Tag Archives: haunted

Episode 1225: Strong to the Finish

“All she did was tell me what you had planned — to betray me — and you killed her for it, just as you killed me, and you killed your wife Amanda, because she tried to help me too.”

The late James Forsythe, shipping magnate and finder of lost boats, has unearthed the skeleton of his sister Sarah in the basement of the gatehouse on the great estate at Collinwood, buried under what appears to be zero inches of dirt in the floor. It’s kind of a wonder that nobody ran across it before; it looks like a century and a half of normal wear and tear on the linoleum would probably have uncovered a couple of suspicious bumps in the floor over the years. I guess some people are naturally curious and some aren’t, and that’s all there is to it.

James’ spirit is currently occupying the body of Morgan Collins in order to right some of the pertinent wrongs of the past, and digging up Sarah is step one. But as he gazes at his aged relative, an interior squall kicks up and starts making itself known, which is not ordinarily part of a basement’s weather system. If you were under the impression, as I was, that ghost-related wind came in through the windows, then now we know better. It seems to just happen on its own.

“Well, blow me down!” James says, as it tries to. “I have found her, Brutus! I know you are in this room, and I am ready for you!” He whirls around, looking for his opponent. “Show yourself to me, Brutus!” he says, putting up his fists. “Let me fight you again! I’ve had all I can stands, ‘cuz I can’t stands no more!”

And Brutus appears, snarling and snapping, ready to battle over Sarah’s shallow grave. So I guess nothing changes; after a hundred and sixty years, these two sailor men are still fighting over a skinny girl.

Continue reading Episode 1225: Strong to the Finish

Episode 1224: Other People’s Problems

“It must be what’s been happening.”

Okay, so you know how once in every generation somebody in the Collins family needs to spend a night locked up in the spooky old room behind the magic door, and in the morning they’re either dead or they’ve gone irretrievably insane? Well, it turns out there’s a third option.

Eldest son Morgan Collins has undergone the ordeal, and during that surprisingly uneventful evening, he located a secret locked door that was hidden behind basically nothing, so why nobody had ever noticed it before I don’t know. Behind that door — easily accessed by banging on the cheap seventeenth-century padlock with something heavy, like one of the excess vases cluttering up the place — was a whole other part of the house, a secret passage with a set of stairs leading to who knows where.

Morgan apparently explored this secret-behind-the-secret area, and experienced I’m not sure what, which by morning had him sitting quietly in a chair, unharmed but in an odd mood. Now he’s walking around telling everyone he’s not Morgan, and making insulting remarks.

I feel like we were more or less promised some kind of supernatural upheaval after spending a couple episodes just waiting around until they opened the door again, and this doesn’t quite live up to their side of the bargain. But at least we don’t have a white-haired Morgan cringing and babbling about the Woman in White, so let’s go ahead and consider this a win.

Continue reading Episode 1224: Other People’s Problems

Episode 1220: The Forsythe Saga

“We’ve been looking for everything, and we’ve found nothing!”

So now I’ve got that out of my system, I suppose we should probably take a little time to figure out what the hell is going on in this mess of a television show.

The way I understand it, there’s a whole extra cast of characters in the 1841 Parallel Time storyline that lived 160 years ago, and they’re way more important than the characters that we actually see. The 1680 characters cheated and murdered and loved and cursed each other, in such a consequential way that the clowns who are currently walking the halls of Collinwood don’t get to have lives and motivations and personalities of their own; they’re just following the paths set down for them by the distinguished dead.

At this point, we’ve heard a lot about Brutus Collins, the head of the Collins family back in the day, and there’s a very angry woman who possesses Melanie sometimes, and we’ve also heard the name James Forsythe, for all the good that does us.

Continue reading Episode 1220: The Forsythe Saga

Episode 1215: The Not Gabriel

“The spirits don’t care. They don’t care, they just want a sacrifice!”

The portal is open; the dark work is complete.

There is a haunted chamber in this mansion, made of hurt feelings and eternity, and it demands to be fed. At least once in each generation, the Collins family chooses the relative that they like the least — they say it’s a random lottery, but guess who gets chosen every time, go figure — and they throw that irritating uncle to whatever happens in this room after dark. Nobody knows what ordeal these luckless loners undergo, while they inhabit this solitary torture cell.

“Look at his eyes, filled with fear,” says Flora Collins, shuddering. “Yet now, this room is like any other room!” Sure, except that it sucks.

Continue reading Episode 1215: The Not Gabriel

Episode 1193: Already Dead

“There’s only one flaw in your logic: it makes too much sense.”

You know how sometimes you get tired of arguing with somebody about whether they’re a ghost, so you shoot them in the stomach just to get them to shut up, but it turns out they really are a ghost so your bullet goes right through them, and then they’re still pretending that you’re crazy and they’re not a ghost? It’s like the worst case scenario for winning an argument.

Continue reading Episode 1193: Already Dead

Episode 1191: The Great 1840 Wrap-Up

“You turned this hand cold, as my heart turned cold toward you!”

“Why didn’t you stay in that room? We could have done so much together!” laments the hopeless romantic Gabriel Collins, struggling with his girlfriend as she tries to pry herself loose from his grasp. “Do you think I want to do this?” he says, adjusting his grip on her larynx. “Do you think I want to?” I think she probably does.

