Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood: Part 2

Note: Read part one of Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood HERE.

Dark Passages is a work of fiction.
While that ought to be enough to distinguish itself from Kathryn Leigh Scott’s other books, more than a few readers have drawn parallels between the novel’s characters and their possible counterparts on Dark Shadows. It’s an easy mistake to make: the book’s protagonist is a young actress working at the Playboy Club in the 1960s hired to play a waitress on a new soap opera.
Scott  worked as a Playboy bunny prior to landing her first acting role on Dark Shadows, but the similarities end there, she said. If you want reality you can find it in the pages of The Bunny Years or her other Dark Shadows books, but Dark Passages is pure fantasy.
“I’ve always thought that I’d like to use those experiences as a backdrop for a fiction piece,” she said. “This novel came out of that. It’s got a sly wink to the Playboy Club and Dark Shadows, but there’s absolutely nothing that happens in Dark Passages that happened to me in my own life. Some of the settings are familiar but otherwise, no … it really is fiction.”
Scott said another character in the novel has raised a few eyebrows among Dark Shadows fans: the British actor cast to play a vampire on the fictional soap.
“The character of Ian, who plays the vampire on the series, is so different from Jonathan Frid,” she said. “It’s a very, very different character.”
Scott and Jonathan Frid in House of Dark Shadows.
More to the point, the romance that takes place between the book’s heroine and the British actor is also fantasy.
“Jonathan Frid and I did not have a love affair,” she laughs. “It was very much a love affair on the air and I love Jonathan Frid. We had such a good time working together, but believe me … we weren’t romantic outside the studio. And in Dark Passages there is a romance between Meg Harrison, the young ingénue, and the vampire.”
There’s another significant difference between the novel’s protagonist and Scott: Meg Harrison is a vampire.
Scott’s book treads lightly into Neil Gaiman territory, sometimes reading like a freakshow memoir. Harrison is born a “vampire” but her powers are more fanciful than sinister.  Left with no other choice Harrison has accepted her situation as a fact of life, and the book’s more disturbing elements (such as being groped by men at work and being powerless to raise any objection) are grounded in reality.
Loneliness is almost the real antagonist of the book's first act.

Early in the story Harrison befriends an older patron of The Bunny Club, a man slowly ruined by despair after the loss of his wife. Harrison gets herself into trouble at work while consoling him (physical contact with customers at the Playboy Club was a no-no) and he gives her a vintage cigarette lighter before leaving the club. The next morning police visit her apartment and inform Harrison that he’d fallen to his death during the night.
Harrison is among the few people to attend his funeral.
“It’s very, very poignant,” she said. “I actually wept when I wrote that … but it was complete fiction. Absolute fiction. There’s nothing even remotely like that that happened in my own life.”
As an actress, Scott has had to accept that fantasy guides a certain amount of her life. Audiences know her through the roles she plays and those roles frequently take on lives of their own. Scott said she learned a long time ago that she’d have to make room in her life for Maggie Evans, Josette Du Pres and her other Dark Shadows characters.
“When you play a role early in your career and you become known for it, there’s a point of reconciliation,” she said. It was common for her to appear on mainstream television shows like Magnum P.I. one evening, only to bump into a fan at the post office the next morning that knew her only from Dark Shadows.
“You just reconcile the fact that a singular role is going to be what you’re remembered for,” she said. “There are a lot of people that have not handled that very well. I suppose the most famous example is George Reeves, who played Superman. There’s a point, as an actor, where you recognize that it is going to happen, you’ve got your signature role. But then you get on with your career.”
Even though Jonathan Frid is seen as a sort of Patron Saint of Typecasting, Scott said he’s never come to resent his association with Dark Shadows.
“I don’t think anyone on Dark Shadows felt that way,” she said. “Even Jonathan Frid. I’m very proud of Dark Shadows. It was my first job and, as Lara Parker says, ‘My first job was my best job.’ You make peace with that. This is life.”
Her 45-year relationship with Dark Shadows has continued into the development of the new Johnny Depp film. While fans are still waiting on a trailer for the film, Scott has read the script and says fans needn’t worry about the movie turning into gothic slapstick.
 “They’ve taken it off into a new direction, which they needed to do,” she said. “Many of the characters are the same but each of these new actors are going to bring something new to the role. Michelle Pfeiffer is going to bring her own talents to a role that Joan Bennett created, just as Jean Simmons did in the 1991 television series. I don’t think the fans need to worry.”

