Tag Archives: mummy

Episode 1000: Back From the Death

“I never once believed that she could survive death — until tonight!”

It always starts with a box.

You try your best. You bury the dead. The evil twin dies, and you say thank goodness that’s over with, and then you put her in a box and plant it in the dirt. You figure it’s a one-way trip, no refunds and no returns. At that point, it’s somebody else’s problem.

It always starts with a box. It often ends with one, too. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell beginnings and endings apart.

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Episode 946: Universal Monsters

“Be cautious with it! We don’t want a string of strange deaths in our group.”

But it’s the age old story, isn’t it? Man comes into contact with something other — something beyond our grasp, beyond understanding, beyond words — and it changes us, occasionally for the better. And we take that encounter, and we turn it into story.

I mean, not this story, obviously. This story is insane. You know how Joseph Campbell and the Mythkateers say that all mythic narratives are just variations on a single great story? Yeah. This is one of the exceptions.

But even the strangest sound has an echo, and here, in the midst of the ragged and unruly Leviathan tale clattering across our screens in double-time, we can reach out and grab hold of another story that’s following a similarly erratic track.

There is another story where Barnabas very gradually fights an otherworldly menace, where Quentin appears and disappears with little consequence, where Maggie experiences carefully controlled doses of mild peril, and where an upsetting reptile pulls the strings, and makes the puppets dance.

This is a story that our people tell. We call it Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy’s Curse.

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Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 3: The Bite of Love

“At last, after thousands of years, I shall be in the presence of the soul of my beloved!”

I’m traveling right now, so instead of writing regular episode posts, I’m doing a special two-week series on the 1971 Dark Shadows newspaper comic strip, because it’s easier to write these on planes. You might be wondering if having a book of vampire comic strips in one hand and scribbling sarcastic jokes with the other hand would excite comment among one’s fellow passengers. The answer to that question is yes.

But the interesting thing about the strip so far is that Barnabas has been a passenger too, riding shotgun on a storyline that was entirely about other people. He coasted through the magazine publisher warlock assassin story, which really could have worked itself out without him. Basically, he had one cool villain fight scene where he was temporarily enveloped in fire-retardant fire, and besides that, it was mostly thinks monologues. For Jonathan Frid, it’s hardly been worth showing up at the newspaper for work, really.

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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 737: The Sacred Bull

“I beg for your understanding and mercy! Please, grant me another life-giving flame!”

Laura Collins is dead, mostly. In fact, she’s died several times, up to and including just last year, but each time, she’s  been revived by an Egyptian sun god, who keeps her alive using an eternal flame that she keeps in a magical urn. If the flame goes out, then Laura dies. Except now it’s gone out and she’s still walking around, so explain that.

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Episode 735: The Punishment Book

“I’ve always thought the telephone an instrument of the Devil. Haven’t you?”

Two months ago, in the early days of the 1897 storyline, eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins went down to the Collinsport docks and attacked a young woman named Sophie Baker. Or was it Sophie Barnes? She said Baker, but the credits said Barnes, and it’s too late to ask her now. It’s just one of those gaps in the chronicles, another unsolved mystery.

Anyway, he was hungry and frustrated, and she was a day player, and you know how that story goes. He stuck his fangs in her, fed on her precious life essence, and then — what? Killed her? Spared her? Told her he would call? It doesn’t matter either way. He bared his fangs, they cut to commercial, and when we came back, Sophie Baker Barnes was no longer a factor.

And as far as I can recall, nobody’s mentioned that women are being attacked on the streets of Collinsport. There are no consequences to murder anymore, not on this show.

When Jenny stabbed Quentin a few weeks ago, the police showed up, but they didn’t do a very thorough job. Judith told them the murder was probably committed by a sailor that Quentin met in the village, and if they were quick, they still might be able to catch him. They scurried off obligingly, and Judith went back to scolding the survivors.

Not that we actually saw the police; that all happened off-screen, and we heard about it later. They don’t have police officers on Dark Shadows anymore, because they’ve figured out that investigations are tedious and take up valuable time that could be spent on further mayhem.

Law and order mean nothing on Dark Shadows now. There is no justice. This is what we have instead.

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Episode 724: Exquisite Corpse

“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.

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