“You have never been willing to admit to yourself that I might have feelings.”
Aristede smiles, as he tightens the straps around Quentin Collins’ wrists. So far, the plan is working out just fine. The razor-sharp axe is suspended by a rigged-up pulley system that allows it to slice in a nice, clean arc. The gears are timed to lower the axe slowly, inch by inch, until it reaches the helpless body strapped firmly to the wooden table. And Quentin will be trapped, watching the blade as it descends inexorably in the direction of down. Unfortunately, it’s still uncertain at what point this turns into anything but a crafts project.
Aristede wants the Legendary Hand of Count Petofi, a powerful artifact that Quentin does not have. And there’s nothing that Quentin can do to help Aristede obtain it, especially not when he’s tied down to this horological murder machine.
The big idea appears to be that Aristede is going to go to Angelique, who actually does have the Hand, and tell her that Quentin only has thirty minutes to live. As the pendulum swings closer to Quentin’s midsection, Angelique will gladly give up the Hand in exchange for her friend’s life.
Now, obviously, he could achieve exactly the same results by just locking Quentin up in a closet and telling Angelique anything he wants. That would have saved him all that time and expense, and probably two trips to Home Depot. This just looks like a whole lot of hassle to me.
Continue reading Episode 795: The Pits
“What I was is not what I am. What I am is what I will be.”
So let’s say you have an entirely crazy person on your hands, and you need to keep her in your home for an unspecified amount of time. This is a common concern for modern homeowners. According to the experts, you should keep her in a warm room with indirect light, check the top of the soil before watering, and fertilize once a month in the spring and summer. No, wait, that’s ficus trees.
Well, here’s what vampire-about-town Barnabas Collins does, once he’s taken it upon himself to immure Quentin’s crazy wife for the foreseeable. He stashes her in an upstairs bedroom, locks the door from the outside, and then goes down to the basement to sleep in a coffin, leaving a note for the comedy gypsies who serve as his unwilling housekeepers.
I’m not saying that’s the appropriate way to handle it, I’m just telling you what Barnabas does.
Continue reading Episode 745: Rendezvous at the OK Corral
“What if he found out what I believe to be the truth?”
Barnabas and Sandor are on the trail of Laura Collins, a renewable resource who has spent the last several centuries marrying into the Collins family, having a kid or two, bursting into flames, and then coming back a hundred years later and doing it all over again. It seems like a fairly pointless lifestyle, but maybe there’s a tax break or something.
In the last episode, Barnabas and Sandor broke into the crypt of Laura Stockbridge Collins, a previous incarnation, and discovered that her coffin was empty. This was kind of a wet slap of a Friday cliffhanger, because it tells us nothing and goes nowhere.
Now Barnabas and Sandor are standing around, trying to figure out why there’s no body in the casket. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that there’s nothing there because she died in a fire. You know, I think it’s time they try branching out from grave-robbing as an investigation tool. Honestly, every time with these people.
Continue reading Episode 741: Lunch Date with Destiny
“If my social life ground to a halt every time my mom was investigating a murder, I’d be a nun.”
Okay, here are some further thoughts about Dark Shadows: Bloodlust, because I have some and you might as well hear about them.
Bloodlust is a new 13-part miniseries by Big Finish, a UK audio-drama production company that is determined to fill up the world with things that we don’t strictly need. They’ve been at it for decades, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop them, so here we are. I wrote about episode 1 last week, and today I’m looking at episodes 2 and 3.
Now, the question that every DS spin-off has to answer is: What is the purpose of bringing more Dark Shadows into the world?
Because history is not on the side of people who think that they have Dark Shadows stories worth telling. The original excuse for making Dark Shadows in the first place was that the producers didn’t realize what kind of show they were making until it suddenly became a hit, and by then it was too late to do something more sensible. Everybody following them can only dream of having an alibi that strong.
Forty years later, we’ve seen movie adaptations and prime-time revivals, novels and comic books and View-Master reels. But Bloodlust poses a question that nobody’s ever asked before, namely: What happens if we let British people try it?
