Friday, March 15, 2019

Dark Shadows clearance sale!


By JUSTIN PARTRIDGE

Remember the other day how I said I don't ever get to cover news? Well, it seems the Dark Lord heard my blasphemous prayer, because, boy, do I have a story for y'all today.

Big Finish announced that starting today and going until MARCH 21st, fans can pick up the first FIFTY Dark Shadows "audiobooks" for just $3.99. But that's not all! Along with the stories, Dark Shadows: The Legend Reborn would be available at just $1.99 and both volumes of music from the audio dramas will be available at a paltry 99 cents.

All you have to do is head to this link https://www.bigfinish.com/offers/v/darkdeals and enter the code BLUEWHALE to see everything they have to offer.

The only catch is, you can only buy them on CD, which honestly, isn't even that big of a catch. Plan on buying some stuff? Let us know in the comments below!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Barnabas Collins by Shawn Gaston



I heard you people like Barnabas Collins. Well, you're in luck! Artist Shawn Gaston has a snazzy new print of Collinwood's favorite son available for pre-order. This art is 12"x18" and printed on "sexy thick stock." He's advising that there might not be a second run of these prints. The original art done almost entirely in Pentel brush pen, with additional shading and minor clean up done in Photoshop. The prints are $20 plus $5 shipping, which you can send to www.paypal.me/shawngaston. Don't forget to include a shipping address with your message.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Dark Shadows, The Road to Bloodline: Deliver Us From Evil


By JUSTIN PARTRIDGE

“Don’t live in the dark too long. 
You don’t know what’s waiting in 
there for you.”

It’s Sabrina Jennings vs. the Son of Satan in the blisteringly entertaining Deliver Us from Evil! The latest stop on the Road to Bloodline! Rounding out a quadrilogy of narrative threads that started in Beneath the Veil, then weaved on through The Enemy Within, then most recently tieing through Carriage of the Damned, Deliver Us From Evil brings Sabrina Jennings’ and Cyrus Longworth’s story to a beautiful and terrifying close for now; proving once again this range could support longer serialized narratives, while also just delivering a damn fine single story. Sharply written by Aaron Lamont and given a wide array of impressive effects and transitions by sound designer David Darlington, Deliver Us From Evil is a must own for fans of the Jennings clan, Christopher Pennock people, and discerning audiophiles alike.

Once again, we open with a post-Bloodlust framing device. After having left Collinsport after the revelation that her own sister killed her husband in a lycanthropic rage, Amy Cunningham (the always luminous Stephanie Ellyne) is looking to forget her troubles in Bangor. But the fates have other plans for her as she has a chance meeting with her sister Sabrina (a powerful performance from Lisa Richards) and the two are forced to confront the growing rift between them, leading to Sabrina to tell Amy about the sad, strange fates of Cyrus Longworth and Alfie Chapman (a returning and positively unhinged Simon Kent).

I have gone long on record about these framing devices, but this time, I didn’t feel like it was very obtrusive to my enjoyment or the overall story. Once the sisters are basically trapped together, in a situation straight out of sitcom, it is pretty much all flashback as Darlington deftly transitions us from the “present” to the “past" allowing Lamont’s script to really take off. And don’t let the apparent density of this being a “payoff” episode throw you! Though this whole thing is steeped in Big Finishverse lore, the script takes the steps to get the audience up to speed on what is actually being paid off that way no one is lost.

But long-time listeners or beginners (like me) I think will get an extra little thrill out of seeing all these threads pay off along with all the returning characters. I mean, this single story is cool for people coming in cold, but y’all know how much I love serialization. Sabrina is one again the star of the show and Richards more than rises to the occasion. Pennock also really impresses here, playing up the wounded terror of Cyrus as well as leaning heavily into moustache twirling villainy once the Son of the Dark Lord fully takes over his corporal form. The triple threat of baddies here James Unsworth’s John, Simon Kent’s Alfie, and Brigid Lohrey’s Danielle Roget also add plenty of dark delights for this story as the representatives of the “dark side”. This thing is even graced with an extra bit of star power from our own WALLACE MCBRIDE! Playing all the hits as his returning DJ character, Edgar McBride, which will always delight me to no end.

But I really loved this one, guys! It had a lot of great things for long time listeners on top of just a goddamn entertaining story starring some Dark Shadows mainstays! Kind of a win-win for all us nerds, right? Though I will say, I think listening to the whole cycle would give you that much more enjoyment out of this one, BUUUT there is still a lot to love about Deliver Us From Evil even without all the backstory.

NEXT TIME! Tainted Love! The return of the Kwisatz Haderach of my Heart, Alec Newman as David Collins! And another co-starring role for the mysterious Hallie Stokes! Until then, be seeing you.



Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at justin@betweenthepanels.com Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Here's your first look at Dark Shadows: Bloodline



By JUSTIN PARTRIDGE

I don't get a lot of news crossing my desk here at the CHS. Mainly because my "office" (AKA: converted second floor broom closet) doesn't have a mail in box. But all that changed yesterday when a runner from the Bangor division of Big Finish wandered up the stairs yesterday, cordially inviting me and providing more details on the upcoming wedding of Amy Jennings and David Collins.

That's right, fellow audio creeps! Big Finish yesterday revealed a brand new trailer for the upcoming serial as well as the cover to Volume 1, new cast announcements, and synopsis of the story! Not too shabby for my paltry little beat, huh?

I will post the trailer below, because it is well worth the listen, but what follows is the synopsis, which you'll see we have a lot to unpack with.
In the Great House of Collinwood Amy Jennings and David Collins are finally putting years of tragedy and loss behind them and committing to a life together. And, as the ceremony approaches, friends old and new are drawn to the town at the edge of the sea. Once again, the tortured vampire, Barnabas Collins, is amongst them. But this time he is not alone. After so many years away, Doctor Julia Hoffman has returned with him, finally convinced she has the means to cure his affliction. But joy and happiness never last long in Collinsport, for malevolent forces are never far away. Among those gathered for the celebration are some who would conspire to tear the family apart. In this town some wounds refuse to heal, some secrets demand to be heard, and some sins cry out to be punished 
Welcome back to Collinsport.
Until death do you part.
JULIA IS BACK! No word yet on who is playing her, but that alone is cause for celebration. The release also lets slip that Jerry Lacy is returning as new character Matthew Young and Kathryn Leigh Scott is rejoining the cast as Maggie Haskell. Alongside Scott and Lacy are the new ensemble of Nico Diodoro, Sarah Pitard, Kelly Burke and Tom Michael Blyth (which should excite fans of the Tony & Cassandra Mysteries), all playing new locals filling out the cast around the regulars.

So if you weren't excited before now, I'm not sure what to tell you. I am very glad Lacy is back, doubly so for Julia, and maybe even triply for Scott's return! We are almost there, guys, as the serial aims for a bi-weekly release in April. You better believe we are going to cover it.

Until then, enjoy the trailer, and I'll be seeing you.

Update: Master of Dark Shadows screening



By now you've probably already heard about the upcoming documentary about Dan Curtis titled Master of Dark Shadows. (If not, you can take a gander at the trailer, summary and list of special features HERE.) Set for release on Blu-ray on April 16, you've got a chance to catch the documentary on the big screen earlier that week in New York City ... with members of the Dark Shadows cast! There have been a few changes to the premiere sceening in recent weeks. The bad news first: the April 13 dinner reception event has sold out. The good news: A few more members of the original cast have been added to the guest list. Click on the image above to read the details.

You can pre-order Master of Dark Shadows from Amazon HERE.

The Dark Shadows Daybook: March 12



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 979

When Jeb takes on Nicholas Blair, does he count on also fighting the demon’s ghost? Jeb: Christopher Pennock. (Repeat. 30 min.)

Jeb stuns Nicholas by turning the shadow curse on him, sending him back to Hell. However, Nicholas’ ghost sends Sky on a mission to kill Jeb, later manipulating dreams and voices in the minds of Carolyn and her new husband. In a dream sequence, Sky and Jeb are seen plunging in combat over the edge of Widow’s Hill.

You can smell the end on Jeb more powerfully than Bruno’s cologne. I always find these end moments to be especially exciting. Seeing something end on Dark Shadows makes me feel like I’m breaking the rules. The experience of the show is about enjoying journeys, not destinations, yes, yes. We know. Yet, a journey is defined by its destination, even if you’re not supposed to care about getting there. Well, I, for one, do. I watch to see how these characters triumph. And you can’t blink. Paying attention consistently is the key, and that’s in a medium designed to not be consistently attended. Like everything in life, the struggles last far beyond their expiration dates. The victories pass in an instant. Being able to say, “I was there at Jason and Liz’s almost-wedding” is a badge of extreme pride. It meant that you hung in there and made the show more than a convenience. It’s worth that.

Keep in mind, it’s a just a show. This is America. You can watch it however you want. And consider the dedication it took to produce it. The cramming of lines. The grueling hours. These things make the show an achievement beyond what we see between opening narration and closing sting. I think this resonates with the show’s most ardent audience. These messengers don’t tell of the Battle of Marathon after running from it. The story is the run. That’s what makes these endpoints so outstandingly satisfying.

