“I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years.”
Right this minute, teenage bad boy John Yaeger is in the basement of the Old House, pulling apart the locks and chains that keep Barnabas Collins shut up tight in his coffin. Six weeks ago, the Dark Shadows cast took off for Tarrytown to shoot a feature film, leaving the newcomers and second-stringers to keep the show warm while they’re gone. Now they’re cracking open the mystery box, and once more unleashing Barnabas upon the populace. Dark Shadows is back at work.
To celebrate, I’ve invited actual famous grown-up film critic David Edelstein to come watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. David’s the film critic for New York magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning, and he’s also a lifelong Dark Shadows fan and a friend of the blog.
Five years ago, David wrote a very funny review of the Tim Burton movie, which he figured was his only chance to write about Dark Shadows. But it turns out he’s got more in the tank, so we’re going to watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows together, and discuss the whole thing from start to finish. David saw HoDS when it first came out, and he’s always loved it, so yeah, I know, just another example of bias in the mainstream media.
Today’s journey involves Hammer movies, overstuffed sets, inadvertent love triangles, how you can tell it’s daytime, cameos, cannons, the color of blood, and the age-old war between actors and scenery, and it ends with the extermination of everything that you love.
Continue reading House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games
“What would you do if that woman upstairs is your dead wife?”
It’s been three weeks since Alexis Stokes came into our lives, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in all that time, it’s that she’s actually her twin sister Angelique, unless she isn’t. The evidence for Team Alexis is that Angelique died six months ago and was buried in a crypt, with a funeral and everything, and if she was still alive, then they probably would have noticed.
The evidence for Team Angelique is: What if someone could come back from the dead? It’s tough to answer a what-if like that, because whatever you say, the other person can still say, Yeah, but what if they could? A conversation like that could go on indefinitely, and we’ve only got 22 minutes a day, not counting the occasional sales pitch for Spic and Span.
Continue reading Episode 999: The Dead Wife
“Blood in this room. Why? First the piano playing, then downstairs, the picture of Bruno in the drawer. Blood there, too. Then Dameon in the chair. And here again, blood. But why?”
We’ve been spending the last several weeks settling into this new Parallel Time storyline, which takes place in a separate universe where everything is the same, except that people have made different choices, including the choice of whether to make their soap opera make sense or not.
They’ve boxed up the vampire, the crossover character who is technically the only person in this storyline from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows, and they’ve put him into cold storage while the actor scurries upstate to appear in the Dark Shadows movie, leaving us with a handful of pinch-hitters from the other side of the sun.
The A-story these days is about Angelique — what she was, how she died, and whether she’s come back as a ghost, or a twin sister, or not at all. There’s been a decent amount of forward progress in that story lately — so much, in fact, that yesterday they slipped some important story information in the middle of a conversation about something else, and then acted like they didn’t even notice. But there’s still quite a bit of time to kill, and they need to slow things down a bit.
So today, they unveil the exciting plot twist that nobody saw coming: Dameon Edwards is back!
Okay, clearly you didn’t hear me. I said, Dameon Edwards is back!!
Continue reading Episode 994: Polterguest
“Your world is the one that’s small and narrow, Bruno, because there’s no one in it, except you.”
Operator, could you get me the number of a travel agency in New York? Almost anyone will do — anyone that would have information about ships docking in New York from Genoa in the past week. That’s right, from Genoa.
Continue reading Episode 988: The Staggering Weirdness of Bruno
“You killed Paul, you killed the sheriff, and now this!”
But enough with the fancy writing tricks. Who feels like watching Dark Shadows today?
Continue reading Episode 950: Flappy Bat for the Win
“All my instincts tell me… it wasn’t a wolf! No… It was another kind of creature!”
So here’s the question: Is Dark Shadows cursed?
Over the last couple years on this blog, I’ve watched and read and listened to a growing number of Dark Shadows spinoff products — the 1991 revival series, the Gold Key comics, the Paperback Library novels, the trading cards, and the Big Finish audio dramas — and they all have one thing in common, namely: They don’t make any goddamn sense. And we haven’t even gotten to Night of Dark Shadows yet, one of the outstanding leaders in the field.
It seems like people are unable to write Dark Shadows stories that hang together in a coherent way, up to and including the writers of Dark Shadows. So what kind of chance does the Dark Shadows comic strip have? For these two weeks, while I’m out traveling, we’ve been reading this 1971 strip, and so far, it looks like the curse of not making sense is in full effect. So as we go along today, I’m going to periodically check in with the ABC7 AccuWeather Sense Tracker, to see if we can figure out what’s wrong with the structure of Dark Shadows stories.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 5: Try to Forget
“Well! Signs of life at last.”
I’m not who I thought I was. I’m someone else! Someone far away!
Continue reading Episode 829: Things That Happen When Count Petofi Isn’t Around
“I’m merely wondering if there’s something in you that reaches out towards unnatural creatures.”
The time is out of joint — O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Continue reading Episode 790: A Tale Told
“Because that’s where the blood is.”
I’m out of the country this week — it’s one of those “He dropped out of school, alienated all of his friends, started going off to the mountains for weeks at a time” type situations. But if I leave you all alone, you’ll wander off to the west wing and start talking into broken telephones, so instead I’m going to leave you with selections from the February 1969 Paperback Library effort, Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein.
My theory is that this is better than nothing. That theory is looking pretty shaky already.
Continue reading X2: Why Did Barnabas Become a Vampire?
“Hot tentacles stretch upwards.”
We’ve reached a milestone in our uncertain and frightening journey into the past — June 6th, 1968, the day that Senator Robert F. Kennedy died. Kennedy was in the middle of a Presidential campaign, and he was gunned down by an assassin on June 5th, just after winning the Democratic primaries in California and South Dakota.
So Dark Shadows was pre-empted on June 6th, along with the other network daytime shows, to present news coverage of the assassination.
On this blog, a pre-emption day means I fill in with an episode of NBC’s 1991 Dark Shadows revival series. We watched episode 1 of the new series for Thanksgiving 1967, and episode 2 a month later for Christmas. Marking a more somber occasion, I’m going to draw a respectful curtain over the tragic circumstances of this particular pre-emption, and move on to my discussion of this mediocre vampire show.
Continue reading Time Travel, part 3: Blood Chemistry