Monday, February 20, 2012

The Creep Factor: Day Three

 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 THREE: Funhouse of Madness (Episodes 919-921)

Charles Delaware Tate was not among my favorite Dark Shadows characters. While his storyline brought a fun Rod Serling/Jerome Bixby/Richard Matheson element to the 1897 arc, Roger Davis was more than a little miscast as the temperamental artist type.

And then there was the matter of his costume ...
But when Dark Shadows returned to the "present" Tate's character became a lot more interesting. Suspecting that the reclusive Harrison Monroe is really the elderly Tate, Chris Jennings seeks out his help. Almost a century before, Tate had created a painting of Quentin Collins, a portrait that absorbed all of Quentin's ailments and injuries ... a power that extended to his own werewolf curse. Hoping that Monroe is the reportedly deceased Charles Delaware Tate, he finds the artist living in a funhouse that would frighten a James Bond villain. 

Monroe, who looks to the audience exactly like Tate in 1897, keeps Chris and Quentin at a distance as he taunts them from behind a shadowed desk. Quentin eventually loses his temper and hurls a vase toward Monroe, whose head topples from his body and rolls to Jennings' feet.

Jennings picks up the head and discovers it's an amazingly lifelike mannequin head. Adding to the creep factor is a quick cut to Jenning's "discovery," which shows actor Roger Davis looking back at him with glassy, doll-like eyes.

I didn't much like Charles Delaware Tate's arrival to Collinwood, but I loved his exit. It was also the last role Roger Davis played on the series which might have been for the best. Davis only appeared in 128 episodes of the series but played four (possibly even five) characters during his brief stint. The decision to re-cast him so frequently created a few tedious storytelling issues ("You look just like so-and-so!")

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

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