Thursday, June 22, 2017

Update: Amazon adds more Dark Shadows to Prime Video

The ghost of Quentin Collins has taken shelter on Amazon Prime, bringing with him most of his troubled family. "Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood," a three-hour DVD edit from 2009, is now streaming in its entirety from Prime members. The movie compiles key moments from episodes 639-694 of DARK SHADOWS, the storyline that first introduced David Selby to the cast.

I don't have much else to say about "The Haunting of Collinwood," mostly because I've never seen it. This is one of those MPI Home Video releases designed to attract new viewers, so there's never been much need for me to revisit this arc in an abridged format. Still, I've always been a bit curious about what the final product looks like, so this might be all the excuse needed to give it a spin.

Meanwhile, Amazon has quietly two more DARK SHADOWS releases to his Prime service. In addition to "The Haunting of Collinwood," members can also watch DVD collections 7 and 11. That's 80 full episodes of the series, if you're keeping score.

UPDATE: "Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse" is now streaming on Prime Video. As with "The Haunting of Collinwood," this is 210-minute movie made primarily of clips from original series. This package focuses on the popular  1795 "Origin of Barnabas Collins" storyline, which also introduced Lara Parker to the cast.

Via: Amazon

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 22


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 270

Liz and Jason’s wedding is at hand, and Carolyn has brought a revolver! Carolyn readies the gun as the judge asks if Liz will take Jason as her husband. She stumbles on the words, “I do.” Liz can’t. She breaks off. Looking at everyone in the room, she states, “I killed Paul Stoddard, and that man was my accomplice.”

Dennis Patrick. It all begins and ends with Dennis Patrick. He has only a few episodes left, and he makes them count, going from chilling Carolyn’s blood to tearing up over Liz’s beauty. This is the episode that I was waiting for when I was a kid. I knew the Barnabas arc was continuing, but either Liz and Jason were getting married or not. He was the real villain, and he’s warming up the big gun on his Death Star of Evil Love. And at a very special ceremony. Even Burke and Roger stand each other’s company. With nine cast members, this episode is DARK SHADOWS’ equivalent of INTOLERANCE. One of the largest casts they’d ever have, and for a truly auspicious event. There are a handful of episodes of DARK SHADOWS where Things Really Happen, and this may be the most anticipated one for me until Jeb helps to destroy the Leviathan altar or when Angelique reveals the truth of Judah Zachary.

On this day in 1967, British Home Secretary Roy Jenkins announced in London that the United Kingdom would adopt year-round "summer time", moving clocks forward one hour on Feb. 18, 1968, and keeping them at one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. In other words, Daylight Saving Time is stupid and we need to get rid of it. Or always stay on it. By the way, be a smartypants and stop with calling it “Savings” time. It’s “Saving,” singular. In equally pedantic news, be careful with how you use “hopefully.” We usually mean that we are hopeful that something will result from an action. As typically used, we’re actually saying that we will go about creating that change in a hopeful manner. In the past year, I’ve screwed up so much grammar here, I feel as if some redemption is necessary. “I am hopeful that Christopher Nolan will make a DARK SHADOWS movie,” is one thing. If you said, “Hopefully, Nolan will make a new DARK SHADOWS movie,” you’d be saying that Nolan will be hopeful whenever he makes the movie. Hopeful of what?

Stan Against Evil getting darker, more shadowy in season 2

There is an interesting detail buried in a recent IFC announcement about the second season of STAN AGAINST EVIL, which is now filming in Georgia. The press release rightfully focused on upcoming guest appearances by such folks as Jeffrey CombsDavid Koechner and Patty McCormack, but it was the name of a character played by Denise Boutte that caught my eye: "Lara Bouchard."

Yes, it's quite possible to get so wrapped up in something you love that you'll see patterns where there aren't any. It's probably just a coincidence that actress Lara Parker played a character named "Angelique Bouchard" on DARK SHADOWS. Not everything is a conspiracy. Sure, series creator/writer Dana Gould frequently describes STAN AGAINST EVIL as the "funny cousin" of our favorite gothic soap. He's even been seen wearing a "Blue Whale" t-shirt. And then there's that Barnabas Collins throw pillow.

