Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adam West, Burt Ward return for BATMAN feature in 2016


During yesterday's BATMAN panel at Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, N.C., guests Adam West and Burt Ward announced they'd recently recorded dialogue for an animated BATMAN film slated for release in 2016 — the 50th anniversary of the classic television series.

Burt Ward and Adam West at the Mad Monster Party panel.
Actually, the actors speculated that the as-yet untitled film (presumably part of Warner Animation's line of direct-to-video DC Universe series) might be split into two movies They didn't share any additional details about the film(s), but its safe to say there's going to be extensive recasting of the show's principle actors. The legal dispute between 20th Century Fox (the creators of the original series) and Warner Bros (which own the BATMAN characters) dragged on for so long that almost everyone associated with the series died in the interim. While its easy to imagine Julie Newmar participating in the upcoming animated film, nobody's really clamoring for the return of John Astin to the role of "The Riddler." Will we see Mark Hamill take the place of Cesar Romero as "The Joker?" John DiMaggio? Wally Wingert?

It's not the first time Ward and West have returned to the roles of "Batman and Robin." Both have loaned their voices to the characters in everything from 1977's THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN, to episodes of THE SIMPSONS. They also announced during yesterday's panel that they've recently recorded dialogue for an upcoming episode of ROBOT CHICKEN.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Monster Serial: GANJA AND HESS, 1973


By PHIL NOBILE JR.

On June 22, 2014, Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-funded feature, DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, screened for the first time. Moments before the screening, it revealed that the film is actually a remake of the 1973 horror-art film Ganja & Hess. There’s an easy joke in here about Lee learning from his experience remaking OLDBOY that if you’re going to remake a cult film, stay away from beloved titles and go for the deep cut.

It’s not all that surprising that Lee was able to keep a lid on his new film’s lineage - relatively speaking, not many people have seen the original Ganja & Hess. And it’s maybe equally unsurprising that the nearly-forgotten film has returned from the dead in a new form, as it seems to have been doing just that over and over for decades.

GANJA & HESS played theaters in its original form for less than a week in 1973 before it was pulled from distribution, re-cut, retitled and forgotten. While the film was pitched (and financed) as a horror flick, it’s closer in tone to Nicolas Roeg’s inscrutable, non-linear THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, which GANJA & HESS predates by three years. Director Bill Gunn’s shooting script allegedly contained more traditional, mainstream horror elements. Gunn later claimed he intended all along to remove most of them, very intentionally leaving a frustrating but weirdly resonant meditation on addiction, cultural extinction and the struggle of the “Blackman” (Gunn’s term) to retain his identity.

We get early hints of Gunn’s preoccupation with the slippery nature of identity: the film begins with a minister (Sam Waymon) discussing his faith in voiceover, accompanied by handheld, documentary-style shots of him commanding a church service. But we soon find out that the minister’s main job is quite different - he’s a driver for Dr. Hess Green (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD’s Duane Jones), and we learn from some oblique exposition that this well-to-do “doctor of anthropology and geology” is studying artifacts from an extinct civilization of African blood-worshippers called the Myrthians. As the surviving crew members note on the blu-ray commentary, seeing a respected, affluent black man onscreen, being chauffeured around New York in a Rolls Royce, was quite a bit of culture shock, and was likely a hell of a way to start your film in 1973.


Hess studies dead civilizations; Gunn’s camera slyly suggests the doctor is also part of one. That’s about as overtly political as the film gets: there are no rallying cries for equality or quaint-but-clumsy speeches about race, just frame after lonely frame of Gunn’s Blackmen occupying near-deserted bars, sparsely populated streets and big empty rooms. Even dialogue scenes are framed in ways that isolate the individual. As Hess quietly ponders a relic and dreams of ancient Myrthia, there’s a genuine feeling of mournfulness, of mortality, of memory bleeding out into history.

