Tag Archives: funeral

House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games

“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

Episode 962: The Second Law of Thermodynamics

“The dead sheriff was standing over me with a gun, and I woke up here.”

Paul Stoddard is missing, again. The Leviathans desecrated his grave a couple weeks ago, with the vague intention of dragging the corpse out of the ground and interrogating it, and when they cracked the coffin, they found the dead man grinning at them in a frozen, ghastly moment of post-mortem mirth. What could this mean? they asked. How could there be something out there that’s crazier than us?

So they burned the body, and by “they” I mostly mean Jeb Hawkes, the master of murder who’s currently standing graveside, comforting Paul’s daughter, as she grieves for a father who just keeps on disappearing.

“When I was a little girl, my father went away from me,” Carolyn chokes. “I told myself then that I was so small, I couldn’t keep him. Then I grew up, and he came back to me. I had another chance. And he went away again.”

Jeb approaches, the secret author of her pain. “Carolyn, this is not the same!”

“Maybe not,” she shrugs. “But I did lose him again, didn’t I?” He embraces her, and for a moment, he almost feels like maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to murder someone in his girlfriend’s immediate family. And Carolyn cries, “Why are there so many ways of losing people, and so few of holding on?”

So you look at this couple, at this point in the show’s history, and you can’t help but think of the six words that could bring down a government: Don’t you think she looks tired?

Continue reading Episode 962: The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Episode 936: The Dynamics

“The book doesn’t say to like me, does it? “

A man is dead on Dark Shadows, which isn’t exactly stop-press news; over the last year, they’ve stacked up so many bodies that people had to come back to life as a new character, just to kill them all over again. Just last week, three characters died on screen, and only one of them even matters.

Here’s the roll call: Paul Stoddard was killed by a lot of noise in the other room, which rendered him inert and sticky; Amanda Harris died of being cast in a Stephen Sondheim musical; and Sheriff Davenport was murdered at the end of Friday’s episode by a Monster Point of View shot.

Now, when Amanda dies, they actually say that the half-life that she kind of lived over the last seventy years was erased from history, so that the only people who remember anything about her are Quentin and Julia. This was entirely unnecessary, because Quentin and Julia were the only people on the show who cared about her anyway. So it’s kind of rude to make a specific point of deleting her, but on the other hand, I can’t remember who we’re talking about, so whatever.

And then there’s Sheriff Davenport, who is so unmourned that when we see his grave later this week, it says “Sheriff Davenport” on it. He didn’t have a first name, apparently, and it’s too late to give him one now. I suppose he’s lucky he even got a gravestone of his own; they could have just used Jeremiah’s with a Post-It note stuck over it.

Continue reading Episode 936: The Dynamics

Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley

“I suppose I’d better pay a visit on the antique shop which specializes in a succession of strange, disposable little boys.”

Scene One: Grave, Indeed

EXT. PHOTOGRAPH OF COLLINWOOD — DAY

PROFESSOR STOKES (O.S.)

For Maggie Evans, a time of terror at Collinwood has ended, and the source of her torment has been identified as Michael, the boy who lives with Megan and Philip Todd at the antique shop.

FADE IN:

INT. ANTIQUE SHOP BEDROOM — DAY

Michael stares directly into the camera, waiting for his cue to begin acting.

PROFESSOR STOKES (CONT’D)

And now Michael faces his own time of terror. For with shocking swiftness, he has fallen ill, and as she examines him, Julia Hoffman knows his illness is grave indeed.

Having received his cue, Michael shuts his eyes and rolls around on the bed. Julia positions a stethoscope somewhere in the vicinity of his heart.

JULIA (THINKS)

Come on come onnnnnn when do I get to inject him with something

Continue reading Episode 928: Another Day in the Uncanny Valley

Time Travel, part 9: Frequent Flyers

“I feel as if something is trying to get inside of me!”

And another thing…

It’s my own fault, I recognize that. I was the one who wanted to write about Dark Shadows in the first place, and I was the one who decided that on pre-emption days, I would watch an episode of the 1991 revival. I did not open the mysterious box; I did not read the forbidden book; I did not receive instructions in my dreams. This is on me.

But here I am, in November 1969, when the show was pre-empted twice in the same week — for the Apollo 12 splashdown on Monday, and then for Thanksgiving on Thursday. So now I have to write about two 1991 episodes, which is straining endurance.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 9: Frequent Flyers

Episode 798: Everyone You Love Must Die

“I know your feeling. Everyone I love must die, too.”

“How dark it is!” says the unresting spirit of Julianka. “I do not like death at all!” She was only killed a few hours ago, so she hasn’t had a lot of time to get used to it, but here she is, already submitting her post-mortem Yelp review. I guess even dead people get impatient sometimes. That’s kind of comforting, in a way.

Continue reading Episode 798: Everyone You Love Must Die

Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home

“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”

Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.

And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.

We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.

But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.

Continue reading Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home

Episode 518: In Memoriam

“Paintbrush!”

And now: a meditation on death, loss, renewal and teleprompters, with the help of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the cast of Dark Shadows.

Strong son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou has made.

Continue reading Episode 518: In Memoriam

Episode 416: Stone Cold

“Why wouldn’t you let me bury them in the earth?”

As we open a new week on Dark Shadows, Joshua comes home from a business trip and finds Naomi in the drawing room, hip-deep in sherry.

He responds as he always does, with bitter sarcasm. “Well, I’m happy to see you up and busy at such an early hour,” he growls. “This was well worth the whole night’s journey, to be welcomed by this charming bit of domesticity.”

Naomi looks off into the distance.

“A little bird flew to the window,” she says, so apparently it’s going to be one of those conversations. “It hovered there for a moment, and then flew away. The first bird of the morning.”

This newsflash from the aviary is Naomi’s way of leading up to the breaking news story — on Friday, their little daughter Sarah died of pneumonia.

Wait, Sarah’s dead? God damn it, did somebody let her get outside again? We have got to start locking the front door, and this time I mean it.

Continue reading Episode 416: Stone Cold

Time Travel, part 2: Blood, Sweat and Tears

“Oh, God. Oh, God. Doc… please. Oh, God, doc. I’m beggin’ ya. I’m beggin’ ya. I’m beggin’ ya. Please, doc. Please. Oh, God. Oh, God. God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Doc. No. No. God. No.”

Merry Christmas! Today’s episode of Dark Shadows was pre-empted for Christmas Day 1967, because apparently people would rather watch football than 18th century vampires on Christmas, go figure. I want this blog to keep the Monday-to-Friday rhythm of the original broadcast, so we’re going to do some more time travel today, back to the year 1991, when NBC recklessly decided to give executive producer Dan Curtis another shot at making Dark Shadows all over again.

As we saw in the two-hour pilot episode, the Dark Shadows revival started with all the best intentions and all the worst ideas.

The main character is Victoria Winters, because after all these years we still think that’s a solid plan, but at least they did us the favor of not having her speak very much. I don’t think she has a single line in this entire episode.

We’ve also got a mentally challenged backwoods Willie Loomis, a sour-faced Julia with no sense of humor, a breathless Cinemax refugee who answers to the name of Carolyn, and don’t even get me started on Barnabas and the turtlenecks. On the plus side, we’ve got a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt as David, so at least there’s some star power on the set.

NBC aired the two-hour pilot on Sunday, January 13th, and then the second and third episodes together on the next night, and pretended it was some kind of exciting four-hour miniseries event. To be clear, we’re just watching episode 2 today. I’m only human, and besides, it’s Christmas.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 2: Blood, Sweat and Tears