But yeah. Probably a coincidence.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: June 21


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 527

Nicholas’ gloating over the restoration of Cassandra’s painting is short lived when Jeff presents him with his lost coat button. He and Vicki go to visit Stokes, who masterfully tutors Adam in the fine art of being a witty, urbane man-about-town before hiding him from his visitors. To discover Jeff’s identity, he hypnotically regresses him, learning of Lang’s perverse plans, just short of the full truth of Julia and Barnabas’ involvement. Emboldened with what he learns, Stokes struts manfully into Collinwood where he meets and intimidates the comparably ineffectual Nicholas Blair, the man who sold the Cassandra painting to the antiques dealer. Stokes explains to Vicki that this is man stuff, and she should amscray from Collinwood  before becoming the next victim of the dream curse.

I have to hand it to Stokes. We forget that he gets brought into the deeper recesses of the DARK SHADOWS universe by finding out about Barnabas and Julia’s involvement with something nefarious, and he still becomes their staunchest ally. Talk about a spider sense! Perhaps he chooses his friends by their enemies. After all, his next move finds him meeting Nicholas Blair in the heart of Collinwood, and the Professor knows exactly what that means. What does he do? T. Eliot Stokes stares down the devil like the stone-cold badass he is and pretty much outs him in front of Vicki. He essentially says, “Hey, you know that portrait that’s driven everyone crazy? The one that looks like Roger’s new wife? The woman we’re glad is gone? You know, the one who looks like you-know-who-in-a-black-wig? Well, this is the guy who was involved with it when I first saw it! What a coincidence!”

Big. As. Churchbells.

Pass the cheese and sherry.

On this day in 1968, the number one song was “This Guy’s in Love with You,” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Alpert also sang it, and his straightforward style and limited vocal range actually gave the song its lovable authenticity. Although it’s easy to write off his sound as quintessential elevator music, he was one of the most successful musical artists of the 1960’s, a fact that is emblematic of the intense musical variety of that era.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Alliterative Dark Shadows prop going up for auction

DARK SHADOWS was a weird television series. Consequently, it sometimes had some weird credits.

Exhibits A-C: The crew took precautions to mark off sets designated for use in the closing credits, but that didn't stop actors to making accidental cameo appearances during an episode's final moments. Ohrbach's, the department store that provided many of the contemporary costumes worn on the series, had it's name often misspelled in the credits. And, in one episode, a crew member can be seen walking casually by a second-story window.

Even when things went right, the credits were still pretty weird. For example is "Bat by Bil Baird," a simple piece of alliteration that credited a puppeteer used in several episodes. Along with wife Cora, Bil Baird was an innovator in puppetry for much of the 20th century. His work on DARK SHADOWS is little more than a footnote compared to some of the other achievements in his career, such as producing “The Lonely Goatherd” sequence in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and training Jim Henson.

Still, I suspect he enjoyed his days on the set of DARK SHADOWS, if for no other reason than the surrealist opportunity to attack actors with a wooden bat on a wire. More than a year ago, the prop went up for auction on Ebay with a "buy it now" price of $148,000. I have trouble visualizing dollar amounts in that range and can't speculate to the accuracy of that price tag.

But: The prop will be going up for auction again later this month with a starting bud of $30,000.

The bat is part of the second day of Hollywood Auction, which includes a lot of really interesting props, such as Nicholas Hammond's "Spider-Man" costume from the (mostly forgotten) 1970s TV series, an "Eagle" model from SPACE 1999, PLANET OF THE APES costumes and more. You can see the entire auction lot for Tuesday, June 27 HERE, of jump straight to the DARK SHADOWS bat HERE.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Who Said It: Roger Collins or Linus Van Pelt?

DARK SHADOWS' ne'er-do-well Roger Collins and Linus Van Pelt from PEANUTS are essentially the same person. Sure, Linus probably hasn't yet developed the Teflon liver of Roger Collins, but both characters deal with life's hardships with dry, often pessimistic senses of humor.

Both characters are also perpetually overshadowed by their older sisters, have rocky relationships with blondes and are pathological downers. I have no idea where the Great Pumpkin fits into the matrix, but the fact that we have to address bizarre superstitious beliefs just makes this bullshit comparison that much stronger, in my opinion.

The original idea for this week's installment was to compare Roger to Charlie Brown, but the more dialogue I read from Charles Shulz's comicstrips (and the subsequent animated adaptions,) the more parallels I saw between Roger and Linus. You can bet your ass that kid is going to eventually trade his security blanket for a decanter of brandy. And Charlie had better learn how to watch his back.

