“Human, yes… except for his hatred! That’s what makes him so dangerous!”
Yesterday, sporadic vampire Barnabas Collins burned down the local antiques store, because his enemies turned him into one of the living dead, and then they didn’t know where the off switch was. This should be a lesson for us all.
But this isn’t the first time that Barnabas has been revamped, and it won’t be the last, not by a long shot. He’s been bouncing back and forth between the living and the dead for a couple of years now, and every treatment is only a reprieve, not a cure. Barnabas may long to be human again, but the audience wants fangs, and we cannot be denied our simple pleasures.
So it’s no surprise that the Gold Key Dark Shadows comic books have gone through the same cycle this year. In February 1970, the same month that flappy bat reclaimed TV Barnabas, comic book Barnabas was suddenly freed from his curse with no explanation, apparently sprung on a technicality. He mentions “the day Angelique’s curse dissolved,” and then he’s human for four issues, or as close to human as Barnabas ever gets.
But a year later — issue #8, February 1971 — the bat came back. “Barnabas Collins… the VAMPIRE!” says the caption. “Caught in a web between the lust for blood and the peace of normal life, Barnabas Collins laments his fate… even as he PREPARES TO STRIKE!”
So this is an opportunity for us to look at Barnabas’ current difficulties from another angle, and since the antiques shop is still smoldering, we might as well see what’s cooking at Gold Key Collinwood.
Continue reading Episode 952: Something Evil People Are Afraid Of
“You live in another body now, but your own body waits for you!”
Incipient teen idol Quentin Collins died earlier this week after he was stabbed by his insane ex-wife, which for the Collins family is practically natural causes. But like almost everyone who dies on Dark Shadows, he’s returned for another lap around the track.
Zombie Quentin is being remote-controlled by Barnabas’ insane ex-wife, who’s using him to play pranks on the family. At the moment, he’s scooped up the governess and is carrying her out to the graveyard.
Now, he’s not trying to eat her brain or anything; he’s not that kind of zombie. The flesh-eating cannibal zombie was invented by George Romero in Night of the Living Dead, which was released six months before this episode was made. And they’re not called zombies in that movie anyway; the Night of the Living Dead characters just call them ghouls. It wasn’t until the 1978 sequel Dawn of the Dead that Romero started describing the creatures as zombies, changing the pop culture definition of that word.
So compared to the slavering fiends of The Walking Dead, Zombie Quentin is actually very polite, and exceptionally well-groomed. He doesn’t bite anybody, and his hair and his outfit are in flawless condition, even after busting his way out of a grave covered in cement.
In fact, the only way you can really tell that there’s anything the matter with him is that he doesn’t speak, and he’s always bulging out his eyes and staring straight ahead. The nice thing about Zombie Quentin is that you always know he’s paying attention.
Continue reading Episode 724: Exquisite Corpse
“I don’t see much point in a party that isn’t a surprise.”
It all started ages ago, back when handsome, irresponsible Chris Jennings was just beginning his career as a werewolf. A bad moon was on the rise, and Chris was planning to spend a quiet evening at home, chained to the radiator. But then his girlfriend came over unexpectedly, and booked a ringside seat for his hideous transformation.
The next morning, Chris decided that this would be a good opportunity to travel, so he took off, apparently without pausing to determine whether Sabrina was alive or dead. He just packed a bag, and ran. The worst thing about being a werewolf is that you don’t get a lot of security deposits back.
Continue reading Episode 698: Sister Act
“Pop, there’s a madman in here — a maniac!”
On June 17, 1968, at approximately 3:30pm, an unidentified Caucasian male suspect entered the Evans cottage. Mayhem ensued. Police are looking for a tall, dark man with a limited vocabulary and an even more limited wardrobe. But, hey, who isn’t?
Continue reading Episode 515: When Adam Attacks
“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. Why do you want to kill me? Are you insane?”
Okay, here’s the meet-cute scenario: Adam, our enormous new Frankenstein monster, was running away from home after getting a savage beating from Barnabas, who we might as well call his dad.
Alone, afraid, and with only a slight vocabulary advantage over Chewbacca, Adam stumbled into Collinwood, where he demanded the only two things he knows how to ask for — music and food.
Then Barnabas rushed in with a gun, so Adam picked up the closest thing he could grab, which happened to be Carolyn Stoddard, and carried her away. Oh, like you’ve never had a weird first date.
Continue reading Episode 502: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
“I’m back, I’m back! I didn’t die, I didn’t die!”
And meanwhile, in the present, everybody is still standing around in the drawing room, waiting patiently to finish the scene that they started four months ago.
This is a weird thing for a TV show to do. It’s so weird, in fact, that the opening narration — which usually lasts about thirty seconds and doesn’t mean anything — actually goes on for three minutes, all the way through the opening titles and into the first scene, just to make sure we know what’s going on.
Continue reading Episode 461: Leave Me Hanging
“Every time something happens around here, there’s always a dog hanging around!”
Previously, on Dark Shadows: Huge awesome surprise cliffhanger, with the kidnapped and mostly-hypnotized Maggie sneaking out of the Old House, and showing up right outside her father’s window.
Today, the still-surprising but mostly-confusing resolution: All of a sudden, Maggie is wandering around in the Eagle Hill cemetery. Which means they’re really just making this up as they go along, just like Lost and The Hunger Games.
Continue reading Episode 248: Damsel in This Dress