.”

There had been no evidence with which to charge him.

In fact, when the doctor looked at the report, his first thought was to wonder why the lawman had thought it worthwhile to gun down an unarmed man on a mere suspicion.

Must have been a slow day in Hawkes Harbor.

“You don’t remember the shooting? Or what led up to it?”

“I remember waking up after.” Jamie rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand.

That was on the report — prone to severe mood swings, cried easily, bouts of hysteria…

“It really hurt,” he explained. He looked at the windows. “It’s getting dark. Usually, I get a pill about now…”

“Of course. In just a moment.”

The medical report emphasized the patient’s extreme distress at twilight — unless heavily sedated he would not sleep at all at night. And even then, was subject to violent nightmares. And all that had certainly been borne out during these first few weeks at Terrace View.

“That’s an interesting scar you have there.”

“W-w-what?” Jamie went white. He clamped his left hand over his throat. “There ain’t nothin’ there.”

“I mean the one that looks like a burn? From your shoulder down to your elbow.”

Jamie pushed up the short sleeve of his white T-shirt to look, exposing a tattoo of a well-endowed mermaid on his bicep. And to Dr. McDevitt’s total surprise, Jamie laughed.

“Hey, that? Shark got me. Got another scar at the same time. From my ass to the back of my knee.”

“A shark bit you?”

“Hell no, my arm would be gone if it’d bit me. It was a twelve-foot tiger. No, it just rubbed me good. Maybe it was a lady shark, like Kell said… they got hide worse than sandpaper. Took all the skin right off.”

“And you find this shark attack humorous?”

“Well, the pirates thought it was funny, that’s the important thing. And I thought ol’ Kell was going to bust a gut laughing. Said he’d never seen anyone swim so fast.”

Dr. McDevitt sighed. There had been no mention in his records of these fantasies…

“The pirates?” he inquired.

“Yeah, we were in the Andamans, smuggling rubies out of Burma…” Seeing the doctor’s puzzled look, Jamie added politely, “The Andaman Sea, south of the Bay of Bengal — west of Bangkok? East of Sri Lanka?”

He appeared to be slightly shocked at the doctor’s lack of geography. Then he looked at the window. The sunlight had disappeared.

“I think maybe I better get a pill —”

He jumped up and paced.

“Sharks got real dead eyes,” he said rapidly. “You ever see one up close? Got dead eyes, you’re kinda surprised they’re breathin’… I seen dead eyes, though, burnin’ like fires of hell… Oh God, it’s getting dark… don’t let it be dark…”

Dr. McDevitt took a deep breath. He was witnessing what he’d only been told of before — Jamie’s hysteria at sunset.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark,” he soothed.

“The hell there ain’t!” Jamie was rapidly losing control. He looked around wildly, as if for an escape. “Bad stuff happens when it’s dark. God, what’s gonna happen now? Now what? God,” he cried, “it’s too late. It’s dark. It’s already dark.”

Dr. McDevitt pushed a button on his intercom, called for an orderly and an injection. As rapidly as Jamie’s hysteria was escalating, a pill would take too long.

“What bad stuff, Jamie?”

“You know. I can’t stop it!” He paced, his eyes wild and empty. “I can’t do nothin’ about it! I’m too tired.” His voice trailed off into a sob. “I’m too tired…”

“Jamie,” said the doctor, “you’re going to need an injection now. I’m going to try not to be late with your medication again.”

“Don’t hurt me.” Jamie gripped the back of his chair. “Please.”

Lee advanced with the hypodermic; Jamie offered no resistance.

The orderly left, and Jamie slumped back into his chair.

His eyes gradually dulled as the tranquilizers took effect.

Something nagged at the doctor’s memory. Yes, here it was in the police record — Jamie’s deportation from three countries. Suspected of smuggling. Could any of this story be true? He shuffled through the papers, found a worn and well-stamped passport.

“Hey,” Jamie said. “That’s m-m-mine.”

“Of course it is, Jamie. We’re just keeping it for you. You can have it back.”

