All posts by Danny Horn

About Danny Horn

Product Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. I write a daily blog, Dark Shadows Every Day, about the 1960s vampire soap opera. Founder of Muppet Wiki and Tough Pigs, a Muppet fansite.

Episode 1184: The Graham Crack-Up

“Being a mental patient seems to make anything possible.”

So we might as well gently check ourselves into an asylum, is what I’m saying. It’s about time, and it doesn’t appear like anyone’s going to do it for us. I think at this point we could all do with a little rest cure at a home for the mentally unwell, if only to hang out with the rest of the Dark Shadows fanbase.

Continue reading Episode 1184: The Graham Crack-Up

Episode 1183: Damn Daniel

“There comes a moment when one loses control of one’s own life.”

Prince of Fire, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.

I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth.

In the name of every evil spirit, I invoke you! Appear to me now!

Damn, Daniel!

Damn, Daniel!

Damn, Daniel!

Back at it again with the white Vans!

Continue reading Episode 1183: Damn Daniel

Episode 1182: I Feel Ya

“Won’t anyone listen to me? That woman is dead, I tell you, she’s dead!”

“How now, Samantha,” says Gerard Stiles, on the battlements of Collinwood. “Stand and unfold yourself.” It takes a minute, but she manages it; a person like Samantha Collins can get herself pretty comprehensively folded.

You see, at the end of yesternight’s episode, the deceased Joanna Mills, Quentin Collins’ former mistress, showed up at the front door of Collinwood, and told Samantha, Quentin’s existing wife, that she wanted to talk to her sister Daphne, Quentin’s current mistress.

“What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,” Samantha said, addressing the spirit. “By heaven I charge thee, speak!”

“You and I know of each other, although we’ve never met,” spake Joanna, harrowing Samantha with fear and wonder. “I don’t mean to disturb you; I only want to see my sister.”

So Samantha allowed this dreaded sight into her house, because you don’t want to be rude, even to an apparition. In the gross and scope of my opinion, this bodes some strange eruption to our state, although now that I think about it, Samantha is responsible for strange eruptions pretty regularly, all by herself.

Continue reading Episode 1182: I Feel Ya

Episode 1181: You, Again

“Is counsel willing to admit that this woman is alive?”

You know, I’ve never had much regard for 1840 Quentin as a tastemaker in romantic entanglements, having married Samantha Drew, a woman whose range of emotions extends from passive-aggressive bitterness to murderous rage. And then along comes the deceased Joanna Mills, Quentin’s second choice, who was clearly a lateral move.

Quentin is currently in lockup, on trial for witchcraft, of which he is only partially guilty. True, he traffics in dangerous occult artifacts and he built a time-traveling staircase, and it’s still an open question whether he murdered all those cows — I mean, if he didn’t, then why isn’t he out there searching for the real killer — but lots of people have occult interests at Collinwood, and Quentin’s hardly done anything, if you grade on a curve. I don’t think he even used the staircase, which works perfectly, so honestly he should be in 1969 right now, appearing on trading cards and making himself acquainted with a wider variety of females.

And now, here’s this dreadful boat-anchor walking into his cellblock, and he thought he shook her loose months ago.

“You’re not going to be here much longer, darling,” she assures him, in the clear, dulcet tones of a woman who will call you “darling” even if you ask her to stop. “I’m going to do everything in my power to help clear you! You’re in serious trouble, and you need me. I was always there when you needed me. Do you remember, Quentin?” He remembers.

She wants to go to  Collinwood and talk to her sister Daphne, who happens to be third on Quentin’s hit parade, and the only one fit for human society. “I want to see Daphne as soon as possible,” she announces.

“Well, before you do,” says Quentin, “I think we ought to have a long talk.”

“I know, darling,” she smiles. “We have so much talking to do.” And Quentin thinks, ummmm yeah, it’s not that kind of talk.

Continue reading Episode 1181: You, Again

Time Travel, part 14: It Is What It Is

“People I love haven’t always loved me back.”

Six months ago, in July 1970, the Firesign Theatre released a record called Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, an avant-garde slice of psychedelic, time-traveling radio comedy that was mostly about a ’50s teen movie spoof called High School Madness. In the spoof, young Peorgie and his pal Mudhead investigate the theft of their school, Morse Science High, by their rivals, Communist Martyrs High School. Infiltrating Commie Martyrs, the two buddies find the mural from their school in a storage room, labeled “Mural: Auditorium, right rear. Heroic Struggle of the Little Guys to Finish the Mural.”

Meanwhile, six months later, as we cross the chasm between 1970 and 1971, that is exactly what lies ahead for Dark Shadows: a 13-week heroic struggle to wrap up this wild, untamed soap opera that has broken free of all ties to civilization as we know it. Dark Shadows has never really been about a girl on a train, a mad family and a lovestruck vampire. It’s about some writers, a mad producer, a cast of eccentric New York stage actors, and a lonely boom mic trying to break into show business, working feverishly on a shoestring budget to produce the strangest possible television show, for as long as they can get away with it. In the three months left between January 1st and April 2nd, they are going to finish this mural or die trying, or both.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 14: It Is What It Is

Episode 1179/1180: Communication with the Dead

“You and he have always been in league with one another!”