The plot, such as it is, is set in motion when Hess hires George Meda (played by the film’s director) as his assistant. We find out as abruptly as Hess does that Meda is quite out of his mind. After dinner, Hess finds Meda sitting in a tree, threatening to hang himself in Hess’ yard (easily the film’s funniest exchange, in which Hess asks Meda to consider the amount of trouble his suicide would bring to “the only colored on the block”). Meda then gives a long speech about his suicidal impulses with a stalactite of snot dangling precariously from his mustache. In the very next scene, for reasons the viewer is never given, he attacks Hess in bed, stabbing him with the Myrthian dagger, an act which transforms Hess into a blood drinker (the word “vampire” is never used in the film).

Thinking he’s killed Hess, Meda takes a bath, brushes his teeth (using his cloudy bathwater), and kills himself. Next, Hess is seen sitting up in bed, no worse for wear, and upon discovering Meda’s body begins to drink his blood. Much of this film can’t rightly qualify as horror, but the sight of Jones slurping congealed blood off the bathroom floor is a moment of genuine revulsion (reportedly for the actor as much as the audience), and says everything the film aims to about addiction.



Meda ends up in Hess’ walk-in freezer, and Hess begins the life of an addict - petty theft from a blood bank, cruising bad neighborhoods for his fix. The commentary isn’t terribly subtle, but it’s delivered with a measured hand. Soon Meda’s estranged wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) shows up looking for her husband. She finds him in Hess’ walk-in freezer. From here the film becomes a kind of love story, before sending the title characters down a road of increasing debasement and self-loathing to feed their craving. As their addiction brings them together, it slowly drains their humanity. METAPHOR!

I’m not quite in the “masterpiece” camp on this film, but I’ve been fascinated by it for over 20 years (I watched a sort of incomprehensible 16mm print back in 1992). On a first viewing, the film often feels a bit patchwork and unwieldy in trying to get even the basic narrative setup across, as if Gunn has so much to say, but is battling his own framework in the process. And his subtext feels at times as confusing as his talky, wandering narrative. The Christian church scenes are messy, sweaty bits of handheld vérité, while the flashbacks/dreams of the Myrthian Queen are shot in loving, elegant slow motion. Is he criticizing the Western European eclipsing of African culture? It often seems so, but the film’s finale suggests otherwise.

Similarly, posing Ganja and Hess as a well-off black couple in 1973 seems a deliberate, progressive stance. But why are they then portrayed as such assholes about their status? Hess’ black butler is a constant object of the couple’s ridicule and derision (and of Gunn’s as well; the director literally robs him of all identity in almost every shot, his head cut off by the top of the frame in nearly all of his scenes). Is he criticizing Ganja and Hess for their bourgeois social status, or the butler for his willing subjugation? Or both? And the film’s final shots are guaranteed to frustrate as much as they resonate.

 
But what seem like problems with the film begin, on repeated viewings, to feel like stubborn badges of honor. And you begin to realize it’s not that Gunn CAN’T make a more traditional story; he simply refuses to. (There are 17 minutes of deleted scenes on YouTube which connect the details of the evasive plot; Gunn shot them and threw them away.) There are just enough moments in the film to show you that Gunn could have easily gone a more mainstream route: the film is beautiful when it’s meant to be beautiful; the use of ambient sound is innovative, almost masterful. Gunn is not an amateur. But not every movie is willing to meet you halfway. There are films that are fun to watch; Ganja & Hess compels you to watch. There are films that ask more questions than they answer; Ganja & Hess answers zero questions, nor does it aim to. Maybe that’s why it lingers in the brain.

This essay is one of dozens featured in our new
book, "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial."
It’s such a cheap bit of irony that a film rife with subtext about a dying culture devouring itself was carved up and shortened by over 30 minutes to make it more palatable to the blaxploitation crowd. As the legend goes, Gunn took a single print with him to Cannes, where it received a standing ovation and was named one of the ten best American films of the decade (in 1973, but still). New York critics were less impressed, and Gunn’s film was pulled from release after playing less than a week in one theater, after which its distributors hired another filmmaker to re-cut the film into the 76 minute Blood Couple (also released in various formats and markets as Black Evil, Black Vampire, Blackout: The Moment of Terror, Vampires of Harlem, and Double Possession for good measure). Stories vary, but at some point Gunn stashed the uncut print from Cannes at the Museum of Modern Art, and once the original negative was reworked, this became the only surviving print of Gunn’s original cut, and remained so for nearly two decades. (For the whole, amazing history of the film’s rescue from oblivion, check out the great Video Watchdog article by Tim Lucas and David Walker, reprinted on the DVD. Reading it, one realizes it’s nothing less than a miracle that the film exists at all.)

