Tag Archives: crypt

Episode 961: Protagonizing

“I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

“My, my, Mr. Jennings,” Bruno says, splitting his face with a lunatic’s grin. “How you’ve changed!” He’s sneering at the snarling werewolf that’s currently chained to the wall of this desolate crypt, and he’s staying just outside the creature’s reach, like Foghorn Leghorn standing at the dog’s leash limit.

“Does the tone of my voice anger you?” Bruno jeers. “Good! I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”

This is not typically a problem for werewolf handlers, because the entire point of werewolves is to be a metaphor for unchecked fury and explosive violence. You don’t need to rile up a werewolf. They come pre-riled.

Continue reading Episode 961: Protagonizing

Episode 960: Time and Temperature

“Well, the spirit’s certainly acting in a very strange way.”

So, let’s say you’re a Leviathan. Not the hooded sparkle-face kind, or the secret transforming alien octopus kind, just the regular human type Leviathan, who was given a ring and a membership card by an occult entity who promised that you would get power and money and revenge on your dad if you agreed to work seven days a week for no salary, performing dangerous assignments that you don’t understand.

Look, you’re stupid. Let’s just say that you’re stupid.

And here you are, in the middle of the night, in a drafty crypt, in some fish-factory town in Maine. You read in a book that your boss is vulnerable to werewolves, which you didn’t realize there were any, but guess what, there are. Also, there’s vampires, you just found that one out too. Apparently there’s everything.

You met some spooky girl with white hair a month ago, who seemed like she knew who the local werewolf was. You just happened to run into her again tonight, and you shadowed her to her boyfriend’s house. You broke in, you found some clues, you found the werewolf. And there’s going to be a full moon tomorrow night, so you’ll know for sure that he’s the wolfman before you shoot him in the head with a silver bullet. It’s hard to call that a lucky break, but you might as well try. This is some nightmare version of “lucky” that’s basically all you have to look forward to.

Continue reading Episode 960: Time and Temperature

Episode 943: From Within

“To think that on this night, this strange night, you might have come back to us in that dreadful condition.”

Well, Maggie Evans is all locked up again, as part of the Leviathan party’s continuing war on women. Well, on one woman in particular.

Three weeks ago, Maggie found herself on the far side of a door in the strange desert otherworld known as Collinwood’s secret passages, being menaced by an untamed teenage slime god who was pursuing some kind of board-game related vendetta. After three days of confinement, Maggie managed a daring escape by waiting for somebody to open the door for her.

Now she’s locked up again, this time in a crypt, by a zombie and an assassin and a guy with a box. So it’s just like the good old days, isn’t it, when Ron Sproat would bring the story to a screeching halt by locking up a pretty girl and keeping her there, while everyone else walks in circles and talks to police officers over the phone.

Continue reading Episode 943: From Within

Strange Paradise, Episode 5: When Raxl Attacks

“Killed? Revenge? We?”

Okay, one more lap around the track, and then we’re done with this forever, I promise. This week, we’ve been taking a break from Dark Shadows to watch the first week of the failed 1969 Canadian knockoff, Strange Paradise, and it’s even stranger than I expected it would be. This is the fifth episode — here’s the other Strange Paradise posts if you want them, and if you’d like to watch along, there’s a YouTube channel that can scratch that itch. But I have to warn you that there’s a strong possibility that the show does not actually exist. We may be experiencing a shared dream, and this is all an illusion.

Because when you think about it, the whole concept seems unlikely. Dark Shadows is on television every single afternoon, fifty-two weeks a year, minus a few days off for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Apollo splashdowns. And the people who like Dark Shadows really like it a lot; when Strange Paradise debuts in September 1969, it’s the high point of Dark Shadows’ popularity.

So if you’re launching a second half-hour daily supernatural soap opera at that time, then there are only four possible theories that might justify such a thing.

#1. The people who are currently enjoying Dark Shadows for 30 minutes every day would like it even better if there were 60 minutes of supernatural drama in the afternoon.

#2. There’s an untapped audience of people who don’t currently watch a daily spookshow soap opera, who might turn on your show by accident and get hooked on it.

#3. You think that you would be better at making Dark Shadows than the people who are already making Dark Shadows, very successfully.

#4. You have a television production company, and you know that Dark Shadows is popular, and you honestly can’t think of a single other thing to do.

So what we have here is the Shadow of Shadows, a muck-encrusted mockery of a mad-science duplicate, trying to capture somebody else’s lightning in a bottle. They’re tampering in Dan Curtis’ domain, with predictable results.

Continue reading Strange Paradise, Episode 5: When Raxl Attacks

Strange Paradise, Episode 4: The Cryonic Woman

“I do believe you need me, to jack you up by the bootstraps.”

“Place it there, please,” says the man from the Cryonics Institute. He’s addressing three hulking men, who are lugging a heavy coffin-sized piece of science down into the ancestral basement crypt of the cursed Desmond family, here on this tropical island paradise where we, as you know, currently are.

The man from the Cryonics Institute is directing two underlings — large, late middle-aged balding men in turtlenecks — plus Quito, the silent man-brute who lifts all the heavy things around here. I don’t know what the Cryonics Institute would have done if the Desmonds didn’t already have a third large late middle-aged strongman on the premises. They’d probably have to pop somebody out of the freezer to pitch in. That’s the nice thing about working at the Cryonics Institute, you’ve always got another pair of hands if you need it.

Continue reading Strange Paradise, Episode 4: The Cryonic Woman

Strange Paradise, Episode 2: Crypt Kicker

“We must send that demon back to Hell. The mystic drums must sound again!”

This week, we’re taking a break from Dark Shadows to watch the first week of Strange Paradise, a strange Canadian/US knock-off supernatural soap that began here, in fall 1969. If you need the links, here’s the other Strange Paradise posts and a YouTube channel that has all the episodes, although you can consider this a week-long warning label, rather than a recommendation.

What I’m interested in is figuring out what happens when somebody decides to make a Dark Shadows-like show, using the same format and timeslot as Dark Shadows, with similar resources, and with exactly the same cultural context, and still winds up with something that doesn’t feel like Dark Shadows at all. I’m not sure what the rest of you are interested in.

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Episode 741: Lunch Date with Destiny

“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

Episode 671: The Phone Book of the Dead

“You know how girls are, they’re always having dizzy spells.”

Carolyn’s heading out for a moonlight stroll over to her mother’s private mausoleum. Elizabeth died three weeks ago, but Carolyn insists on paying regular visits to the crypt, just for old times’ sake.

Before she clocked out, Liz was convinced that she would be buried alive — everyone would think she was dead, but she’d really be lying in a comatose state, trapped in a coffin and unable to call for help. So she built herself a state-of-the-art mausoleum, complete with a push-button at her fingertips that she could press if she suddenly got better.

So Carolyn goes to visit every day, wondering if her mother will ever revive. Maggie tells her that it would be better if she could just accept her mother’s death, but Carolyn says that she still keeps hoping.

Maggie finally blurts out, “It’s not possible for someone to come back from the dead,” except on Dark Shadows, of course, where they never do anything else.

Continue reading Episode 671: The Phone Book of the Dead

Episode 571: Raising the Stakes

“Did someone ever look at me, as I now look at you? No… or I would not be alive now.”

We open the week with a fight to the death between the already-dead, as ex-vampire Barnabas Collins battles with still-vampire Tom Jennings, in order to free Barnabas’ best friend, Julia, from Tom’s hypnotic spell.

It’s a crucial step in Barnabas’ development from villain to hero, a Jungian transformation of the psyche. Barnabas is both prince and dragon here — wrestling with his own demons, confronting and rejecting the darkness in his own soul. It’s also one of the goofiest things you’ll ever see on television.

Continue reading Episode 571: Raising the Stakes