“You’ve had too many victims! It’s over for you!”
Morgan Collins, the self-proclaimed god-emperor of the great estate at Collinwood, has learned that his emotionally explosive wife, who he had always feared was cheating on him with his cousin, was actually cheating on him with his cousin, to the extent that she is currently pregnant with her lover’s child.
Driven mad by this betrayal, in addition to the general background madness of being a Collins in the first place, Morgan has locked up Barnabas and Angelique in the cursed room that plagues this parallel hell. Everyone who spends a night in that room either dies or goes insane, at the pleasure of an angry ancestor who’s determined to spoil everyone’s fun. So far, the trapped lovers have been alternately possessed and throttled, but the evil wizard running the no-escape room hasn’t gone in for the kill.
As dawn approaches, Morgan strides down the hall towards the sealed portal, with a six-shooter in his hand. When he opens the door, if he finds that the couple has managed to survive the night, then he’s just going to shoot them, and take his revenge the old-fashioned way.
So I’ve got some hard news for Morgan this morning: opening that door is not going to benefit you in any way. Letting Barnabas out of a box is what got us into this mess in the first place.
Continue reading Episode 1245: Sunset at Collinwood
“The curse is more powerful than all of us put together.”
Morgan Collins has pulled the ol’ love-and-shove on his faithless wife Catherine, pretending that he’s going to rescue her boyfriend Bramwell from the human sacrifice chamber. Where is he? I can’t see him, she said, and he said Just look closer, he’s right there, and she said I don’t — and then all of a sudden she was on the wrong side of a locked door.
“You tricked me!” Catherine cries. “Just as you tricked Bramwell, you tricked me!”
“I plead guilty, my dear!” Morgan hollers, through the door. “On both counts!”
“Well, listen to me, Morgan!” she shouts. “I’d rather die with Bramwell than live with you one more day!”
“Then you have your wish, don’t you?” he chirps. “Goodbye, Catherine!” And then he saunters away, mentally updating his Tinder profile.
So we’re agreed: Morgan is the asshole in this story, and we refuse to put up with him anymore. After nine and a half weeks of this lemon of a storyline, Dark Shadows and I are finally on the same page.
Continue reading Episode 1244: Empire of the Loud
“It’s not difficult to die! Did you know that?”
#1: Why is it still happening? Brutus Collins, invoking the curse in 1680 after murdering two family members and his best friend, said: “It shall not end, until that time that someone spends a night in this spot, and survives with his sanity!” Well, Morgan spent a night on that spot three weeks ago, and he’s alive and sane, judging by the local standards for sanity. He’s currently parked on the sofa, drinking his morning tea. That means the curse is over, it’s been over for weeks, it wasn’t that big of a deal in the first place, and nobody has to listen to Brutus Collins anymore.
Continue reading Episode 1236: Infrequently Asked Questions About the Collins Family Curse
“Knowing about your strange preoccupation with the occult, nothing would surprise me. I can imagine you using some strange powders and potions, and doing strange chants to do anything you want.”
It must be a curse, obviously, from way back in the past, some asshole in a previous generation who screwed this up for you. I wonder what they did. It must have been pretty damn bad, because you are a mess, and there is no other way to explain it.
Continue reading Episode 1231: The Curse of Collinwood, or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
“No one will find me, including the thing in that room!”
It’s difficult to build up an audience for a daytime soap opera; you have to catch lightning in a bottle just to get people’s attention in the first place. You need to create likeable characters that people can relate to, and put them in interesting and dramatic situations. You have to write dialogue that speaks to the audience, and touches on their concerns. You have to create an intimacy, a real connection, that makes the audience want to tune in every single day.
I mean, unless it’s the last two months of Dark Shadows, in which case don’t bother. Who even cares?
Continue reading Episode 1200: The Woman in What?
“But actually, I did not come here to discuss the dead.”
It’s another one of those mysterious messages that Quentin’s been finding lately, scattered around his mansion. They’re cryptic little postcards from beyond the veil, signed by an old, extinguished flame, and they’re starting to get to him. They say things like “Joanna is dead and you are responsible,” which is upsetting, and they have these impenetrable adamantium wax seals that can only be opened by experts.
This time, the wax seal is even more troublesome than usual, and he’s really struggling with it. Quentin’s been opening his own mail for years now, it shouldn’t be this big of a deal, but the paper is determined to resist his advances. It must be some kind of trick judo paper that uses the attacker’s strength against him; the seconds are ticking by, and he’s still wrestling with it. He lunges at the seal one last time, and still it eludes him, and that’s when David Selby mutters “Oh, shit,” on network television.
