Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gab with us about NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS


In just a few hours, Turner Classic Movies will be airing 1971's NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. It's possibly the first time the film has ever aired on TCM, and there's a group of us braving the wee hours of the morning to "Live Tweet" the event. The film airs at 2 a.m. the morning of Oct. 24, and I hope you'll join us.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I've tried to participate in this kind of thing. It's courtesy of TCM Party, who you can find on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TCM_Party. If you take part in this morning's chat, make sure to mark your tweets with #TCMParty, otherwise your thoughts will be lost to the ether. It's possible some of this morning's participants have never seen the film, while others are veterans of the controversial film. NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS has not only drawn the ire of Dark Shadows Fundamentalists, but of critics like Roger Ebert, who took serious issue with it's nihilistic tone. Worse, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS was famously butchered at the 11th hour for no other reason than to reduce its running time, making for an occasionally confusing narrative. Still, the film has its defenders, and even its most ardent opponents have to admit NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS is a visionary piece of cinema despite its flaws.

Meanwhile, don't forget to follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CousinBarnabas. I anticipate posting a summary of the mornings Twitter dialogue tomorrow, but don't let that be a reason to go to bed early.

Join the DARK SHADOWS VAMPIRE CLUB!



I missed out on the chance to take part in the original DARK SHADOWS craze of the 1960s, thanks to not having been born yet. But why let a little thing like the absence of corporeal form and temporal desynchronizing get in the way of a good time?

With that in mind, I present to you these vintage DARK SHADOWS VAMPIRE CLUB membership documents.  These are high-resolution reproductions of the original fanclub keepsakes from the 1960s, and should print smoothly.

Included in the ZIP file are:
  • The DARK SHADOWS VAMPIRE CLUB membership certificate
  • A DARK SHADOWS VAMPIRE CLUB ID card
  • Two pieces of "Ghoul Pad" DARK SHADOWS stationary
  • A Barnabas Collins "Ghoul Mark," used to keep your place in books
All this for the low low price of absolutely nothing.

Print them! Sign them! Share them!

Click HERE to download them

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DARK SHADOWS cast members star in MADAME LaSOEUR



A new film from Ansel Faraj is now streaming for free on Youtube.

MADAME LaSOEUR is a short featuring original DARK SHADOWS cast members Jerry Lacy, Christopher Pennock, Lara Parker and Lisa Richards. Set during the 1960s, the film follows the investigation of Dr. Henry Markway (Lacy), who is searching for a man who disappeared during a séance conducted by spiritualist Madame LeSoeur.

Faraj has a number of films streaming at the official Youtube channel of Hollinsworth Productions. You can find the company online at www.hollinsworthproductions.com.

Monday, October 20, 2014

DARK SHADOWS reunion to take place at Epic-Con


Five original cast members from DARK SHADOWS are scheduled to attend the second annual Epic-Con Ohio: Geek Fest this weekend.

Set to appear are Jerry Lacy, Sharon Sharon Lentz, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Marie Wallace. Epic-Con Ohio takes place Oct. 24-26  at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Dayton, Ohio.

The event will be donating $5 from each ticket to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.


Click HERE for more details.

DARK SHADOWS is Amazon's Deal of the Week



If you follow us on Facebook, you know we keep track of the fluctuating price of DARK SHADOWS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SERIES on Amazon. For the last few months, the series has been hovering around the $350 mark ... expensive, but still significantly cheaper than the $600 retail price that originally accompanied it.

The collection has been know to drop below the $300 threshold from time to time and is dropping again this week, just in time for Halloween: Amazon currently has the set on sale for $267.49.

Here's what you get:
  • 131 DVDs with all 1,225 Complete Episodes
  • Commemorative large coffin package housing 22 amarays
  • Deluxe booklet with episode summaries & photographs
  • Special Bloopers, Treasures & Behind The Scenes DVDs
  • Over 120 Bonus Cast & Crew Video Interviews
  • Other features include nickel hinges, matte/foil coating
  • Box dimensions: (Coffin), 13 ½ L x 11 ¼ W (at widest) x 5 ¾ D.
  • Weight: Shipping carton with contents – 15.5lbs
Click HERE to visit the Amazon sales listing.

Monster Serial: THE THING, 1982


By PATRICK McCRAY

One of the many elements I like about THE THING is its happy ending.  Yeah, they’re going to die, but what were their lives, anyway?  They were up there for a reason.  See, from what I can tell, MacReady and Childs are still human, because The Thing would have manifested itself.  And they both innately trust each other or else they wouldn’t be drinking out of the same bottle.  If they were Things, they’d just make wacky sounds at each other.  So, enjoy that terrible brand of scotch, boys.  Mission accomplished. 