She said there is humor in the film but didn’t think it qualifies as a “comedy.”
“We’ll see,” she said. “I haven’t seen a trailer, I haven’t seen anything. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are making this their own and they’ve got every right to do so. I think it’s going to have a sly humor. I think there are some parts of this film that are going to be incredibly funny and I don’t think there was anything in House of Dark Shadows that was funny.  It was a different kind of film.”
“I’d say embrace it for what it is, enjoy it for what it is,” she said. “We’ll always have House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows.”

 Get Dark Passages at Amazon HERE
Get The Bunny Years at Amazon HERE.
Pre-order Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood HERE.

House of Dark Shadows trading card of the day

The Creep Factor: Day Nine

Welcome to The Creep Factor, a new feature that will scientifically determine which episodes of Dark Shadows are the scariest. The results of this evaluation were arrived at through a process involving the I Ching, no fewer than three seances and several experimental blood transfusions. They are presented in no particular order. Also .... SPOILER ALERT!

Day Nine: Barnabas attacks Carolyn (Episode 351)
Dr. Julia Hoffman has been medically treating Barnabas Collins for his vampirism. His sights set on Maggie Evans, Barnabas coerces Julia into accelerating the treatments so that he can woo the waitress during the daylight hours. But things don’t go as he’d hoped. Instead of curing his condition his body begins to show the full affects of his 200-years of age.
Believing that blood will return him to his “normal” state he attacks his cousin, Carolyn. Even as he strikes he’s promising he’d never drink from “his own flesh and blood,” illustrating just how delusional he has become. During this story arc (his first on Dark Shadows) Barnabas didn't exactly a strangle hold on reality, spending most of his nights playing dress up games with a brainwashed hostage. While it was unclear if he really believed Maggie was the reincarnation of Josette, his attack on Carolyn shows he is in deep denial over his own character and actions.

Previous Installments:
Day Eight: That's Just Gross
Day Seven: Reach Out and Touch Someone
Day Six: Adam's Ghosts

Day Five:The Head of Judah Zachary
Day Four: The Death of Dr. Woodard
Day Three: Funhouse of Madness
Day Two: Apocalypse at Collinwood
Day One: Adam Attacks

Dark Shadows papercraft

Here's something fun from a seller on Etsy: a series of full-color Dark Shadows-inspired art cards, including four paper dolls of Victoria, Maggie, Carolyn, and Angelique. You can see the Maggie/Josette paper doll in the collage above, which is pretty clever.
The seller currently has the entire set discounted at $30, and you can find it HERE.

Amber Benson joins Dark Shadows

She played a witch on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a vampire on Supernatural, and this year Amber Benson will add Dark Shadows to her résumé. Benson will star in the Big Finish audio drama Dress Me in Dark Dreams where plays a young Judith Collins, a role originally played by Joan Bennett in the 1897 storyline.

