Friday, July 22, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 22


July 22, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 30

After seeing a cloaked figure in the dark at Collinwood, the lights come on to reveal Roger. Was he the figure? Doubtful. Vicki and Roger go around and around about David’s probable guilt regarding sabotaging Roger’s car. Vicki finally prevails. Meanwhile in Burke’s room, the storm subsides, and Burke explains to David that he needs to take him home. David is reluctant, and Burke is more fatherly than ever, going so far as to promise David that he’ll buy him a dog -- the companion every boy should have. At Collinwood, Roger is furious with David, making him empty his pockets, sure he has the cylinder. When his pockets are empty, Burke reveals that he has the cylinder, having taken one for Team David.

Okay, now we’re talking! Victoria, alone in a blacked-out Collinwood in a storm, encounters a figure in a dark cloak by candlelight. It’s as is Dan got a memo from the future telling him which side of the bread his butter was on. Meanwhile, the chemistry between Mitch Ryan and David Henesy remains the most palpable on the show. It’s almost too appropriate, really selling the suspicion that Burke is David’s real father. In so many ways, the immediate bond between actors and characters creates a warmth and kinship of black sheep that the show desperately needed. It was the chemistry that I suspect Dan Curtis wanted with Alexandra Moltke and Joan Bennett, but these things happen in the unlikeliest of places. They are both the walking wounded, carrying the scars of Roger’s own pain. And that begs the question; where did Roger’s pain come from? What kind of father was Jamison? Given Jamison’s bitterness at Quentin (in this timeline), does this get visited on Roger? Did Roger, a fast-talking scoundrel, himself, remind him of Quentin?  (Perhaps only in Roger’s youth?)

(Episode 20 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 551

Harry finds Adam, despondent with the lonely knowledge that there are none like him, on the verge of suicide. Retrieving the weapon, he tells Nicholas, who again comforts Adam with the knowledge of his uniqueness and superiority. Adam realizes that his difference is the reason behind the gulf that separates him from Carolyn. Adam, now articulate and intelligent, returns to Barnabas, thinking him his creator. Following this reasoning, Adam insists that his ugliness and difference will not be noticed by another promethean. In this case a woman to be created by Barnabas.

The marvelous Robert Rodan portrays an authentic pain and anger that reveals him to be not only the wounded heart of the series, but a talent that should never have been let go. In a show that recycled actors, the eventual loss of Robert Rodan creates a vacuum that the show would never really fill. Similarly, Craig Slocum shows a heart and fear that is commensurate to Rodan’s pain. Adam, again and again, wrestles with deeply existential fears that go far beyond what should be expected from a soap opera. Although Nicholas is trying to manipulate Adam, his advice and insight into coping with difference is as compassionate as anyone’s on the show. I can’t help but be reminded of the fact that the Emperor and Vader are the only characters in STAR WARS who actually tell Luke the truth. Adam’s obsession with his ugliness is the ultimate irony of the storyline. Yes, he has some scars, but so do many. He is, in fact, quite handsome. Now articulate and soulful as well, he is the Cyrano de Bergerac of the show. In a show about loneliness, no character embodies it like poor, frightened, Adam Lang.

(Episode 541 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 808

1897. Petofi, still inside Jamison (in spirit), now controls Magda, who spills the beans about Barnabas’ temporal point of (most recent) origin. She also explains about his mission to save David, and these facts are corroborated by the discovery of the Collins family history from the 1960’s.  Petofi suspects that this could provide a means for his escape.  Meanwhile, Charity has a dream wherein she’s forced by the Universe to sing “I Wanna Dance with You,” as Quentin macks on some babe. When she comes to, she goes into the woods where she finds a post-lycan Quentin by the corpse of the very girl on whom he was macking.

As Petofi and his lackey gaze upon the book from the future…
“Look at the clothes they’re wearing.”
“You would notice that, wouldn’t you, Aristede?”
The closest we come to the outing of Aristede on the show.
It’s a classic moment for the couple, and one I’d been trying to find for a few years. Well, young Aristede, I have you now.
As for Quentin’s babe? Played by Deborah Loomis, who would appear again with werewolf/stuntman Alex Stevens in HERCULES IN NEW YORK.

(Episode 801 airs on this date.)

