Tag Archives: murder weapons

House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games

“I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years.”

Right this minute, teenage bad boy John Yaeger is in the basement of the Old House, pulling apart the locks and chains that keep Barnabas Collins shut up tight in his coffin. Six weeks ago, the Dark Shadows cast took off for Tarrytown to shoot a feature film, leaving the newcomers and second-stringers to keep the show warm while they’re gone. Now they’re cracking open the mystery box, and once more unleashing Barnabas upon the populace. Dark Shadows is back at work.

To celebrate, I’ve invited actual famous grown-up film critic David Edelstein to come watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. David’s the film critic for New York magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning, and he’s also a lifelong Dark Shadows fan and a friend of the blog.

Five years ago, David wrote a very funny review of the Tim Burton movie, which he figured was his only chance to write about Dark Shadows. But it turns out he’s got more in the tank, so we’re going to watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows together, and discuss the whole thing from start to finish. David saw HoDS when it first came out, and he’s always loved it, so yeah, I know, just another example of bias in the mainstream media.

Today’s journey involves Hammer movies, overstuffed sets, inadvertent love triangles, how you can tell it’s daytime, cameos, cannons, the color of blood, and the age-old war between actors and scenery, and it ends with the extermination of everything that you love.

Continue reading House of Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games

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.

Continue reading Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

Episode 823/824: The Deadly Tambourine

“I could kill you a dozen times over in five minutes!”

Count Petofi doesn’t play by the rules. He’s a maverick, a mad god who could murder you, show you visions, and then pick your pocket in six directions. He’s bad news. He answers to no one. He could change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife. His outer casing is made from a metal ten times stronger than Earth steel. He’s strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. He will stop at nothing. He will kill you. He has probably already killed you.

But you show the guy a tambourine, and he goes to pieces. Go figure.

Continue reading Episode 823/824: The Deadly Tambourine

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.

Continue reading Episode 792: Dances with Wolves

Episode 747: Die Laughing

“And Barnabas will grab her, and carry her off to a triumphant life behind a locked door!”

Rascal-in-chief Quentin Collins has spent the better part of a week hunting for his lunatic soon-to-be ex-wife Jenny, vowing to kill her before she kills him. But it hasn’t happened yet, and he’s starting to get bored, so he settles in for a quiet evening of drinking sherry, propositioning the domestics, and not giving a shit.

Continue reading Episode 747: Die Laughing

Episode 744: Crazy Little Thing

“Wait for me, Quentin! I’m coming — to KILL you!”

Crazy Jenny has been in the attic and out of her mind for a couple of years now, and to be frank with you, she’s sick of the whole experience. Her husband, the adorable antihero Quentin Collins, skipped town a couple years ago with his sister-in-law, Crazy Laura, and Jenny took it pretty hard. In fact, she’s gone entirely loco, in that unspecified way that people on television always do, babbling maniacally and ready to kill at a moment’s notice.

As it happens, Laura is also in a murderous mood, so she gets her new boyfriend, Groundskeeper Dirk, to let Jenny out of her cell, give her a knife, and point her in a Quentin-facing direction.

Obediently, Dirk supplies Jenny with a dagger that he’s selected from the random assortment of murder weapons that the Collins family keeps in every room in the house. But then he hears the boss coming, so he bundles Jenny into the drawing room and closes the door, which is pretty insensitive considering how she’s spent the last couple years.

Judith walks in and finds Dirk, who’s desperately trying to look like someone who didn’t just adopt a pet Tasmanian devil. She gives him a couple of cursory orders, but he’s finding it hard to focus.

Judith’s puzzled by Dirk’s odd behavior, but the servants at Collinwood are always distracted by one thing or another. We never see most of the people on the payroll, but they probably each have their own weird schemes going on that we don’t happen to see. I bet the cook is currently consulting her crystal ball to check on her late brother, the chauffeur, who’s been reanimated with the spirit of the upstairs maid. Meanwhile, the gardener scuttles through the back passageway on all fours, desperate to escape from that dream, that terrible dream!

Continue reading Episode 744: Crazy Little Thing

Episode 704: It Just So Happens

“Being startled is the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all evening.”

Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has used the ancient Chinese secret of I Ching to jump the turnstiles of time and transport himself back to the late 19th century, which he slept through the first time.

Here in 1897, Barnabas is pretending to be his own great-grandson, who’s the grandfather of the guy that he’s pretending to be in 1969. According to his cover story, the original Barnabas Collins sailed to England in the late 1790s, where he settled down and had tons of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of them identical. There are apparently hundreds of Barnabi of every age and gender littering the English countryside, all looking moody and forgetting their lines.

It’s a thin story, especially because he doesn’t have an English accent, but luckily there’s a portrait of the original Barnabas on the wall in the foyer, which he uses like it’s a driver’s license.

Barnabas was desperate to find Quentin, the evil spirit who’s tormenting the family in 1969, but now that he’s met the guy, he can’t think of anything to say. You’d think he’d be better prepared than this; he’s had negative seventy-two years to think about it.

Continue reading Episode 704: It Just So Happens

Episode 673: The Shambles

“The blast from that gun should’ve killed any living creature. And it should’ve.”

Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins is out on the grounds of his family estate in the middle of the night, hunting for werewolves by the light of the full moon.

He hears something moving in the woods — and as the vicious beast advances, Barnabas lets fly with a rifle shot, smacking the animal right in the heart. But this is a supernatural creature with the raw power of whatever demon cursed its malignant soul; it shrugs off the gunshot, and comes back for more.

Thinking quickly, Barnabas tosses the rifle aside, and prepares to beat the snarling beast to death with his cane.

You know, they don’t make eccentric millionaires like this anymore. It’s a lost art.

Continue reading Episode 673: The Shambles

Episode 647: The Wire

“I fear the séance didn’t put an end to what’s been happening here.”

The Turn of the Screw opens with a group of devoted thrill-seekers at a week-long house party, entertaining each other with ghost stories. Griffin has just finished telling the story of a young boy waking his mother up in the middle of the night, because a dreadful apparition had materialized in the bedroom, and he wanted her to see it. That is the beginning and end of that story, as I understand it, but it sounds like it was the hit of the evening, so hooray for low standards.

Unable to cope with his seething jealousy of the master raconteur, a guest named Douglas tries a bit of casual oneupmanship:

Before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind.

“I quite agree — in regard to Griffin’s ghost, or whatever it was — that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it’s not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to TWO children — ?”

“We say, of course,” somebody exclaimed, “that they give two turns! Also that we want to hear about them.”

Obviously, this is setting a bad precedent. It’s only a matter of time before Griffin comes up with a ghost story involving four children, and then Douglas ups the ante to a half dozen, until finally there’s a story about thirty-five children, each with his or her own personalized specter, and the bottom falls out of the ghost story market. This is not a scaleable business model.

Continue reading Episode 647: The Wire

Episode 613: Joe Haskell Must Die

“Then why didn’t that someone give him the medicine?”

Man, after a solid week of sifting through the Danielle/Eve/Jeff/Peter boondoggle, it’s nice to get back to a simple, straightforward hypnotized rape victim flip-flop murder-revenge conspiracy. I mean, some of us still appreciate the classics.

Continue reading Episode 613: Joe Haskell Must Die