Category Archives: March 1971

Episode 1224: Other People’s Problems

“It must be what’s been happening.”

Okay, so you know how once in every generation somebody in the Collins family needs to spend a night locked up in the spooky old room behind the magic door, and in the morning they’re either dead or they’ve gone irretrievably insane? Well, it turns out there’s a third option.

Eldest son Morgan Collins has undergone the ordeal, and during that surprisingly uneventful evening, he located a secret locked door that was hidden behind basically nothing, so why nobody had ever noticed it before I don’t know. Behind that door — easily accessed by banging on the cheap seventeenth-century padlock with something heavy, like one of the excess vases cluttering up the place — was a whole other part of the house, a secret passage with a set of stairs leading to who knows where.

Morgan apparently explored this secret-behind-the-secret area, and experienced I’m not sure what, which by morning had him sitting quietly in a chair, unharmed but in an odd mood. Now he’s walking around telling everything he’s not Morgan, and making insulting remarks.

I feel like we were more or less promised some kind of supernatural upheaval after spending a couple episodes just waiting around until they opened the door again, and this doesn’t quite live up to their side of the bargain. But at least we don’t have a white-haired Morgan cringing and babbling about the Woman in White, so let’s go ahead and consider this a win.

Continue reading Episode 1224: Other People’s Problems

Episode 1223: The Carrie Diaries

“Of course, you all think that I’m mad, but I’m going to use that to my advantage.”

February the 17th.

I got the strangest feeling today, just before Father left the gatehouse on his early morning rounds. Father kissed me on the top of my head and told me to be a good girl, as he does every morning, and then suddenly I became aware that there was some kind of presence in the room. I could see a great, winged bird, sitting by the fireplace, and it was humming a tune.

The music was sweet and gentle, and it seemed familiar, like it was a song that I’d heard many times, a long time ago. The bird was very beautiful; it seemed to shine with the brightest light I’d ever seen, in a thousand shades of yellow and orange, tinged with red.

The feeling only lasted for a few moments, and then it was gone. They rarely stay for very long, and most of them are nice, like the bird. I didn’t say anything to Father about it, because I know that he worries, sometimes.

Continue reading Episode 1223: The Carrie Diaries

Episode 1222: The Room Where It Happens

“You ever notice how time moves so slow, just when you want it to go so fast?”

Yesterday, Catherine Collins drew the fatal slip in the family lottery, which means that she needs to go and spend a night on the other side of an extremely angry door, where something terrible will happen unto her that will either kill her or drive her senseless. It’s all part of some ridiculous centuries-old curse that’s slowly grinding the family into powder, and we’re riding shotgun so I guess we’re part of it too.

Catherine’s devoted husband Morgan tried to convince her that he should go in her place, her sister Daphne pleaded with her not to participate, and her ex-boyfriend Bramwell urged her to run away with him, but Catherine was determined to show them all that there’s nothing to fear in the cursed room, it’s just a metaphor for something, and maybe if we went outside and got some exercise instead of huddling in our dark mansion and subsisting entirely on brandy and hot coffee we’d all feel a lot better. I forget what chapter of Wuthering Heights this is supposed to be; I lost track a while ago.

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Episode 1221: The Snatch

“You may find that out in a frightening fashion.”

As we’re moving through these grim final weeks of Dark Shadows, I’ve been taking the opportunity to catch up on the spinoff media: the books and comics and audio plays and weird fan poetry that people have generated over the decades. Going into this period, I expected that I would like some of the stories and really very much not like others, but I wasn’t sure how that would play out. And now that I’m here, waist-deep in Dark Shadows apocrypha, I’m surprised to say that I’ve been looking forward to the Paperback Library posts.

I mean, Dan Ross’ Dark Shadows gothic novels are not good literature; they’re tepid, repetitive 156-page chill delivery devices with cardboard characters and nonsense plots, and there’s no good pretending that they’re anything else. They treat women as disposable objects — even the heroines, sometimes — and every character spends all of their time gossiping and complaining about everyone else.

And yet here we are, on the brink of Barnabas, Quentin and the Body Snatchers, and I am delighted. How do you account for a thing like that?

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Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead

“I thought there were only two Collinses left. That means there are three who must be destroyed!”

Now, I know that Quentin Collins is at a particularly thrilling crisis point right now — forced to wear jewelry that he doesn’t particularly care for — but I’m afraid we’re going to have to put his problems on hold for a minute, because I’ve got problems of my own. I’m leaving the country for a conference, and I won’t have time to write regular episode posts for the next two weeks. But I can’t just jump forward into the future and leave the rest of you behind, at the mercy of gypsies.

So I’ve come up with another crackpot idea for what to do over these two weeks, namely: write about the Dark Shadows comic strip, which ran for one year, starting in March 1971. These will probably take me longer to write than the regular posts would have, but I wanted a chance to cover the comic strip anyway, and you only live once, probably.

Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead