Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Echoes of Dark Shadows

Warner Bros. recently let me give away Blu-ray copies of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. People pitched their ideas for a potential third film in the franchise  (and idea courtesy of The Collins Foundation) and I announced a winner last weekend. There were some fun entries, though, so I thought I'd share some of them. ECHOES OF DARK SHADOWS comes to us courtesy of Barnabas M.

Haunted Honeymoon: Oct. 31

If you're reading this, I wasn't able to connect to the Internet. I'm presently taking a tour of Castle Bran, probably a little drunk and, I expect, have been talking incessantly about DRACULA since we left the United States.

Speaking of DRACULA, here's what was happening on this day in the novel. It wasn't an especially eventful day for Bram Stoker's vampire hunters.

31 October.- Still hurrying along. The day has come, and Godalming is sleeping. I am on watch. The morning is bitterly cold, the furnace heat is grateful, though we have heavy fur coats. As yet we have passed only a few open boats, but none of them had on board any box or package of anything like the size of the one we seek. The men were scared every time we turned our electric lamp on them, and fell on their knees and prayed.

31 October.- Arrived at Veresti at noon. The Professor tells me that this morning at dawn he could hardly hypnotize me at all, and that all I could say was, "dark and quiet." He is off now buying a carriage and horses. He says that he will later on try to buy additional horses, so that we may be able to change them on the way. We have something more than 70 miles before us. The country is lovely, and most interesting. If only we were under different conditions, how delightful it would be to see it all. If Jonathan and I were driving through it alone what a pleasure it would be. To stop and see people, and learn something of their life, and to fill our minds and memories with all the colour and picturesqueness of the whole wild, beautiful country and the quaint people! But, alas!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Curse of Dark Shadows" nears, 1971


 (Note: NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS shot under the title of CURSE OF DARK SHADOWS. The decision to change the name of the film must have been a relatively late decision, because this May, 1971, newspaper feature still referred to the movie by it's original name. NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS is being released today on DVD and Blu-ray.)

The Deseret News - May 14, 1971

A second film based on the later TV series, Dark Shadows, is being made for release this summer.

"Curse of Dark Shadows" is being produced in Tarrytown, New York, site of the famoure Gothic mansion called Lyndhurst, once belonging to railroad baron Jay Gould.

The popular daytime TV series was cancelled last winter, resulting in a considerable amount of complaints from viewers. A movie, "House of Dark Shadows," was produced, based on the TV series, and was a success at the box office.

"Curse of Dark Shadows" is being produced and directed by Dan Curtis, who conceived the TV series, and features many of the actors who co-starred on the TV series.

Among the cast are Nancy Barrett, who played several roles on the TV series, from the inception of the series; David Selby, who played Quentin; Lara Parker as the witch, Angelique, and Grayson Hall as the sinister housekeeper.

Lyndhurst, now a popular tourist attraction, was perfect as Collinwood, the ancestral home of the Collins family, where all the vampires and ghouls lurked.

"Curse of Dark Shadows" tells the story of a new couple moving into Collinwood.

Producer-director Curtis feels "Curse of Dark Shadows" will appeal to a large audience.

"Well, they certainly turned out for 'House of Dark Shadows.' We not only got the television audience, but all those people who heard about the show, but never had a chance to see it because they worked during the day, attended the film," Curtis said.

Miss Barrett agreed. "Many of the actors on the series had their own fan clubs. The kids got involved with it, and now they're eager for the film to come out.

"There was an amazing rapport between all the actors on the TV show. So it's sad when a group that's worked that closely together has to break up. Doing this movie has kept some of us together for a while, so at least we didn't have to say goodbye all at once."

Haunted Honeymoon: Oct. 30

I'll be taking a two-week break from The Collinsport Historical Society as I head to Romania (and other parts of the world) on my honeymoon. I don't know what kind of Internet access I'll have while I'm away. More to the point, I don't think Mrs. Barnabas Collins is going to be nuts about the idea of my spending a lot of time updating this site during the next few weeks, so I thought I'd line up a few items of interest while I'm away.

At the moment, we're headed to Romania, specifically for a tour of the Bran Castle, known to the rest of us as "Dracula's Castle." Even though it's connection to the novel is entirely bogus (and it's connection to the real-life Vlad Tepes is ambiguous, at best) it's a place I've wanted to visit for most of my life. If all goes well, we'll actually be there on Halloween!

