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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.

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Episode 792: Dances with Wolves

“I would laugh, if there was any laughing left in me!”

Quentin Collins returns to the Old House on the Collins estate, empty-handed in several senses of the word. Earlier in the evening, he went to his friend Evan’s house to retrieve the legendary Hand of Count Petofi, a magical artifact that may have the power to release him from a terrible curse. But he returns without it, and his gypsy friend Magda is crushed. She was the one who put the terrible curse on him in the first place, but they’ve made peace with each other, and now they’re bonded together in a way that only two people who wear too much makeup can be.

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Episode 775: The Winner

“It may be the only way we’ll find out where the coffin is kept.”

Okay, here’s a rundown on this evening’s menu.

Dirk Wilkins has just risen as a vampire tonight, so obviously the first thing he has to do is set up his coffin. He stashes it in a room that everybody keeps saying is the basement of a farmhouse, and I don’t feel like arguing about it again, so fine. I will just point out that a) there is no farm, b) there is no farmhouse, and c) this looks nothing like a basement, but like I said, I don’t want to fight about it. Basement of a farmhouse. Roger that.

After Dirk gets his coffin set up, he goes out for a prowl. Returning to the farmhouse, he walks down into the basement, and there’s hapless fugitive Tim Shaw, just sitting there like a Christmas basket. So that’s meal number one.

Then Dirk strolls over to the Old House, which is an odd choice, since Barnabas is leading the vampire hunt. But nothing gets in Dirk’s way, not tonight. He rolls in, finds his old boss Judith Collins, and bam! He bites her too.

That’s a good first night out, so Dirk heads back to the farmhouse, and guess what he finds in the basement: girl governess Rachel Drummond, who’s looking for Tim. So Dirk bites her too, and now he’s got another blood slave. He’s building a whole staff; he must be getting a softball team together or something.

So, I’ve got to say — I have been watching Dark Shadows for what is it, more than two years now, and I have never seen this kind of performance out of a vampire before. Three takedowns in one night, and literally the only thing he did is walk from his coffin to the Old House, and then back. This is clearly a world-class vampire. Somebody needs to get J.D. Power and Associates on the phone.

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Episode 760: Light Fuse and Get Away

“Well, I’m sorry, I think the idea is absurd, and impossible to grasp.”

Okay, we’re finally here — the big finale for Laura the phoenix, filmed in full color Cinemascope, with a serious uptick in the ol’ suspension of disbelief.

Now, I know this has been a lengthy battle with a lot of extra distractions, but according to the opening narration, the family has really taken their collective eye off the ball.

A violent conflict rages within the great house of Collinwood, between two supernatural forces — one determined to snuff out the lives of two young children, the other equally determined to save them.

Only Barnabas Collins is aware that the safety of Jamison and Nora is vital to the whole future of the Collins family.

So — wait, really? Barnabas is the only one who’s aware of that? Cause those are the only two kids in the house, and looking at the adults, I don’t see a lot of reproductive potential. If they really don’t understand that you need kids to have a future, then somebody needs to have a long talk with the Collins family, while we still have one.

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