Tag Archives: sam

Episode 1217: The Next to Last

“I’ve been insane for years! I just became sane, just a short time ago!”

Gabriel Collins is a new visitor to the mountains of madness, thanks to a recent half-hour soujourn in a Lovecraftian 4D immersive escape room that he has only recently escaped from. They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but apparently there are exceptions; Gabriel hasn’t managed to murder any of the three people he’s tried to extinguish tonight. And now that I think about it, not being killed by Gabriel has probably made Kendrick, Daphne and Morgan stronger, which means he’s even farther behind.

But he’s still in the game, and he’s currently lurking behind a tree with his knife, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk by. And here comes Kendrick, tromping through the woods en route to the police to report his recent brush with that very knife.

As Kendrick passes by, Gabriel grips the knife tightly in his fist, raising his weapon and preparing to strike.

But then he takes a look at himself, out in the woods, attempting murder for the fourth time today. In a moment of clarity, he looks at the knife, and asks, “What am I doing?” It’s the portrait of a man suddenly going stark raving sane.

Continue reading Episode 1217: The Next to Last

Time Travel, part 15: Dark Shadows Without Dark Shadows

“He left the sanitarium with no memory of the circumstances which had caused him to lose his mind.”

And in another band of time, running parallel to our own, ABC-Television makes some different choices, and Dark Shadows stays on the air.

Here’s how it wouldn’t have gone.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 15: Dark Shadows Without Dark Shadows

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.

Continue reading Night of Dark Shadows: The Haunted Horse

Time Travel, part 9: Frequent Flyers

“I feel as if something is trying to get inside of me!”

And another thing…

It’s my own fault, I recognize that. I was the one who wanted to write about Dark Shadows in the first place, and I was the one who decided that on pre-emption days, I would watch an episode of the 1991 revival. I did not open the mysterious box; I did not read the forbidden book; I did not receive instructions in my dreams. This is on me.

But here I am, in November 1969, when the show was pre-empted twice in the same week — for the Apollo 12 splashdown on Monday, and then for Thanksgiving on Thursday. So now I have to write about two 1991 episodes, which is straining endurance.

Continue reading Time Travel, part 9: Frequent Flyers

Episode 807: Dickens Without Poor People

“Well, you know how he gets when he possesses someone.”

Behold the educated viewer, watching an episode of Dark Shadows. Charity Trask is looking at the unfinished portrait of Quentin Collins, on the night of the full moon. To her surprise, she sees the portrait change before her eyes, the painted face transforming into the image of a werewolf.

“Ah,” one nods appreciatively, “an allusion to The Picture of Dorian Gray.” One says this to oneself, because nobody else can stand to be around one while the television is on.

Continue reading Episode 807: Dickens Without Poor People

Episode 759: Kill Me Maybe

“What you saw consumed in flames was an exact replica of me.”

“Get me a mirror,” Angelique says, out of the blue. “A full-length mirror.” This is her idea of a security system.

This week, the Dark Shadows A-Team has united against Laura Collins, a phoenix firestarter who’s returned to Collinwood to turn her children into fire demons. Barnabas, Quentin, Angelique and Magda are on the case, each of them distracting Laura from her mission just long enough for another one to plan a new attack.

This is a new team that’s just emerged this week, and Angelique has stepped into the role of tactical expert. It’s a surprisingly natural fit, considering her dismal track record — remember, this is the woman who cursed the man she loves with a spell that kills everyone who loves him.

But in this context, it makes sense for Angelique to step up. Barnabas is terrible at making plans, Quentin is impulsive and reckless, and Magda is the loosest possible cannon. So when the woman says “get me a mirror,” the appropriate response is: one mirror, coming right up.

Continue reading Episode 759: Kill Me Maybe

Extra: An Interview with Violet Welles

“There were infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.”

Monday’s episode was the first credited to Violet Welles, one of the best writers on Dark Shadows, and one of the most mysterious. She was a theatrical press agent, working on a varied slate of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. She also wrote for several television shows, but almost always as a ghost-writer; Dark Shadows is her only credited work as a writer, and she had to be talked into becoming a full-time writer on the show.

There are several websites that list Violet’s credits as a press rep — Playbill Vault, Internet Broadway Database and the Internet Off-Broadway Database — but almost nothing is known about her television work.

Happily, there’s a fan resource to the rescue: The World of Dark Shadows, the flagship DS fanzine which ran from 1975 to 2001. Issue #59/60, published in June 1991, ran a four-page interview with Violet Welles, giving us a rare glimpse into the day-to-day experience of the Dark Shadows writing team. The interview is fantastic, and I’m going to post it here in its entirety. It was conducted by Meghan Powell-Nivling, who I have not contacted for permission, so I hope nobody minds. Here’s Violet.

Continue reading Extra: An Interview with Violet Welles

Episode 709: Forget You

“What would her spirit be doing wearing a glove?”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Barnabas finally drew a line in the sand.

“YOU have the will, Quentin!” he said to Quentin, who did.

“I will leave you now,” he continued, raising several eyebrows. “There’s only one thing that you have to decide in the next hour — how to give it back. Because if you don’t — I will have to do something about it. Something drastic!And then he walked out the door.

So David can suck it, I guess, is the current attitude of the program.

Continue reading Episode 709: Forget You

Episode 708: Will Power

“It’s been my experience that death causes as much ill-feeling as life.”

Time-tossed vampire Barnabas Collins is stuck in the year 1897, lost behind enemy lines on a ghost-hunting recon mission. For all he knows, he’s here to stay, so he’s trying to make friends with the locals.

At the moment, he’s in the Collinwood study with Edward, the putative head of the household, in front of an open casket containing Edward’s grandmother. The old lady spent the last several decades telling everyone that she had a family secret that she would pass on just before her death, but it turns out that’s a tricky deadline to plan around. Now Barnabas is the only one who knows the secret, which was: Don’t let Barnabas get out of his coffin and hang around Collinwood. So that worked out great.

Grasping at straws, Edward harangues Barnabas for a while, begging him to tell the secret, but Barnabas just stonewalls and that’s pretty much all they can do.

Frustrated, Edward grouses that Edith even kept the location of her will a secret. She left instructions with Judith in a sealed envelope, and now they have to find it.

And that’s the last time anybody mentions the secret. From this moment on, the story is all about finding the will. It’s the most blatant MacGuffin relay race handoff you’ll ever see.

Continue reading Episode 708: Will Power