I'm also a big fan of Bram Stoker's novel, DRACULA, which has been an obsession of mine since I first got a copy of the book into my grubby paws at age 8. I've read it numerous times over the years, and recommend you track down a copy of Leonard Wolf's "annotated" version if you've got an interest in the book. If you've never read it before, or even if you've read it a dozen times, Wolf's notes are incredible.

In DRACULA, Stoker was meticulous in a way that would have made Stanley Kubrick shudder. His sense of time and space were so accurate that most people assumed he was a well-traveled authority on Eastern Europe, when in fact he was just a competent researcher. Below are samples from DRACULA reflecting what the characters were doing on this day more than a century ago. Like myself and the new missus, they were also headed to Romania at this point in the novel ... though for darker purposes.

Dr. Seward's Diary
30 October, 7 A.M. - We are near Galatz now, and I may not have time to write later. Sunrise this morning was anxiously looked for by us all. Knowing of the increasing difficulty of procuring the hypnotic trance, Van Helsing began his passes earlier than usual. They produced no effect, however, until the regular time, when she yielded with a still greater difficulty, only a minute before the sun rose. The Professor lost no time in his questioning.

Her answer came with equal quickness, "All is dark. I hear water swirling by, level with my ears, and the creaking of wood on wood. Cattle low far off. There is another sound, a queer one like…" She stopped and grew white, and whiter still. 

30 October.--Mr. Morris took me to the hotel where our rooms had been ordered by telegraph, he being the one who could best be spared, since he does not speak any foreign language. The forces were distributed much as they had been at Varna, except that Lord Godalming went to the Vice Consul, as his rank might serve as an immediate guarantee of some sort to the official, we being in extreme hurry. Jonathan and the two doctors went to the shipping agent to learn particulars of the arrival of the Czarina Catherine.
30 October. - At nine o'clock Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and I called on Messrs. Mackenzie & Steinkoff, the agents of the London firm of Hapgood. They had received a wire from London, in answer to Lord Godalming's telegraphed request, asking them to show us any civility in their power. They were more than kind and courteous, and took us at once on board the Czarina Catherine, which lay at anchor out in the river harbor. There we saw the Captain, Donelson by name, who told us of his voyage. He said that in all his life he had never had so favourable a run. 

House of Dark Shadows, '80s Style

As you might have heard, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is available on DVD and Blu-ray starting today! Here's one of my tributes to the film, designed to look like an '80s feature.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mysteries of the real-life Collinsport

There might be more to Essex, Conn., than meets the eye.

Used as the exterior of Collinsport in the original DARK SHADOWS television show, a number of locations made occasional appearances on the program during pre-recorded footage used to connect interior scenes. According to Wikipedia, the Collinsport Wharf, Main Street and the Evans Cottage were all physical locations in Essex.  The Griswold Inn in Essex was used for the Collinsport Inn and the town post office was used for the town Police Station.

But there's a stronger connection between the two towns than mere scenery. Last week, I received an e-mail from DARK SHADOWS fan Bill Branch, which asked a very interesting question:

"Why has no one ever mentioned these facts that I have discovered?"

 The Griswold Inn was purchased in 1972 by Bill and Victoria Winterer. "Obviously someone key to Dark Shadows knew the Winterers before they bought the Gris in ’72," says Branch, a Connecticut resident.

Also: "Close to Main Street Essex, there are two streets nearly side by side named Evans Lane and Collins Lane."

"Finally," he said, "in the cemetery behind the home used as Evans’ Cottage there is a grave for Barnabas Bates. This has to be where they got Barnabas from. These cannot be coincidences."

As a side note, Branch said the property used as the "Evans Cottage" was much larger than it appeared on DARK SHADOWS. He was able to visit the house during a Holiday Home Tour in the later '90s.

"This was after I had located it (and reported it at the Festival and in the fanzine INSIDE THE OLD HOUSE Issue 54/55) -- so I had to go," he said. "It was a thrill being able to go inside. The home was fairly sprawling, considering that it looks small from the front. Unfortunately this was before I got a digital camera – and I did not take photos." 

Branch was also kind enough to forward some photos of the DARK SHADOWS locations showing how they look today. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Child of Dark Shadows

A few weeks ago, Warner Bros provided me the opportunity to give away Blu-ray editions of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. The catch? You had to come up with an idea for a THIRD film that would have followed them. It was a challenging prospect and I received some really interesting ideas. I'll be sharing some of them here over the next few weeks, but the contest winner is
MELISSA SNYDER. Her imaginative entry not only included a movie poster for her film, CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS, but also a faux DVD review of the film. The story not only introduced Victoria Winters into the cinematic mix, but also brings DARK SHADOWS full circle with its original homage to JANE EYRE. I like to imagine the non-existent movie was shot in a similar manner to SUSPERIA.

You'll note the DVD of CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS also doesn't include any special features :)

Congratulations, Melissa!

DVD review: Child of Dark Shadows  
(MGM, 1973; released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Warner Home Video, 2012)

Collinwood was once a lavish family estate on the rocky coast of Maine, but the last members of the once-proud Collins family died years ago. The great house is now a boarding school run by the stern Revered Isaiah Trask. Most students come to Collinwood after being thrown out of the best schools, but the new girl, Victoria, has just arrived on a charitable scholarship from a foster home in New York.
In addition to the less-than-saintly Trask, the faculty is rounded out by his timid wife Rachel and a melancholy blind music teacher, who is plagued by bloody visions of the past. Victoria’s only friend is Karen, a shy girl suffering from a mysterious illness. While exploring the grounds, the girls encounter the tenant of the old house on the estate, Dr. Joanna Hoffman. Rumor has it that the good doctor’s sister was among the victims of the serial killer who wiped out an entire branch of the Collins family years ago. In the old house, Victoria sees a portrait of a young girl who looks exactly like herself.

A series of accidents and injuries begins to plague the student body; paranormal activity, student pranks, and intruders are alternately blamed, and suspicion falls on the new student. Karen’s sudden death is ruled by Dr. Hoffman to be the result of her illness, but Victoria believes otherwise -and begins to suspect that her friend isn’t really dead at all. Is Victoria losing her mind? Is the Collins bloodline extinct after all? How many times can Dan Curtis go back and draw from the same well? The answers to these questions and many more can only be answered by the Child of Dark Shadows.

Child of Dark Shadows is the third theatrical film based on the cult Gothic TV serial of the same name, which delighted housewives and teenagers from 1966-1971. Like its predecessors House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971), it rehashes some elements of the series, but isn’t afraid to throw in a few gallons of stage blood and a higher body count than the limits (not to mention the network bosses) of daytime TV would allow. CoDS is part of the 1970’s wave of horror films centered around children, that included The Omen, The Exorcist, and Carrie. The production benefits from the inclusion of iconic music by Robert Cobert, as well as casting series regulars Jerry Lacy as the delightfully two-faced Trask, Marie Wallace as the hypochondriac Mrs. Trask, and the late, great Grayson Hall as Dr. Hoffman’s eccentric sister. As with previous Dark Shadows movies, the real-life Lyndhurst - a palatial estate in the Hudson Valley - is a star in its own right in the role of the atmospheric Collinwood mansion.

The picture quality has aged gracefully, maintaining the contrast between the muted palette of the main narrative and the rich, saturated colors of the flashbacks. The mono sound could be clearer, and we could really benefit from some extras beyond the theatrical trailer (Come on, Warner Brothers!). But with the release of House, Night, and Child of Dark Shadows, this has been a banner year for Dark Shadows fans, even those less than impressed with the recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp quirkfest, which enjoyed a tepid reception from both critics and box office. The whole set is a must for Dark Shadows fans, and a good bet for any fan of 1970's Gothic horror.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Haunted Honeymoon

Well, I'm off!

The Collinsport Historical Society is going to slow down during the next two weeks as I head to Europe on my honeymoon. The first stop? Bran Castle, known to tourists and gullible fanboys like myself as "CASTLE DRACULA!"

Naturally, the Future Mrs. Cousin Barnabas wasn't nuts about the idea of her new husband blogging about DARK SHADOWS on our honeymoon, so I'll probably be quiet until we return to the states. But the page isn't closing down. Far from it. I've got a number of entries scheduled for publication during the next two weeks. There will be vintage newspaper clippings, VAMPIRES 101 entries, and lots of cool stuff from Bill Branch.

I'll miss all of the hullabaloo involving the DVD releases of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, but Will McKinley might have something to say about these films. You might want to keep tabs on his website next week. Hell, why wait? GO SEE IT NOW! It's pretty awesome.

As for my various social media sites, those will probably be dormant while I'm gone. Keep them warm for me until I get back.

(Note: I expect to pop in briefly tomorrow morning to announce the winner of the HOUSE/NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS Blu-ray giveaway.)



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Barnabas Collins by Gino D.

Gino Di Bianco, an artist from Astoria, Queens, has been celebrating Halloween by drawing (and sharing) some of horror's most classic characters. Among his art is this inked drawing of Barnabas Collins, which I stumbled upon over at Reddit.

"I like the classic stuff because the characters are very unique and heavily stylized," Gino said. "My wife and I discovered Dark Shadows by coming across a model kit of Barnabas Collins at a local hobby shop. We went home and saw that the old seasons were all on Netflix - started watching and were hooked right away. I hope to someday have a brandy with Roger at the blue whale."

You can find more of his work at, where you'll find drawings of everyone from Tony Iommi to Andy Griffith. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thanksgiving with Louis Edmonds

Bill Branch is no stranger to Collinwood. His art, publications and games are well known to DARK SHADOWS fans, so I was delighted when he agreed to share some of his memories with this website. You can also look for his classic HOWLERS comics to appear here on Fridays for the next few months (and keep an eye out next week for the story behind the Victoria Winters painting seen in one of the photos below.) 

I met Louis at one of the Festivals in the early 90s and thought he was charming, so when I saw Craig Hamrick’s book, Big Lou, there, I bought it, devoured it and sent Louis and Craig my praises.

The next thing I know, my partner & I are invited by Louis through Craig Hamrick to spend the weekend at Louis’ home, the Rookery.

We went to the Rookery one other time for a weekend, then invited Louis and Craig to our home, Winter Cottage, in Deep River for Thanksgiving overnight.

The following year, 2000, I was amazed when Louis drove with his nurse/friend Robert all the way from Long Island to Vermont for our Civil Union ceremony. It really made us feel special.

I won’t pretend that I was at the top of Louis list, but he was at the top of mine. He called us his Deep River Angels and I miss him every day. I keep his photo out in our dining room.

Louis was a doll, with his slightly naughty humor, sweet to the core.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Original Dark Shadows script pages

It's a slow news day here at the Collinsport Historical Society. There's a lot going on behind the scenes, but none of it's quite ready for primetime, so to speak. I'm juggling work, wedding planning and a home improvement project, and it's a struggle not to let the pressure turn me into a full-fledged Batman villain. If you hear about someone knocking over banks in South Carolina while dressed like Barnabas Collins, that was, like, totally some other guy.

In the meantime, here are some original script pages from episode #641 of DARK SHADOWS. This item went up for auction earlier in the year, but I did a piss-poor job of noting the details. The images should be self-explanatory.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marie Wallace injured in Conn. stage production

Ron Crawford and Marie Wallace in THE LAST ROMANCE.
Marie Wallace (who played Eve, Crazy Jenny and other characters on DARK SHADOWS) was injured Saturday night during a performance of "THE LAST ROMANCE" at the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, Conn.

Wallace was injured in a fall immediately after a stage blackout at the end of the play's first act. Wallace lost her footing in the darkness and fell down the stage stairs, according to The Republican American. While sympathy notices have begun to appear on the actress's Facebook page, no formal announcement has been made about her condition.

The production launched the theater's 22nd season, which began Oct. 18.

UPDATE: Marie Wallace posted a comment on Facebook this afternoon about her injury:
"Thank you to all my wonderful friends and fans who have sent me so many healing and loving messages. I'm in great hands in a New York hospital with a great surgeon who will be operating on my smashed right shoulder this afternoon. I know all your prayers will help to make it a speedy recovery."

Dark Shadow Diary, Episode 41

Episode 41: "Whiskey in the Jar"
Aug. 22, 1966

There's nothing like the threat of impending doom to sober a man up. Sam is bright eyed and bushy tailed following a game of alcoholic one-upsmanship with Bill Malloy that left him in a drunken stupor. Roger doesn't have much confidence in Sam when he's not blind, stinking drunk, so he's not enthused to learn the artist got dazed and infused and potentially shot his mouth off about their 10-year-old conspiracy.

Then again,Sam isn't also that thrilled with his own behavior, either. He knows he said something stupid, even if he can't remember exactly what. Sam is a walking spoiler alert even without the aid of alcohol. When Maggie finds her father (again) waxing darkly poetic, she quickly deduces that Roger Collins is to blame for his growing sense of paranoia.

Maggie calls Collinwood to speak with Roger, but he hangs up the telephone without offering her as much as a syllable. I like to think Roger understands himself well enough to know that his general demeanor would only alienate her, even if he had nothing to hide. Besides, he's a little preoccupied with his current strategy of  manipulating Liz into championing his cause at home. He winds Liz up by telling her Carolyn has set sights set on Devlin, then stands back and lets her do her thing. Liz is not one to be out manipulated, and immediately calls Joe Haskell to arrange for him to visit Collinwood (and, presumably, "reason" with his girlfriend.)

Maggie's telephone call doesn't go unnoticed, though. Roger and Sam are equally riled by her attempted interference. Roger makes another trip to Sam's house to remind him to keep his mouth shut. He makes vague threats against the artist; Sam returns the favor, but conveniently waits until after he leaves to do so. Recognizing the futility of threatening a man out of earshot, though, Sam makes a trip to Collinwod ... and is met at the door by Liz.

There hasn't been much happening on DARK SHADOWS in the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean the show hasn't been moving forward. There's been a growing sense of doom throughout the show, and it's obvious that someone is going to die. In this episode Sam rips up his portrait sketch of Burke Devlin, he and Roger lob threats at each other, Liz begins to draw Joe's attention to his girlfriend's romantic intentions on the family rival, and Victoria has been pushed around by just about everyone in the cast. In theory, any one of them is eligible for a ride in the bone wagon, but the show has been implying that Devlin is headed for a fall. It's interesting that the show decides to go in another direction: I don't know when Bill Malloy checks in at Eagle Hill Cemetery, but it's probably sooner rather than later.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New edition of House of Dark Shadows
novel now available in Japan

Miss Spotty Jane has brought my attention to a new Japanese translation of Marilyn Ross's 1970 novelization of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. Titled LIPS OF BLOOD, the artwork is clearly riffing on the style of the Tim Burton film, but showing actor Jonathan Frid in his HOUSE costume.

For those of you interested in ordering this book, it's available for order on Amazon-Japan. Jane also supplied me with a link to the artist's website.

While you're out and about, make sure to visit her website, MSJ'S Doll Pit!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

David Selby in Oedipus Rex, 1964

Lecture, Performance of Oedipus Rex Outstanding

The Morgantown Post, Mar. 24, 1964

From every standpoint, the University Players have done it again and even better than ever! Before last night's "Oedipus Rex", a large audience was treated to a lecture by Dr. Robert W. Corrigan, head of the drama department of Carnegie Institute of Technology and founder of the Tulane Drama Review.

Dr. Corrigan's informative discussion of the play and its production by the University Players proved to be one of the highlights of the Festival of the Fine and Lively Arts. Not only because of his erudite analysis of
this Greek tragedy, which has stood the test of more than 2,000 years, transcending all criticism and continuing to do so, but because his lecture led, to new frontiers and did not cover old roads.

Tragic Turbulence
"The tragic turbulence of Oedipus Rex," he said, "has the pure presence and certainty of reality which our own culture has lost."

Among the more academic arguments Dr. Corrigan put forth was one of the most practical; that this play is usually thought of as one of the world's great detective stories.

"The essential action of the play," he concluded, "is an enactment of life and pain in a world we never made. The weaker fall or are deformed; the strong survive and by surviving and enduring, they liberate the  dignity of significant suffering which gives man the crucial victory over his own fate."

Fine Performance 
The play followed Dr. Corrigan's lecture. Under the skillful direction of Charles Neel, it was performed by a fine cast and chorus. David Selby, as Oedipus, King of Thebes, was amazingly mature in his delineation of character. The cadences in his voice clearly revealed the terrible motivations and conflicts of purpose
and discovery of the tragic figure he enacted.

The entire cast, composed of Ann Chapman, Polly Thomas, Judy Edmonds, Tony Litwinke, Jim Fagan, John Newhouse, Jim Slavich, Charles Whieldon and Joseph Goodwin, portrayed the other characters with understanding and poise. The blending of the voices of the chorus provided a wonderful background so like a musical obbligato to the main theme. Sets Magnificent Great credit should be given not only to the director, but to the scenic designer, Dr. Robert W. Burrows, whose set was simple yet magnificently effective; and to Ronald Reed and Larry Augustine who executed it with the help of some of the students in speech. The famous traditional Greek masks were beautifully designed by John Phillips.

The second performance of "Oedipus Rex" will be repeated tonight at Reynolds Hall and everyone is invited free of charge. It should not be missed whether classical Greek drama is the general public's cup of tea or not. It will prove that compared to modern theatre, we have not yet reached the heights the Greeks did over two thousand years ago.

(Note: The Collinsport Historical Society fixed a few typos in the story, for the sake of clarity. We might have missed a few, though.)

Josette's Theme, arranged by Mark Howard

Pianist Mark Howard has arranged a beautiful, interesting version of Josette's Theme. "This charming melody in antique style resembles a gavotte, evoking delightful images of the French roocco period," Howard explains on his Youtube channel. "And well it might, since it played from the music box given to Josette duPrés of Martinique by Barnabas Collins in the 18th century. The original piece was written by British composer Robert Farnon, and a later version composed by Robert Cobert. This is my own arrangement and a small tribute to Dark Shadows, unquestionably one of the most innovative and intriguing programs in the history of American television."

Thanks to Bill Branch for the link!

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 40

Episode 40: "The Essence of a Man"
Aug. 19, 1966

Bill Malloy has let himself into Sam's home, claiming "You want privacy, you should keep your door locked."  He also seems to have confused his professional friendship with Liz as some kind of authoritative role in the business, chiding Roger for hanging out at Sam's place when he should be working. He begins an incredulous conversation about Burke Devlin, Sam's newfound success as a portrait painter, and some other stuff that's all about one thing: Screwing with Roger Collins. It's a wonder this guy didn't get himself kacked a lot sooner.

Roger gets the hint and excuses himself, and even asks Malloy for a lift back to his car. Malloy has other business with Sam, though, and Roger leaves with his tail between his legs.

Carolyn's transparent ploy to manipulate Burke into another date comes to fruition. He calls to let her know he found the ring she strategically left behind during their last conversation, and he lets himself be talked into something that looks a lot like a date. I can't imagine why, seeing as how he a.) Wants to destroy her family, and b.) Has about a much romantic interest in Carolyn as ... shit. I was going to make a joke about Morrisey but couldn't figure it out. That's what happens when you write these things at 5:30 a.m.

Just to make Roger's day better, he bumps into Burke at the inn's restaurant. Burke needles him about David's automotive interests, then flaunts the ring Carolyn left as "date bait." As it turns out, Roger gave the ring to Carolyn on her 16th birthday and isn't amused by Burke's antics. Roger runs home (does this guy EVER go to work?) and returns the ring to his niece, and makes one small request: Stay away from Burke Devlin. It works about as well as you might think. Her "date" is a bust, though, because Burke has business in Bangor. I'm too tired to turn THAT one into a joke, too.

Meanwhile, back at the Evans place, Sam waxes pretentious about the nature of art, saying the goal of an artist is to capture "the essence of a man." Even though it's still early in the morning, Malloy hits up Sam for a "stiff drink," which suggests he's about to drop a serious bombshell on the artist. He downs the drink with a quickness that would impress Oliver Reed, then asks for another.

He outlasts Sam, though, who winds up drunk and chatty, even despite his many years of experience as a booze jockey. "You can't paint without a soul," he says during a drunken monologue that Edgar Allan Poe might have enjoyed were he not already dead. Sam begins to blab about the conspiracy but doesn't provide much in the way of detail. At least, not enough to tell Malloy or the audience to understand what the hell really happened ten years back.

"I'm the only thing that stands between Roger Collins and a prison sentence," Sam reveals, and then blacks out. Malloy has confirmation that SOMETHING happened between Roger, Sam and Burke, but he (and we) still don't know what.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 39

Episode 39: "A sharp eye for the White Whale"
Aug. 18, 1966

First off, yesterday's episode was NOT a Friday episode, as I said it was. Oops. In my defense, the DVD has two episodes labeled as having aired "Aug. 16, 1966," so there's plenty of blame to go around.

But that was yesterday. Today, Roger's grown so anxious to avoid revealing to Burke Devlin that he and Sam have anything more than a passing acquaintance that he almost gets caught visiting the artist in the wee hours of the morning by, naturally, Burke. He hides in the back rooms of Sam's house as Burke arrives for his first portrait sitting, listening to make sure Sam doesn't say something that might screw things up. It's a cunning plan.

 Bill Malloy warns Liz that Burke is going all Herman Melville on the Collins family's collective ass, and is following his plan for vengeance with a "single-minded" purpose that would rival Captain Ahab. I don't think he's actually read MOBY DICK, because Ahab wasn't the laid back, revenge-can-wait-until-after-my-martini kind of guy that Devlin is. "I'm going to stop Burke cold, and I'm going to do it today," Malloy vows to Liz as the writers paint a huge bullseye on his back.