I know there’s an alternate ending on a Navy submarine that’s rescued MacReady, and I really wish that John Carpenter had buckled to studio pressure and released that ending. 

The reason is that a good Carpenter ending lives somewhere between ambiguity and a total certainty that the worst outcome possible is about to happen.  His approach is brilliant that way because it lets the filmgoing process keep happening.  In an age when limp sequels were not yet the rule, this would have set up the most exciting tension possible; The Thing gets loose on the boat.  Unlike the research station, that vehicle would actually have a heading. 

I digress. 

But digressing is the point.  Fewer films in the horror genre mean so many things to so many different people.  Ironic, the creature itself is formless, morphing and surviving as a situation demands.  Similarly, the film containing it is almost kaleidoscopic in the shifting mysteries it presents.  I watch it two or three times a year with different groups, and it never gets old — and I never get the same message or feeling from it twice.  Sometimes, it’s the ultimate lament about Dealing With Women.  Sometimes it’s about the necessity of trust when we’re old enough to know better.

"Diabetus."
The last THING-oriented essay that I just couldn’t finish was all about the the fact that this movie was the last bastion for sensitive, post-feminist men to talk about their fears, anger and anxieties regarding the honeys.  But that only went so far.  When the first MONSTER SERIAL came out and I saw the words “morbid love letters” regarding horror movies, I immediately realized what a wrong turn I’d made at Albuquerque regarding the essay.

If you haven’t seen the film, the members of an Antarctic research station happen upon the ruins of a station from Norway where the staff has been subjected to unspeakably surreal and dysmorphic carnage.  Upon return to their own camp, they realize that an infectious, shape-shifting alien has begun to consume and duplicate their ranks.  The film then becomes a game of chess and poker as the heroes try to suss out good from bad, not knowing whether they, themselves, are duplicates. 
So these are significant elements that I love about THE THING.

For one thing, it was part of that astounding summer of 1982 that has been written about in volume one.  The infuriating part of that summer is that all of the great films that were being released got over shadowed by the obvious, unfunny and saccharine E.T.  THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.


 (I’m so much happier when people associate Mary Hart’s gams with the initials “E.T.” rather than that misshapen dwarf with the creepy finger.  I wonder where Mary Hart is now.  I don’t mean in her career.  I mean, right now.  I’m writing this in a lonely basement in Louisville after cleaning out family mementos from a storage unit.  It’s been a tough weekend.  Where is Mary Hart?  What of her legs?  Maybe she’s shaving them.  Or waxing them.  Or walking through a swanky restaurant, with her legs making a swish-swish sound as they brush together in nylons woven with a shiny hint of lycra.  As much as I love THE THING, I may love this image even more.  I’m just going to pour a drink and think about that.  I need it.  It’s been a difficult day.  Hang on.)

Okay, I’m back.

Talk about the finger.  THE THING is John Carpenter’s ultimate bird to that love piddling homunculus leering at Henry Thomas and his sister.  It’s a manly film.  It’s the film that Elliot would have preferred watching to E.T. during a “sick day.”  How’s that for irony?
 

 For seasoned fans of THE THING, there is not only a sense of triumph in how well it has aged, but in how engaging and complex it remains.  Upon the second viewing —and for the many viewings after that — it’s impossible not to play “Who’s-infected-when?”  I can think of no other film that so rigorously engages the audience in the storytelling process without alienating them and/or making them feel dumb.  This last time I watched it, I was struck by a new, key mystery: do MacReady, Copper, and Norris go into the spaceship?  The Thing clearly came out a big hole — look at the size of the ice block it was in.  So, they could probably go in.  Wouldn’t you go in?  Wouldn’t you go back to the base and yell, “Hey guys, we found these gross bodies, but even cooler is a GIANT SPACESHIP IN THE ICE!  You gotta come see!”

These are men starved for entertainment.  There is no such thing as common sense in such a gathering.  And they’re scientists.  (What are they studying?  It’s never clear.  Their lines, I guess.)  Of course they’d go in.  But do they?  No.  Why?  The more I think about it, the more that becomes the central mystery of the film.  Unless ...