From Big Finish:
Big Finish is pleased to announce that Amber Benson, best known as Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will be taking on the iconic role of Judith Collins in upcoming Dark Shadows release Dress Me in Dark Dreams. Fans of the TV series have already seen Judith as the stern matriarch of the Collins household in 1897 but this story visits her as a young, carefree woman whose life is blighted by having to care for her elderly grandmother, Edith. Edith is played by Terry Crawford, reprising her role for the first time in over forty years.
“It was always a dream of mine to have a shot at the Dark Shadows blend of horror and romance,,” says writer Marty Ross, “and the characters of Judith and Edith, these two strong and impassioned women, offered all the inspiration a writer could want in terms of what I hope is complex, creepy but ultimately rather moving gothic drama.”
Completing the cast for Dress Me in Dark Dreams is James Unsworth, playing the sinister and seductive Redmond Van Buren. The story was recorded simultaneously in London, Los Angeles and Florida earlier this year.
“The story gives us a chance to delve into the history of one of my favourite characters from the show,” says series co-producer Joseph Lidster. “Judith is such a glorious creation but with Joan Bennett sadly no longer with us, it didn't seem as though we'd be able to feature her in one of our Dramatic Readings. It was James Goss's suggestion that we get Amber in to play her at an earlier age and it works beautifully.”
Amber herself says, "Big Finish lured me away from my latest novel, How To Be Death, with an offer I couldn't refuse: the chance to get involved (and flex my acting muscles) with Dark Shadows, one of the most influential genre programs ever to grace the television set."
 I like Benson and was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but this news (coupled with the announcement of Doctor Who's Colin Baker recording a Dark Shadows episode for 2012) has me a little worried that the program is going to fall prey to geek stuntcasting. What's next? David Ducovny as Sheriff George Patterson? Jim Parsons as a grown David Collins?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Creep Factor: Day Eight

Welcome to The Creep Factor, a new feature that will scientifically determine which episodes of Dark Shadows are the scariest. The results of this evaluation were arrived at through a process involving the I Ching, no fewer than three seances and several experimental blood transfusions. They are presented in no particular order. Also .... SPOILER ALERT!

Day Eight: That’s Just Gross (Episodes 933/934)
Paul Stoddard was one of the most discussed characters of Dark Shadows. His mysterious disappearance played a role in several of the show’s early stories and was the driving force in Elizabeth’s decision to become a home-bound recluse. When it was revealed that Stoddard was not dead and buried in the basement of Collinwood (as Elizabeth had long believed) it was just a matter of time before he was introduced to the contemporary storyline.
Stoddard, as it turns out, had become associated with the Leviathan cult, a secretive apocalypse cult looking to bring their own anti-messiah to life in Collinsport. When it looked like Stoddard was having a change of heart their creation took matters into his own hands and killed Stoddard.
The “true form” of Jeb Hawkes, the name adopted by the Leviathan leader, was never shown on screen. It’s easy to dismiss this decision as a budgetary problem, but the verbal descriptions were given of Hawkes’ “true form” suggests it was something too disturbing to show on daytime television. He/it leaves a trail of slime in its wake, as well as a foul stench. Anyone familiar with the work of H.P. Lovecraft (one of the inspirations for the story) pretty much knows what Hawkes looks like … and it ain’t pretty.

The Creep Factor:
Day Ten: Joe Haskell Goes Crazy

Day Nine: Barnabas Attacks Carolyn
Day Eight: That's Just Gross
Day Seven: Reach Out and Touch Someone
Day Six: Adam's Ghosts
Day Five:The Head of Judah Zachary
Day Four: The Death of Dr. Woodard
Day Three: Funhouse of Madness
Day Two: Apocalypse at Collinwood
Day One: Adam Attacks

Monster Music

The peak of Dark Shadows' popularity produced an amazing amount of merchandise, including two hit singles from stars Jonathan Frid and David Selby. It was almost obligatory for actors of popular television shows in the 1960s to release some kind of record, often in character. Even Frank Gorshin released an album in character as The Riddler.

Night of Dark Shadows card of the day

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood: Part 1

Kathryn Leigh Scott
Kathryn Leigh Scott returns to Collinwood in her latest book about the cult phenomenon Dark Shadows, but in many ways she’s never left.

Scott played Maggie Evans and other characters during the show’s 1,225 episode run. She also appeared in the show's first episode, which puts her in a very select club of actors. And it's a club that's been steadily expanding over the years, giving her frequent opportunities to explore the world of Dark Shadows in print. Her latest book, Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood, might be her last on the subject, though.