“Okay,” he muttered. “But don’t lose it. I never lost a passport. Kell said I was the only person he knew who never lost a passport… You know, Kell had a U.S. passport, but he wasn’t a citizen… he was Irish. But he had a couple. Knew where to get good fakes.”

“So, Jamie, sometime will you tell me about your shark attack and the Burmese pirates?”

“Yeah. Wish Kell was here, though. He could tell a story. We had drinks on the house every time…” Jamie’s voice trailed off drowsily.

Dr. McDevitt called for an orderly, and Jamie left docilely for his room. The doctor made a note. He must always schedule Jamie’s sessions in the mornings. It would probably be a while before he was weaned from the strong evening sedation.

Once the young man had gone, the doctor couldn’t help glancing at the darkened window. Interesting story, yet how much of what he said was true? The doctor suddenly looked away, wondering what the dark could contain that could terrify a man who had faced Burmese pirates. Who laughed at sharks.

So that’s fun, right? That’s a real novelist, taking this relatively flimsy soap opera character, breaking down how he talks and thinks, and then filling it out with detail and imagination. This is not the story of Barnabas and Julia, or Elizabeth and Jason, where Willie is standing by in the background as a plot convenience or a talk-to. This is Willie’s life and experiences, building on one of the series’ best characters, with a strong emphasis on the qualities that John Karlen brought to the show.

Back when we were in ’67, I talked about how John Karlen sometimes just decided that he was in A Streetcar Named Desire or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that day, and it didn’t matter if the other actors around him were in a soap opera. He would say, okay, this character is in a lunatic situation and I have to say stupid Ron Sproat recap dialogue, but screw it, I’m going to go ahead and pretend that I’m an actor anyway. And his performance would elevate everything around him. He wasn’t Renfield, he was Biff Loman or Brick Pollitt, and if Anthony George was going to phone it in then that was his goddamn problem. That is what S.E. Hinton is capturing here, in Hawkes Harbor.

I love that chapter. I don’t love everything in the book, which drags in some places. But that is a fantastic opening, and there’s a lot of that. I’ll give you one more big quote, about 60 pages in.

He gave a violent start as she opened the door — then calmly said, “Hello, Dr. Khane,” as if she showed up in his room every morning.

She had noticed this about him before. In spite of his nervous edge, the way any unexpected happening made him jump, he still had the air of a man who had experienced the biggest surprise life could hand him, never again could he feel awe.

In a way, he very much resembled the new kind of patient they were starting to get at Terrace View — the young veterans of the war.

And it’s so cold in here, she thought, her own teeth chattering, no wonder he’s shivering… far too cold for summer.

He moved away as she reached out to touch him.

“I’m okay,” he said politely. “I appreciate it, but I’m okay.”

He’d been crying.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Just a little dizzy. Weak. It’ll pass.” Jamie always spoke politely, but hesitant, as if he wasn’t quite sure how. He gingerly touched his turtleneck sweater on the right side of his throat.

“This ain’t that bad. Anyway, I heal up real fast. It’s part of… being like this.”

“Here.” Louisa opened her purse. She took a bottle of capsules, shook two into her hand. “Stronger than aspirin.”

“No, thank you. He wouldn’t like it.”

“What do you mean?” Louisa saw, with queasy pity, a light bloodstain seeping through the sweater.

Jamie thought he couldn’t be much clearer, but explained, “He don’t want me drinkin’, smokin’, taking pills. Messes up my blood. I tried to take aspirin before, couldn’t get ’em into my mouth.”

He was lucky to get to eat and sleep, he thought. Grenville could and had stopped that for a time, too.

“What’s it like?” she asked.

Jamie had no words for her, but he thought, You just keep on the way you’re going, lady, you’ll find out soon enough.

She had no idea what she was messing with. You could tell she thought she was pretty damn clever, but Grenville Hawkes thought she was a fool. Jamie had to agree. But still, she had a lot of guts.

“You were bitten?”

Jamie’s skin crawled at the image her words evoked.

Taken. Used. Branded. Owned.

“How many times?”

“Four or five…”

Jamie stared off into space. He was going crazy.