July 22, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1068

1995. Julia, under the control of Gerard, leads Barnabas on a wild hunt primarily devised to cause frustration and madness. Meanwhile, he tries to decode a letter given to him by the ghost of Daphne that says, “She will die.” The letter is later destroyed by Gerard, and it’s hard to tell to what degree the two ghosts -- Gerard and Daphne -- are working in concert or at odds. Quentin and Carolyn are reunited at the Old House, and she gives him a note summoning Barnabas. Quentin, petrified to near infantilism, almost destroys the note, but Barnabas manages to get the message and go to Carolyn at Collinwood, only to find her dead.

This plot is incredibly hard to follow. That’s its justified reputation. But for me, that’s what makes it so frightening. Ghosts do not follow cause and effect as we do. The very core of their destructive agenda lies in their ability to warp our expectations of causality. Gerard’s intent is to prove to Barnabas how little his powers of reason will save him. Only then, having eroded his mind, will he attack his body. The cruelties of DARK SHADOWS villains have always been served up with perverse élan. In the age of assassinations and riots and lists of dead soldiers streaming home on television every night, evil no longer wears the mask of elegant charm. Evil isn’t charming. Evil slaughters a pregnant Sharon Tate just… because. How does a gentleman warrior from the eighteenth century contend with such nihilism? In the confrontation with true evil, it is the one question DARK SHADOWS has never asked. Now, they have no choice.

(Episode 1063 airs on this date.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 15

NOTE: It’s been an adventure here at the Daybook Labs.  I don’t want to go into details, but after fifteen or sixteen weeks of staying ahead, inevitable weirdnesses struck all week.  For two weeks! Have faith, True Believers!


July 15, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 25

When a letter arrives from the foundling home, Collinwood is driven into a frenzy of suspicion. David thinks it’s more evidence that he’ll be sent away, grounded in his paranoia that he is connected to his father’s attempted murder. In fact, it’s a report that a detective under Devlin’s employ checked into the circumstances under which Vicki was hired. Liz bullies Roger into corroborating her story that he, himself, hired her based on the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance. Roger parrots this to Vicki, who’ll have none of it. Later, when snooping through David’s things, Vicki finds the bleeder valve for a master brake cylinder.

Joan Bennett does lots of Looking Worried on the show, but here, she’s somewhere between a bully and a valkyrie.  Who else could stymie Roger in his tracks? And Vicki shows backbone, too.  The early part of DARK SHADOWS works where Victoria Winters becomes one of daytime television’s sharpest detectives. The cliche is that she doesn’t understand. The reality is that she understands far more than we credit her for.

(Episode 15 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 546

Nicholas stops Angelique from killing Adam, thus shoring up his friendship with the promethean. Angelique nevertheless tries to kill Adam again, voodoo-style. Nicholas, his work seemingly never done, points out that her love for Barnabas makes her more his servant than Diabolos’, so he strips her powers. Roger enters and tries to force her upstairs. Evading him, she goes to the Old House to deal with Barnabas, human-on-human. When Barnabas again refuses to admit his love, she pulls a pistol on him to end his life in a way she’s certain will work.

Beginning with Louis Edmond’s first crack at narration, we once again see the show breaking new ground. Of course Nicholas stops Angelique, and of course he correctly points out that her master is Barnabas. What fascinates me most is what she does with her humanity. Lara Parker’s confrontation with Frid shows the range of her acting at it’s richest and most varied. And the crisp, deeply felt writing supports her every step of the way. The cliche in any scene is that we should never see where the characters are going. Well, duh. But in her final confrontation with Barnabas, we don’t. No matter how many times I see the episode, and see the integrity of her love, I never expect her to kill him as a man with the weapon of a woman.  How sad. How saw. How real.

(Episode 536 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 803

1897. Hoo-boy. Jamison, possessed by Petofi, makes hay across Collinwood. After stunning Edward with his worldly insouciance, he goes upstairs to leer at and play cards with Beth, immediately putting the whammy on her and having her proclaim her allegiance to Barnabas, breaking Quentin’s heart. Meanwhile, Quentin is in deep mourning over the death of his own son, confronting Edward about the truths he was never allowed to learn. Quentin moves on to confront Barnabas, who sadly explains that Beth was simply a means to an end. Edward, once eager to kill Barnabas, is hypnotized by Petofi into thinking himself a simple manservant. That, and Jamison gets his Petofiesque prosthetic hand ripped off.

Anyone who doubts that DARK SHADOWS contains acting as fine as any on television can watch this episode, and if they still disagree, consign themselves to a UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS marathon for all eternity. These are seasoned, stage actors, and I will assure you, that is not an easy thing to become. When Edmonds and David Selby go at it, it is with high stakes, virulent theatricality, and utter authenticity. This is backed up by writing that, for this author, matches the depth and eloquence of Arthur Miller at his finest. Just as 1897 departed from the norm in terms of its imagination, so then did it depart from the pedestrian humdrummery that lived in the language and content of the Soap Opera. This is not a soap opera. This is theatre at its very finest.