This one, especially so, because Jeb is taking such action within it. Often, endings happen to characters. In fact, such an ending happens to Nicholas Blair in this very episode, and we feel a strange sympathy for Sky as he realizes the bittersweet mission of being the last Leviathan. He’s determined to help and knows full well he’s not up to the job. Sky, we’ve been there.

I think that by giving Jeb a victory early on in the episode, it masterfully misdirects our expectations. Next stop, his escape. Yes, yes? Um, no. But they even do that a bit circuitously, having it live in a prophetic dream. It’s a cliffhanger, literally, but not, and it’s also a strange tribute to Republic serials. They’d often change crucial facts between cliffhangers and resolutions. Then, they hoped you wouldn’t catch them trying to get away with anything. Here, the Dark Shadows writers hope you do.

And I wonder what would have happened had Jeb been a success.

Barnabas established the possibility that a villain, with enough popularity, could be kept around, perhaps becoming the story. Now, when I see a villain offed, I assume this didn’t happen, and I ask myself what they lacked. Was Jeb too hip? God knows, I’m not, and when I visit Collinsport, I feel safe because Collinsport is where hipsters go to have bad things happen to them. They don’t even
have a band in Collinsport. They have a jukebox with the half-dozen songs that Bob hates the least. Buzz? Jeb? Bruno? Your table is ready. Yes, the hairdos and medallions lure in certain viewers, but then Dark Shadows, itself, keeps them.

Why wasn’t Jeb a success? Turn the question around. What would they have done with him had he stayed around? Unless they explored his eleventh-hour relationship with the 1790’s and Peter Bradford, he had no real past. No intrinsic relationship with the Collinses except by marriage. Does he still have powers? I don’t know. But we can’t see him when he Hulks out, so what’s the point. Barnabas and Quentin take on a strange, if hirsute, sexiness when they monster it up. So, he’s an edgy human. Well, the show has moved past the point of that. It’s a new world of gods and monsters, and Jeb is ultimately too little of each to hold his own. The real tragedy is that he knows it.

This episode was broadcast March 26, 1970.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: March 11



By PATRICK McCRAY

Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 450

In 1795, there is one force that can stop Angelique, and it just arrived at Collinwood. Bathia Mapes: Anita Bolster. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Bathia Mapes arrives to determine the nature of the curse and its solution. Meanwhile, Joshua deals with a mad Millicent and Barnabas is drawn back to the tower room. There, Mapes begins a battle with the force cursing Barnabas.

When we first learn about the supernatural as kids, it is the quintessence of the mysterious. We’ve spent a years of awareness learning the rules, and here is a system of action that breaks them. To what is it connected?  What possibly explains it? When I first saw Dark Shadows, I was in a quiet awe of the vast mythology that explained how the house Got This Way. I was in equal awe of the cosmology that empowered those forces. Could it ever be explained? Of course not. And when you’re a kid, and everything is inexplicable, like magnets or the electoral college, this makes about as much sense as anything else.

Then, the paranormal all loses its sense of wonder because we pretend to understand it to death. It becomes like religion, systems of reincarnation, or D&D. We either discover or make up all manner of elaborate, insert-tab-a-into-slot-b instruction manuals for how a paranormal universe works. This crystal cures this. This orc can be killed only by that. This star cluster absolutely means you’re gluten intolerant. And so on. It’s just as true for monster media. Vampires have about as much written about them as do dogs and cats. But in the name of celebrating our sources of wonder, we accidentally kill them with comprehension.

Dark Shadows, perhaps due to hurried writing for a medium that no one’s going to see again, defies that. Yes, there’s a lot to understand and bicker about and make charts and graphs over. I do it a lot, myself. But at its best, the show is about the opposite. It makes all of us Victoria Winters out of confident Joshuas. We make fun of Vicki for not understanding, but that’s the point. She’s never meant to really understand what’s going on. We are never meant to understand what’s going on. Our job is not to understand what’s going on; it’s to connect through the experience of not being able to do so.

Bathia Mapes reminds us of that. Just when the show is at the outer end of strange, and Barnabas is summoning the voices of ghosts, and Joshua has lost all control of the Newtonian harness of causality, she shows up. The lighting is suddenly a dark and textured expression of the new dimension of Joshua’s world, plunging us into a Rembrandt painting. The dialogue has a sudden and Marlovian urgency and poetry. On a show accustomed to talking around problems, implicating with extreme prejudice, this episode speaks to the very heart of them. And yet, only one person knows what’s going on, a strange and confident sorcerer/precursor to Elise in INSIDIOUS.