Gunn never directed another film (he started work on the Muhammad Ali biopic THE GREATEST, but was replaced by Monte Hellman). He returned to the stage and television, and ended up on the set of “The Cosby Show” as one of Bill Cosby’s poker buddies. Gunn died in 1989. In the end, the burial of GANJA & HESS perfectly illustrated the kind of cultural extinction which preoccupied the filmmaker.



Fittingly, the film refused to remain buried. A grass-roots movement to restore the film culminated in a DVD release in 1998. Today an even more fully restored blu-ray is available. Amazon will even stream the movie to you for $3.99. And early reviews of DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS suggest that Spike Lee might have given the tale yet another cinematic resurrection. Though reactions from the film’s premiere describe a fun tone that’s light-years from Gunn’s film, the plot descriptions coming out of the initial screening sound eerily accurate to the original. It’s astonishing that we live in a world where GANJA & HESS has been remade, and way more astonishing that said remake might actually be good. But sight unseen, it sounds as if perhaps Lee has engaged the material correctly. And much to my surprise, I’m finding the story of GANJA & HESS calling to me once again.

PHIL NOBILE JR is a writer/director of non-fiction television projects, including the feature-length A&E documentary HALLOWEEN: THE INSIDE STORY (2010.) He is a contributing writer for badassdigest.com and its sister print publication, BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Counting down to DARK SHADOWS on Decades


If you want to watch DARK SHADOWS when it begins airing on Decades later this year, you won't need cable.

The nostalgia channel is set to formally launch on May 25, and currently holds affiliation agreements with 21 television affiliates in 15 states. You'll actually be able to watch Decades using an television antenna, though you'll need one that's HD compatible to receive anything more than static.

While a formal schedule has yet to be announced, Decades actually began airing programs in January in bulk-episode packages called The Binge. DANIEL BOONE is currently airing, to be followed in quick order by THE SAINT, PETER GUNN, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and others. You can get a full scheduled of The Binge by clicking HERE.

Beginning 6 p.m., May 13, Decades will begin airing 68 straight hours of DARK SHADOWS. We're going to have to wait and see how this show will fit into its regular programming when Decades begins in earnest May 25, because Decades ain't exactly Nick At Nite.

What sets Decades apart from other nostalgia channels is its intent to "theme" daily programming. THROUGH THE DECADES, a one-hour daily program hosted by AMERICAN JUSTICE's Bill Kurtis, will highlight these themes by providing news clips and commentary. It will be interesting to see how a daily program like DARK SHADOWS — which had hardly anything to do with the era in which it originally aired — will fit into this kind of schedule. It isn't a show that's going to mesh well with clips of the moon landing, Woodstock, the Vietnam conflict and other historic touchstones of the day. It's also possible I'm completely misinterpreting the concept.

(Note: It's probably not a coincidence that Me TV recently included DARK SHADOWS in its MeMadness event. Decades has partnered with Weigel, a Chicago-based company that distributes Me TV.)

