Tag Archives: stairs

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.

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Episode 1145: The Unearned Curse

“It is a metaphysical attempt on my part to expand man’s natural horizons, that’s all.”

He’s not mad, really, just disappointed, and he’s also not a scientist, so how he ended up getting involved with mad science is anyone’s guess.

“Now, Gerard,” says Quentin Collins, “what would you think if I told you that by going up those stairs, you could actually travel in another time?”

Gerard is nonplussed. “Well, I’d say you were having a minor pipe dream.”

“But it’s true!” Quentin declares, with no elaboration. “This is my Staircase In Time.” Then he starts walking up the stairs, and nothing happens.

Continue reading Episode 1145: The Unearned Curse

Episode 1085: Our Ignorance and Folly

“David, they’re nowhere in the room! They’re dead people! They’re ghosts! And we look exactly like them!”

There is no such thing as time. There’s only space, physical space, and it is space that measures the distance between those points which we, in our ignorance and folly, insist are points in time. All time is one point, one moment, it is ever existent and it is ever accessible, and it is physical space that can be used to make all time easily accessible. Well, physical space and LSD, obviously.

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Episode 649: The Rise and Fall

“Someone now dead lived in this room.”

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, our feature bout is a winner-takes-all cage match between the savvy psychic, Madame Janet Findley, and the sinister specter, Mr. Quentin Collins (deceased).

Quentin has been quietly haunting the halls of the great house at Collinwood for seventy years, lurking in his sealed-up chamber in the abandoned west wing. Lately he’s been reaching out to the two children of the house, urging them to visit his room, plot against family members, scatter tarot cards around the house, and listen to his hit song, not necessarily in that order.

Earlier this week, under their ancestor’s malign influence, David and Amy tricked Roger into falling down the stairs in the foyer. Concerned, Elizabeth has called in Madame Janet Findley, an exterminator for the already exterminated.

Madame Findley is one of the craziest dames that we’ve seen on Dark Shadows, and that’s getting to be a crowded field. She says surprising things, makes extravagant hand gestures, and goes into a trance at a moment’s notice. I will miss her terribly.

Continue reading Episode 649: The Rise and Fall

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 590: This Old House

“You have brought me to the edge of disaster, and I must find a way back.”

This week, we hit another minor milestone in our uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows. It’s one of those trivial production changes that probably nobody notices when they’re watching the show on DVD, but which I will now spend the next few minutes trying to convince you is critical to understanding this period of the show.

The change is: each episode has four commercial breaks, instead of five. I know, I probably should have asked if you were sitting down before springing it on you like that. I hope everybody’s okay out there.

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Episode 567: The Show Goes On

“Why, you –“

I was going to talk about free will today. I had it all planned out.

I’ve been reading up on determinism lately, and I’ve got a theory — you would’ve loved this theory, if I had the time to tell you about it — using the concept of a mad scientist as a metaphor to talk about whether moral choices are even possible, if mental phenomena are reducible to neurological materialism. Seriously, it would have blown your mind, literally and figuratively.

But that’s going to have to wait, because there’s a breaking news story that I need to cover: this is the episode where Roger Davis bumps his head.

Continue reading Episode 567: The Show Goes On

Episode 498: Diff’rent Strokes

“Either she controls the portrait, or the portrait controls her.”

Hey, have I mentioned the Dream Curse yet? There’s this Dream Curse. It’s a spell that Angelique cast about a month ago, and for some reason, it’s still part of my life.

Here’s a quick rundown: Angelique is currently living in Collinwood, posing as Roger’s young wife, Cassandra. Barnabas has recently been released from her vampire curse, and she’s not having it, so she’s decided to bring the curse back to him through the most convoluted possible route. She’s initiated a long series of dreams, which pass from one character to another, and eventually the chain is going to reach Barnabas, and then he’ll die, or turn back into a vampire, or whatever.

This is a slow, grinding disappointment. Back in the 1795 storyline, where she came from, Angelique was the driving force of the entire show, moving people around like puppets, and sending the entire Collins family into a spiral of self-destruction. Now, frankly, she’s just coasting. It’s possible that 1968 is her retirement home.

Continue reading Episode 498: Diff’rent Strokes

Episode 332: Safe? Safe!

“The point is that I am in danger!”

It’s another relaxing evening at the Old House, and Julia tells Barnabas that she has another treatment ready for him. She’s trying to discover a cure for his vampirism, which would be hard enough even if she had a fully compliant patient. But Barnabas is feeling cranky, and when he’s cranky, he tends to get a little strangly.

Here’s his problem: young David is convinced that there’s something spooky hidden in the Old House, and a couple episodes ago, Julia caught the boy tugging on the locked basement door. She didn’t tell Barnabas about the encounter, because she knew he would freak out about it.

Yesterday, Roger mentioned the incident to Barnabas, and guess what? He’s freaking out about it.

Continue reading Episode 332: Safe? Safe!

Episode 281: Ancestral Exercises

“I believe a lot of things, but that doesn’t prevent me from being amused by them.”

On Friday, Barnabas’ pleasant costume party was interrupted by several strange incidents — Liz felt a piercing cold, the door flew open, and a bunch of candles blew out. For some reason, everybody decided that a ghost was trying to communicate with them, rather than the obvious alternative explanation, namely: it’s windy outside and we’re in a drafty old house.

So now they’re all sitting around a table with their fingers touching, conducting an impromptu seance. Just as they’re ready to give up, Vicki starts to moan: “Run… please, faster… I must run. Don’t stop me! Don’t STOP me!”

Continue reading Episode 281: Ancestral Exercises