(Episode 797 airs on this date.)

July 15, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1063

1995. Carolyn greets Barnabas and Julia at the tomb where both must play it cool to evade further suspicion. They end up on the wrong side of Collinsport’s new, good ol’ boy sheriff, who may be bamboozled by Barnabas’ story that he’s his own son, but nonetheless advises them to check on their property and vamoose.  He’s clearly in Carolyn’s pocket, and she further alarms him when she shows the sheriff photos from 1970 of Julia looking exactly the same. Back at Collinwood, Barnabas and Julia find objects moved from the previous day, knives coated in blood, poltergeist activity, and phantom lullabye music. After a bust statue nearly kills Julia, both beat a hasty retreat as a Victorian ghost sneers at them from the wings.

How did Collinsport get a good ol’ boy sheriff? And is Barnabas going to sneak Moxie in from Logansport in a truck with Julia driving a Trans-Am? All kidding aside, the horror -- genuine, apocalyptic horror -- mounts. Uncomfortable stuff, and just as brave.

(Episode 1058 airs on this date.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quiz: Can you ID the killers of these Dark Shadows characters?

Despite what they might tell you in Logansport, Collinsport is a pretty nice place to live as long as your address doesn't have the word "Collinwood" in it. While our murders are often savage, they are relative few in number. (Luckily, the FBI doesn't assign "bonus points" for decapitations and stake-related homicides.) Below you'll find a quiz about the many unfortunate events in our quaint little town, a list of 30 fairly notable murder victims ... and it's your job to ID their killers. It''s like Trivial Pursuit with a body count!

You've got 90 seconds to run the boards. As you'll see, Barnabas Collins and his sometimes-wife Angelique have been over achievers ... consequently, their names appear quite a bit. This is the first quiz we've created here, so feel free to leave feedback below. (Hint: You can also re-take the test as often as you want by refreshing the page.)

Click play to begin!

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 14


July 14, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 24

Carolyn enters the Inn with arms full of packages. Meanwhile, Constable Carter enters and asks Maggie for Burke, who’s not in his hotel room. He’ll wait in the lobby. Carolyn orders lunch for Joe, who is on his way. Maggie asks how well Carolyn knows Burke. She says the Burke just asked her father to do a new portrait, and wants to know if Burke or Roger ever mentioned Sam. Joe arrives and seems none too thrilled that the conversation is again about Burke. In the lobby, Carter meets Burke. With Carolyn, Joe explains that he may be able to get his boat faster by pooling with another sailor, Jerry. Joe uses it as a sideways way to bring up marriage again. Burke orders lunch from Maggie, but evades discussing Carter. Burke approaches Carolyn and Joe, who refuses to let Burke visit. Burke looks forward to spending time with Carolyn after Joe leaves. Later, he and Carter discuss the accident. Carter remembers Burke’s vow when he was found guilty for manslaughter. But that was ten years ago. The sheriff explains that Burke’s fingerprints were on the wrench. Just because he picked up a wrench doesn’t mean he sabotaged the car. And he has no idea how the wrench wound up in the seat. Burke explains that if he were guilty, he wouldn’t be hanging around. Why is Burke back in Collinsport?  Downstairs in the Inn, Joe continues to be needled by Devlin’s presence. Maggie comes by and says that Carter wants Carolyn up in Burke’s room. She backs up Burke’s story, adding that she is the one who made him come to Collinwood. Carter leaves, but Carolyn stays. She feels used by him. Burke claims that he’s now in town for longer than expected because his plans changed. She doubts him and leaves. Bronson calls Burke and is told to stay in a separate area. They have less time than he thought.

Okay, this is the second time that Burke is Mr. Nice guy until he calls Bronson. I’m starting to think that Burke is insane and Bronson is his id. This episode is what I call “Housewife’s Delight.” Busy with a million other things, endless repetition was vital to keep up with plots. By that, I mean that comprehension of what was happening depended on reviewing the same material over and over again. Another way of saying it is that it was important to go over things from past episodes so that… oh, you get the idea. We get more of Constable Carter. Few things make a man go, “I could really go for some Dana Elcar right now.” What am I saying? I think that every time I put in a VHS of BAYWATCH.