“Trask held you prisoner?” says Quentin, from his prison cell.

“Yes,” answers time-traveling eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins, who is acting in Quentin’s defense. “He forced me at gunpoint into an alcove in the basement of his chapel, and he bricked up the alcove, and left me there to die.”

Quentin is astonished. “But why didn’t you tell the judge what he had done?”

“Because I chose not to!” declares Barnabas, proving once again that he is essential — not just to Dark Shadows, but to our quality of life in general.

Continue reading Episode 1179/1180: Communication with the Dead

Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

“Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.”

“Mr. Collins, are you there?” calls Lamar Trask, talking to a brick wall. He’s excited, this is his first murder.

Trask has walled up the trans-temporal eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins in a basement alcove, for vengeance purposes. First he thought that Barnabas murdered his father, the Reverend Trask, fifty years ago. Now he knows that Barnabas isn’t a vampire, but he still thinks that Barnabas is responsible for his father’s death. Or maybe it was Barnabas’ father who was responsible. It’s not clear to me what Trask thinks. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, one way or another.

“Mr. Collins, something has occurred to me,” he continues. “Something I think you might find interesting. Shall I tell you?” From behind the wall, Barnabas says yes. Apparently he’s still taking calls.

“Good,” Trask smirks. “You’re not dead yet. Linger, my friend, while I tell you my fascinating thoughts.” Which kind of sounds like what I’m saying, at this point in the blog.

Continue reading Episode 1178: The Mary Sue

Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream

“Then we shall simply have to change the course of history, and find him.”

Let’s face it: 1840 has been letting us down on the visual spectacle. There used to be a monster in this storyline, split into two parts: the Head glowering in a glass case, and the Body roaming the woods like a murderous pantomime horse. There used to be vampires, feeding on the blood of the innocent. There used to be a guy in a wheelchair, which isn’t a monster but at least it’s something to look at. Now the only monster is a smooth-talking warlock, who rigs court cases, and casts spells that make governesses fall asleep.

These days, the show is dominated by people wearing old-fashioned clothes, gossiping with each other about who’s responsible for what. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have a zombie, or a skeleton, or even a severed hand flying around the room. Think back: isn’t everything better when there’s a mischievous, floating severed hand?

Continue reading Episode 1177: The Unfinished Dream

Episode 1176: The Week Between

“I dream about her only because I hate her!”

Cockney mentalist Leticia Faye dashes into the drawing room of the sumptuously-appointed Rose Cottage, making a beeline for Flora with a bulletin from the courthouse.

“Oh, Flora!” she sobs, plunging into the woman’s arms.

Startled, Flora cries, “Tell me what’s happened!”

Leticia tries to pull herself together. “It’s Desmond!”

“What about my son?” Flora asks, and that’s how you know it’s Christmas.

Continue reading Episode 1176: The Week Between

Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume

“Less talk, more crowbar!”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A man walks into a crypt, looking for buried treasure. He crowbars his way into a mystery box, and what does he find? A pain in the neck.

Today is Christmas Day 1970, happy holidays by the way, and the show is taking the day off. On pre-emption days, the blog is visited by the Ghost of Dark Shadows Yet to Come, often to our great and lasting regret. During previous pre-emptions, we watched the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows, the 1971 movie Night of Dark Shadows, and the 12 episodes of the 1991 NBC revival. The short version is that they weren’t very good, because trying to catch lightning in a bottle is difficult, especially when you’ve already used that bottle a couple of times. Lightning’s funny that way.

Today, we’re taking a look at the next chapter of that story: the 2004 pilot for a new prime-time Dark Shadows, prepared for and rejected by the WB, which used to be a television network.

You see, Dan Curtis — Dark Shadows’ creator and executive producer — never gave up on Dark Shadows, except while he was making it, when he definitely did. Having tasted the thrill of unexpected success in 1968 and 1969 as the show’s popularity reached its peak, he decided to make a movie version, using the same cast, crew and writers, while the television show was still on the air. That left the show coasting for months on ABC-TV with the B-squad characters, and when Dan finally came back to the series, all he really wanted to do was make another movie, and that’s why the show came to a gradual, disappointing end.

In 1991, Dan decided to try again, making a 12-part prime-time series for NBC that used a lot of ideas from House of Dark Shadows, and it didn’t work out, for lightning/bottle reasons. And then he just kept on trying to remake the remake for the next 12 years, finally managing to convince the WB to spend five million dollars on a pilot that nobody liked.

I asked you to stop me if you’ve heard this before, but frankly, it’s no use trying. The only way that Dan could stop retelling the story of Dark Shadows was to die, and even then, I bet he’s up in Heaven, pitching Saint Peter on another series. I’m kidding, of course; executive producers don’t go to Heaven.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 13: Total Blood Volume