Her first book, My Scrapbook Memories of Dark Shadows was published in 1986, prompted by the death of friends and Dark Shadows cast members Grayson Hall and Joel Crothers.  

“I thought it would be my only book on Dark Shadows,” she said. “Since then I’ve found there are always new stories to tell and I’ve published a new Dark Shadows book every six years. I think this one will be the last one. What more is there to say? And yet never say never.”

Return to Collinwood, due in stores March 27, will be the first of her publications to be full color. It will also connect the television show’s debut in 1966 to the filming of the new Warner Bros. feature film, to be released this May. The film stars Johnny Depp and is directed by long-time collaborator Tim Burton, with England standing in for the fictional Collinsport, Maine.

“Return to Collinwood is really about what it felt like 45 years after we originated these roles, to go back and play cameos in this entirely new production,” she said. “But the book also contains information about all of the other incarnations of Dark Shadows. And that includes the pilot for the WB series that wasn’t picked up, the 1991 series, the new dramas we’re doing (for Big Finish,) and both of the original films.”
Scott and Dark Shadows alumni Jonathan Frid, David Selby and Lara Parker also filmed cameos in the film, something that was documented for Return to Collinwood.
“We were the kids on the show when we first started,” she said. “Now we’re the senior members. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could not have been more welcoming. They’ve been very supportive of the book, as has Richard Zanuck, the producer.” 

Even though it's been off the air since 1970, Dark Shadows has still managed to accumulate new talent as it has expanded into other media. London-based Big Finish Production has produced almost two dozen original "audio dramas" starring original members of the cast. They also managed to coax Jonathan Frid out of retirement to play Barnabas Collins for the first time since 1970, as well as luring Alec Newman further into the fold. Newman played Barnabas Collins in a pilot for The WB that was not picked up as a series.
“I loved working with him," Scott said of Newman. "Once you’re part of the Dark Shadows family you're part of Dark Shadows forever. We’re like this huge family. We never lose track of anybody.”

With Return to Collinwood Scott said she fought to produce a book of original material that represented every branch of the Dark Shadows family tree. Ultimately, she had to rely very little on material from previous books.
“A number of people, in various blogs and fan mail that I’ve gotten, have said they were disappointed that there were certain books that were out of print,” she said. “So I thought ‘Do I really want to put a couple of pieces (from earlier) books in this one?’”
She decided the new movie would likely bring Dark Shadows to a new audience this summer, many of who won’t have the benefit of a lengthy relationship with the show that other fans enjoy.
“Just like this film is reaching a whole new audience, the book is reaching a whole new audience of Dark Shadows fans, as well.” she said. “I think there are two pieces that have already appeared in print, but they’ve been re-edited. Everything else is new.”

Hollywood isn’t known for being sentimental, and Scott said the inclusion of the original cast in the new movie is a fortunate exception to the rule. None of the surviving cast members were invited to appear in the Mission Impossible films, for example, but Scott said the new Dark Shadows production has gone out of its way to include the original cast.
“Very often people don’t want to acknowledge who invented the wheel. This film is very much Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s film, but the idea that they should be so inclusive is very remarkable. And we’re thrilled about it"

(Come back later this week for the second part of this interview HERE, in which Kathryn Leigh Scott discusses her novel Dark Passages and shares her thoughts on the new Dark Shadows movie.)

House of Dark Shadows trading card of the day

Review: Dark Shadows #3

Note: The most difficult thing about writing this particular post was keeping it from becoming a troubling (and even disturbing) love letter to Angelique, Dark Shadows' resident witch.This meant excising 125,000 words about the fictional results of a Jell-O wrestling match between Angelique and Samantha from Bewitched. (Spoiler: Angelique wins.)  So, here's the short version.

Angelique returned at the end of the previous issue, proving once again that restraining orders are mostly useless. If you're unfamiliar with the Dark Shadows mythology it might not have much meaning for you, but it's the Collinwood equivalent of seeing Godzilla marching down Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Only sexier.