(Episode 14 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 288

Vicki is lost in thoughts of Josette as she gazes out the window of the drawing room. David sees her and remarks that she’s daydreaming a lot. It’s almost like she’s someone else, and it frightens him. Vicki tells him it’s him imagination. Julia enters, having been given permission to do research. Vicki goes to find books for her. David finds that she’s looking for information on Jeremiah, Joshua, and Barnabas. David gives her the family album. David suddenly sees the picture of Sarah, but knows nothing about her, except that she looks like the girl he plays with. Maybe a ghost? Julia is doing the math faster than Watson. Vicki returns with books for Julia. Vicki notices that the portrait of Sarah looks like a police sketch they were shown after Maggie’s death. Julia wonders why the renovated Old House has no mirrors. She then borrows the book of portraits to show Barnabas. At the Blue Whale, Burke is puzzled by Julia’s interest. He tells Vicki that he’s concerned about Vicki’s interest in the spookier side of the Collins family. She’s starting to believe she’s Josette. Vicki reports hearing Sarah, and wonders if Burke’s right. Burke asks her not to go back to the Old House. She refuses. She just knows that she feels safe there. Julia arrives at the Old House with the family album. Barnabas greets her, somewhat bewildered. Barnabas has nothing to tell her about his relatives. She nonetheless shows him portraits. He is transfixed with portraits of Naomi, Joshua, and Sarah. As he turns away, she uses her makeup case to ascertain that Barnabas casts no reflection. She excuses herself and returns to Collinwood. She looks at his portrait and says she’s learned everything she needed to know.

Julia Hoffman: she’s like Bruce Wayne with guts. Julia’s journey is one of learning how much there is to fear, and then, in 1840, showing how she’s mastered it. Her adventure has Joseph Campbell written all over it. When Julia delves into Barnabas’ world, she can do anything because she has no idea how much it will cost her. Just as fools rush in, so does she, and the plot takes off like a rocket when she straps herself in. Grayson Hall is a monster of confidence, and that’s the one match Barnabas never expects. This episode also gets increasingly specific about the identities of Barnabas’ relatives, gearing audiences up for Victoria’s journey. Little did they know that they were getting a primer on the upcoming storyline. In literary terms, both Vicki and Barnabas are people without homes. Vicki’s is in the past, with Peter Bradford. She just has to find herself there. Barnabas home is actually in his future, with a family that needs him, respects him, and where, out of the shadows of Joshua and Jeremiah, he can become the man destiny has cast him to be.

(Episode 275 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 799

Magda has decided to destroy the hand to avenge her husband. She chops it with an axe, but that’s hardly the end. She wraps it in a cloth and burns it. At a tavern, Aristede questions Tim Shaw about Quentin Collins, and Shaw has nothing good to say. Aristede won’t reveal his plans for Quentin, so he needs a favor from Tim. At Collinwood, Quentin drinks and ponders his late child. He wonders about his daughter as well. Charity enters in a flirtatious mood, but Quentin wants none of it. He plies her with liquor nonetheless. She tries to persuade him to become a family man, but Magda enters reporting the hand’s destruction. It panics Quentin; it was his only cure. The hand reappears, floating behind Magda. It then vanishes. This is all a dialogue that Tim Shaw hears from the hall. He’s accused of having the hand, but the conversation ends up leading Quentin to meet Aristede at the Blue Whale. The fop explains that the moon will be full. Aristede claims he has access to the cure if he can get the hand. But the source of the cure is kept under wraps. They agree for Aristede to meet him at Collinwood. That night in the Old House, the hand flies through the air after Magda. Tim Shaw conveniently enters to find it on the floor.

Poor Don Briscoe. Arguably one of the three or four finest actors on the show, and the one guy stuck with the most mediocre stuff to do. Watching his rise and then moral downfall due to the poisoning of wealth is a sad and complex slice of 1897. It’s a sincere dash of Ibsen, without the boring parts. It’s easy to forget that he has his moment as a major power player in this storyline. Among all the actors on the show, none surpassed Briscoe for his sense of strategic mischief.

(Episode 796 airs on this date.)

July 14, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1062

1995. An insane Carolyn comes into the cottage. When interviewed, she demands that Barnabas and Julia exit, calling them ghosts. They retreat to the crypt, wondering why she is no longer so sensible. Fortunately, Barnabas’ coffin resides in the secret room. Barnabas orders her to examine court records as he sleeps, despite her fear. As Julia leaves, Carolyn accosts her and demands she not say the name. Carolyn looks for her mother’s grave, but claims she’s not dead. Carolyn giggles, as if she’s purposefully leading her astray. She orders her away. When she exits, Stokes enters and they agree they must make her go. When Julia looks for the records, the clerk becomes evasive at the name “Collins” and the year 1970. He says the records are missing. He is similarly evasive. Outside, Julia sees Stokes who barely believes she’s there. Stokes also warns her away. Later, Barnabas wakes up and decides to go to Stokes. He doesn’t understand the danger Julia saw. Barnabas refuses to stand by and let history repeat itself. They meet with Flagler, a man who investigated Collinwood. He is partner was struck and killed by a mysterious object, as laughter rang out. That night, Barnabas and Julia return to the crypt to find it open!