He could feel it. Today, he was refinishing a windowsill, and looked at his watch to see that he was missing three hours. His mind had just left; he had no idea where it’d gone.

Maybe next time it wouldn’t come back.

He’d looked out the window to see the setting sun, barely had time to get outside before he puked.

He started shaking at sundown, these days.

He was so tired. He was so tired.

And this week, buying varnish and sandpaper and candles at the hardware store, Jamie lost his ability to understand language — all he could hear was gibberish, he had no idea how to speak.

He’d had to run out and leave all the stuff there and just missed being punished for it.

“But he can’t really use it now. It just… keeps me in line.”

“He can no longer use your blood?”

“He has to go get fresh. Mine is too much like his now.”

That’s why sunlight seared his eyes these days. He was always cold. The smell from Vinnie’s Spaghetti House made him gag. He had to avert his eyes to pass the chapel. He had to stay awake in daytime, to guard it, run the errands, but found it very hard to sleep at night.

Jamie wondered how long it’d take Grenville to kill him, once It realized he was crazy.

So that’s what this weird book is like, when it’s not talking about pirates and waitresses and gun-running for the IRA and having a threesome with some girls on a boat. It rambles around, throwing together whatever S.E. Hinton feels like doing with Willie Loomis at the moment.

And it includes the weird sentimental retcon from 1968, when Barnabas and Julia showed up at Terrace View and asked if Jamie wanted to come back to Hawkes Harbor and work for Barnabas again, and he smiled and said that he and Barnabas were good pals, and then everybody decided to act like that was true. That didn’t make logical sense on the show, and it doesn’t make logical sense in the book, and you are expected to be fine with that.

In fact, because this is an adaptation of a story that basically rebooted the storyline after 1795, there are a lot of plot threads that don’t go anywhere, like Grenville’s obsession with turning Katie into Sophia Marie, which just kind of disappears from the story after Jamie gets shot. It doesn’t matter for you and me, because we know the show, and we’ve already accepted all the contradictions and absurdities. But imagine how the not-we feel, when they pick up this book and think it’s going to be like The Outsiders.

Except we don’t have to imagine it, because Goodreads and Amazon exist, and people have been expressing their feelings about Hawkes Harbor for fifteen years. This one is my favorite:

Here’s a good one, from “HeavyReader”:

The story is spun out slowly, in a series of flashbacks. The young man is a criminal. A pirate of sorts. He loves the sea. Ho Hum. Then the vampire shit starts!

A vampire? Are you kidding me? I couldn’t believe it. A vampire. In 1960s New England.

It’s as if Hinton was trying to think of some gimmick to make this book popular in today’s market and realized that vampires are popular, so decided to go that route.

But it gets even dumber. The vampire becomes human again (through some rituals never fully explained to the reader). Although the vampire originally had total control over the young man, threatened to kill him if he didn’t do what he was told, by the end of the book, the vampire becomes the young man’s best friend. Weird. Weird and corny!

As I read this book, I kept laughing aloud, because the premises of the story were so ridiculous.

This one’s by “Ned”:

This book is kind of a mess, y’all.

The first third is mostly about Jamie’s life on the ocean, running scams or just working on boats with his best friend Kell. In the middle third, Jamie’s in an asylum, with flashbacks to the events that put him there – being tortured by an ancient vampire and being shot nearly to death by the sheriff over a misunderstanding. Then he’s taken out of the asylum BY the vampire, who’s no longer a “bad” vampire and apparently does not need human blood to survive, and they become very good friends.

There’s not much of a transition between any of these parts of Jamie’s life. He’s terrified of leaving the asylum, because he’ll be tortured by the vampire; then he’s terrified of being put back into the asylum and losing his access to the vampire, who is no longer bad, because of narrative convenience.

I mean, what? What is this? S.E. Hinton’s writing is always incredible – spare, but very evocative – but the plot is nearly incomprehensible and all the characters seem to completely change personalities at the halfway point, so abruptly that it feels like fifty or a hundred pages were deleted with extreme prejudice.

