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 1088: The Summer of Our Discontent

“Don’t you feel the evil in this room?”

If it seems like the Collinwood halls are filled with more ghosts and fewer people than usual, that’s because three of the stars — Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Nancy Barrett — are out this week on separate press tours for House of Dark Shadows, the feature film which keeps on finding ways to make the show worse.

In the film, Jonathan Frid plays a vampire, Kathryn Leigh Scott plays a girl, and Nancy Barrett plays a girl vampire, so she wins. You see a lot of Carolyn-the-vampire images in the promotional materials, because that’s the traditional early-70s horror movie draw — a pretty girl in a flimsy nightgown, with blood all over her face. This was the period after they invented red paint and before they invented slasher movies, so sometimes the girls had to go and get bloody some other way.

Continue reading Episode 1088: The Summer of Our Discontent

Episode 1087: Stranger Things

“What makes you think that you can describe a man from my dream?”

What do you think they were doing, all that time?

Gerard Stiles is an evil pirate-sorceror-ghost, an advanced energy-being with the power to control people’s minds, by either hypnotizing them or, if necessary, dropping heavy objects on them. He’s got a governess gun-moll sidekick who can magically seduce romantic leads, and two teenage enforcers who can convince kids to turn on their own families. He can utterly destroy Collinwood, and kill everyone who lives there, one at a time or in handfuls.

So what do you think he was thinking a year and a half ago, when some young upstart named Quentin Collins kyped his whole strategy? I mean, there’s Gerard, just biding his time until a blonde girl showed up, and all of a sudden, Quentin and Beth jump the line, and start doing exactly what Gerard has been planning to do since fifty-seven years before Quentin even died. And they failed, obviously, because they were noobs who didn’t even have a single zombie.

Now that Gerard’s pushed the button and put his own plan into operation, he can finally show everyone how to follow through on a Turn of the Screw-themed extreme home makeover. But when Gerard goes to his girlfriend’s room, he finds her kissing on — guess who? — Quentin Collins.

No way, Gerard emits. Are you kidding me? Fuck that guy.

Continue reading Episode 1087: Stranger Things

Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

“I don’t want to encourage them, and their ridiculous prophecies.”

There’s a mystery door in the west wing of Collinwood, as I’m sure there is in many of our homes, and when you open it, you either get a linen closet, or a malevolent playroom that eats children. This is an inconvenient way to run a corridor, especially if you just want to put the towels away.

But today, instead of the two usual options, David and Hallie discover a third — a magical stairway into time, operated by ancestors. The ghosts of Tad and Carrie are standing at the top of the phantom staircase, urging their descendants to — well, I’ll let them explain.

“Come! Please, come!” they say. “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t keep us waiting, please!”

“Follow us! Come! Please, come!” they continue, further refining their message. “Hurry! Follow us! Please, don’t keep us waiting!”

“Hurry! Hurry!” they recapitulate, hearkening back to a previous motif. “Please, come! Come! Come with us, please!” This must be what an elevator pitch used to be like, back before there were elevators, and you had to do it on the stairs.

This sequence is a lot like being on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and getting your car stuck right at the end, when the ghost lady says, “Hurry baa-ack, hurry ba-aaack! Be sure to bring your death certificate” over and over while you just sit there and watch, except that the Dark Shadows version is actually trying to kill me.

Continue reading Episode 1086: A Sense of Something

Episode 1085: Our Ignorance and Folly

“David, they’re nowhere in the room! They’re dead people! They’re ghosts! And we look exactly like them!”

There is no such thing as time. There’s only space, physical space, and it is space that measures the distance between those points which we, in our ignorance and folly, insist are points in time. All time is one point, one moment, it is ever existent and it is ever accessible, and it is physical space that can be used to make all time easily accessible. Well, physical space and LSD, obviously.

Continue reading Episode 1085: Our Ignorance and Folly

Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order

“If he himself can transcend time mentally, he should be willing to accept the fact that it can be transcended physically.”