DARK SHADOWS enters a period of entropy, here. The events of 1970 have a permanence that make Roger’s car accident look like nothing. In episode 1, Burke Devlin welcomed Vicki to the beginning and end of the world. Welcome to the end.

(Episode 1057 airs on this date.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Clippings: A 1972 interview with Grayson Hall "superfan"

Show dead, fan club carries on

By Mimi Teichman
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Jan. 24, 1972

Mark Messina is a Superfan.

He is 21 years old and president of the Grayson Hall Official Fan Club.

Grayson Hall?

She is the actress who used to appear in "Dark  Shadows," the television horror soap opera. "Dark Shadows" is no longer on the tube but Grayson Hall's loyal fans, led by Mark Messina, go marching on.

Mark, who lives at 2815 Dalton Avenue, was a fan from the very beginning. He was in the eighth grade at St. Aloysius grade school when "Dark Shadows" began. All through his four years at Southwest High School, Mark missed only four or five episodes. If he couldn't get home in time to see DS, he would watch it in the audio-visual room at school. When he couldn't be either place, he set up a timer with a tape recorder so at least he would have the sound for the show. There wasn't time for dating in those days. Between studies and TV, life was positively full.

The first DS fan club was the Lara Parker Club, started a girl named Paulette from Bronx. It was followed by the Chris Pennock Official Fan Club, the Don Briscoe Fan Club, the David Selby Fan Club, the Hümbert Allen Astredo Fan Club, the Joan Bennett, Alex Stevens, Donna McKechnie, David Hennesy, Jerry Lacy and Louis Edmonds Fan Clubs.

Mark started the Clarice Blackburn Fan Club. It had 30 Or 40 members and was active for about a year. But, lovely and talented as Clarice was, she wasn't interested in show business, so Mark closed down the club. At that time a girl in Pennsylvania was president of Grayson Hall's fan club, but wasn't doing much with it, so Mark decided to seize the moment.

"'I got Grayson's phone number out of the New York telephone book," he said. "I called her up with my heart in my mouth. I told her who I was and asked her if I could start. 'I'd be delighted' were her very words."

Mark and Grayson started communicating by telephone (busy Grayson hates to write letters). She sent Mark a check for $75 to cover the expenses of printing and mailing.

From the other "Dark Shadows" fan clubs Mark got mailing lists and he advertised in their newsletters. As true-blue Grayson fans expressed their interest, Mark worked till wee hours on the first club kit, which contained a biography, a welcoming letter, a membership card, pictures and a newsletter.

The newsletters are nine pages of single-spaced, spicy tidbits about Grayson and other members of the "Dark Shadows" cast.

"My cup runneth over with joy, or THE DAY GRAYSON CAME TO ST. LOUIS!!!! To my it's all the same, and it was just heaven!  ... Grayson eagerly tore open her welcoming present, explaining for the second time that she wasn't one to be dainty with gift wrappings. A large simulated wood-grain box held six ice cream sundaes ... and six different flavors of topping. Grayson exclaimed her thanks, and loaded the heavy box on her husband, who nearly stumbled with the weight."

In addition to the account of Grayson's St. Louis stop on a publicity tour for the "Night of Dark Shadows" movie, the newsletters, which Mark sends out six times a year, contain poems and other artistic efforts of club members, photo offers, reprints from studio pressbooks about the two DS movies.

Recent ones contained features Mark gathered when he visited New York two summers ago, such as a description of the DS set and an interview with the show's hairdresser.

After DS was cancelled by the network, the newsletter contained a plan of action for having it reinstated. Club members were instructed to write letters, circulate petitions, and picket their local stations.

Grayson Hall and Mark Messina.
There was an account of the wedding of a DS cast member in the 1970 fall edition and the newsletters always contain the latest lowdown on what the DS cast is doing. For example:  "Denise Nickerson is doing just about everything! She's in the new movie 'Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' and plays, I think, a blueberry."