Eternally beset governess Daphne Harridge has recently torn herself away from one of those dank hideouts that honeycomb the secret interior of the great house at Collinwood. Gabriel was keeping her in lockdown until she fell in love with him, or until he could get Gerard to cough up some money, or possibly some third option that never quite came together. These kidnapping courtships rarely work out to anyone’s satisfaction; that’s why you don’t see a lot of wedding photos where the bride is tied to a chair.

Daphne thought, as everyone did, that Gabriel was differently-abled, but it turned out he was even more different than that. He can walk after all; he’s just been sitting in the chair all this time to rack up frequent-flyer miles. That’s why nobody suspected him of killing his father, or his wife Edith, or that wet sap Randall Drew, until Daphne found a blood-spattered monogrammed cufflink that blew the case wide open. Now she’s outside on the lawn in a dry thunderstorm, with one hundred and ninety-five pounds of Gabriel’s fury compressing her windpipe.

Fortunately, a car pulls up just at that moment and out pops the deceased Daniel Collins, standing erect in a sea-green spotlight and informing his incel son of some upcoming changes to the arrangement. “I told you I would come back,” he thunders. “I’ve come back for you! You will kill no more!”

Now, if Daniel had stepped in a few days earlier, he could have stopped this reign of terror one murder ago, but I guess he just didn’t like Edith very much. I mean, I never cared for her myself, but if I was in Daniel’s place, I would have intervened to save her life, probably, two tries out of three.

Continue reading Episode 1191: The Great 1840 Wrap-Up

Time Travel, part 14: It Is What It Is

“People I love haven’t always loved me back.”

Six months ago, in July 1970, the Firesign Theatre released a record called Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, an avant-garde slice of psychedelic, time-traveling radio comedy that was mostly about a ’50s teen movie spoof called High School Madness. In the spoof, young Peorgie and his pal Mudhead investigate the theft of their school, Morse Science High, by their rivals, Communist Martyrs High School. Infiltrating Commie Martyrs, the two buddies find the mural from their school in a storage room, labeled “Mural: Auditorium, right rear. Heroic Struggle of the Little Guys to Finish the Mural.”

Meanwhile, six months later, as we cross the chasm between 1970 and 1971, that is exactly what lies ahead for Dark Shadows: a 13-week heroic struggle to wrap up this wild, untamed soap opera that has broken free of all ties to civilization as we know it. Dark Shadows has never really been about a girl on a train, a mad family and a lovestruck vampire. It’s about some writers, a mad producer, a cast of eccentric New York stage actors, and a lonely boom mic trying to break into show business, working feverishly on a shoestring budget to produce the strangest possible television show, for as long as they can get away with it. In the three months left between January 1st and April 2nd, they are going to finish this mural or die trying, or both.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 14: It Is What It Is

Night of Dark Shadows: The Haunted Horse

“Kill Doubloon!”

Happy Turkey Day! It’s time for another pre-emption, as we reach Thanksgiving 1970 and ABC decides to spend the day looking at basketball. It’s traditional on pre-emption days to do a little time travel, and watch a future version of Dark Shadows. This time, we’re only jumping about eight months ahead; we’re going to watch the 1971 feature film Night of Dark Shadows, executive producer Dan Curtis’ next attempt to catch lightning in a bottle.

Last year, Dan signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to make a Dark Shadows movie, and he came up with House of Dark Shadows, a fearlessly unrestrained retelling of the original Barnabas storyline. The movie did well at the box office, considering how cheap it was to make, and MGM asked for a sequel. Unfortunately, almost every character in House of Dark Shadows met a grisly end in one way or another, so bang goes the Dark Shadows Cinematic Universe before it’s even started.

For the sequel, Dan had the good manners to wait until the TV show was over before hauling half the cast to Tarrytown, New York and dousing them with a hose. The final taping day on Dark Shadows was March 24th, 1971, and shooting began for Night of Dark Shadows on March 29th. Dan had nine hundred thousand dollars, six weeks, and a cast and crew that was mostly from the TV show. He’d planned to resurrect Barnabas for the second movie, but Jonathan Frid was sick of playing vampires, and asked for a million dollars. So Dan took the show’s second male lead, David Selby, and set him up with two leading ladies — Lara Parker, Dark Shadows’ veteran vixen, and Kate Jackson, an ingenue who’d joined the show about ten months earlier and was obviously destined for stardom.

Night of Dark Shadows was vaguely based on the show’s Parallel Time storyline, which was vaguely based on Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, plus some inspiration from The Haunted Palace, a 1963 Roger Corman film that was supposed to be based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem, but was actually based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”, which when you get right down to it isn’t really very much like Night of Dark Shadows at all.

Continue reading Night of Dark Shadows: The Haunted Horse

Episode 1098: The Lie Lock

“This possession is only part of a larger plan.”

Dark Shadows is trying to fracture the cosmos, I think; that’s the only possible explanation. Their movie just came out and they don’t really want to be on TV anymore, but they’re too proud to admit it, so they’re going to burn down the world and take everything else with them. Somebody ought to do something about this. Not me, obviously, I’m too busy arguing with my television.

Continue reading Episode 1098: The Lie Lock

Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger

“Why can’t I understand my own behavior?”

They died young, is the problem. I don’t know what they died of, but the leading cause of death for children at Collinwood is ghosts, so I assume that Tad and Carrie were probably possessed by a matching set of identical ancestors from the 1720s. Eager to pay it forward, they’ve lurked in the crawlspaces and hidey-holes of the great estate, waiting for another pair of gullible travelers to happen by. And so the cycle of life continues, in a way.

Continue reading Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger