Thursday, September 27, 2012

Darl Shadows Diary, Episode 30

Episode 30, "What Monsters We Make"
Aug. 5, 1966

Cousin Barnabas,
Things will probably look a little strange today. Do not be fooled: Dr. Hoffman has been around with that damnable medallion of hers. You probably won't remember much of the day thanks to her unique combination of hypnotism and pseudoscience, but don't worry ... you didn't miss much. You saw Prof. Stokes naked and asked for Dr. Hoffman to go all 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and delete those memories from storage.

Cousin Barnabas

I spent the entire day walking around with the notes for this journal entry in my pants pocket. Apparently, I awoke early this morning at the asscrack of dawn and watched an episode of Dark Shadows ... and then forgot about it. A few moments ago I popped the DVD into the player, say down with my notebook and had a moment of (what I believed to be) déjà vu Turns out it was just plain old vu. I blame Dr. Hoffman.

And WOW did a lot happen in this episode. This is the most proactive episode yet, with people actually trying to solve some of their problems instead of wallowing in them. The episode begins with a voice over from Victoria Winters, reciting some of the purplest prose this side of Mickey Spillane. It was nice to see the show get back to its spooky roots after so many episodes devoted to automobile maintenance, shady business contracts and civil rights disputes.

Victoria gets trapped in the drawing room during a momentary power outage/gust of wind. The door opens her to reveal a silent figure shrouded in black. It's a genuinely unnerving, and so spooky that I understand why Victoria willfully forgets about it a few minutes later. Roger suggests she saw him as he passed the door, headed downstairs to fetch candles, but that was NOT Roger.

But the dead can wait, because the living are creating more urgent problems. Roger is feeling particularly assholish, insisting he doesn't care how his son finds his way home. Sure, it's dark and storming outside, but David (along with Burke Devlin) is one of "the two people in the world he dislikes most." Victoria comes to the defense of ... Burke. Which was unexpected.

She throws David under the metaphorical bus and reveals the brat was behind Roger's car wreck. Roger refuses to believe it but gradually warms to the idea, possibly because he'd rather be rid of David than Burke. Vicky brings Roger up to speed on the plot points he missed while he was away harassing Devlin, but he seems inclined to give his son the benefit of the doubt he withheld from his adversary.

On cue, Burke and David arrive at Collinwood. Roger and Victoria double-team the boy, who insists Victoria is "lying" and is really the one responsible for trying to kill Roger. Go ahead ... picture Victoria working on a car. I DARE you. Besides his usual conspiracy theories, David can't really offer a motive for Victoria to kill Roger. It's likely he never prepared for the eventuality that his father would survive the wreck and has no plan to fall back on.

Burke covers for David, telling Roger and Victoria that he found the boy walking down the road. Despite this lie, he produces the missing bleeder valve he discovered after David planted it in his hotel room. I can't quite figure out what his game is, but look forward to seeing how this plays out in the next episode.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Barnabas Collins by Lyddie Violet

Lyddie Violet has created some amazing dolls, which you can see over at her Flickr stream. There are a lot of Tim Burton-inspired dolls featured there, including an interpretation of vampire Barnabas Collins. I'd love to see a stop-motion animated DARK SHADOWS series done in this style.

"I picked a Taeyang (a kind of Asian fashion doll) doll Nosferatu to re-style him as Barnabas," Violet said. "First I had to change his eye chips and wig. I bought a new wig and then set it for him. After, a necklace and a walking stick were needed. Finally, it was time to make some outfits for Barnabas! I chose two outfits that appeared in the movie, one was a set of ancient costume and another was a set of indigo suit. I kept Taeyang Noferatu’s shirt, scarfs and shoes so I didn’t have to worry about making too many stuffs. That’s all!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dark Shadows Greatest Hits

Idle hands and Photoshop are the devil's playthings. Here's the proof, taken from my Facebook and Tumblr feeds.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 29

Episode 29, "The Devlin's Advocate"
Aug. 4, 1966

Liz isn't coping with the reality of David's aggression with the utmost maturity. When faced with the prospect of her nephew having tried to murder his father, she's decided to blame the messenger: Victoria Winters. "I don't care what Miss Winters found," she tells Carolyn just minutes after alienating the governess. She punctuates this opinion by saying that, if something has happened to the missing child, she'd "never" forgive Victoria. This is pro-level compartmentalizing.

Having eluded the piecemeal search party combing Collinsport for him, David finds his way into Burke Devlin's hotel room. For whatever reason, Burke decides to give aid and shelter to the enemy, even though his plans call for making the child destitute in the near future. David finds that he likes Burke more than his own father, but it doesn't stop him from planting the bleeder valve under Burke's sofa cushions the first chance he gets. At this point David's put a lot of work into the idea of framing Burke, so I get why he doesn't immediately turn back. After all, he says he hitchhiked to town from Collinwood (!?)