"Jerry Lacy has been parading his handsome face around the sets of  'As The World Turns.' He plays Simon Gilbey, a millionaire playboy. He is also in a Hartz Mountain commercial for a flea collar."

The tidbits about Grayson in the newsletters are many. For instance, there was this account of doings in her bedroom: "Chaos is breaking loose in the Hall house right now. The whole point is, the Halls are doing some redecorating. Relax, all the red is staying. Grayson has decided to redo the bedroom. The master bedroom was a pale shade of blue. By now, it should be getting a little livelier. Grayson's having the whole thing covered in a floral fabric. The results should be smashing."

In the historic visit to Grayson's smashing New York apartment, Mark taped hours interviews which he uses in the newsletters as a regular feature.

"What was your first reaction when you saw yourself on screen?
"I threw up."

'What do you think of Melnac (plastic) dinnerware?"
"I've never heard of it."

"Are you a lover of children?"
"Yes, of course."

"What kind of vacuum cleando you have?"
"I have a little round hoover."

"Were you an extremely beautiful child?"
"Apparently, although I never thought so."

Although there is only one member besides Mark in St. Louis, the Grayson Hall Official Fan Club has 250 members throughout the country. Mark feels he knows them all, and says many are the "teeny-bopper type," but there are 15 to 20 adults, including the woman from Minneapolis who sends him Christmas presents and writes about the weather there.

"My club has prospered because there's lots of dedication involved," he said. "A person has to be willing to work. There are some people who start a club and then can't go through with its I'm very hesitant to recommend other clubs in my newsletter because of their lack of stability. Before I'll recommend one I have to review a sample kit.

"A fan is different from a teeny-bopper magazine, which is often inaccurate or sensationalized, because there's one person at the head of the club who is dedicated to telling it like it is about the star. The future of the club is good as long as Grayson's interested."

Grayson used to send him cartons of fan letters, which he answered for her. Because DS is off the air, she no longer gets them.

Mark Messina and Grayson Hall in the lobby of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis.
Mark keeps the letters in a file that is a fan's treasure chest. It contains movie scripts, club member contributions, assorted photos, material for pending newsletters, clippings, etc., all in neatly labeled file jackets. In the back of the drawer are Mark's memories, his library of tapes of "Dark Shadows" and his super-8 movie cartridges.

His other memories, a scrapbook 20 inches high, is a real treat for the "Dark Shadows" fan, but it wouldn't fit in the drawer. There is a section for each character in the show. Most of the clippings are from daytime television magazines and teen mags.

"I began collecting almost immediately after the show began because I was so taken with it," Mark said. "The show has been gone for some time now, and of course I miss it, but I have lots and lots of memories."

Asked what he would do if Grayson retired, he gave a little gasp and replied, "Oh, she'd never do that. It's too much a part of her blood. When she's not working she becomes irritable."

About once a month Mark picks up his telephone and spends a few precious minutes talking to Grayson.

"I don't like to bother her too much because she's always busy, cooking or entertaining or something," Mark said. "I'm very proud of my personal relationship with Grayson. She probably thinks I'm a very dear person to be doing all this. She likes me, I can tell, or she wouldn't have anything to do with me."

Why does a college sophomore who wants to become an interior designer and whose other hobby is flower arranging direct a fan club? Why is the basement room he occupies in a southwest St. Louis house (shared with his mother, father and 13-year-old sister) decorated with horror movie posters?

"Everybody has to have a hobby," Mark says.

(Editor's note: the color images were taken from the defunct "Mr. Juggins" fansite. I'd link to the page, but it appears to have been infected by malware. Search for it at your own peril.)

PODCAST: Big Finish at the Big Festival


Last month on the weekend of the Dark Shadows 50th Anniversary, hundreds of fans got together with original series cast members to celebrate the occasion.

Big Finish Productions Dark Shadows audio range Co-Producer David Darlington, Production Assistant Robert Dick (that’s me!) and range actor/writer Matthew Waterhouse were in attendance to promote the range, meet the fans, and launch the anniversary releases “Blood & Fire” and “Echoes of the Past.”

In the second of this week’s two podcasts from the event, I speak to the fans, the event organizers, Dark Shadows stars - and the Collinsport Historical Society... -  to discuss the TV show, the audios and the Festival.

And there's a competition to win autographed copies of both "Blood & Fire" and "Echoes of the Past" - signed by original series and Big Finish stars.

Sound quality will vary due to the live recording.

(Editor's note: Subscribers to the Collinsport Historical Society podcast will also find this episode available for download in their iTunes queue.)