Below is a list of stations that will be carrying Decades. Visit rabbitears.info for updates

DECADES

CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles KCBS-TV
Sacramento–Stockton–Modesto KOVR
San Francisco–Oakland–
San Jose KPIX-TV

COLORADO
Denver KCNC-TV

FLORIDA
Miami–Fort Lauderdale WFOR-TV

ILLINOIS
Chicago WBBM-TV

MARYLAND
Baltimore WJZ-TV

MASSACHUSETTS
Boston WBZ-TV

MICHIGAN
Detroit WWJ-TV

MINNESOTA
Alexandria KCCO-TV
Minneapolis–St. Paul WCCO-TV
Walker KCCW-TV

NEW YORK
New York City WCBS-TV

NORTH CAROLINA
New Bern/Greenville WCTI-TV

NORTH DAKOTA
Valley City, KRDK-TV

PENNSYLVANIA
Philadelphia KYW-TV
Pittsburgh KDKA-TV

TENNESSEE 
Johnson City WCYB-TV

TEXAS
Fort Worth–Dallas KTVT

WISCONSIN
Green Bay–Appleton WBAY-TV
Milwaukee WDJT-TV

The Rocky Horror Skype Show


A Florida-based charity is auctioning a 15-minute Skype call with actress Patricia Quinn of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, I, CLAUDIUS, THE LORDS OF SALEM and lots of other stuff. The auction is courtesy of  Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The auction ends Sunday, March 29, and is being conducted on Ebay.

LINK

DARK SHADOWS: BLOODLUST, Episode the Fifth


By WALLACE McBRIDE

Licensed storytelling is often seen as something inherently illegitimate.

If you have any doubts about that, remember that Disney effortlessly flushed several decades of "expanded universe" STAR WARS storytelling with its purchase of Lucasfilm. Once the Mouse House took control, they deemed the hundreds of books, comics and videogames produced since the late 1990s as no longer canon. Because they're still interested in making money, though, Disney opted to keep most of these products in circulation ... but now they're designated as "just for fun." But wasn't that always the point?

Technically, it was the second time Lucasfilm had purged the system. The tie-in novels and comics produced during the original life of STAR WARS (1977-1986) had already been written off by the company. A lot of fans cried foul, feeling as though they'd been tricked into reading fanfic.

Well, yeah.

I had to step away from DARK SHADOWS: BLOODLUST for a while because of personal obligations. These write-ups require a bit more time and effort than news-related posts. I spent the early part of the week re-visiting the first four episodes, as well as the "Snowflake" prologue. During some downtime I also listened to 2012 DARK SHADOWS audiodrama, "Speak No Evil." The contrast between the two stories is startling.

When I fired up "Speak No Evil," I was under the impression that it was my first time listening to it. About half way through, though, I realized I'd already heard it. The tale was so insubstantial that it slipped my memory ... and will probably do so again.

"Speak No Evil" exists in that negative space where all tie-in properties live: between plot points in the canonical narrative (wow, that sounds pretentious). The main character is an adult version of "Tad Collins," played by David Henesy in 19 episodes of the original DARK SHADOWS. I don't think many people wondered what happened to the character in the events following the 1840 storyline. "Speak No Evil" is the answer to a question that nobody asked, and wanders perilously close to the old "two characters arguing in a darkened room" formula that made some of the early DARK SHADOWS audiodramas kinda lame.

But this is how tie-in properties work. If you can't retell/reboot/rehash the original storyline, you have to build your story in the narrative's gaps. And these areas are on notoriously shaky foundations.

Big Finish is rapidly approaching the release of its 50th (?!) DARK SHADOWS audiodrama, and BLOODLUST is evidence that lessons have been learned from past mistakes. The series has spent the last few years developing its own continuity and no longer has to rely on the table scraps of the original series. Many of the "new" characters in this series aren't really new, at all. Kate Ripperton has already appeared "The Phantom Bride" and "Beyond the Grave," while its a safe bet that there's some kind of relationship between Matthew Waterhouse's two "Cunningham" characters from BLOODLUST and "The Creeping Fog."

There are also deep ties to the KINGDOM OF THE DEAD, the multi-part DARK SHADOWS serial from 2010. While I doubt Big Finish will ever outgrow the need for formal ties to the original series, those ties are definitely less important than they used to be.

And there's drama galore in this episode of BLOODLUST, hardly any of it relying on your good will for classic DARK SHADOWS as a crutch. This series is working without a safety net and taking some real chances.