To be honest, there’s not a huge hell of a lot happening on the show right now. Two kids are inching their way towards being supernaturally swapped for two other kids, one of the romantic leads is being catfished by a ghost, and there’s two independent story threads about a main character hoping that a secondary character will turn out to be a dead person that they used to know. None of these storylines are particularly compelling, and they don’t cross over with each other at all. It feels like the writers have gotten into a rut, and decided to stay there.

Usually, the thing that extricates us from this kind of morass is the show’s insistence on having an exciting cliffhanger at the end of every episode, but even that has failed us. This week, there are four episodes in a row that end in exactly the same way — David and Hallie open the playroom door, and then gape in open-mouthed astonishment at whatever they see.

In episode 1082, they open the door and see a dollhouse, with little dolls inside that they recognize from their shared dream. In episode 1083, they open the door and see that the dolls that they burned in the fireplace are back in the dollhouse. In episode 1084, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie, reading from David’s notebook. And in episode 1085, they open the door and see Tad and Carrie again, standing on a staircase.

And that doesn’t even count episode 1074, where they open the door and see the linen closet; episode 1075, where they open the door and see the playroom for the first time; and episode 1080, where Hallie opens the door and sees Tad, and then turns around and opens the door and sees David.

It’s possible that they’re going to keep doing this from now until the end of time, and there’s nothing I can do but try to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Here is my list of 100 things I would like David and Hallie to see when they open the playroom door.

Continue reading Episode 1084: 100 Things That I Would Like David and Hallie to See When They Open the Playroom Door, in No Particular Order

Episode 1083: Your Dark Shadows Horoscope

“What’s frightening me is the feeling I have!”

We live in unsettled times, here in mid-August 1970. The publicity tour for House of Dark Shadows is about to crank into gear, in advance of the late-August premiere in the southeast and the early-September nationwide release. We’re going to lose some main actors next week, including Barnabas, as the Dark Shadows movie finds yet another way to do what it does best: destroy the Dark Shadows TV show. It’s no wonder everybody’s stressed out about the future; the current outlook is trending pretty bleak.

But you can’t look to the night sky for an answer to everything; that’s not what it’s for. The stars and planets aren’t there just for you. They’ve got their own orbits, their own desires and dramas. They have no time to worry about what patterns they make when viewed from Earth, which to them is just another random rock in the inky void. The stars that make Orion’s belt have nothing to do with each other; they’re hundreds of light years apart, and they’re not even friends on Facebook.

All those sparks in the heavens aren’t going to coordinate with each other just to let you know that you should avoid the color green, and move toward people with positive energy. Are you kidding me? They’re stars. They couldn’t care less.

But I know that’s disappointing to hear, so I’m going to let you in on the only real way to divine the future: your Dark Shadows horoscope. A couple weeks ago, I invited commenters to post their birthdates in the comments, so that I can reveal the truth: your personality and future are determined by the Dark Shadows episodes that aired on your birthday. Here, I’ll show you what I mean.

Continue reading Episode 1083: Your Dark Shadows Horoscope

Episode 1082: You Don’t Have to Put on the Red Light

“Why do I always have to be the one to talk sense?”

I know that this will be impossible for you to believe, but everything I tell you is true.

Months ago, on a plane of existence that you’ve never seen, you and I fell madly, hopelessly in love. All it took was one look at you, unconscious on the table of the mad scientist who was using you to animate his murdered daughter’s corpse, and I knew that I couldn’t go through with my plan to stab you while you slept.

You were like a perfect china doll, pure and lovely and utterly helpless. You couldn’t be another casualty in the endless occult space war that I wage against my ex-wife in multiple dimensions. I spared you from the brutal execution I’d planned for you, and that is why you love me.

When I carried you from the house, you were silent and remote. I brought you to a secret room in a deserted mausoleum, and watched as you moved about the room, reacting to objects that you recognized. Then I took you to my home, to my own basement, where I hooked you up to several machines and worked tirelessly on your behalf. Even though you had been cruelly used, I didn’t bring you to the hospital or the police, because they could never understand the special connection between us.