Continue reading The British Invasion (Bloodlust)
“I’ve always wanted to at least not hurt you in any way.”
Welcome back to another week of Dark Shadows, the pop culture sensation that’s been gaining in popularity as its storylines grow progressively darker. It’s August 1968, and this crazy little daytime horror show is the success story of the summer.
Lately, we’ve been following Adam, the love-struck Frankenteen who’s hiding out from the police in an abandoned wing of Collinwood. He’s been there for a couple weeks, reading poetry and developing a full-scale crush on Carolyn, who just wants to be friends. Adam’s finally been told that he was created in a mad science lab, and there’s no chance that Carolyn will ever love him.
Left on his own, Adam picks up the knife from his breakfast tray, and considers ending it all. I believe the headline would be: World’s Largest Man Kills Himself with World’s Smallest Knife.
Continue reading Episode 551: Cruel World
“Woman loves man.”
The room is dark, and grim. The single window — if it even counts as a window — lets in stray slices of sunlight through a torn shade. The cobwebs are an inch thick, and there’s a large picture frame dangling at an odd angle from a beam, apparently supported mostly by dust and despair.
The room is more than just unused. It looks like a pack of timberwolves came through sometime around the Civil War, and it never really pulled itself together after that.
Also, there’s a monster in it.
Continue reading Episode 542: The Diary of Anne Frankenstein
“And for your own reasons, you remained silent. You remained silent for reasons.”
Roger is pacing in the Collinwood foyer when Julia enters, bright as a button.
“Good morning, Roger,” she chirps. “Such a beautiful morning, I decided to go for a walk before breakfast.”
Yes, she’s currently engaged in a life-or-death struggle with an undead sorceress. But this is Dr. Julia Hoffman, and she does not give a shit.
Continue reading Episode 520: What Dead People Do
“Oh, Peter — what a fool I’ve been!”
Fade in on Josette Du Prés Collins, who wakes up happy and refreshed, with a song in her heart and a brand-new neck wound.
Her boyfriend Barnabas stopped by for a bite last night, and they had a long talk about love and change and eternity. Then one thing led to another.
And it’s a strange thing to say, but this is actually a familiar scene on Dark Shadows by now. We’ve already seen several previous versions of the hypnotized heroine, as she smiles her secret smile, and joins the Sisterhood of the Scarf.
You know, I’ve heard that there are other soap operas on the daytime schedule that are about people falling in love, overcoming obstacles, getting married and starting a family. I wonder what that would be like?
Continue reading Episode 421: Bird Planes
“Terrible things happen, and no one seems to do anything about them.”
At the top of today’s episode, the ghost of Sarah Collins appears in David’s bedroom, and tells him that Dr. Woodard was murdered.
Sarah says that she doesn’t know all the details, but it was horrible, and “it shouldn’t have happened the way it did.” David asks who killed him, and Sarah says that she can’t tell him. Then she disappears.
This is all standard operating procedure for Sarah, who is powered entirely by narrative convenience, and always gives David exactly enough information to set up the next scene. Usually, I would complain about that, except that the next scene is unbelievably sad and beautiful, and it makes me want to cry.
Continue reading Episode 344: Haunted
“And if that girl turns up dead, I’m going to book you… on suspicion.”
Soap opera cops have a pretty hard life. Somebody gets murdered, and it turns out that over the last couple weeks, eight different people have been walking around saying, “That guy makes me so mad I could kill him!” — often at the top of their lungs, in crowded restaurants. But the soap opera format requires the cops to be slow and methodical, chasing blind leads and arresting at least two innocent people before they find the killer. The night-time cops on CSI can solve a case in one hour; daytime cops have to go the long way around.
By comparison, the Collinsport police have it unbelievably easy. Three new people have shown up in town in the weeks before Maggie’s disappearance, and all three are currently involved in at least one crime. They have nonexistent alibis, and one of them can’t even produce a birth certificate.
And if those aren’t enough people of interest, then there’s also Burke Devlin, who recently came back to town after serving a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter. That’s not a bad place to start; maybe Sheriff Patterson should bring Burke in for questioning.
Continue reading Episode 237: Cold Case