Even hardcore fans of the show might be a little baffled by the dialogue between Angelique and Barnabas, who is rightfully pissed off and terrified. Angelique died during her last appearance on the television show, killed by a gunshot from Lamar Trask in 1840. By all rights her death should have permanently changed the future but those kinds of incidental details were mostly ignored by Dark Shadows. Barnabas recognized her sacrifice and, apparently forgetting all the horrible things she had done, proclaimed her to be his One, True Love (at the Moment.)

Which brings us back to Angelique's return. She's a bit put out by having been dead for more than a century and reacts less than favorably when Barnabas again spurns her affections. Having no man in which to devote her rabid fanaticism she decides to entertain herself with casual cruelty, heading straight to the Blue Whale and an encounter with Carolyn's kinda-boyfriend.

Carolyn is explaining to Jack the Bartender that her husband Jeb Hawkes died an untimely death (but forgetting to mention he was the anti-christ) and that she doesn't think it's a good idea to get too close to anybody. And then this happens:

During the review of the previous issue I noted that artist Aaron Campbell uses his larger panels sparingly but powerfully, and this page is a terrific example of that. The first time I saw this page I blacked out from the rush of blood leaving my head. Lara Parker was always the wicked sexpot of Dark Shadows but DAMN. I want to have this page's babies and I wasn't even born with the equipment that would allow me to do that. Good work, AC.

Back at Collinwood, Barnabas and Quentin discover the rest of the family is still under Angelique's spell. The situation is compounded by Barnabas' need for blood and his unwillingness to kill in order to feed. He enlists Quentin as a Surrogate Willie (I'm sorry) to watch his back as he hunts ... and to make sure he doesn't get carried away and kill someone by accident.

Dr. Hoffman finds Angelique and Carolyn at the Blue Whale and makes the mistake of trying to reason with a crazy bitch. Julia leaves in a huff, after which Angelique's mood takes a turn for the cruel. Recognizing her affections for Jack the Bartender she kills him, offering no other reason to Carolyn than to remind her of her place.

Issue #4 is expected to hit stores this week. I've said this before but it's worth repeating: If you like Dark Shadows you need to read this book. If you're looking to catch up with the series a collected edition is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can find it HERE.

The Creep Factor: Day Seven

Welcome to The Creep Factor, a new feature that will scientifically determine which episodes of Dark Shadows are the scariest. The results of this evaluation were arrived at through a process involving the I Ching, no fewer than three seances and several experimental blood transfusions. They are presented in no particular order. Also .... SPOILER ALERT!

Day Seven: Reach Out and Touch Someone (Episode 639)

Not all of Dark Shadows' spookiest moments involved blood, fangs and murder. Many of them were unsupported by props, make-up or visual effects and were the product of pure acting. While episode 639 features an appearance by a werewolf, the episode if best remembered for a scene involving nothing more than children talking on an antique telephone.
David and Amy are exploring the west wing of Collinwood when they discover an old telephone among the dusty items. Amy suggests they use the phone to pretend to call the people who used to live in the room. She begins a conversation that is far too engaging to be the work of imagination and tells David a ghost is speaking to her. Probably worried that someone is horning in on his shtick, David scoffs at her claims. When he takes the receiver he finds the line dead but, after a few seconds of silence, he gets the surprise of his life.

The scene's structure is pure drama and relies almost entirely on the acting skills of its two young actors. We never hear the voices on the other end of the line and it makes the scene all the more eerie. In fact, the voice of the character on the other end, Quentin Collins, wasn't heard for months.

The Creep Factor: The 10 Scariest Moments of Dark Shadows:
Day Ten: Joe Haskell Goes Crazy

Day Nine: Barnabas Attacks Carolyn
Day Eight: That's Just Gross
Day Seven: Reach Out and Touch Someone
Day Six: Adam's Ghosts
Day Five:The Head of Judah Zachary
Day Four: The Death of Dr. Woodard
Day Three: Funhouse of Madness
Day Two: Apocalypse at Collinwood
Day One: Adam Attacks

Angelique: Dark Shadows desktop wallpaper

Desktop wallpaper of Lara Parker as the witch Angelique, sized for 1280x800 monitors.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We have a winner!