Burke, bored during his portrait sitting, begins to muse about the Collins family, probing Sam for information. I like to believe he knew Roger was in the other room and was trolling. He mentions his prison conviction a few times, casually brings up Roger and stops short of asking Sam "Don't you think that effeminate creep smells like monkey ass? Boy, if he was listening in the next room, he'd be sore!" Lucky for our conspirators, Burke gets called away by a mysterious (and timely) telephone call.

Roger's solution to this problem? He suggests Sam leave town. He even offers to give him "some money" to help facilitate matters, the princely sum of $5,000. Sam is done negotiating with either Roger OR Burke, though, and decides to stay the course. Roger doesn't respond well to Sam's revelation that he's documented their crime (in writing!) as insurance from the Butterscotch Bastard's regularly scheduled threats.

Speaking of deals, Malloy meets with Burke to plead with him to leave the Collins family alone. Burke, still trolling, asks him how he thinks his portrait will look hanging in the halls of Collinwood. But Malloy has come ready for deep sea fishing. His bait? To try and prove Burke's innocence for whatever it was he was convicted of ten years earlier. By omission, he more or less offers up Roger on a silver platter, details pending. Burke needs some time to think about it, but seems interested.

Malloy wastes no time and makes a beeline from the Collinsport Inn to Sam's house, where he finds Roger and the artist arguing.

Mike Hoffman and the Pre-Wedding Jitters

I'm getting married in a few weeks. It's not really a coincidence that it's happening near Halloween, which is Christmas for the Horror Kid Nation. There are quite a few family members coming into town for the event and, to make sure they've got something to do besides hang out in their hotel rooms until the big day, we decided to combine some of the rehearsal events with a costume party.

Mike Hoffman gratuitously agreed to create a piece of art for our invitations. The original is above; the final version with my added typography is to the left. I included some fake "movie credits" to the poster design thinking they'd be illegible on the final invitations, but nope ... you can CLEARLY read the credits from the movie ALIEN at the bottom. But that's OK, seeing as how ALIEN is my favorite movie.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dark Shadows deal of the century!

The complete DARK SHADOWS DVD collection is Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day. It's discounted at a deep, deep 53 percent, and on sale for today (Oct. 16) for $279.99. That's all 1,225 episodes for just 23 cents an episode!


Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 38

 Episode 38: "Ghosts in the Basement"
Aug. 17, 1966

You can practically hear the creative gears grinding behind the cameras during this week's episodes. Now that the whole "Who failed to kill Roger Collins?" mystery has been ... well, "resolved" isn't the right word. But it appears that storyline is behind us, and the show is treading water as it decides on where next to head.

With the introduction of Thayer David to the cast in today's episode, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Matthew Morgan will play a key role in the next storyline. Morgan is the second actor to play the character and replaces George Mitchell, who wasn't all that memorable in the role (despite being one of the only actors on the show to attempt a "New England" accent.)

Morgan catches Victoria snooping around the forbidden basement and politely scolds her for disobeying Liz's bizarro rules. He also verifies that the crying we heard last episode was Josette, and that she's a common presence around Collinwood. Victoria overplays her hand, though, by asking one too many questions about the mysterious locked room in the basement. It's actually kind of hilarious that Josette seems to be actively screwing with Liz by luring Victoria into the basement ... especially when you consider what the room is later revealed to hold.

Carolyn bumps into Burke at the town's only restaurant. In case we haven't picked up on the show's literary nods, we see Burke is reading THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (specifically a chapter titled "The Trial.") Carolyn turns up the flirting to 11, but that's beside the point for now, because Liz does something so cruel that I had trouble believing what I was seeing.

She brings Matthew into the drawing room and tells him that HE was responsible for Roger's accident. At least, that's the story she asks him to support if anyone asks any more questions about the incident. "Thank you, Matthew. You're a good friend," she tells him, clearly not understanding the definition of the word "friend." Morgan, being nothing more than her lapdog, goes along with the plan, and immediately rats out Victoria's basement detective work.