I like those reviews, because they demonstrate what happens when people come upon Dark Shadows storylines, when they’re not aware that there’s such a thing as Dark Shadows. Yes, a vampire in 1960s New England, who terrorizes Willie and then suddenly turns human without much explanation. Yes, all the characters change personalities at the halfway point. And yes, the equivalent of a hundred pages were deleted, because that was when the governess went back in time, and Willie wasn’t part of the show at that point.

The professional reviews are interesting, too; as far as I can see, none of them figured out the book’s secret origin as a 1960s daytime soap.

The Guardian’s review was headlined “Don’t go into the cave: Hawkes Harbor proves that S.E. Hinton is still the queen of teen fiction”, and said:

The scouts’ honour of book reviewers demands that Jamie’s find in the cave should not be given away but, for this reader, it was of a nature that pushes the book even closer to the children’s fiction shelves. It’s enough to say that what comes out of the cave admits the novel to a certain gothic genre which, although it has attracted grown-up authors, is most credible in juvenile writing…

While the plot became for me preposterous, the prose throughout is taut and tough… Hawkes Harbor reads not as a departure from her earlier work but as an extension of it: high-class adolescent fiction with the real feel of America in its speech and details.

But The Washington Post really hated the book:

There’s an odd, naive time-capsule quality to Hawkes Harbor; most of the action takes place between the early 1960s and 1978, and the story reads as though it were cobbled together from B-movies made during that period. There are pirates, an insane asylum, a shark attack, soft-core sex with a mean rich girl on a yacht, soft-core sex with two nubile young women on a cruise ship, a haunted house, a ghost and, god help me, a vampire. All of this is recounted in earnest, unintentionally hilarious prose that sprays cliches the way an assault rifle sprays bullets.

And The New York Times liked it, but the reviewer clearly hadn’t read more than about a third of it before writing the review:

When we meet Jamie (the novel moves back and forth in time), he’s a bit older and in a place that, to him, is probably infinitely more exotic than the South China Sea: a mental asylum. As he explains to his doctor, he has suffered at the hands of what he calls “It.” He’s also very, very afraid of the dark. Judging by the terror that grips him, Jamie has endured some truly awful abuse.

What might have been simply an entertaining, weird, fast-moving story also exhibits a peculiar religiosity. Could it be that the bad boy has been subjected to the ultimate sort of reform? Is this the price he must pay in order to make it to heaven? Hinton’s ability to engage hasn’t faded, but the punitive subtext of “Hawkes Harbor” makes her novel even creepier.

So here it is, this strange little out-of-place artifact: professional fan fiction, trying to squeak by in grown-up novelist drag, and on the whole not passing. But the way that we read it, as a companion to a series that we already like, this is an exploration of the inner life of a soap opera character, pushed around by a round-robin of writers with different ideas and objectives.

Like Black Mirror’s “USS Callister” and John Scalzi’s Redshirts, the book explores what happens when you take a character out of their limited genre and treat them like they’re real people, with the ability to reflect on how strange their circumstances and choices have been. Hawkes Harbor is not as successful as those works, because it’s trying to pretend that it’s something else. It is flawed and whimsical, and contradicts itself quite a bit. It is not a great work of literature.

But in these War for Dark Shadows posts, here at the end of the show’s run, I’m looking for interesting, fresh perspectives that offer worthwhile alternatives for what kind of story Dark Shadows becomes, when it’s not a half-hour daytime soap opera anymore.

So far, my personal top choices are Hawkes Harbor, Panic, Bloodline, and Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy’s Curse, especially the parts about the lizard. Hawkes Harbor is at that level for me. I fucking dare you to read it. I DARE YOU!

Tomorrow: The Leftovers.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, when Morgan explains to Gabriel that he’s preparing the lottery slips, you can see the top of the set.

At the end of yesterday’s episode, when Gabriel asked who believes in doom and destruction, Morgan said, “I do, and Father did.” In today’s reprise, he says, “I do, and Father does.” (Father is dead.)

Gabriel tells Quentin, “You’re just as frightened as both of us!”

When the camera pans from the clock in the foyer down to Morgan on the couch, you can see the top of the set again.