Using an online random number generator I've selected the winner of the first Collinsport Historical Society contest ... and he's going to be a familiar face to some of you.

The winner is Steve Mavronis, the subject of one of the first posts on this site (that's him in the photo above, taken in 1970.) Congratulations!

I've got another contest that will be announced in the weeks ahead. Those of you who have already signed up for The Collinsport Historical Society's Google, Twitter and Facebook pages are already entered. So stay tuned!

Contest update (and other assorted news)

Hello, Fiends!

I just wanted to post a quick note about our contest, which ends in a few hours. The cutoff time is 6 p.m. EST. After that I will randomly select a winner and post an announcement as soon as the respond. For details on the contest see THIS POST.

I'm already planning a second contest and hope to be able to reveal the prize within the next few weeks. If all goes according to plan it will be something that any Dark Shadows fan will want to add to their collection. Stay tuned.

It's going to be a busy week at The Collinsport Historical Society. Look for a review of Dark Shadows #3 from Dynamite Entertainment (hopefully just in time for the release of the fourth issue, expected to arrive in stories Tuesday) and the final four installments of The Creep Factor.

Last, but certainly not least, look for my interview with Kathryn Leigh Scott to be published soon!

Night of Dark Shadows card of the day

The Creep Factor: Day Six

 Welcome to The Creep Factor, a new feature that will scientifically determine which episodes of Dark Shadows are the scariest. The results of this evaluation were arrived at through a process involving the I Ching, no fewer than three seances and several experimental blood transfusions. They are presented in no particular order. Also .... SPOILER ALERT!

Day Six: Adam's Ghosts (Episode 544)
In an effort to find Adam, warlock/badass Nicholas Blair summons the ghosts of the different men used to create the "golem." Two of them appear outside Collinwood missing the parts unwillingly donated in Dr. Lang's experiment and point toward Adam's location.

It's one of the goriest scenes in Dark Shadows, which might have been an unavoidable hallmark of the Adam storyline. But it's not the blood and suggested violence that makes the scene disturbing. Instead, it raises a few unanswered questions about the nature of the show's new ambiguous "monster," chief among them "Did Adam have a soul?"  Diabolos and has lackeys clearly believed he did not, which was part of their plan to create a rival to humanity that had no ties to divinity. But part of the story's hook was Adam's own innocence and how it was twisted by Barnabas Collins, Nicholas Blair, Eve and just about everybody else he came into contact with.

The Creep Factor: The 10 Scariest Moments of Dark Shadows:
Day Ten: Joe Haskell Goes Crazy
Day Nine: Barnabas Attacks Carolyn
Day Eight: That's Just Gross
Day Seven: Reach Out and Touch Someone
Day Six: Adam's Ghosts
Day Five:The Head of Judah Zachary
Day Four: The Death of Dr. Woodard
Day Three: Funhouse of Madness
Day Two: Apocalypse at Collinwood
Day One: Adam Attacks

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Night of Dark Shadows trading cards

I was saving these for an announcement of the DVD/Blu releases of House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. It's beginning to look like those release dates have been pushed to next year and I'm incredibly impatient. So, here's what the wrapper for Night of Dark Shadows trading cards might have looked like, as well as a few sample cards. Click on the images for a closer look.

These were modeled on the designs of the Star Wars cards from Topps and, to a smaller extent, the King Kong series. The concept for my Night of Dark Shadows cards is that Topps didn't understand what kind of movie they were dealing with and settled on a colorful, lively design that screamed "Youth Market!"

Note: For those of you tuning in late, no trading cards were ever produced for the original Dark Shadows films. These are my own creations, let loose upon Google to sow confusion and havoc in the collectors world. (I actually just created these for fun but you know how collectors are.)

