Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Barnabas + Victoria 4EVR

An interesting piece of original art from Innovation's DARK SHADOWS comic series has gone up for auction on Ebay.

The 20" X 30" painting shows Joanna Going and Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins and Victoria Winters as they appeared in the 1991 "revival" series. I'm a little unclear on the purpose of this artwork, though. Artist Jason Palmer did a lot of work for Innovation, creating the covers for the company's LOST IN SPACE series ... but I don't think he ever worked on DARK SHADOWS. It's possible this art is a rejected cover, was created for promotional purposes, or was a personal commission. (The auction merely says its a "poster art painting.")

The auction ends in three days. You can see the full artwork below.

Via: Ebay

Holy Discount, Batman!

Those of us who bought this sucker when it came out are feeling a bit of buyer's remorse today: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE TELEVISION SERIES is currently on sale for $99.99 over at Amazon. The box set features all 120 episodes of the classic series, all of which have been remastered in high definition.

Via: Amazon

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Lost DARK SHADOWS, 2004

Despite his often ambivalent relationship with DARK SHADOWS, Dan Curtis spent a great deal of time in his later years trying to revive the property. His plans involved potential movies, stage musicals, and the 2004 attempt to restore the program to its most relevant media: Television.

Unfortunately, nobody could ever agree on what a 21st century version of DARK SHADOWS should look like. WB was fully committed to the project, going so far as forcing ANGEL off the air to make room for the series. The network's fear of having two vampire shows competing for the same audience ultimately left them with nothing, because DARK SHADOWS never advanced beyond the pilot episode (and even that was never finished).

The biggest problem with the pilot is that the creative minds behind the project could never agree on a tone. Curtis, The WB and director P.J. Hogan were working at odds to tell very different stories. Curtis pushed for a more serious atmosphere, while WB wanted a show that could sit shoulder-to-shoulder with programs like ROSWELL and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Meanwhile, Hogan was more focused on his feature film career and was reportedly less-than-invested in the pilot. By all accounts, the resulting product was a patchwork of ill-fitting ideas.

Compounding problems was the pilot's audacious (and often wrong-headed) casting. The 2004  pilot has a staggering amount of talent on screen, including Blair Brown, Kelly Hu, Alec Newman and Jessica Chastain (!?) It's impossible to argue that producers didn't secure a world-class bunch of actors, but whether or not any of those actors were right for the roles is debatable. No offense to the other actresses who have played Carolyn Stoddard over the years, but Chastain seems overqualified for the role. Hu would have been the most physical actress to ever play Dr. Hoffman and would likely have redefined the role forever. Matt Czuchry as Willie Loomis, though, seems about as terrible a casting as you can make. And, while I'm a believer that Newman should be allowed to do whatever the hell he wants, I've got a hard time buying him as Barnabas Collins.

Of course, these opinions might all have changed had the pilot been picked up. But we'll never know.

Below is an interview with the pilot's make-up artist Todd McIntosh, who told Fangoria about the behind-the-scenes complications of DARK SHADOWS.

Doug Jones gets into character.
Fangoria #239, January 2005
By Joe Nazarro

For veteran makeup artist Todd McIntosh, working on the new DARK SHADOWS was a childhood dream come true. A devoted fan of the original series, McIntosh, who finished a six-year stint on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER not long ago, was delighted to work on the recent WB pilot, which failed to be picked up for the network’s fall schedule.

“I don’t know what the final reason was that they nixed it,” says McIntosh, who provided FANGORIA with the above never-before-seen photos from the pilot. “The way it was explained to me, almost everyone making the decisions didn’t like the show, but no one could say what they didn’t like. One person wouldn’t like an actor, another person didn’t like this choice or the lighting or whatever, but nobody could come to a cohesive, point-the-finger-at-one-element and say, ‘That’s what’s wrong with it.’ It probably would have been better if they could. If they could have pointed at one actor and say, ‘That guy is ruining this whole pilot; replace him and let’s go!’ they’d have been able to make a decision. But the different factions were looking at it and saying, ‘Well, it’s not right, but I don’t know why. Let’s just not put the energy into it—and besides, it costs $5 million!’”