On a roll, Liz confronts Victoria in the basement and adds a few more threads to her tapestry of bullshit. She claims the sounds Victoria heard was wind blowing through blah blah blah. "I think that should end our discussion," she concludes, before backpeddling minutes later after hearing Roger took a call earlier that morning from one Ned Caulder. "You mean he was up when you heard that sobbing sound?" she asks Victoria. It's time to make your damn mind up, Liz.

Carolyn seems to have come to terms long ago with living in a haunted house. She gleefully admits there are ghosts at Collinwood, but is too wrapped up in her machinations for Devlin to give Victoria much time.

She passes the baton in the Restaurant Conversation Relay to Morgan, who wanders into the restaurant as Burke is finishing his meal. He doesn't mince words and bluntly threatens to kill Burke is he makes trouble for Liz. By all rights, that should have been the episode-ending "sting," but instead the writers opted to end on an anti-climactic note: Liz offers Victoria the key the basement room, hoping to end her amateur sleuthing once and for all. Victoria declines ... which is a singularly odd way to end a Friday episode. "Come back next week when you'll see ... well, we really know know what you're see. But it will be awesome!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

2012 Elections: Poster creates anger, confusion

For a closer look at the poster, see THIS POST.

Can I get extra shadows on my pizza?

 Just when you thought DARK SHADOWS couldn't get any stranger, along comes a contest sponsored by Pizza Hut ... in Japan. They're actually giving away some pretty cool prizes (which you can see HERE) but I thought the image above was kind of cute.

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 37

Episode 37: "Innocence in a Dressing Gown"
Aug. 16, 1966

It's Roger's turn to lurk in the shadows of the drawing room. His concerns (voiced in the previous episode) about the end of the family line weren't limited to just Carolyn and David's "issues." He's also worried that his conspiracy to send Burke Devlin to prison ten years earlier also threaten the family (i.e. "Roger.") He gives Sam Evans a call, and we see he's also brooding in the dark.

Roger can't believe that Sam is going to willingly paint Devlin's portrait. He's concerned Sam can't keep a secret and will spontaneously blurt out "WE TOTALLY FRAMED YOU!" during one of their sessions. Even though it's 1 a.m., Roger insists Sam call Devlin NOW to cancel the contract, because that wouldn't look suspicious at all.

And Roger has enough suspicions to power a small town for a decade. As soon as he's finished speaking with Sam, he turns to find Victoria standing in the doorway. She says she came downstairs to find something to read, which he doesn't believe, sarcastically calling her "innocence in a dressing gown." He wastes no time threatening to have the governess dismissed, but Victoria stands up for herself. She tells Roger that Liz has no intention of standing for that kind of nonsense and gets downright sassy with him. I half expected her to end the conversation with a zorro snap.

And Maggie's back! The character's still a few months away from getting anything resembling an interesting story arc, and (for now) is still playing keeper for her alcoholic father. She's not nuts about the idea of Sam pointlessly staring into the darkness at 1 a.m., sober or otherwise. When she wakes the next morning, though, things get weirder. Sam gives her a sealed letter and asks her not to open it. "The one thing I hope is that you never have to read it," he says, which doesn't make his request any less creepy. Also, he asks her not to open it unless "something" happens to him. Cue theremin.

David Ford chews the hell out of some scenery as Sam, and gets a brief monologue about "ghosts" and "souls" that underlines the show's theme with about as much subtlety as a gorilla using Sharpies to fill in a WHEELIE AND THE CHOPPER BUNCH coloring book. But it's a fun scene.

The Collinwood ghosts make a return this episode, too. Phantom crying can be heard coming from somewhere downstairs, and I'm going to go ahead and say it's Josette. It seems like her M.O. (it also sounds like Kathryn Leigh Scott providing the voice, who will later play Josette, both living and dead.) Victoria, possibly looking for something to read again, comes downstairs and loudly asks "Who is it? Who's there?" She's answered with more crying. For once, the sounds don't stop as soon as an actor enters the scene.

Victoria follows the sounds to the basement, specifically to the locked room that Liz has been so protective of (is Josette intentionally trying to cause problems for Liz?) Roger finds her "snooping" and, even though he grew up in Collinwood, calls bullshit on her claims of "strange sounds" ... even though he warns her she'll probably hear them again.

But, wild moods swings run in the family. Moments later Roger apologies for his behavior, prompted by Victoria's threats to complain about his behavior to Liz. In a performance that would impress David, he pours on the charm and flattery that quickly changes Victoria's attitude. They're friends again, thanks to one of those writing shortcuts that occasionally make Victoria look like a moron.
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