Monday, March 2, 2015

The CHS gets its third Rondo nomination for BEST BLOG!

The Collinsport Historical Society has received a pair of Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards nominations for its work in 2014! Not only has the CHS been nominated for BEST BLOG, but "Bride of Monster Serial," our collection of essays on horror films, has been nominated for BEST BOOK.

While DARK SHADOWS is sparsely represented on this year's ballots, you'll find several original cast members from the show mentioned elsewhere. An interview with actor Jerry Lacy about the indie film DOCTOR MABUSE has received a nod for BEST INTERVIEW, while THEATRE FANTASTIQUE: MADAME LA SOEUR (with Lacy, Lara Parker and Christoper Pennock) has been nominated for BEST SHORT FILM.

The Rondos are determined by votes from readers, so the results are quite literally in your hands. Here's how you can help.


There are 35 categories in all, but you DO NOT have to vote for each one in order for your vote to count. Visit the Rondo Hatton Awards site for the full list of candidates, or copy and paste the entries below and e-mail them to David Colton at by midnight, April 19, 2015.

THEATRE FANTASTIQUE: MADAME LA SOEUR, directed by Ansel Faraj. A seance, a disappearance, a mystery with Lara Parker, Jerry Lacy and Christoper Pennock

11. BEST BOOK OF 2013

14. BEST INTERVIEW (Award goes to interviewer)
 Rod Labbe, interview with DARK SHADOWS' Jerry Lacy in SCARY MONSTERS #90

The Collinsport Historical Society

One vote is allowed per person. Every e-mail must include your name to be counted. All votes are kept confidential. No e-mail addresses or personal information will be shared.

If you're a regular visitor to the CHS, you're probably familiar with our MONSTER SERIAL feature. Our first collection of essays was published at the end of 2013, with "Bride Of Monster Serial" following in the early part of last year. We've been sharing complete essays from the book pretty regularly, and have a third book planned for release soon. You can read the entire MONSTER SERIAL feature by clicking this link. The book is also available on Amazon.

The Collinsport Historical Society was named BEST BLOG by the Rondos in 2012, and I'd love to see the website reclaim that honor this year. More importantly, I'm incredibly proud of the work done by the writers of "Bride Of Monster Serial" and hope to see their work recognized with an award. I'm honored that they'd lend their thoughts and names to my little website.

 The contributors are:
Congratulations are also in order for Ansel Faraj. In addition to his work on "Bride Of Monster Serial," Faraj is also the director of the Rondo-nominated THEATRE FANTASTIQUE: MADAME LA SOEUR. The nominated interview with Jerry Lacy is also related to one of Faraj's films, DOCTOR MABUSE.

Lara Parker is reading "Angelique's Descent" for Audible

Lara Parker announced on Facebook over the weekend that she's in the studio reading a new adaption of her novel, "Angelique's Descent" for Audible.
"(I)t sure brings back memories, researching voodoo in Haiti and slavery in Martinique," she said. "I've done 300 pages so far, about 100 pages a day."
Audible is an Amazon-owned company that sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. The Audible edition will be an unabridged reading of "Angelique's Descent." No release date has been announced.

An abridged reading of "Angelique's Descent" was released by Big Finish in 2007 in two parts. The first half, titled "Innocence," details Angelique's troubled childhood in Martinique. The second part, "Betrayal," deals primarily with Angelique's arrival in Collinwood, re-telling the 1795 from her point of view. The story also features a several original plot twists.

"Angelique's Descent" is probably the most popular of Parker's books and has been translated into several languages since its initial release in 1998. It was actually the first book in a series of DARK SHADOWS novels from HarperCollins, followed in 1999 by Stephen Mark Rainey and Elizabeth Massie's "Dreams of the Dark."

Rainey had completed a third book in the series, titled "Dark Shadows: The Labyrinth of Souls." The series was cancelled before the book was published, but Rainey has made it available to readers as free PDF and Kindle MOBI files at his blog.