Exhibit A: Tommy Cunningham. As an infant in previous episodes his dialogue was limited too background cooing (I like to think it's producer Joseph Lidster providing the baby babble). Thanks to Angelique, Tommy is now a fully gown man with a rapidly developing vocabulary. His interaction with his incredulous parents is sweet, funny and bizarre in all the right WTF? kinds of ways.

While Andrew Cunningham is aghast at the change in his younger son, mom Amy isn't quite is rattled. As an occult expert she quickly figures out what has happened and devises a plan to set things right. First up is kicking Andrew to the curb, a plan that receives surprising support from his elder son, Harry. This leads to a confrontation with Angelique that made me realize the two characters might not have actually met on the original series.

Angelique comes across as sadistic in a way that was surprising to me. She's the DARK SHADOWS patron saint of vindictiveness, but had evolved over the course of the series to be a little less petty and cruel. Here, she couldn't care less about Amy or her problems, and is disinclined to even barter with her. Angelique is certainly more bitter than I'd have guessed ... and that's saying a lot.

Carvalho and Perry
Meanwhile, back at the Blue Whale, Jessica Griffin (Marie Wallace) finally meets the ghost of her son's late wife, Susan ... to disastrous results. Unlike the unflappable Benjamin Franklin (who asked the ghost who'd win the Super Bowl that year) she freaks out and runs off into the night. Which is where things go terribly wrong for her and the newly homeless Andrew Cunningham. Both cross paths with the town's resident serial killer.

As sad as I am to see Matthew Waterhouse leave (presumably; I haven't listened to the next episode yet) I'd also really grown to like Wallace's character. She seemed like the kind of local kook that would be fun to hang out — and gossip — with.

Then, just as the cast was beginning to thin itself out, Quentin Collins wanders in during the episode's final moments, looking for a room at the Collinsport Inn.

In between all of this Franklin (Roger Carvalho) and Ripperton (Asta Perry) have some serious talks about the nature of their relationship. Ripperton admits she's become a danger junkie — which will make Collinsport a difficult place for her to quit. Franklin has a few secrets, himself ... one of which is so deep even he's unaware of it. He tells Ripperton he's in love with her, but also compulsively repeats the phrase "Another day, another dollar" whenever asked about his job at the mine.

David Collins is going to have some 'splaining to do.

This week's theme song:


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Truth is Still Out There


It's official: THE X-FILES is returning.

I'm a little uncertain whether or not to use an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, though. THE X-FILES is in a weird place in that it died during its creative nadir. Unlike STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES or THE GODFATHER, the series didn't exactly leave audiences wanting more when it limped to a halt 13 years ago. Most people barely remember those final seasons even happened (or that there was a second feature film.)

The show's return was announced today by Dana Walden and Gary Newman, chairmen and CEOs of Fox Television Group, and Chris Carter, creator and executive producer of THE X-FILES. Production on a new six-episode "event series" is set to begin in summer 2015

No other details about the revival have been disclosed. Mitch Pileggi damn well better be involved, though.

“I think of it as a 13-year commercial break,” said Carter. “The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”

THE X-FILES premiered in  the fall of 1993 with lukewarm support from Fox. At the start of the season the network was all about THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCOE COUNTY JR, but they proved to be fair-weather friends to the Bruce Campbell-led show. Before the end of the season, Fox had gone all-in on THE X-FILES. (So much so that Fox arguably left the show on life support a year or three longer than it should have.)

Even though the conspiracy driving the "mythology" episodes eventually led nowhere, I'm still a fan of the show, which was good (if not great) more often than not.

Carter has also been involved in THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 comic series from IDW, which claimed to be part of the same continuity as the television series. It will be interesting to see whether or not Carter chooses to ignore those books. I'm betting he will.

Via Fox.com.

Sam Hall's DARK SHADOWS postmortem, 1971



One of the great things about used books are the occasional prizes you find stashed between their pages.