"Early stage" make-up for Barnabas Collins (Alec Newman).
McIntosh headed up the makeup department, with prosthetics built by Andrew Clements of Creative Characters. Their collaborations included Barnabas Collins (Alec Newman) in varying stages of decomposition as he’s brought back to life, and the equally cadaverous demon (HELLBOY’s Doug Jones) seen in the opening sequence. According to McIntosh, “Victoria Winters (Marley Shelton) is on the train to Collinwood when she falls asleep and has a dream where a kid in a Halloween costume suddenly becomes a monster. It made sense to me that if the kid is in a red devil costume, the monster should be a devil or demon of some kind.

Actress Marley Shelton, director P.J. Hogan and Doug Jones.
“The director (PETER PAN’s P.J. Hogan, below with Shelton and Jones in the demon getup) waffled on this a couple of times, and what he came back with was that the creature she sees in her dream, which gives her a bit of a warning, is some victim of Barnabas from the past. At the same time, we still had to build the corpse of Old Barnabas in the coffin, and to save time and money — we still didn’t have an actor cast for Barnabas at that point — we used Doug Jones for both makeups. We tried to make them look different, but I believe the director held on the train demon a little too long. It should have been just a quick scare, but because we had the same actor in both makeups, there is a bit of a resemblance.”

McIntosh is particularly pleased with his work on Ivana Milicevic, who portrayed the evil Angelique, as well as Shelton as Victoria, whom he turned into a latter-day Tippi Hedren. Sadly, it now appears that a television audience may never see his work. “Maybe they’ll put it out on DVD, it might find a life at DARK SHADOWS conventions, so it’s not dead,” McIntosh muses. “I know they’re shopping it around, but the further away it gets from when it was made, the harder it’s going to be to tie anybody back together again because they’ll be working on other shows. But to be standing there on set, and be able to look in my hand and say, ‘Hey, I’m holding Barnabas’ teeth!’—that was pretty amazing.” Associate producer Jim Pierson has promised “some kind of preview” of the pilot at the upcoming DARK SHADOWS Festival to be held at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I ran home to watch Dark Shadows and lived to tell about it

We've all heard the tales of children "running home from school" to watch DARK SHADOWS.

I've had at least one cast member of the series cast shade on that legend, with good reason. Local affiliates had a lot of flexibility about when (and even if) DARK SHADOWS aired. Scheduling fluctuated wildly, with a few affiliates broadcasting the show in the mornings, with other airing episodes later in the afternoon. While it wasn't a universal truth, the "I ran home to watch Dark Shadows" meme was probably true somewhere, though.

Apparently, there was some concern about the phenomenon creating traffic hazards in San Antonio, Texas, back in 1971. The San Antonio Express once published a regular feature called "And Now a Word from Channel 12," which let readers fire off questions about programming to KSAT-TV staff. At the time, DARK SHADOWS aired at 3 p.m. during the week, but one reader asked why the series couldn't be moved to a time slot better suited for younger viewers.

The station's response is kind of surprising.
"At one time we did delay the program until 3:30 p.m. However, we received several letters and phone calls saying that children were disregarding safety measures in their haste to get home after school for the program."
You can read the full exchange below.

I reject your reality and substitute my own

Frank Schildiner has shared an interesting essay over at that seeks to connect DARK SHADOWS to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. And this relationship is lot more complicated that you think.

Titled "The Great Old Ones and the Collins Family," Schildiner's piece not only attempts to connect the traditional vampires, witches and werewolves of DARK SHADOWS to Lovecraft's alien gods, but also takes numerous additional steps that connects both stories to the greater Wold Newton Family.

For the uninitiated, the Wold Newton Family is an intellectual exercise created by author Philip Jose Farmer in his fictional biographies "Tarzan Alive" and "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life." The concept links hundreds of pulp novels, comic books, radio shows and other media into a single shared universe, using unintended "clues" provided in existing stories. For example, Margo Lane (the adventurer and companion of The Shadow) might very well be the sister of Lois Lane from the SUPERMAN comics.