Parker has since followed "Angelique's Descent" with the novels "The Salem Branch" and "Wolf Moon Rising." Both of these novels take place shortly after the end of the original DARK SHADOWS series in 1971.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy has died. Spock Lives.


He was a kind man.  I know this because he did not want me to burn my hand.

I was performing in VINCENT, a play he wrote about Theo Van Gogh, brother of the painter.  In it, Theo had to hold his hand over a flame for an extended period, and there would be no way that I could safely do it without some kind of stage effect.

I studied his video, but didn't know what to do to protect myself.  My father suggested writing to him, which I thought was a crazy notion.  But then I remembered there were always possibilities.  I write that with no coyness.  It was a A Lesson.  I thought laterally.  Another Lesson.  He was a fine photographer, and as such, had a website.  I contacted him through that agent. The agent told me that he might not respond, but that he would read my question.

Seconds later, another email popped up.  He sent it.  He described the effect in detail.

He took the time to do this because he didn't want me to burn my hand.

His book was misunderstood.  People saw I AM NOT SPOCK as a rejection of their love of the character.  No. It was simply a reminder of humility.  He was not a man who rejected people.  He was generous when he didn't need to be.  Was some of it wacky?  Yes, but with affection.  The strangest song had a benevolence to it.  A love to it.  He rejected the notion that he wear the IDIC symbol.  He had too much love and respect for the character to make him a sales ploy.  In that sense, he loved Gene Roddenberry's art too much to sacrifice it to the same man's temptation for avarice.

In looking over his art, love comes back again and again.  Books named WARMED BY LOVE and WE ARE ALL CHILDREN SEARCHING FOR LOVE are not titled by accident.  His photography of God and body acceptance were about love.  STAR TREK III is an underrated film, allowing fans to engage with these characters with a hope and generosity that only an immense security could afford. Was he beset by demons of alcohol at the time?  Yes.  Perhaps we were the beneficiaries of the love he could not give himself.

His integrity never flagged, and that was a love of the art.  (He hated the blooper reels not because he lacked humor, but because he loved the integrity of the finished product.) When he played hardball with the new regime at Paramount before joining STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, it wasn't just for money.  It was to prevent his likeness from being used to undermine the character.  It was to ensure that castmates like troubled brother William Shatner would share in the riches he was being offered, thus ending any possible rivalry.  When he directed, it was with a sensitivity to all of his fellow Trekkers.  Their fans had just as much passion as his, and by engineering moments for Walter, George, Nichelle, Jimmy, and Grace, he paid tribute to all of them.

He was the first real adult I knew of outside my family and their friends.  My father was very careful about this.  He had me watch STAR TREK for reasons other than shared entertainment.  It could teach the lessons he could not.  Its heroes could make the decisions with a resolve or bravery that no human can reasonably claim.  Fitting that its true hero, in his eyes, was only half human.  Reason and rationality were core tenants of his messages to me.  The world lacked those things.  Spock's did not. He wanted me in the wisdom of that world more than the grim pessimism of ours.  My father was right.

He chose Spock as a second father.  In that sense, he chose STAR TREK as a second home.  And the two, really, are synonymous. But Spock was only words on a page and two rubber ears.  Who was he?  Leonard Nimoy.  The nuances of mirth and wisdom are things only an actor could bring.

Perhaps with Kramer, Spock is one of the only truly original characters to ever come from television. And that's where we truly thank an actor.  That is where we see the actor's generosity.  That is where we see the actor's wisdom.  That is where we see an actor's love.

The life is over.  The prosperity is moot.  What is left from Leonard Nimoy? His love for art and wonder and for us.  That can be shortened -- simply -- to his wry, cranky, warm sense of love.