Above is a copy of the famous essay written by Sam Hall  head writer for DARK SHADOWS during its final years — and published six months after the show aired its final episode. I found photocopies of this article in the pages of a DARK SHADOWS fanzine purchased off Ebay a few years ago, which was terrific luck. In the essay, Hall outlines where the series might have gone had it not been cancelled. Granted, there were other writers on the show to contend with (as well as producer Dan Curtis and the demands of its cast) but it makes for interesting reading.

Below is a transcript of the article.

From left, Grayson Hall, Sam Hall and Jonathan Frid.

In Case You're Curious ...
Here's What Really Happened to Barnabas & Co.
By Sam Hall
TV Guide,October 9, 1971

When Dark Shadows recently went off the air, the audience was left with all of the troubled characters  and many questions as to their fate. We had certain long-range plans for most of them  but what the characters would do with the rest of their lives can only be fantasy. However, after three years of living with them, I feel I know moments of their future.

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard remained the matriarch of Collinwood. After the sudden death of her brother Roger, she was determined to hold the Collins' family empire together until Roger's son David was old enough to take over and she did with the help of an elegant, very bright man from Boston to help her and with him she finally found some personal happiness.

Roger Collins, just before this death, discovered the secret that his cousin Barnabas was a vampire, but he told no one, and vowed to end Barnabas's unhappy existence. Armed with a stake and a hammer, he discovered Barnabas's coffin during the daytime, but Angelique appeared and killed Roger. She forced Willie Loomis to carry Roger's body to the woods, where it was found. Death was attributed to a heart attack.

Shortly after the funeral, Mrs. Johnson was cleaning out Roger's room. She swore later that a cold hand had touched her. At first everyone felt she was simply hysterical. But one night, Carolyn saw Roger's ghost standing in the great hall. The ghost pointed a spectral finger at the portrait of Barnabas Collins. When Carolyn implored the spirit to speak, it disappeared.

Carolyn, with the aid of T. Eliot Stokes and Julia Hoffman, attempted a seance to find out why Roger's spirit could not rest. But the seance was unsuccessful. It is known that on certain stormy nights Roger's ghost can be seen coming down the stairs, staring at the portrait of the man who caused his death.

Carolyn Stoddard found herself more and more interested in the world of the occult. She knew that with the death of her husband Jeb Hawkes one part of her life was finished and she was determined to understand the unknown forces which had taken him from her. She began studying with T. Eliot Stokes and then went to a large university which had a department of psychic research. While there she discovered that she herself was the reincarnation of Leticia Faye, a woman who had lived at Collinwood during the 19th century.

Working with various mediums she became a psychic-research investigator. She published many books on the supernatural and established a foundation to examine the existing evidence of the world beyond. She continued to regard Collinwood as her home and established a mother-daughter relationship with Amy Jennings which contributed greatly to the stability of that confused and very scared young child.

Years later Carolyn re-met Adam who had loved her so deeply. He had become a successful and sophisticated man, and he wanted to marry her. But she knew she could not go back in time. They parted warm friends.


As time went on Quentin Collins found living at Collinwood more and more difficult. He was unable to forget his love for Daphne, though both she and Gerard were finally at peace. And he was afraid to love again  afraid that his own secret would be discovered. For, as long as Charles Delaware Tate's portrait existed, Quentin would not age. And he well knew that if he destroyed the picture, he would suffer the awful curse of the werewolf.

Finally, he left the town of Collinsport to roam the world  Athens, Alexandria, India ... always hunting some solution for his existence. And with each country, he became more and more withdrawn. He became more aware that he could never become close to another human being.

Often he was tempted to return to Collinwood, destroy the portrait and kill himself before the full moon could cause him to change into the wolf man. But some slight hope stopped him from doing that. For, at the beginning of his travels, he had heard rumors that there existed a man  a man with a wooden hand and miraculous powers. A man who had transcended time  a Count Petofi. And so Quentin kept on, looking for the Count, knowing that if he could find him again perhaps the Count could take pity on him and help him find peace at last.