Schildiner has taken the concept a step further, connecting the works of H.P. Lovecraft to the world of DARK SHADOWS in a framework that also tries to  explain the sometimes conflicting narrative within the gothic soap. DARK SHADOWS makes this an easy pitch: the series' controversial "Leviathans" storyline was inspired directly by Lovecraft's work, though in refrained from directly using any of the author's characters or situations.

Schildiner isn't content to underline these already obvious relationships, though, and has written a ridiculously elaborate narrative that relates Joseph Curwen (of Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward") to both Nicholas Blair AND Count Petofi, establishes a bloodline connecting Angelique directly to Laura Murdoch/The Phoenix, and suggests an absurd fate for Victoria Winters that involves Marvel Comics' SON OF SATAN.

For real.

Some of it is pretty smart; other elements (such as Angelique's "true" designs on Barnabas Collins) undermine everything we know about the characters in some really awful ways. Schildiner has a deep knowledge of DARK SHADOWS' many storylines, but some of his ideas suggest he doesn't fully understand them. Still, it's worth a read for hardcore fans of the series.

I both love and hate these kinds of experiments. Continuity is the lifeblood of storytelling, but geeks are pretty famous for not knowing when to quit. The Wold Newton Family sometimes feels to me like the fictional equivalent of paranoid schizophrenia. The words "plot" and "conspiracy" are interchangeable, after all, and Wold Newton seeks to make a conspiracy of the written word.

You can read Schildiner's entire essay HERE.

Via: The Official Philip José Farmer Web Page

Friday, November 20, 2015

Barnabas Collins by Patrick Owsley

We interrupt this broadcast to present an adorable piece of art by cartoonist Patrick Owsley.
You get grab a print of this artwork from the artist on Ebay.


This week's #CollinsTweet

Bill Malloy is missing: Has the manager of the Collins Fishing Fleet and Cannery simply gone on a bender, or has he become one of the elite members of the Widows' Hill Club? Tune in this week to find out! Maybe!

#CollinsTweet begins every Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on Twitter. If you decide to join us, make sure to include the hashtag #CollinsTweet with your posts during the discussion. If you don't, people won't know you're participating.

Here are the summaries for this week's episodes, courtesy of @barnabaslackey:

Episode 47: Carolyn has a feeling of impending doom, Bill Malloy is suddenly nowhere to be found, and Roger gives Burke Devlin back the Friendship Pen he gave to Carolyn, which oughta learn him. Just a normal night in Collinsport. Still no vampires, though.

Episode 48: The next morning. Still no sign of Bill Malloy. Or of vampires, sorry. Burke Devlin continues to give inappropriate gifts: this time it’s a Home Clairvoyant Kit for The Creepy Little Boy Who Has Everything. Joe Haskell turns up again, if you like that kind of thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Scooby Doo Vs Barnabas Collins: Round 2

Barnabas Collins made a return appearance to SCOOBY DOO when I wasn't paying attention.


The ghost of Elias Kingston, introduced more than 40 years ago during the first season of SCOOBY DOO, WHERE ARE YOU, showed his familiar face on the first episode of the new series, BE COOL, SCOOBY DOO. If the "ghost" looks a little like Barnabas Collins, it's not a coincidence. Kingston made his debut in a 1969 episode (titled "What the Hex Going On") that was absolutely lousy with references to DARK SHADOWS.

Below are a few images illustrating the episode's many homages to the gothic soap.

BE COOL, SCOOBY DOO should put to bed any doubts that Elias Kingston was based on actor Jonathan Frid. Not only does his return in the new series look more like Frid than ever, the character is significantly more fangy that before. See for yourself at the top of this post.

Here's an episode summary:
In the series premiere episode, Velma’s got an interview at the prestigious Kingston University, the most selective school in the country. The only catch? The dean wants her and the rest of the Scooby gang to figure out why the ghost of Elias Kingston, the school’s founder, is haunting Kingston’s book-filled halls!
The episode (titled "Mystery 101") was broadcast on Oct. 15 on the Cartoon Network, which has graciously made the entire episode available for viewing online. You can watch a clip from the episode below, or catch the entire thing online HERE.

Via: Cartoon Network
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