PATRICK McCRAY is a comic book author who resides in Knoxville, Tenn., where he's been a drama coach and general nuisance since 1997. He has a MFA in Directing and worked at Revolutionary Comics and on the early days of BABYLON 5, and is a frequent contributor to The Collinsport Historical Society. You can find him at The Collins Foundation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Upcoming DARK SHADOWS DVD puts David Selby in the spotlight

Click the image for a larger view.

David Selby's official website has revealed which episodes will be included on the upcoming "Best of Quentin" compilation. The "Quentin" DVD will be followed by a "Best of Angelique" compilation later in the year, both of which includes input from actors David Selby and Lara Parker.

Unsurprisingly, many of the episodes included in the David Selby compilation center on the Haunting of Collinwood/1987 Flashback storylines. They were both landmark moments for DARK SHADOWS, which reached its peak in popularity during these story arcs. The show would later struggle for ways to make the character relevant once it made the leap "back" to the present, though. Quentin Collins just wasn't as much fun with a moral center.

Anyhoo, I've created a visual "episode guide" for the upcoming DVD, which you can see at the top. (Artwork for the packaging hasn't been released yet, so I made my own.) I'll be back later with a look at the "Best of Angelique" episode selection. You can find a text summary of the "Best of Quentin" episodes below:

#694: In 1969, the Collins family abandons Collinwood, which is haunted by the ghost of Quentin Collins.

#714: In the year 1897, Quentin learns his family's fate with the reading of his grandmother's will.

#722: Angelique resurrects Quentin as a zombie, who then possesses Jamison.

#786: Under a werewolf curse, Quentin recites “Shadows of the Night” in Charity Trask's nightmare.

#836: In 1969, the ghost of Beth Chavez reveals how Quentin died in 1897.

#905: Closely resembling Quentin, Grant Douglas appears in Collinsport, suffering from amnesia.

#984: During Parallel Time 1970, Quentin and his bride Maggie struggle with the supernatural.

#1065: In 1995. Barnabas Collins and Dr. Julia Hoffman discover Quentin has gone insane.

#1129: In 1840, Quentin reveals to Barnabas the history of the evil warlock Judah Zachary.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Zombies! Vampires! Burke Devlin!

Big Finish has released cast and story details for the DARK SHADOWS audiodramas scheduled for release this year. There are almost certainly spoilers below, so if you haven't taken the time to listen to BLOODLUST you might want to tread cautiously.

Here's the official press release:

"Panic" sees Quentin Collins (David Selby) telling his great-great grandson Tom (Michael Shon) about how he came to be married to Doctor Lela Quick. The story is written by novelist Roy Gill.

David Selby and Susan Sullivan on stage in A DELICATE BALANCE.
“I’ve long been fascinated by Dark Shadows. It’s a mixture of gothic horror, mad fantasy and epic storytelling, all of which I love,” says Roy. “Joe liked my work on the The Confessions of Dorian Gray range, and asked me to pitch a story that would explain how and why Quentin Collins got married. It was a challenge I couldn’t pass up!"

Lela is played by Susan Sullivan, currently a regular in the television series CASTLE. Panic sees her reunited with her FALCON CREST co-star, David Selby.

In "The Curse of Shurafa," by Rob Morris, Barnabas Collins (Andrew Collins) tells Harry Cunningham (Scott Haran) about the time he spent in Cairo with Julia Hoffman and Professor Stokes – fighting zombies!

“I adore Dark Shadows,” says Rob, “both the TV series and the audios, so when the chance to pitch came up I jumped at it – not least because it would mean I could write for the dream team: Barnabas, Julia and Stokes. It’s such a privilege to write for such an iconic trio and I genuinely can’t believe my luck.”

In "The Twinkling Of An Eye" is by Penelope Faith, another writer new to Big Finish. “As I have always been drawn to the supernatural in storytelling I was thrilled at the chance to pitch for Dark Shadows and then beyond thrilled to get the chance to write an episode,” says Penelope. “My story investigates a near-death experience which is no surprise considering my high regard for both A Matter of Life and Death and It’s A Wonderful Life. Prepare to be unsettled.”