House of Dark Shadows trading card of the day

Dark Shadows 2012 and Famous Monsters ...redux

The good folks over at The Dark Shadows Forums have uncovered a revised version of the upcoming issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland to feature the upcoming Dark Shadows movie on the cover. I don't have much to say about the change, 'though Depp looks a little ... chunky.

Head on over to the Dark Shadows Forums to see what the fans have to say about both covers. And feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

Custom Dark Shadows werewolf figures

Members of the Universal Monster Army message boards have sought to fill the void of Dark Shadows-related  merchandise. While  toys based on everything from Dune to The Exorcist to The Silence of the Lambs have hit the collectors market, there have been only been a few action figure/dolls available for Dark Shadows.

First up are these figures, showing the Chris Jennings werewolf from Dark Shadows and the Oliver Reed thriller Curse of the WerewolfVia.

Next is a "kit bash" figure that, based on his formal wear, looks like the Quentin Collins werewolf. Let's hope there's enough revived interest in the show to justify a new line of Dark Shadows figures this year!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dark Shadows contest ends Feb. 26

I was going through my modest collection of Dark Shadows items a few weeks ago and discovered I own TWO copies of Inside the Old House #61. The 52-page fanzine was independently published in 1997 and can be difficult to find, so I thought I'd share it with one of my readers.

The book features an installment of  the "Untold 1872 Flashback" (a series of imaginary episode summaries taking place after the cancellation of Dark Shadows,) an original short story, Dark Shadows classified ads, scans of vintage magazine clippings and more. And you have three ways to win a copy of this book:

1: Go over to the Collinsport Historical Society's Facebook page and "Like" us (CLICK HERE);
2: Follow us on Twitter (CLICK HERE);
3: Or join this webpage with Google Friend Connect under the "Members in Good Standing" to your right.

The winner will be randomly selected from my followers on all three sites, so if you sign up for all three it triples your chances of winning. The winner will be announced Feb. 26, 2012. Keep in mind that this book is a physical artifact and will have to be delivered via snail mail. I will need a name and address so, if you're worried such a disclosure might pose a risk to your career as a costumed superhero, it will make delivering the prize a tad difficult.

This contest is open to ALL of my followers. If you've been signed up since the very beginning, consider yourself already entered into the contest. Also, all of you porn stars trying to follow me on Twitter? I appreciate that you're willing to take your clothes off  (and I didn't even have to ask!) but I have my suspicions that your Twitter accounts aren't real. At least they're not "real" in the way George Berkeley might have defined it.

To the rest of you ... good luck!

Freaky Links: Dark Shadows news round up

The cover of Dynamite's Dark Shadows #8 by Francesco Francavilla.

New Dark Shadows audio dramas from Big Finish announced for 2012.

Entertainment Earth has added three new Dark Shadows costume items: Barnabas Collins fangs, a cane prop and a "deluxe" cane prop. These items are expected to ship in May but, like the upcoming movie, there's very little information available for them.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins to grace the cover of Horror Hound #34.

House of Dark Shadows trading card of the day

Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy's Curse

Marilyn Ross wrote two kinds of Dark Shadows novels: traditional gothic romances (for which the author was primarily known) and batshit crazy, genre-bending fever dreams. Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy's Curse features a vampire, werewolf and mummy so it doesn't take much intuition to guess it's got more in common with Roger Corman than Charlotte Bronte.

Quentin Collins was introduced in Barnabas Collins and Quentin's Demon but was not mentioned in the following novel. Barnabas, Quentin and the Mummy's Curse ... sorta. But I'll get to that in a minute.

When last we saw Quentin Collins he was leaping through a window, suffering from a gunshot wound and a raging case of lycanthropy. That was around the year 1890 and his fate in that story was never determined. The Mummy's Curse, a contemporary novel set in 1970, sees Quentin returning to Collinwood in the guise of Herbert Price, an Egyptologist among a band of scientists who are setting up shop in Collinwood. The group is lead by Anthony Collins, a driven, abrasive creep and shirttail relative to the Collins Clan.