Below are some quotes from each character, five each from Roger and Linus. See if you can tell which is which. (I promise this one won't be as difficult as last week's Victoria Winters Vs Evanescence installment.)

1. "Is there any point in fighting if you know you're going to lose?"

2. "You'll either be the hero, or a goat."

3. "I love mankind! It's people I can't stand."

4. "When a boy tries to kill his own father there's no help for him, no help at all."

5. "Are there any openings in the lunatic fringe?"

6. "I have a rather personal fetish for accuracy."

7. "If you have an imaginary friend, why not bring her along?"

8. "Life is peculiar. Wouldn't you like to have your life to live over if you knew what you know now?"

9. "I don't like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them."

10. "Well, maybe it's far better to be nine years old and know how ugly life can be."

Roger Collins: 1, 4, 6, 7, 10
Linus Van Pelt: 2, 3, 5, 8, 9

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dark Shadows: The Missing Color Strips

Back in May, Hermes Press announced its intentions to publish a new edition of the DARK SHADOWS newspaper strips. The concept differs in two significant ways from the 1996 black and white Pomegranate Press edition. First, Hermes intends to reproduce Ken Bald's original strips in a landscape format in keeping with the dimensions of the original art. Second, the new edition will present the Sunday comic strips in full color.

The second point is presenting something of an obstacle, though. Hermes is missing a number of the color installments from the final months of the strips run. This is where YOU can help.

DARK SHADOWS fans are notoriously meticulous and have managed to hold onto even the most ephemeral aspects of the original series. Hell, when a single episode of the original series was discovered missing from the archives, a fan stepped up with an audio recording made in their living room back in 1971, helping MPI Home Video recreate it for VHS and DVD releases. STAR TREK fans ain't got nothing on us.

So this task ought to be super easy. Hermes Press needs color scans of just 17 strips to complete the book. Below is a list of the dates of the missing strips. If you have copies, contact the publisher at to see how you can help make this project happen. The publisher needs high-resolution scans of the original strips, so a minimum resolution of 300 dpi, please.

Contributors will also get a "thank you" in the finished book!

You can preorder Dark Shadows the Complete Newspaper Strips on Amazon HERE.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Who Said It: Victoria Winters or Evanescence?


I come here not to bury Evanescence, but to ... well, praise is too strong of a word. Like might actually be pushing it, as well. What's less than hate? Tolerance? Sure. I tolerate Evanescence.

If the overwrought nu-metal band from the Bush era is remembered for anything, it's as an example of style over substance. And while the band certainly had style, it's a little unfair to claim it had nothing to say. It's just that the band's mopey, goth-tinged lyrics sounded as though they were written by a high school freshman who just figured out that the world kind of sucked. They weren't especially smart lyrics, but I was willing to give Evanescence the benefit of the doubt because the music was coming from a place of relative honesty. Also skewing the curve was that their contemporaries were such shit acts as Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Alien Ant Farm and a dozen other acts you've already forgotten about. Even Nickelback managed to (briefly) look good while standing next to those hosers.

It doesn't hurt that singer Amy Lee's lyrics also sound remarkably like the kind of purple exposition routinely given to Victoria Winters on DARK SHADOWS. (My inner child is a goth girl, so I'm drawn to this kind of weirdness whether I like it or not.) To prove my point, here are 10 examples of lyrics by Evanescence and/or lines of dialogue spoken by Victoria Winters. See if you can tell which is which.

1. "Tragedy has almost come, and the hidden echoes of the past are moving closer and closer."

2. "I'm frightened by what I see. But somehow I know that there's much more to come."

3. "Moonlight on the soft brown earth, it leads me to where you lay. They took you away from me but now I'm taking you home."

4. "Time has seemed endless and all I can do is sit and wonder if anyone will ever come to my rescue."

5. "Make me understand the lesson, so I'll find myself. So I won't be lost again."

6. "I haven't heard any screams yet. I guess that's not funny."

7. "I still remember the world from the eyes of a child. Slowly, those feelings were clouded by what I know now."

8. "I can only hope for the day when the tension around me will no longer exist."

9. "I'm so sick of speaking words that no one understands. Is it clear enough that you can't live your whole life all alone?"

10. "The landscape of dreams is free of thunder and storms."

Victoria Winters: 1, 4, 6, 8, 10
Evanescence: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9

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