“You’re a very strong,” Morgan tells Catherine. Then he follows up with “Willed, young woman.”

When Morgan tells Catherine, “Once, during each generation, someone is chosen,” a telephone rings in the studio.

Catherine asks, “You mean what happened to Joshua Collins was not the result of an accident?” She means Justin.

Catherine says, “Whatever his ruse — his reason for refusing…”

Gabriel complains, “There aren’t any allowed-side — outsiders allowed.”

Tomorrow: The Leftovers.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

24 thoughts on “Episode 1201: Willie Loomis Must Die: The Movie

  1. “The professional reviews are interesting, too; as far as I can see, none of them figured out the book’s secret origin as a 1960s daytime soap.”

    This is just one more reason why Dark Shadows is an absolute gift.

  2. I have the audiobook version of Hawkes Harbor on my Audible account, and this has made me eager to listen to it!

  3. So Danny — less than five episodes into 1840/41 Parallel Time and you’re already fleeing into the more niche areas of DARK SHADOWS tie-in fiction…? 😏

          1. Hey Danny — she said she’d answer two questions about HAWKES HARBOR! Anything in particular you’d like me to ask??

            1. Oh, cool! I’d like to know what the book would have been like if it was published as Dark Shadows. When she decided to publish it as a standalone novel, did she make changes to the story, besides changing the names?

  4. Jamie Sommers? Wasn’t that Steve Austin’s future wife and fellow cybernaut?

    Maybe they could have revived the series that way – share the universe in a joint venture with Cannon or Mannix or the Mod Squad or the Brady Bunch.

  5. Or COLUMBO. I can imagine him being overly polite with the wealthy Collins family –
    “Gee, this is some house….”

    I immediately liked the line “Must have been a slow day in Hawkes Harbor.”
    DARK SHADOWS might or might not be the show for this subject, but it would’ve been nice if SOMEONE in that episode had questioned the trigger-happy police.

    1. I’ve always wished Jonathan Frid had played the murderer on COLUMBO. There’s one where Nicol Williamson plays a psychologist who trains his dogs to kill someone- Williamson doesn’t take the part at all seriously, which ruins the episode. I think Frid would have been sensational in the role.

  6. I bought HAWKES HARBOR because our local used bookstore had, for some reason, acquired ten to twelve copies from a publisher or warehouse or something, and I was intrigued to find an S.E. Hinton book in the horror section. I had no idea it was intended to be a DS novel until I was well-into it, but I ended up loving it. I really enjoy Louisa and Grenville (GRENVILLE?!?) and how Hinton tweaked events in the series just enough – Grenville’s trapped in a cave! A tribal chieftain’s daughter turned him into a vampire! – to keep DCP off her back.

    And speaking of … um … DS homages …

    A few years ago I discovered a paperback called DARK HOMECOMING by William Patterson. Get a load of the plot summary on the back cover:

    “Liz Huntington met her husband David, scion of one of Palm Beach’s wealthiest families, just weeks ago. Their honeymoon was idyllic and Liz is blissfully happy – at first. But she feels increasingly uneasy in her lavish new home. Huntington House and its staff still seem to be in the thrall of David’s first wife. In fact, the housekeeper, Mrs. Hoffman, has made it clear that Liz can never measure up to the stunning, sophisticated, deceased Dominique.

    “Though Dominique drowned in a yachting accident, Liz still senses her spirit in the house. She hears unexplained noises … sees shadowy figures vanishing down the long corridors. The scent of Dominique’s favorite flowers fill the air. But Liz’s fears are more than insecurity. Two young women connected to Huntington House have already met terrible deaths. More will die – and soon. Because behind the house’s polished facade is an unimaginable secret and love turned to twisted, unnatural obsession …”

    I tried to read it; if I recall, the back cover was actually more interesting than the novel itself. There might have been zombies. But seriously, DCP and the estate of Daphne Du Maurier should gang up … Dominique? MRS. HOFFMAN THE HOUSEKEEPER?????? (But seriously, I wish the novel had been better.)