Now, Norris is a Thing pretty early on.  The film sets this up because we see the creepy dog walk into a shadowy someone’s quarters, and the only two men that curvaceous in silhouette are Norris and Wilford Brimley.  But it can’t be Wilford Brimley.  He’s more of an apple in the fat department, and the shadow we see is more of a pear.  That means it’s got to be Norris.  So, what if Norris went into the spaceship and got infected?  Maybe he infects the dog?  Maybe the dog is innocent.  I was raised to assume that any dog being shot at by Ibsen-crazed Norwegians in a helicopter must be infected with alien spores, but what if my parents were wrong?  Were they naive or just lying to me?  It doesn’t matter.  The dog may have been innocent the whole time.  Your honor, my client would like to change his plea.
This column is among those featured in
 BRIDE OF MONSTER SERIAL, a collection of 
horror essays written by contributors to 
THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 
Buy it today on Amazon!

See, this is what contemplating THE THING will do to you.  CLOVERFIELD can kiss my ass.  That’s not Lovecraftian.  This is Lovecraftian.  Lovecraft fans (and why didn’t we ever have an adult film star named “Linda Lovecraft”?) always talk about how you “go mad just by seeing these creatures.”  Hogwash.  You go mad by trying to figure out what the hell’s going on to whom and when in THE THING.

That’s the beauty of it.  These guys are in totally over their heads, but they never lose theirs.  In fact, like me while succumbing to an attack of nausea, the worse things get, the funnier they get.  The film has two great laugh lines that I won’t share.  But they’re maybe the funniest moments in all of 1982 cinema that are not in a film called VICTOR/VICTORIA.  Or TRON. 

Have I sold you on this film?  Do I care?  If you miss it, you’ll miss out on a film that is dark and bleak, but never depressing.  Humanity just keeps slugging away.  It remains unvanquished by arguably the greatest chess player of a movie monster ever not-entirely-seen.  If you haven’t yet seen it, I envy you.  If you have seen it, go watch it again.  It is an entirely different film than you thought it was.  And it will have that same quality each time you watch it.  That is an artistic response in full accord with the film that inspires it. 

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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kelly and (not) Michael talk DARK SHADOWS



Ugh. It pains me to share this, because I loathe everything associated with the one-time "Regis and Kathie Lee" show. Kelly Ripa is sorta tolerable if you're able to ignore the obvious evil lurking just beneath her smile. But I'd still rather shave my head with a cheese grater than watch this show.

A lot has changed since I last saw the series, which is now called "Live with Kelly and Michael." Wikiepedia tells me that "Michael" is actually former football player Michael Strahan ... who is not in this video. Instead, Kelly appears to be sharing the couch with her husband, Mark Consuelos. I had to put a surprising amount of research into this bullshit post and I'm not even sure it's 100% correct.

Anyhoo, during what passes for banter* between husband and wife, it's mentioned that Mark (apparently a former soap actor) might have been perpetuating a lie. The story goes that Mark learned to speak English by watching "All My Children" as a child, a series he later appeared on. He admits in this video that he doesn't really remember seeing the series, and that he preferred "The Price is Right" and DARK SHADOWS. The two share a high five at the latter's mention.

It's been a slow news week.  Still, my thanks to Eric L. Spencer for the tip.

(* This "banter" wouldn't be any less fake if Bob Heironimus strolled by in a Bigfoot costume.)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dynamite's DARK SHADOWS does the time warp (again)


UPDATED: Previously scheduled to be released this summer, Dynamite's second collection of DARK SHADOWS comics has been pushed back until early in 2015 July 7, 2015. I'm no longer holding my breath.

This is at least the second third time the release date has been delayed on this book, which collects an unspecified number of issues from the now-cancelled DARK SHADOWS on-going series. This could mean any number of things:
  • Dynamite has something planned for the license in 2015 and wants to get the most bang for their marketing buck; 
  • Dynamite is mulling its options for the DARK SHADOWS license and has delayed the book until a course of action is decided; 
  • Dynamite simply has too many trade paperbacks in the production queue and DARK SHADOWS was the easiest title to shove further down the list of priorities.
The constant changes in scheduling might even be a product of error. Remember when Entertainment Earth had the DARK SHADOWS dolls available for pre-order for almost a year before finally acknowledging they were never going to be released?  Who the hell knows at this point.

Keep in mind that all of the possible scenarios I've discussed are conjecture on my part. I sent an e-mail to Dynamite's marketing department yesterday to ask about the future of their DARK SHADOWS comics, and have yet to receive a response. Nothing was announced during last weekend's DARK SHADOWS festival, either.

Thoughts?
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