“I’m going to destroy that thing that’s me in that room!”
Oberon and Haza Hawkes
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their son
Carolyn Collins Stoddard
Friday, the sixth of March, 1970
at the Altamont Speedway
The rise of the Old Gods
and the end of all things
The Black Goat of the Woods
with a Thousand Young!
Continue reading Episode 965: Wedding Crashers
“I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”
“My, my, Mr. Jennings,” Bruno says, splitting his face with a lunatic’s grin. “How you’ve changed!” He’s sneering at the snarling werewolf that’s currently chained to the wall of this desolate crypt, and he’s staying just outside the creature’s reach, like Foghorn Leghorn standing at the dog’s leash limit.
“Does the tone of my voice anger you?” Bruno jeers. “Good! I want you to get good and mad — mad enough to rip a man to shreds!”
This is not typically a problem for werewolf handlers, because the entire point of werewolves is to be a metaphor for unchecked fury and explosive violence. You don’t need to rile up a werewolf. They come pre-riled.
Continue reading Episode 961: Protagonizing
“I don’t know, and you don’t know, none of us knows, and we probably never will know, and besides, I don’t care.”
It’s morning, and time jockey Barnabas Collins is standing in the ruins of the scene of the crime, sifting through the fragments of storyline left behind after a raging inferno. Combing through the ashes, he finds a few traces of the battle that took place here — a pocket watch, a pair of glasses, a length of heavy chain.
The glasses belong to Count Petofi, and the chain is Garth Blackwood’s — the two titans who clashed and burned here — but the pocket watch is new to me. Did Count Petofi have a pocket watch this whole time, and I never noticed? Well, I suppose he can retrieve it from the lost and found on his way out.
Continue reading Episode 884: Widow’s Hell
“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”
Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.
And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.
We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.
But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.
Continue reading Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home
“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
“No human hand has touched these clothes since I took them away.”
Okay, the Ron Sproat script countdown continues; we are currently at nine episodes and holding.
Sproat, if you haven’t read my other posts on the subject, is the third-best out of three on the Dark Shadows writing team, and he and I have been engaged in a tense standoff since April 1967. He’s got one month left until he leaves the show, and it’s going to come down to the wire on which of us is going to crack first.
Now, I’m going to write today’s post as if there’s somebody out there who still likes it when I spend the entire day complaining about Ron Sproat and his terrible scripts. “Oh, boy,” this make-believe person might say, passing by in a hot-air balloon. “These are my very favorites. I shall read today’s entry with particular relish.”
But now that I’ve written that down, it doesn’t sound super likely. I mean, does anyone even talk like that? And why a hot-air balloon?
Continue reading Episode 656: Unspooky
“And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage.”
I don’t usually take the time to appreciate the voice-overs that open each Dark Shadows episode, but every once in a while, they simply demand attention.
On this cold, clear night, one can hear the sound of the ocean at the great house of Collinwood — a sound which means peace to some, but rage and fury to others.
And in another house, nearer the sea, the emotion is rage — rage because one of the many plans conceived there is in danger of being stopped by a violent death.
I mean. You have to give it up for that. And today, I am filled with love for everything, even the weird voice-over. I’ve been pretty hard on our little cow-town spook show for the last few weeks, but today’s episode is super enjoyable.
In fact, I would say that this is pretty much a perfect episode of Dark Shadows, if by “perfect” I mean that it’s fundamentally flawed in several amusing ways. And I’m a Dark Shadows fan, so obviously that’s what I mean.
Continue reading Episode 602: The Neuralyzer
“I didn’t brick up any wall!”
So, I don’t know, what else is going on? Oh, right, Barnabas. He was chained up behind a wall a few days ago by a vengeful ghost, and left there to slowly starve to death. We should probably get back to that.
Dark Shadows might be the only television program that would lock up the main character behind a brick wall and then just forget about him for a while. There’s a lot happening right now.
Continue reading Episode 516: The Unimmured
“Death is a valid reason.”
TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? Writing about Dark Shadows every day has sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
Well, not the whole story. There’s, like, 800 more episodes; we’d be here all night. But let’s see if we can focus on the next twenty-two minutes.
Continue reading Episode 442: Cask Party
“You made them take my dead body away! They threw me in the water!”
So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: sanctimonious witch hunter Reverend Trask comes back to his room, and finds the corpse of streetwalker Maude Browning lying on his bed.
Now, just to be clear — violence against women is not funny. Murdering somebody to cover up for your crimes is not funny. And yet — Reverend Trask walking into his room and finding a dead prostitute in his bed is extremely funny. Let’s see if we can break this down a little.
Continue reading Episode 441: Weekend at Maudie’s