Find Us Online:
Big Finish: and @bigfinish
David Darlington: @deejsaint
Robert Dick: @RobertDick
The Collinsport Historical Society: @cousinbarnabas

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JULY 13


July 14, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 23

David reads Creepy Crawlers Horror Comics as Vicki enters. Meanwhile, Constable Carter enters to speak with Roger about the accident. While David contemplates guilt and culpability with Vicki, the constable is understandably cross with Roger for confronting Burke without calling him in sooner.  The constable then interviews Vicki about the wrench sighting. She reports her visit with Burke, with Roger insinuating meaning a’plenty. What was Burke’s motive, he wonders. Vicki affirms that Burke never threatened Roger. The constable remembers Burke’s threat from ten years prior. But that was temper. This is insanity. The constable also says that someone else may have planted the wrench and removed the valve. He then calls in backup data on Burke. He takes Vicki and company to the garage to see the wrench. As they leave, Liz cites David for eavesdropping. David wants to know why there is any doubt about Burke. He also wants to know about corroborate evidence. She explains that it’s additional evidence. Like someone else’s prints on the wrench. When they return with said wrench, David is terrified. The constable puts it down to answer the phone, and David eyes it nervously, knocks it down, and picks it up, “getting his prints on it.” Criminal. Genius.

If David “Moriarty” Collins had executed any of the villains’ later plans, Collinwood might have been reduced to cinders within minutes. By handling the wrench, David makes hay with the Gordian knot by weilding Occam’s Razor like Sweeney Todd. Simple. Brilliant. He truly is Burke’s son. Spiritually. I meant, spiritually. Sheriff Carter is played by Michael Currie, a successful character actor who played Lt. Donnelly in the last three Dirty Harry films, SUDDEN IMPACT, THE DEAD POOL, and THE BIRDCAGE. He also appeared in HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH as well as the cult hit, DEAD AND BURIED. Sheriff Carter is a no-nonsense predecessor to Sheriff Patterson, and has an intense dislike of mustard. I was kidding about THE BIRDCAGE. I would never kid about a condiment.


July 14, 1967
Taped on this date: Episode 287

Barnabas stops just before biting Vicki and backs away into the darkness. The next morning, Willie shows her downstairs, finding that she slept beautifully during the night. Only once did she feel as if someone were in the room. Was it a dream? Was it Willie? He swears innocence. When she returns home, Liz and Julia are discussing the local strangeness. When Liz is thankful she was with Barnabas, Julia is highly aroused. Julia later presses for Liz to help her with her research. If Julia were allowed in, she could tell the truth in a way that would flatter the Collinses. Vicki adds that she could add a great deal about the true greatness of Josette. And the research ends with the last century. Only she and Barnabas need agree. But Barnabas is similarly reluctant. Liz leaves, and Julia implores Vicki to work on Liz. Later, Julia barges into Collinwood before sundown, and Willie tries in vain to get her to leave. She asks too many questions. How did he renovate so exactly without reference pictures? She insinuates far too much knowledge for someone interested in oxygen. Barnabas appears and declines to cooperate. She tries to interview him, but he evades. She teases that she has more knowledge and exits.

This looks like the beginning a beautiful friendship full of jealously, betrayal, deceit, suspicion, and eventual loyalty. Julia certainly gets everyone’s attention, and shows a bravery unmatched in Collinsport.  She’ll need it.

July 14, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1061

1970PT and 1995MT. Timothy Stokes, driven mad, has set fire to Collinwood. Barnabas and Julia race to Angelique’s room, but Roxanne is barred from entering. As he screams for her, they find themselves in Main Time without her. But… when? Barnabas is deeply wounded. It was his first chance of a life with love. Julia agrees… she’s not the only one without hope. They can get used to anything if they must. Turning their attention to the room, it is unusually musty. Beyond, Collinwood appears destroyed. The great house is a post-apocalyptic ruin. The ceiling is collapsed. The walls stripped to the brick. Overgrowth everywhere. No one is there. But this could not have happened in only a month. Julia finds a note from Elizabeth, saying they must leave Collinwood before the day is out. They then find a burned diary. The front door slams! Why? Who? Trees have grown right up to the door. Barnabas speaks to time warps and radiation. Julia is frightened but collects herself. Barnabas is too busy planning his next campaign of investigation and ass kicking. He must find his coffin, and quickly. In the graveyard, they find a new stone with a death year of 1995. There was a disturbance in the time warp! Then, they find an old grave… David Collins 1956-1970! Fresh flowers are on it. Who left them? It’s Mrs. Johnson, quite mad. She thinks them ghosts. They vanished 25 years before and have returned unchanged. She wails that no one could save him in the end. They cannot get her to divulge what happened. It was too horrible. And she can only visit at night because no one is to have anything to do with the name ‘Collins.’ Even speaking it is forbidden. Is the family alive? Yes. But far away. Roger and Liz are in Rome, she says. Quentin is married in South America. She’s babbling and lying, clearly. They let her go to her solitary madness. Before she goes, she speaks of the old shack at Findley’s Cove. There, they find all manner of Collins memorabilia. Is the person who lives here the instigator? Someone is opening the door!

