Tag Archives: haunted

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Episode 967: Vicki Ruins Everything, part 3: The Way It Happened

“Not anything’s going to keep me from destroying you!”

More than once upon a time, there was a little lost princess…

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Episode 959: Do No Harm

“Only the spirits of those that we’ve killed would dare to harm us this way!”

They all lay in stone houses in their great city of R’lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for them.

The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

But not today, obviously. They’re busy today.

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Episode 878: Flight of the Conquered

“I’d advise you to start running. Don’t stop, because those sounds will always be close behind you.”

Aristede has displeased his employer, the mad Count Petofi, for reasons that I don’t feel like discussing right now. Intent on tormenting Aristede to the grave, Petofi has summoned a demonic prison guard, Garth Blackwood — a man that Aristede murdered, years ago. Now Aristede’s on the run, with the implacable Blackwood following close behind, stomping and growling and rattling a chain.

This doesn’t help Count Petofi achieve any of his goals, but he does it anyway. I don’t really know why.

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Episode 862: Z-Jay

“Why did you come out here at this hour, and why are you wearing that gown?”

As you know, I hate to speak ill of the dead, especially when they’ve gone to a lot of trouble and they’re only trying to help, but I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a ghost successfully deliver a coherent warning to anybody. Either they moan a person’s name and nothing else, or they issue a bunch of unheralded pronouns and don’t explain the context. They put all this spectral energy into piercing the veil between the living and the not, but when they get through, it turns out they haven’t really figured out their messaging.

The current example is even more baffling than usual. Kitty Hampshire — known Josette lookalike and alleged reincarnation — finds a note in her bechamber that says, “Know yourself. Be who you must be.” Then she hears the hypnotic chimes of a music box, which direct her to a vintage gown hidden in the cedar chest. Putting it on, the damsel in this dress drifts down the stairs, and out to the cliffs atop Widow’s Hill, a popular nightspot for the young and doomed. This is all standard practice for gothic heroines who are gradually becoming aware that they’re somebody else.

Arriving at the rendezvous point, Kitty finds the specter of Jeremiah Collins, who was shot in the face a hundred years ago. “YOU MUST LEAVE THIS PLACE!” he bellows. “LEAVE COLLINWOOD, AND NEVER RETURN! IF YOU STAY — HE WILL KILL YOU!”

So Kitty just stands there, and screams her head off. And Jeremiah, honestly, what did you think was going to happen? You’re an undead creature with an untreated head wound. You are scary. That is a thing that you are now; you need to recognize that, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

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Sunday, March 14, 1971

Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 1: The Tortured Undead

“I thought there were only two Collinses left. That means there are three who must be destroyed!”

Now, I know that Quentin Collins is at a particularly thrilling crisis point right now — forced to wear jewelry that he doesn’t particularly care for — but I’m afraid we’re going to have to put his problems on hold for a minute, because I’ve got problems of my own. I’m leaving the country for a conference, and I won’t have time to write regular episode posts for the next two weeks. But I can’t just jump forward into the future and leave the rest of you behind, at the mercy of gypsies.

So I’ve come up with another crackpot idea for what to do over these two weeks, namely: write about the Dark Shadows comic strip, which ran for one year, starting in March 1971. These will probably take me longer to write than the regular posts would have, but I wanted a chance to cover the comic strip anyway, and you only live once, probably.

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Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

“I thought killing him would help me release from loving him. But it didn’t.”

Terror stalks the great estate at Collinwood this night, just exactly as it has for the last 189 nights in a row. The terrifying specter of Quentin Collins still rules the silent halls, while the family is couchsurfing at the Old House, waiting for it to blow over. Young David is still leaking get-up-and-go, teetering semi-permanently on the brink of death.

Hoping to resolve this difficult problem, Barnabas Collins used an ancient Chinese divination technique to contact the spirit of Quentin, and negotiate a cease-fire. It’s now six months later, and the problem has not been resolved in even the tiniest way. I think Barnabas needs to step aside, and let somebody else take a crack at it.

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Episode 834: The What’s-Thatters

“Death runs faster than any man.”

A memo from young Icarus to his father, re: altitude. What are you talking about, Dad? These wings that you made from feathers and wax are working great. Why do you say that I’m flying too high? You’re supposed to fly as high as you can, that’s the whole point of flying!

And so, as Icarus sinks slowly in the west and learns some valuable lessons about swimming, let’s turn to Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis. In defiance of good taste and common sense, Dan has turned his poky little soap opera into a five-alarm spookshow spectacular, delighting the teenagers and housewives of America with larger-than-life characters, hair-raising plot twists and inventive special effects. The ratings are still climbing, which makes Dan wonder: What can I do for an encore?

Today, we see Dan’s first answer to that question — Dead of Night, a primetime pilot for ABC that tried to adapt the Dark Shadows formula to an hour-long nighttime drama. Dan produced this pilot in late 1968, with several members of his Dark Shadows family — director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall, composer Bob Cobert, and actors Thayer David and Louis Edmonds.

ABC finally broadcast the hour-long pilot in late August 1969, because they’d already paid for it and you might as well. While he’s been waiting for it to air, Dan’s scaled his ambitions up even further — he’s currently pursuing a deal with MGM, to make a Dark Shadows film. So before that kicks off, it’s useful for us to take a look at this pilot episode, “A Darkness at Blaisedon”, and see Dan’s first attempt to bring Dark Shadows to a wider audience.

Constructed haphazardly out of feathers and wax, Dead of Night introduces a trio of new characters — psychic investigator Jonathan Fletcher, his live-in chum Sajeed Rau, and the beautiful young heiress Angela Martin — and throws them onto a haunted house set, to see how far they can fly. Icarus, you are cleared for takeoff.

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Episode 821: The Big Switch

“We borrowed a good citizen’s hand. His spirit is understandably restless and disturbed.”

I know, I’ve been hammering on this forever, but including a major subplot about gypsies in a television show based in Maine is a source of constant amusement to me, and I refuse to grow up and get over it.

Several months ago, free spirit Magda Rakosi liberated a rare and valuable magical talisman from her tribe, and the gypsies have had enough. I don’t think she’s been doing her weekly three hours of mandatory tambourine-shaking, either. The gypsy community is a lot more law-and-order than people think.

Now, Johnny Romana — King of the Gypsies! — has swung by in person, to take the suspect into custody. Magda asks what’s going to happen, and King Johnny announces, “We’re going to go — back to Boston!” Magda looks terrified, but I bet she’s also wondering if they could swing by Filene’s Basement on the way to the tribunal.

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Episode 813: Happy Haunts

“It suddenly occurred to me that you might be telling the truth.”

Meanwhile, in the other spooky old haunted house of the American imagination, 999 restless spirits were settling into their new digs on the opposite coast.

This is the week that Disneyland opened the Haunted Mansion, a long-awaited E-ticket attraction that invites theme park guests to tour a post-mortem retirement home for the corporeally liberated. This is the old house, abandoned by the family after the dark and terrible tragedies of the distant past, now left available for whatever ghouls care to move in and set up housekeeping. I wonder if Quentin knows about this one?

To be honest, the Haunted Mansion has nothing to do with Dark Shadows, but I love Disneyland, and there’s no way I’m going to ignore the other spook sensation of ’69.

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Episode 803: What Fresh Hell

“Well, of course you have a hand. There it is, see?”

Edward Collins comes home from a hard day of whatever, and finds his younger brother Quentin swilling brandy in the drawing room. Quentin says that he needs it, after what happened today.

“All right, Quentin,” Edward sighs. “What has happened this time?”

And then this is the nonsense that happens next.

Continue reading Episode 803: What Fresh Hell