“All she did was tell me what you had planned — to betray me — and you killed her for it, just as you killed me, and you killed your wife Amanda, because she tried to help me too.”
The late James Forsythe, shipping magnate and finder of lost boats, has unearthed the skeleton of his sister Sarah in the basement of the gatehouse on the great estate at Collinwood, buried under what appears to be zero inches of dirt in the floor. It’s kind of a wonder that nobody ran across it before; it looks like a century and a half of normal wear and tear on the linoleum would probably have uncovered a couple of suspicious bumps in the floor over the years. I guess some people are naturally curious and some aren’t, and that’s all there is to it.
James’ spirit is currently occupying the body of Morgan Collins in order to right some of the pertinent wrongs of the past, and digging up Sarah is step one. But as he gazes at his aged relative, an interior squall kicks up and starts making itself known, which is not ordinarily part of a basement’s weather system. If you were under the impression, as I was, that ghost-related wind came in through the windows, then now we know better. It seems to just happen on its own.
“Well, blow me down!” James says, as it tries to. “I have found her, Brutus! I know you are in this room, and I am ready for you!” He whirls around, looking for his opponent. “Show yourself to me, Brutus!” he says, putting up his fists. “Let me fight you again! I’ve had all I can stands, ‘cuz I can’t stands no more!”
And Brutus appears, snarling and snapping, ready to battle over Sarah’s shallow grave. So I guess nothing changes; after a hundred and sixty years, these two sailor men are still fighting over a skinny girl.
Continue reading Episode 1225: Strong to the Finish
“There is a world — an evil world — which exists for some men.”
He’s not a handsome man, it’s true, but he’s powerful, and portable, and persistent. And he’s the man of your dreams, in the sense that you keep having naptime nightmares where his disembodied head bosses you around.
We’re all familiar with Judah Zachery the paperweight, lurking on the credenza in his glass enclosure, silently slipping through your defenses and inspiring you to steal newspapers and murder an antiques dealer with the wrong ancestor. But what of Judah Zachery, the man?
His eyes could bewitch you, they said. He lured beautiful young women to his house, and persuaded them to participate in unspeakable acts. And this was in the 1690s, when they really were unspeakable, because nobody had invented the slang words to describe them yet.
That was a hundred and fifty years ago, give or take, and for all that time, he’s been operating at a serious disadvantage. They say size doesn’t matter, but try to lure somebody somewhere when you’re ten inches total.
But that ends today. This is the day that Judah Zachery breaks out of his box, and gets his groove on.
Continue reading Episode 1142: The Golden Moment
“We cannot succeed without it, because without it he cannot live!”
You know, she’s done amazing things in the past, but now she’s even more in the past, and look what she can do. Displaced medico Julia Hoffman, thrust by circumstance into a time not yet her own, has assembled — in the middle of the night, in the middle of a graveyard, and in the middle of the nineteenth century — a pop-up artisanal mad scientist coworking space with all the trimmings, including assorted glassware lashed into an impromptu apparatus with bubbling liquids of uncertain purpose, along with tables and lamps and switches and samovars and who knows what-all.
She’s even got things wired up with electricity somehow, with a good old-fashioned Jacob’s ladder spark gap buzzing away in the corner, in case the Nobel committee comes by and she needs to science the place up a little.
She’s in a secret underground crypt, by the way, built by ignorant and superstitious villagers a hundred and fifty years ago as a long-term radioactive-waste storage facility, so they would have a place to put decapitated wizards that they weren’t using anymore. It wasn’t zoned for whatever the hell this is, so Julia’s technically a squatter, and she couldn’t hire anybody to help her drag the enormous Frankenstein-size slab through the narrow trap door beneath the unmarked grave, and down the winding stairs to this busted basement. And yet she did it somehow, in absolute silence and secrecy, all on her own. It’s incredible what you can do, when someone else puts your mind to it.
Continue reading Episode 1134/1135: The Graveyard Smash
“A shadow, yes — a shadow that fell over all of our lives!”
Barnabas and Julia have been thrust into the far-off space year of 1995, which means they’ve already missed three seasons of Melrose Place and they’re not going to understand what anybody at the office is talking about. They’d better stay away from watercoolers altogether; you can’t be too careful.
But the time-tossed twosome have other things on their minds, like for example that their house got destroyed twenty-five years ago, killing most of their friends and driving the survivors out of their everloving minds. So Barnabas and Julia are snooping around, trying to find out what caused the catastrophe. I’d suggest taking a close look at Dr. Kimberley Shaw, who’s recently developed an interest in detonating apartment complexes, but they wouldn’t have any idea what I mean. You see what happens when you don’t watch Melrose Place? Let this be a lesson.
Continue reading Episode 1064: Here Comes the Hotstepper
“Where have you been? To Boston, for some new finery?”
Honestly, what can be done to rid this town of Josettes?
We kidnap them, we shoot them, we hang them, we throw them off a cliff onto the rocks and the raging sea, and they always come back — sighing, fretting, and making a nuisance of themselves. The problem, really, is that the Collins family insists on hiring governesses, which is a Josette-heavy industry.
The latest Josette is named Kitty. It turns out she was a governess once, and she married her employer, Lord Hampshire. Her husband is dead now — suicide, obviously — and the child is nowhere to be seen, which is all par for the course when you let a Josette into your house. Ruin and devastation, as far as the eye can see.
Continue reading Episode 849: Here Today
“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
“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
“I think the man I’m talking to is a ghost!”
Previously, on Dark Shadows: Dr. Woodard has discovered that Barnabas Collins is the kidnapper that everyone’s been looking for — and a member of the living dead. Armed with a journal which contains notes of Julia’s mad experiments, Woodard is planning to speak to the Sheriff, and expose the evil presence that threatens to destroy them all. But a bat appears at the window — and Dr. Woodard is horrified to see the vampire materialize in front of him.
And then… nothing, for three years. At least, that’s what it was like when I saw it.
Continue reading Episode 639: Vampire Excites Wives, Young Set
“No matter how dangerous it is, I’ve got to have a showdown with Nicholas Blair.”
Really, the thing that everybody wants to know is: why can’t the Stormtroopers shoot straight in Star Wars? It turns out there are three simple answers.
#1. Stormtroopers shooting laser bolts are more interesting to look at than Stormtroopers who stand around complaining.
#2. Shooting Luke Skywalker in the head halfway through the first movie is going to leave a rather obvious gap in the trilogy.
#3. “Strong Guy Kills Weak Guy” is not headline news.
This ends the lit-crit theory portion of today’s post; we will now spend the rest of our time watching Dr. Julia Hoffman act like an unbelievable badass.
Continue reading Episode 619: The Gunslinger
“The eyes in the painting… They were alive! I could feel them!”
At the top of the show today, Elizabeth finds young David standing in the foyer, staring at the 18th-century portrait of Barnabas. She asks David what’s wrong, and he suddenly runs upstairs and slams the door. Perplexed, Liz looks at the portrait.
And unfortunately, that’s as close as we’re going to get to the vampire today. Elizabeth is actually just coming back from four weeks of summer vacation, and we hardly noticed. But Barnabas is at the heart of every storyline now, and if he takes even one day off, the show starts to sag.
This is the first episode without Barnabas in two weeks. That portrait is going to get a workout today.
Continue reading Episode 324: The Wrong Man