There was another man in your life, my dearest, who tried to ensnare you with his hypnotic control. Happily, my hypnotic control over you was stronger than his, allowing you the freedom to choose the man who deserved your love. He saw you as a plaything, an object that he could own, but I knew the truth — that you were mine, forever, from the moment I saw you. Shortly after this, he was murdered, and I buried his body in the woods, so that the police investigation would no longer be an impediment to our love.

How can I descibe the agony I felt as you burned, in that ghastly fire? You screamed my name, begging me to rescue you from the flames. That was the last time that I saw you, my love, and you cannot imagine the suffering I have experienced.

My name is Barnabas Collins. I am the most dangerous person that you have ever met. This is our love story.

Continue reading Episode 1082: You Don’t Have to Put on the Red Light

Episode 1081: Born to Rock

“I never thought I’d have to introduce you to yourself.”

So, here’s where I struggle. I’m looking down the barrel of a whole week of Dark Shadows featuring my current least-favorite characters — young David Collins and his accomplice, Hallie Stokes — and they’re going to keep on doing the same things that I didn’t enjoy watching them do last week.

Continue reading Episode 1081: Born to Rock

Episode 1080: What’s In Store

“If there’s been a crisis somewhere, I don’t know anything about it.”

Natal astrology, also known as genethliacal astrology, is a practice based on the tedious idea that you need to calculate the positions of the stars at the time of a person’s birth in order to understand their personality and future path in life, instead of the usual way of doing this, which is just watching the person and seeing what happens. Natal astrology is one of the four main branches of horoscopic astrology, along with mundane astrology, also known as political astrology; electional astrology, also known as event astrology; and horary astrology, which doesn’t have another name, because how are you gonna compete with horary.

The first thing that you need, if you’re planning to commit natal astrology, is to determine the exact time, date and location of your victim’s birth. People don’t usually know the exact time of their birth, because the birth process takes hours, so it’s hard to nail it down to the minute. They usually say it was around four in the afternoon. This is helpful, because it allows you to click your tongue and say, oh dear, that makes things a little more difficult, and then you can jack up the price.

Once that’s done, the astrologer builds a birth chart, showing the exact position of the sun, the moon, the planets, the ascendant, the descendant, the midheaven, the lower midheaven, the conjunction, the sextile, the semi-sextile, the square, the trine, the opposition and the contraparallel declination. Then things get a little complicated.

The next step is chart weighting, which involves classifying the predominant signs as masculine (fire and air signs) or feminine (earth and water signs), as well as their quality (cardinal, fixed or mutable). Then you create the chart signature, based on which element and quality has the most signs, and combining them to calculate the signature. If there isn’t a clear signature, then the position of the ruling planet of the sun can cast a deciding vote. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to be ashamed of.

Once you’ve done that, you move on to chart shaping, which involves examining the placement of the planets, and determining the aspect patterns between them. The main aspect patterns are the Stellium, the Grand Trine, the Grand Cross, the T-Square and the Yod, which is two quincunxes joined by a sextile, which indicates restlessness and irritability, especially if you’ve been talking to an astrologer for a while.

You have to make up a lot of words when you do astrology, because it encourages people to stop asking questions and hand you money. The best way to keep people from inquiring any further is to use the word genethliacal, which I looked up in a dictionary and it doesn’t mean anything.

Continue reading Episode 1080: What’s In Store

Episode 1079: Carry a Big Stick

“We are becoming closer and closer to catastrophe.”

Here we are, in a thrilling seven-week countdown to calamity, as the wealthy and powerful move gloomily from room to room, in this enormous and temporary brick-stack called Collinwood. The house is doomed, fated to fall in on itself with a tremendous crash, any time between right now and four and a half months from now. Spoiler: It’s not happening right now. Almost nothing is.

Time-traveling houseguests have appeared in the hall, with prophecies of disaster outlined in a handy list of six bullet points that nobody cares about or understands. Two of them have already come to pass in the last week and a half — an eclipse, and a picnic — and so far nothing has happened, except for a faint prickling of unease. Maybe these aren’t our clues after all; there’s been a mix-up, and we’ve gotten hold of somebody else’s clues. I wonder who they belong to. I hope it’s not somebody who really likes their house; they’ll be terribly cross.

Continue reading Episode 1079: Carry a Big Stick