    1. Dark Homecoming is available for Kindle — the opening sentence of Chapter 1 is, “Mrs. Hoffman had a face like a hockey mask. Hard, white, and plastic. She’d had so much cosmetic surgery that her eyes looked feline and her mouth had trouble making ‘O’ sounds. Her cheeks were unnaturally round and shiny and her eyebrows never moved. Liz felt as if she were meeting a wax statue.” For crying out loud, it was just a little eye lift.

  7. Barnabas, Julia, and Willie: They were a combination of “The Three Amigos” and “Two Men, A Woman, and a Baby”. Three buddies who later tried to become parents. Zaniness and frivolous antics ensued!

    “Hawkes Harbor” seems to be (at least from the examples provided) extremely faithful to Dark Shadows. Do the earlier segments reflect the much more savage James Hall version of the character? I found the post-Barnabas Willy change to have a much greater impact due to how slimy and scary Hall had portrayed Willy initially—such as in Episode #204.

  8. It’s nice to see that this version of Julia, uh, Louisa, is still doling out sedatives! Did Hinton realize this was a key element of her character?

  9. Fantastic. I’d heard of Hawkes Harbor, but didn’t realise its origins.

    It has always fascinated me how people who make vampire movies, shows, etc., either worship Dark Shadows or are completely clueless about it. It also fascinates me that “professional” book reviewers wouldn’t have done the tiniest bit of research.

    When my reading here is done, I may give Hawkes Harbor a try. I enjoy fiction tie-ins and I’ll just pretend they still have the DS names.

    Also thankful that you’re back, again, and posting regularly. Hope all is well. I’m enjoying many of your “classic” posts in between new ones.

    1. Professional reviewers plow through TONS of books–they usually have at least three going at once in order to get their reviews out in a timely fashion. Unless the book is in their particular area of expertise or it’s explicit about being a take on something else, they’re going to take it at face value.

  10. Some other ideas for spinoff novels exploring other B-list characters:

    The Silence of the Cows: “Hannibal Lecter gazed impassively at Sheriff Paterson. ‘I once had a werewolf over for dinner…I braised his tail in a lovely white wine sauce…They all laugh at you, you know — not just the State Patrol boys in Bangor, but the hick local cops in Ellsworth. ‘There goes the Collinsport sheriff,’ they all say, ‘Couldn’t catch a cold if he stood in the pouring rain.’ Do you really think arresting this wolfman will solve all your problems? The drinking, the impotence? If you catch this creature, do you really think it will stop the cows from screaming?'”

    The Unbearable Being of Lightness: “Liz and I sat companionably in the library as she read by the light filtering through the checkerboard pattern fringing my lampshade. As she turned the pages, frustration welled up inside me once more — for I had been sitting on a table in the drawing room that fateful evening 18 years earlier, and I had no way of letting her know the truth of what Jason Maguire had done. Once I had tried flickering in Morse code, but all that had accomplished was Roger unnecessarily changing my bulb.”

    The Sun Also Rises: “Somehow I knew Maggie Evens was in danger. I quickly consulted the Farmer’s Almanac and wristwatch hidden in the straw in my coop. Forty minutes to sunrise, and the eastern sky still dark. I decided to risk it. ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ I lustily crowed. A dark, winged rodent shape flew overhead towards the Old House. This time it worked — but would Maggie (and I) be as lucky the next time?”

    Adventures in Maine Probate Law by Evan Hanley: “Some clients may ask their attorney to negotiate a pact with the forces of darkness. In deciding whether to do so, a lawyer needs to consider (1) is this consistent with their fiduciary duty to their client? and (2) will such a pact be enforceable as a contract under the laws of their particular state?”

  11. Ahhh, Willie…survivor of more luck and fate and doom then any other dozen men alive.

    I am getting my mitts on this book posthaste, for sure.

  12. I adored Hawke’s Harbor. But then, I adore the relationship of Barnabas and Willie, especially Willie, and wanted his journey from slave to friend explored. I love that in the end, they humanize each other.

  13. Our library has a copy! Ordered it to be delivered to my local branch. I’m looking forward to seeing how bad/good it will be.

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