I still like him better than THIS guy, though.
Following the laws of Gothic Melodrama, Anthony Collins pressures the particularly unqualified Maggie Evans to temporarily join the group as a secretary. He plans to revive the mummy of Egpytian pharaoh Rehotip, who has been slumbering for thousands of years in a drug-induced coma. Collins also fears the other researchers will try to lay claim t his discovery and clears the house, save for Maggie, as he revives the sleeping king. Rehotip awakens fully revitalized and totally insane and tries to kill the pair before stumbling outside into a snowstorm.

Collins swears Maggie (and later, Barnabas) to secrecy. When the bodies begin to pile up he wins her silence through  extortion, promising to lay the blame for the murders on Barnabas if she tells anyone there is an emaciated corpse roaming the grounds of Collinwood.

I'm going to go ahead and apologize for putting this photo here.
Bad Science abounds on The Mummy's Curse. We're expected to believe that a simple narcotic has kept Rehotip healthy for thousands of years and that this condition can be reversed through the application of a second narcotic (I don't know how it's supposed to enter otherwise inactive digestive and circulatory systems, but whatever.) Also, a poisonous lizard is found inside one of the ancient urns taken from a pyramid, and one of the book's many dubious scholars explains that reptiles can also survive for thousands of years inside crypts.

And then there's the matter of Quentin Collins/Herbert Price. He seems to be avoiding members of the Collins family but when we first meet him he's inside he's skulking around the Drawing Room at Collinwood, presumably looking to introduce himself under his new pseudonym. Roger Collins mentions that a former "Quentin Collins" was rumored to be a werewolf and then later talks as though he knew the man, even though that character lived more than 70 years ago. When dead bodies begin to litter Collinwood, Price/Quentin disappears and is briefly presumed to be the killer. We never find out why he came to Collinwood, why he was masquerading as an Egyptologist, why he left or if he was even the same Quentin Collins of the earlier novel. It's obvious that Quentin's appearance is nothing more than an editorial mandate and that Ross doesn't know what to do with the character.

This guy knows what I'm talking about.
Despite this (or maybe even because of it) The Mummy's Curse is the best kind of fast-food pulp fiction. There are deliriously bizarre scenes scattered throughout, my favorite of which might be when Maggie, walking back to Collinwood, sees Rehotip loping through the darkened woods. There's no ambiguity about what she's witnessed. She KNOWS it's the re-animated mummy of a long-dead Egyptian pharaoh, that he's dangerous and will probably die from exposure in the snowstorm, that he's a SCIENTIFIC MIRACLE ... and she's not the least bit awed by it.Instead, she goes home and hopes that she doesn't get strangled in her sleep.

The Mummy's Curse insists on having it's cake and eating it, too. As with the other Dark Shadows novels in this series there is no doubt that the supernatural plays an active role on the plot (one of the main characters is a vampire, after all) but the mystery always leads to the doorstep of a flesh-and-blood mortal. As in Barnabas Collins and Quentin's Demon (a book in which the werewolf is NOT the culprit responsible for several murders) Rehotip is also a guiltless monster. Even though he tries on several occasions to kill Maggie and other members of the Science Posse, he's just not very good at it. Anthony Price is unmasked in the end as the murderer, Rehotip is burned alive in a storage shed near the Collins family cemetery all returns to "normal."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

House of Dark Shadows trading card of the day

Dark Shadows Goes to the Movies

It's funny to think that the readership of Famous Monsters of Filmland, 16 Magazine, Daytime TV and Tiger Beat ever overlapped but that was the case for Dark Shadows, a television show that spanned demographics like few before or after it. Above is a clipping from 16 Magazine about the then-upcoming House of Dark Shadows movie. Note the photo of David "hanging" in his bedroom closet, a scene cut from the final version of the film.
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