“The screaming was unbelievable.”
There is another world.
There is a better world.
“The screaming was unbelievable.”
There is another world.
There is a better world.
“There comes a moment when one loses control of one’s own life.”
Prince of Fire, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.
I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth.
In the name of every evil spirit, I invoke you! Appear to me now!
Back at it again with the white Vans!
“Less talk, more crowbar!”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A man walks into a crypt, looking for buried treasure. He crowbars his way into a mystery box, and what does he find? A pain in the neck.
Today is Christmas Day 1970, happy holidays by the way, and the show is taking the day off. On pre-emption days, the blog is visited by the Ghost of Dark Shadows Yet to Come, often to our great and lasting regret. During previous pre-emptions, we watched the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows, the 1971 movie Night of Dark Shadows, and the 12 episodes of the 1991 NBC revival. The short version is that they weren’t very good, because trying to catch lightning in a bottle is difficult, especially when you’ve already used that bottle a couple of times. Lightning’s funny that way.
Today, we’re taking a look at the next chapter of that story: the 2004 pilot for a new prime-time Dark Shadows, prepared for and rejected by the WB, which used to be a television network.
You see, Dan Curtis — Dark Shadows’ creator and executive producer — never gave up on Dark Shadows, except while he was making it, when he definitely did. Having tasted the thrill of unexpected success in 1968 and 1969 as the show’s popularity reached its peak, he decided to make a movie version, using the same cast, crew and writers, while the television show was still on the air. That left the show coasting for months on ABC-TV with the B-squad characters, and when Dan finally came back to the series, all he really wanted to do was make another movie, and that’s why the show came to a gradual, disappointing end.
In 1991, Dan decided to try again, making a 12-part prime-time series for NBC that used a lot of ideas from House of Dark Shadows, and it didn’t work out, for lightning/bottle reasons. And then he just kept on trying to remake the remake for the next 12 years, finally managing to convince the WB to spend five million dollars on a pilot that nobody liked.
I asked you to stop me if you’ve heard this before, but frankly, it’s no use trying. The only way that Dan could stop retelling the story of Dark Shadows was to die, and even then, I bet he’s up in Heaven, pitching Saint Peter on another series. I’m kidding, of course; executive producers don’t go to Heaven.
“My eyes have the power to restore you to me!”
It’s been four months since the terrible flashlight man came into our lives — a dark stranger, appearing with no warning just outside Angelique’s room, gazing in a perplexed manner at a scene that he could see but not participate in. “Elizabeth!” he cried, but she couldn’t hear him, and neither could Hoffman. “It is hers, it will always be hers,” Hoffman said, and it was, and it will, and the goggle-eyed man from another place just stood there on the threshold, saying, “Quentin! Husband?” and generally making an ass of himself.
His name is known to us now: he is Barnabas Collins, the Destroyer of Worlds.
Trespassing on our favorite show from an alternate world where I hope they appreciate him more than we do, this monster has brought a wave of supernatural violence to our sleepy little soap town, killing two thirds of the cast and driving the ratings into the earth.
Hoffman is dead. Carolyn is dead. Will is dead. Bruno is dead. Cyrus and Sabrina and Larry and Dameon are dead, plus Chris is missing, and Liz isn’t looking too well. Barnabas Collins has swept through our show like a buzzsaw. Everybody said that bringing a vampire onto a soap opera was a terrible idea, and they were right, especially this vampire.
“Barnabas never ceases to be exciting.”
My husband opens the doors to the drawing room, and finds me deep in thought, puzzling over an old book. I’m reading carefully, and transcribing some of the more difficult passages.
As he makes his way to the drinks cabinet, he asks, “Is that for the blog?” I tell him it is, and I show him the cover. He asks why I’m writing about this now, and I say that the book just came out.
“But that looks old,” he says.
“Yeah, it just came out.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m in January 1970. This was published in December 1969.”
“Oh, I see,” he says. “You were meanwhiling.” This is why our marriage works.
“You oughtn’t to go, until you take something more to them than what you’re taking now.”
They opened the box, and read the scroll, and lost the book, and had the dream. And now they have a baby, which is not how it works.
“I feel like if we open it, our lives are going to change.”
The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, they walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.
So there they are, Pandora and her husband Phil, staring at a puzzle box that will wipe the earth clean, just licking their lips and desperate to get their hands on it. She’s wearing a necklace decorated with the sign of the Naga — a four-headed serpent, a creature without a soul, and the very latest Thing in fashion.
Now they’re at the Old House, these reckless antiquers, and they’re delighted to find a Naga-branded mystery box that would complete their stockpile of hazardous material.
“Is there anything inside?” she asks, and the owner admits, “To tell you the truth, I’ve never looked inside. Is that strange to you?”
“Well,” she grins, “we’re very curious people.” Yeah, you can say that again.
“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.
“Well, you know how he gets when he possesses someone.”
Behold the educated viewer, watching an episode of Dark Shadows. Charity Trask is looking at the unfinished portrait of Quentin Collins, on the night of the full moon. To her surprise, she sees the portrait change before her eyes, the painted face transforming into the image of a werewolf.
“Ah,” one nods appreciatively, “an allusion to The Picture of Dorian Gray.” One says this to oneself, because nobody else can stand to be around one while the television is on.
“Maybe nobody took it! Maybe wherever it is — it wants to be there!”
When Aristede reaches the rendezvous point, his supervillain boss is already waiting for him.
“Why are you late, Aristede?” Victor grumbles. “You know that waiting always makes me fretful.”
This is something of an understatement. When Aristede admits that he doesn’t have the magical artifact he was sent for, Victor lashes out, smacking him across the face three times. “You are stupid! And incompetent! And clumsy!”
Aristede cowers, and makes excuses. Quentin was supposed to bring Aristede the Legendary Hand of Count Petofi in exchange for a cure for lycanthropy, but Quentin said that he lost it.
Victor thunders, “And you believed him?”
“Yes!” Aristede squeaks, as his boss pulls him close and glares at him. “Well, there’s no reason for him not to give me the Hand!”
“Yes, there is,” Victor sighs. “He has a brain in his head — something which you, who have nothing behind that lovely face of yours, can not possibly understand.”
So… hold on. Did he just say that Aristede is lovely?