Tag Archives: theme song

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 782: Don’t Leave Home

“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.

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Episode 771: The Mentalist

“He will look for some secret dark womb that will keep him safe.”

So, it’s yesterday, and Barnabas walks into the weird secret jail cell that he keeps behind a bookcase for some reason, and Dirk is gone! He died, and vamped himself right out of stir. Barnabas and Beth are just looking around, not sure what to do with themselves, surprise twist, big crescendo, credits, the end. You know? Yesterday.

And today, Young Danny tunes into New Jersey Network, and what do I see? Barnabas walks into the Old House, and there’s a dead white lady sitting in a chair who I’ve never seen before. Barnabas says, “No. NO!” and then Carl is knocking at the door, saying, “Barnabas? Let me in, I have to talk to Pansy!” And I’m like, who the fuck is Pansy?

So, surprise, turns out that when they first released these episodes for syndication in the mid-80s, Worldvision mislabeled episode 771. They thought it was from June 1968 instead of ’69, so they played it a year too early, right after the ghost of Reverend Trask bricked up Barnabas in the Old House cellar.

When they got to the actual place in the reruns where this episode should be, they skipped it, so I missed the only episode where Pansy Faye appears. But the characters keep on talking about her for the next five months, which was baffling, because as far as I was concerned, she was never on the show in the first place.

This concludes another chapter in the saga of Young Danny in the World Before the Internet. God, it was a nightmare.

Continue reading Episode 771: The Mentalist

Episode 768: Number One with a Bullet

“I can’t take my mind off this bullet.”

Yesterday, somebody found a silver bullet outside Collinwood, and now Quentin’s taking it super personally. As a Werewolf-American, naturally he’s sensitive to displays of lycanphobic sentiment. Trying to explain that anybody could be killed by a silver bullet and that all lives matter is not at all reassuring.

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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.

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Episode 722: Uncle Deadly

“Grandfather always said that I would be killed by a woman, and he was right. A woman murdered me!”

“Please, Quentin,” says the young set, staring straight through the television screen, their eyes glazed with grief. “Don’t be dead. Please, don’t leave me alone!”

They move, as one, to approach their antiquated music machines — the gramophone, the turntable, the cassette player.

“You liked that music,” they say. “It was your favorite! I’m going to keep playing it, over and over again!”

Maestro? If you would?

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Episode 719: Haunt You

“Anyone who believes in voodoo must believe in me!”

Let’s talk for a moment about the tremendous advantages of having a gypsy on your television show.

Number one, obviously, ethnic, which means there’s all kinds of comic value just sitting there for the taking.

Number two, ethnic, which means you can always kickstart a plot point by showing her something that she wants to steal.

And number three, ethnic, which means that if you can’t think of an exciting way to end an episode, then she can just run into the room, point at a cast member, and scream The MARK! The mark of DEATH! Soon! SOON! You will DIE! and then you superimpose a Chromakey skull over the guy’s face.

And yet I can’t think of a single other show that has a gypsy. I swear, it’s like people don’t even want to make good television.

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Episode 693: Sticks and Stokes

“They become just as helpless as this pencil.”

Dr. Julia Hoffman comes home to her luxurious mansion, which belongs to other people. She’s brought a friend, a handsome young serial killer named Chris. They’ve just had an unpleasant afternoon with Chris’ ex-girlfriend, who was traumatized by Chris several years ago to such an extent that she no longer moves or speaks.

Chris is a little uneasy after the encounter, but Julia’s in full Murder Club mode, telling him that Sabrina still can’t speak, so she can’t identify him to the police. This is Julia’s idea of reassurance.

After Chris leaves, she’s joined by Professor Eliot Stokes, another dangerous houseguest who’s snapped his leash and is now wandering around at will, drinking other people’s liquor and planning unholy rituals in other people’s back gardens.

“I’m glad you’re here, Julia,” he smiles. “I’m going to exorcise the ghosts from this house tonight, and you are going to help me.” This is what Julia’s life is like, just one damn thing after another.

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Episode 689: The First Theremin Era

“It’ll be a lot easier to deal with him if he isn’t here to kill you.”

So here’s the score for the first couple months of 1969.

Paperback Library has released a novelty joke book called Barnabas Collins In a Funny Vein, which we’ve discussed at some length. They’ve also published another in the series of Dark Shadows gothic romance novels. This one’s called The Secret of Barnabas Collins, and it tells the story of Barnabas in 1870s London and his love affair with Lady Clare Duncan, who follows him to France and then to Boston, as he tries to find a witch doctor to free him from the vampire curse.

Meanwhile, Gold Key has published the first issue of the Dark Shadows comic book, which involves Barnabas and Angelique alternately killing and reviving three attractive college students for basically no reason except they felt like it.

So that’s three new Dark Shadows products, all on sale this month, and each of them is aimed at a different subset of the Dark Shadows audience: the novel is for the housewives, the comic book is for the teenagers, and then the young set get the joke book. None of them are very good, but that doesn’t seem to bother anybody. In February 1969, if it says Dark Shadows on it, somebody is going to buy it.

And then — busting into the party like a belligerent gatecrasher — here comes The First Theremin Era.

Continue reading Episode 689: The First Theremin Era