In a show where the supernatural frequently bullies the Collinses around, it takes a formidable person to give it what for. Even Stokes would concede that there are none like Bathia, looking and acting for all the world like the EC Cryptkeeper prior to death. She gives DS mythology new depth and familiar resonance by again treating a curse like a curse. On most of the show, the curse is considered the causal agent for the real problem, vampirism, and the only cure is a stake to the heart. Mapes treats the curse as the ongoing crisis, itself. She warns the Countess against being loved by him, and suddenly we get why Julia survives for as long as she does. Masks drop with thunderous noise. In no other timeline do we go from sacred denial to profane truth as in 1795, where the Enlightenment smolders down to to a muted hell over four and a half months. As the characters go mad from the truth, and Barnabas roars with the voice of Angelique, we finally get one character who knows what’s going on. It is the greatest testament to Angelique’s awesome ability that she doesn’t last long.

But it’s jewelbox epic of a battle. These episodes won’t be matched for sheer pain until we learn of Quentin’s son’s death or the eventual death of Angelique. And even then, I’m not sure that this is a sustainable quality that the show can ever rival again.

This episode was broadcast March 15, 1968.

Once more, with feeling



The Collinsport Historical Society is up for another Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award this year for "Best Website," but we've decided not to campaign for ourselves. We're happy with the Rondos we've already received and thought we'd throw our meager weight behind Stan Against Evil and its creator Dana Gould. We announced this effort a week ago and things went predictably terrible from the start.

I say "predictably" because that's just how Facebook functions these days. It's a platform that rewards posts for their interactions, no matter how good or bad those interactions might be. If you have a post that gets dogpiled by Russian bots, all Facebook sees are the statistics and chalks that up as a "win." The human element operates at the opposite end of that spectrum to similarly disasterous results. When presented with an unending cascade of data, people will grab hold of the things that are easiest to process. If you're too clever or give people too much information to evaluate, they'll blink and keep scrolling. It's frustrating to watch this happen from my side of the screen, and that frustration is often difficult to hide.
"Posts that don’t include a photo of Jonathan Frid tend to get the cold shoulder here, but please take a moment to read this piece about Stan Against Evil at The Collinsport Historical Society."
This is how I chose to lure people into my Rondo campaign last week for Stan Against Evil. It was a bit passive aggressive, but also true. Plus, it never hurts to be provocative and that's probably the only reason anyone took the time to comment. Unfortunately, the majority of those comments only served to underline my point.

"Not interested," one person took the time to comment before I hid his post. He later came back to add "There must be other places one can deal with this sort of thing..." Nobody saw this, either.

"Not because (Frid's) picture isn't involved, because it isn't about DS," someone else ejaculated into the void.

Too many people have decided that the only relationship they want with websites today is through a social media buffer, which is why there aren't many sites like The Collinsport Historical Society around anymore. The internet was lousy with blogs when this site kicked off back in 2012. Today, there are so few that the Rondos have merged their "Best Blog" and "Best Website" into one category, pitting my tiny corner of the Internet against Bloody DisgustingDread Central and Birth. Movies. Death. (One of the early models for my website, Stacey Ponder's Final Girl, hasn't been updated since June 11, 2018.)

Is that what the future holds for us? Because, getting back to my original point, I've mentioned the ways Dan Curtis has influenced Stan Against Evil on this website many, many times. From how Collinsport helped inform the show's setting, to the House of Dark Shadows homage in Janet Varney's costume design in the episode "Vampire Creek." And hey! There's a witch on the show named Lara Bouchard, and a doctor at a mental institutioned named "Dr. Edmonds." Speaking of Dan Curtis, Carl Kolchak also made a stealth appearance in the third season of Stan Against Evil.

The people who took the time out of their busy schedules to barf up comments about how the Rondo campaign is irrelvant? They don't have a relationship with this website. They have a relationship with Facebook. Consequently, it's incredibly unlikely they've seen any of those earlier posts about Stan Against Evil. It's doubtful they even know the names of the contributors here. Our posts just appear in their feeds as if by magic, cobbled together during the night by elves in the workshop.

But the fight goes on! If you want to cast a ballot for Stan Against Evil, here's how:

As usual, this year's winners will be determined by votes from the public. And that means you. You can copy and paste the ballot and include an X next to your choices, or just type your ballot choices directly into the e-mail. Readers are asked to select winners from this year's nominees and e-mail your selections to David Colton at taraco@aol.com. You can find the entire ballot at https://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/.

Note: "Best TV Presentation" is #3 on the ballot. While you're at it, please consider voting for Dana Gould for #29, "Monster Kid Hall of the Year." This is a write-in category.

All voting is by e-mail only. 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. Votes must be received by April 20, 2019.

I'm not alone in my efforts: The Cheap Chills Show is also stumping for Dana and Stan Against Evil and you can read their pitch HERE. Also, all three seasons of Stan Against Evil are now streaming on Hulu!
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