Continue reading Episode 1133: Low Clearance
“Well, at least there’ll be no more murders.”
Angelique returned from the dead to destroy her ex-husband Quentin, and between you and me, she’s done a kick-ass job. Quentin’s on the run from the law, accused of several murders that he’s only partially responsible for, all of his friends are dead, and a minute from now, either he’s going to murder his second wife or she’s going to murder him. This is about as destroyed as a person needs to be.
We’re down to the last week of the Parallel Time storyline; there’s just a few more people to kill, and then Barnabas and Julia can go back to their own dimension, satisfied with a job well done. Everything Must Go, says the sign in the front window, and here it is: everything. Let’s see how it goes.
Angelique herself is only seconds from destruction — her vitality depends on sucking the life force out of a woman named Roxanne, and if the mysterious Claude North can get Roxanne to speak, then it’s lights out for Angelique.
But Barnabas offers the witch one last shot at redemption, handing her a confession to sign that would clear Quentin’s name. She won’t even touch it. Screw you, she says, if you people don’t appreciate me, then I’ll go down, and I’ll take the whole goddamn show down with me.
Then Roxanne speaks — and Angelique dies with a curse on her lips, as Angeliques should. Really, at the core, she’s saying: I don’t want to live in a world where Roxanne has dialogue. You’ve got to admit she has a point.
Continue reading Episode 1056: The Parallel Sky
“I tried slapping her, and telling her there was no such person as Alvah.”
And so, as Sabrina sinks slowly in the west, we wonder: is there any other version of this story we could pay attention to instead?
I mean, the current storyline on Dark Shadows basically entails Barnabas struggling to save fake Maggie from fake Angelique, as they fight over an imitation Quentin made of straw and food coloring. Sabrina is gone and Julia is on the ascendant, but still, it’s Parallel Time and there’s only so much I can deal with. So how about today we turn to an equally ersatz band of time, and see what’s happening over at the Paperback Library?
Dan “Marilyn” Ross is currently pumping out Dark Shadows novels at the rate of 159 pages a month, and honestly they’re just as canon as anything else, so we ought to keep an eye on them just to make sure they’re not hurting anybody. The current installment as of May 1970 is #17 in the PBL Gothic series: Barnabas, Quentin and the Avenging Ghost, the second book to use the “Barnabas, Quentin and…” construction.
The cover blurb says “Barnabas and Quentin join forces against Collinwood’s ghostly killer,” which isn’t strictly accurate, in that they don’t join forces, it’s not necessarily Quentin, there isn’t a ghost, and nobody gets killed. Besides that, it’s fine.
Continue reading Episode 1034: Mistakes in Justice
“As each moment goes by, you have less and less existence!”
Here’s newlywed Jeb Hawkes, the world-crushing god-emperor and inspiration for a thousand terrible RPG modules, tiptoeing gingerly into his hotel room. He sets down the suitcases, looks left, right, and left again, and finally summons up the nerve to turn the lights on.
This is how far he’s fallen — the mighty murderous man-thing, triumphant at last, shaking off the shackles of his Elder Things upbringing, and running away with the girl he loves… but feeling no joy. Instead, we see a timid man, afraid of his own shadow. Not the shadow he casts, naturally, nobody fears that except groundhogs. Jeb is afraid of the shadow that’s been assigned to him.
Continue reading Episode 973: Groundhog Day
“Be cautious with it! We don’t want a string of strange deaths in our group.”
But it’s the age old story, isn’t it? Man comes into contact with something other — something beyond our grasp, beyond understanding, beyond words — and it changes us, occasionally for the better. And we take that encounter, and we turn it into story.
I mean, not this story, obviously. This story is insane. You know how Joseph Campbell and the Mythkateers say that all mythic narratives are just variations on a single great story? Yeah. This is one of the exceptions.
But even the strangest sound has an echo, and here, in the midst of the ragged and unruly Leviathan tale clattering across our screens in double-time, we can reach out and grab hold of another story that’s following a similarly erratic track.
There is another story where Barnabas very gradually fights an otherworldly menace, where Quentin appears and disappears with little consequence, where Maggie experiences carefully controlled doses of mild peril, and where an upsetting reptile pulls the strings, and makes the puppets dance.
This is a story that our people tell. We call it Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy’s Curse.
Continue reading Episode 946: Universal Monsters