Maggie Evans, who left Collinwood with Phillip [sic] returned a year later a divorced woman. She moved into her father's cottage and began working at Wyndcliff, the private sanitarium. There she remet her former fiancee, Joe Haskell. With her help, Joe managed to regain his sanity. He left the sanitarium with no memory of Angelique and the circumstances which had caused him to lose his mind. Joe and Maggie married. He returned to the Collins' fishing fleet. They lived happily in Collinsport.


But Chris Jennings and Sabrina Stuart did not have Maggie and Joe's luck. For they found they could not run from the curse that afflicted him. Though they had a few days of happiness when they left Collinsport they were both aware that time was their enemy. For soon the moon would be full and Chris would become the werewolf again. They constructed a cell to lock him in. But when he became the wolf man, he broke out of it and killed Sabrina. Her brother found her body that same night. The following morning, Chris returned to their home. When he discovered what he had done, he committed suicide.

Barnabas was deeply affected by Chris's death. He and Julia Hoffman had tried desperately to help Chris. Barnabas identified with him very much. He began to feel that it was only a matter of time until he too would become a victim of his curse. When he learned from Angelique that Roger had discovered his secret, his depression deepened. Again, Barnabas felt that he had brought new tragedy to those he loved at Collinwood. He knew that his vampirism would be discovered.

Julia and Willie Loomis decided they must get Barnabas to leave Collinsport. They were both willing to sacrifice their lives and travel with him. He finally agreed to go, but just before they were to start, Barnabas became very ill. Julia was astonished. She knew that Barnabas could not, because of his vampirism, have human ailments. Yet the mysterious fever so ravaged him that Julia feared for his very existence.


She suddenly realized that there could be only one explanation for Barnabas's illness. Adam. She remembered the mysterious link which began to exist when Barnabas helped bring Adam to life. At the time Adam disappeared from Collinwood, they knew that if he died, Barnabas would, too. Julia knew she must find Adam, wherever he was. Adam must have the same fever. He had to be cured if Barnabas were to be saved.

Enlisting the aid of T. Eliot Stokes, she did find Adam  in the Far East. She managed to cure him, but in the course of the treatment, she contracted the illness herself. She was near death when Barnabas  well now  came to her. He realized how he loved her, and promised her that if she lived, they would marry.

They were married in Singapore. Barnabas felt they must never return to Collinsport. Angelique must not find them  for she would never allow Julia to live. So they stayed on. Julia began working with an Asian doctor and experimented with a new treatment which she was positive would take away the curse of Barnabas's vampirism. They began the treatments. They were successful. Barnabas Collins at last could walk in the light of day  walk with the woman he loved, but walk with an ever present fear  a fear that Angelique would find them, and destroy the only happiness he had had in his life.

No audience will see these stories playing out. But for those for whom the characters were real, these are merely signposts pointing the direction the characters might have gone.

Barnabas Collins (Wants To Get Funked Up)



If you need only one funky vampire theme, make it "The Stakewalk" from the 1972 soundtrack for BLACULA. If you  to need two, though, then check out The First Theremin Era's trippy take on Robert Cobert's DARK SHADOWS theme from 1969.

Don't be surprised if you can't find any background on The First Theremin Era. As with many novelty recordings of the 1960s (such as "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles) it was one-off recording created by an industrious producer. In this case, the producer was Charles Calello, one of the original members of the band that would become The Four Seasons. Calello also produced and arranged "The Name Game" for Shirley Ellis, "The Clapping Song" for Pia Zadora, "My Heart Belongs to Me" by Barbra Streisand, and numerous tracks for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

"The Barnabas Theme" is not something Calello lists among his online Billboard credits, though. Interpret that however you will.

The single, backed with a track titled "Sunset in Siberia," was released Feb. 7, 1969. When the official soundtrack for DARK SHADOWS was released a few months later by Phillips, it included a traditional rendition of the series theme. The First Theremin Era version was eventually included in DARK SHADOWS: THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, released in 1996. It's an interesting anthology and plays more like an audio scrapbook for DARK SHADOWS, rounding out its track listing with a greeting recorded in 1969 by Jonathan Frid for the "Vampire Fan Club."
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