This is one of the most vital episodes in the series.

Soap operas bounce along. The sets are always there.  The continuity rarely budges. Here, it’s almost as if the writers knew the show was doomed and began a slow painful decay of everything we hold dear. After all, we think we’ll bounce right out PT and into some other adventure. As in life, how were we to know that the end was nigh. Even though it takes place in only in the near-future, it has a nightmarish intensity and horrible, icy finality. Seeing Collinwood in ruin is like a personal wound for any DARK SHADOWS fan, and Barnabas is soon on the cusp of the most of the challenging decisions of his life. He is at the apex of his heroism. The test will not be pretty. 

Deadman casts familiar shadows in "Dark Mansion" series

It's arguable that DC Comics' short-lived anthology series "Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love" owed its existence to DARK SHADOWS. When the comic was launched in 1971, it certainly wallowed in the same gothic archetypes that drove much of that television series. (Even its cover art relying on the same "women running from houses" tropes used to sell DARK SHADOWS when it began in 1966.) Thanks to some frighteningly stupid regulations enforced by the Comics Code Authority, though, none of the major comics publishers could create stories featuring vampires, witches, werewolves, zombies or any of the other monsters regularly trotted out in the afternoon for ABC's gothic soap. This kept publishers from taking advantage of the show's popularity until January, 1971, when the code was revised to allow for the depiction of monsters ... as long as they stuck to traditional literary standards. (Gold Key, the publisher of the long-running DARK SHADOWS comic, was a bit of a rogue element and was not a Comics Code member. Meanwhile, the DARK SHADOWS television series was cancelled in April, 1971. Talk about terrible timing.)

The first issue of "Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love" was published in October, 1971, and was intended as a romance title (code in those days for "girls comic) ... but that tone didn't last long. After four issues, the book's title was changed to "Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion" and it became a little more traditional in its approach. It's last issue was released in March, 1974. Since then, the book(s) have become obscure curios of interest only to pop culture hipsters like myself.

Later this year, DC Comics will dust off the title as a vehicle for Boston Brand, aka Deadman. "Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love" seems to be sticking pretty closely to "literary horror" demands of the no-longer-active Comics Code (whether this is by design or coincidence is hard to say) and seems to be paying homage to both Guillermo del Toro's CRIMSON PEAK and Tim Burton's DARK SHADOWS. While the former might be providing the brain for the series, it's the latter that's apparently donating the body. Artist Lan Medina is borrowing heavily from Burton's production designs for the comic. See for yourself below.

You can see additional pages from the upcoming series over at Comics Alliance HERE. (One DARK SHADOWS fan on Twitter believes the comic might also be riffing on NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, an idea I'm not entirely sold on.)

Here's the official product summary from DC Comics:

A young woman with a conflicted heart and the ability to see ghosts, Berenice lives with her boyfriend, Nathan, in a grand mansion in New England but is growing closer and closer to her best friend, Sam. As she struggles with her heart’s desire, a dark presence settles over the mansion, drawing the attention of the ghostly superhero Deadman. As Berenice and Deadman seek to free the house and its inhabitants of Adelia Whitehall (known as the Darkness) vengeful rage, more disturbing and sinister secrets emerge, leaving Berenice in grave danger.

“I’ve been reading romance novels and comics since I was kid, and it is a genre I am positively passionate about,” says writer Sarah Vaughn. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to tell a modern gothic horror story with classic DC roots.”

“After reading the synopsis of the story, I felt I was coming back to the old days of romance comics, but in an entirely new way,” says artist Lan Medina. “I was thrilled by how the Darkness character mixes with Deadman. This has absolutely taken me on a hell of a ride.”

A gothic romance comic with superhero flair, DEADMAN: DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE comes from the creative minds of writer Sarah Vaughn (Alex + Ada) and artist Lan Medina (Vertigo’s FABLES) with covers by Stephanie Hans. The first issue of the series will arrive in comic shops in October 2016, with subsequent issues being released every other month.
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