"Deliver Us From Evil" is by Aaron Lamont, writer of popular stories "The Haunted Refrain" and "Beyond The Grave."

“This is quite a nice return to Dark Shadows for me, as I’m following on from events set up in the 2013 audios,” says writer Aaron Lamont. “Bloodlust has completely redefined what can be done in the range too, and that’s very exciting. I get to tread on the dark side again – I’m good at that - so I’m hoping we’ve got some big psychological shocks in store for a certain character.”

Mitch Ryan
The following month sees the release of "Tainted Love" – the story of a twisted love triangle - by Daniel Collard. Daniel previously played Victor Frost in "Snowflake" and Deputy Eric Hanley in "Bloodlust."

“I’d heard about this ‘Dark Shadows thing’ for ages before I finally got involved myself, but once I did I was hooked – my iPod is currently chockablock with the stuff!” says Daniel. “Though primarily an actor, I’ve been dabbling in writing for a quite a while, so I was thrilled when Joe asked me to pitch a story for three brilliant characters.”

And finally, in "And Red All Over..." Maggie Haskell (Kathryn Leigh Scott) finds herself trapped in a cabin in the mountains with a madman. A madman who looks strangely like her old friend Burke Devlin (Mitchell Ryan). The story is written by Cody Schell who previously wrote the award-nominated "The Flip Side."

"The pre-Barnabas era of Dark Shadows is an overlooked gem and Burke Devlin is the main character that everything revolves around,” says Cody. “The Collins Family, Victoria Winters, the Evans clan - everyone is talking about him! 'And Red All Over…' brings this amazing character out of unjust obscurity and casts some light on his mysterious past. It also returns Mitchell Ryan to the role, which puts me over the moon!"

Oscars obits include DARK SHADOWS make-up artist

The internets were abuzz this morning about the snubbing of Joan Rivers from the Academy Awards' 2015 Cavalcade of the Dead. People are legitimately surprised that a woman who spent much of her life mocking people on the red carpet was omitted from the "In Memoriam" tribute. At least they finally got rid of the obligatory applause during the montage, which had the awkward habit of rising and falling based on the celebrity of the person appearing on the screen.

I saw about five minutes of last night's ceremony, which is five minutes more than I've seen of the presentation during the last two decades. I pretty much quit the Oscars during the whole FOREST GUMP vs PULP FICTION kerfuffle and have (rarely) looked back. By chance, I was in the room during the "In Memoriam" segment and spotted the card for make-up artist Dick Smith. For a moment, it appeared that Barnabas Collins had found his way into the montage ... but it was only Dustin Hoffman from LITTLE BIG MAN. Yes, it's essentially the same make-up appliance Smith used in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, but still ... I had disappointments.

Smith, of course, worked on the DARK SHADOWS television series, creating the first version of the "Old Man Barnabas" make-up in 1967. I still prefer the work Smith did on the television show, but concede that the make-up in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is scarier.

There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the visuals used in this year's presentation. The images were actually quite attractive, and were so complex that I wondered how long they took to prepare. Rather than just using a still photo from the archives, the producers opted to have mixed media images (or their digital counterparts, anyway) for each of the people featured in the gallery.

The variety of the images used was a little weird, though. This was a remembrance of people who died during the last year, but many of the images were photos taken of the actors when they were much, much younger. I'm positive James Garner has had his photo taken since the release of THE GREAT ESCAPE in 1963, so I don't know what they had to dig that deep into the archives unless they were trying to make some other statement. (Gasp! Can Hollywood be ... shallow?) Edward Herrmanm's photo looked to have been taken a few months ago, while the one for Robin Williams might have been from his Mork years. And I'm still a little confused as to why a photo of Eli Wallach from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY was used. Were they afraid people wouldn't know who he was? See also: Bob Hoskins' portrait, which showed him kissing Jessica Rabbit.

Friday, February 20, 2015



The final episode of DARK SHADOWS: BLOODLUST was released this week. I've yet to catch up, so don't tell me how it ends. Spoilers have a way of appearing in the strangest of places.

For example: The series title was accidentally announced here during a podcast interview last July with Big Finish writer Alan Flanagan. We both learned quickly that Big Finish was still a few months away from officially releasing the details of the series ... details which included the title. I edited the offending word from the episode and immediately re-uploaded it to my host. By then, though, my listeners had already downloaded it a few dozen times. Oops.

If you're a regular visitor, you already know I love what I've heard so far of BLOODLUST. It's an opinion that might be taken with a grain of salt (I have a very small role in the series) if I weren't known to be an opinionated crank.

Meanwhile, Big Finish's tumultuous romance with Amazon is back in bloom, and BLOODLUST is currently doing very well in the audiobooks rankings (Volume 1 is sitting at the #10 position as I write this). You can get it from Amazon HERE, but I don't know for how long.

Depending on your level of patience, a direct purchase from Big Finish might be a better option. Both volumes are available as MP3 bundles for less than the cost of the CD collection at Amazon. If you buy the CD set from Big Finish, you also get an MP3 edition that's immediately available for download.

You can find BLOODLUST at Big Finish HERE.

And don't forget to vote in the BLOODLUST AWARDS! Which I've taken to calling "The Lusties," even if nobody else does.

An open letter to AMERICAN HORROR STORY's Ryan Murphy

Dear Ryan,

You've gone on the record several times about your love of DARK SHADOWS. “I went as Barnabas Collins, like, three Halloweens in a row, and my dad was thrilled because it was the first time I wanted to be a boy," you told OUT back in 2013. "I usually wanted to be a witch or something like that.” A year earlier, you even included Barnabas Collins' iconic "Alpaca" cane in your show, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM. That was pretty awesome. The fact that the cane was used by James Cromwell (one of my favorite actors) made it even better.

It's now 2015, and time to up the stakes.

In my humble opinion, you missed an opportunity in COVEN by not including Lara Parker (who played the witch Angelique on DARK SHADOWS) in the cast. Things seem to have worked out for you, though, because a Google search of the word "coven" brings up a dictionary definition first, and a link to your series second. That's not too shabby when you consider the word had a lead of several hundred years on you ("coven" dates back to the mid-17th century). But having Lara Parker, Stevie Nicks and Jessica Lange on screen together — even for a few seconds — would have been pop culture alchemy.

Because you're a guy who doesn't like to repeat himself, though, I believe the witchcraft ship has sailed. But there's another one on the immediate horizon.

Kathryn Leigh Scott has had something of a career resurgence in recent years. Hollywood is notoriously cruel to actresses after they hit their 33rd birthday, but here she is — almost 50 years after making here television debut on the first episode of DARK SHADOWS — and busier than ever.

What I'm proposing, Mr. Murphy, is not just a cameo appearance by Scott, but a crossover of sorts. It's time for Maggie Evans to appear on AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

As a character, Maggie has survived just about everything AMERICAN HORROR STORY could throw at her (asylums, witches, ghosts, etc.) and is still alive and kicking. This doesn't have to be a hostile takeover of franchises. I'm not suggesting AHS become DARK SHADOWS for a season, or that DARK SHADOWS should be remolded in the image of AHS, But Maggie Evans and all the supernatural baggage that comes with her could be a profoundly interesting character for whatever storyline you're planning next. Collinsport doesn't even have to be mentioned.

Don't worry ... this isn't the beginning of some bizarro fan campaign designed to harass you on the internet. This post is as exactly bizarro as its going to get. But I thought I'd throw this out there, in hopes you might read it.

Thank you for your time.

- Wallace McBride,
The Collinsport Historical Society
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...