As the two talk, they discover they've got a great deal of chemistry and begin the slow process of domesticating each other. We learn that Burke, Roger and David's as-yet unnamed mother were friends when they were younger. Burke clearly likes the boy, which is going to make it more difficult to make him a homeless waif. David also likes Burke and looks for an opportunity to retrieve the auto part he hid in the sofa. Burke's no fool, though, and knows David was at the hotel for a reason. He quickly finds the bleeder valve as soon as the boy steps out of the room.

The darkest moment in the entire episode is when Carolyn confronts Liz over her bullshit guilt trips, and admits to having fantasized about murdering her own absent father in payback for abandoning her. Her bleak admission underlines Liz's own nihilism, which prompts her to apologize to Victoria in a "What the hell, we're all going to die, anyway" moment.

Haiku Contest: We Have a Winner!

I tallied the final votes in the DARK SHADOWS HAIKU CONTEST this morning, and we had a pretty clear winner. With 73 "Likes" on our Facebook page, the poem you see above was the most popular submission.

Thanks to all of you who took part in this contest. I enjoyed reading the entries, and they were a pretty popular feature with our readers over at Facebook during the last three months, too. Curiously, there were a handful of poems that received NO votes, which meant the people who submitted them didn't even vote for their own entries. I suspect more than a few haiku posts were handicapped by Facebook's mindless changes to how updates appear in newsfeeds. Some of them likely went unseen by casual readers.

If you'd like to continue to submit haiku poems for use here and at Facebook, please do. And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of the 2012 DARK SHADOWS movie on Blu Ray, which ends later this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 28

Episode 28, "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Constable Carter Has Got To Go"
Aug. 3, 1966

Its oddly fitting that the driving theme of DARK SHADOWS has more in common with William Faulkner than Charlotte Bronte. While the show lifts (accidentally or otherwise) quite a bit from JANE EYRE, it has much more in common with Faulkner's fuck-up brand of Southern Gothic literature than in etiquette-obsessed British melodrama. "The past is never dead," Faulkner said. "It's not even past." Which about sums up every story arc to ever grace the screen during DARK SHADOWS' lengthy run.

It's pretty amazing that the show stayed true to this theme no matter how much if changed over the course of its 1,200+ episode run. No matter how many vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies were added to the mix, the series remained firm in its stance that actions have consequences which echo beyond our meager time on the planet. You get a taste of this theme early in episode 28, a fairly quiet scene involving Maggie Evans and David Collins. The boy has run away from home following the discovery of his (alleged) involvement in his father's wreck. He was caught trying to sneak into Burke Devlin's hotel room, and is cooling his heels in the hotel diner with Maggie as they wait on Roger to collect the child.

Neither of them know they're the victims of decisions made by their fathers ten years earlier. While it hasn't been explained who did what and why, it's pretty clear that Sam Evans and Roger Collins framed Burke for manslaughter. The two share an uncomfortable conversation as David struggles not to let Maggie know he's on the lam, and the child disappears just as Roger arrives. Being a grade-A ashole, Roger  announces his wayward son can walk home. As the episode ends, we see David was hiding in the telephone booth of the diner. He slips out moments after everyone else leaves.

MEANWHILE ... Burke isn't happy that Constable Carter has searched his hotel room while he was out. Carter tells him he shouldn't have anything to worry about as long as he's got nothing to hide, which is an attitude in law enforcement we still haven't managed to shake. Asking someone to surrender their civil liberties to prove their innocence is a hair's breadth away from witch dunking, imo. Yeah, cops would probably be able to clear more cases if they could just do whatever the hell they wanted, but I'd be a better poker player if I was allowed to pick what cards went into my hand.

Carter didn't win any points with me for using the old "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" bullshit with Devlin. He tells him the search of his room found no sign that he was involved with Roger's wreck, but that doesn't mean he didn't do it. At this point the cops have ZERO proof that Devlin did anything. But, with Collinsport money (i.e., Roger Collins) pressuring him to make an arrest, Carter is sizing up Devlin to take the fall for the "crime." I was ready to organize an Occupy Collinsport event on Facebook when I realized a.) it would be 46 years too late, and b.) Collinsport isn't a real place.

Seriously, though. Fuck Constable Carter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Win Dark Shadows on Blu Ray!

Warner Bros. has very generously offered to let me give away a Blu Ray combo pack of the 2012 DARK SHADOWS movie to one of my readers.

DARK SHADOWS comes to Blu Ray, DVD and digital download on Oct. 2. While everyone else is standing in line at Target or waiting for the mailman to deliver a package from Amazon, you can score a copy for free by answering one simple question:

What would you do after being in a box for two centuries?

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on Sept. 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM (EST). I will select the winner, who will be notified via e-mail. The winner has three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

Now, your answer doesn't have to be novel-length. It can be as long or as short as you like, just make it imaginative. Hell, it doesn't even have to be written. Send me a photo, a drawing, a video or whatever other medium you choose ... just as long as you answer the question.

Send your answers to collinsporthistory @

If you're visiting this site, odds are you already know what DARK SHADOWS is about. But WB has provided me a detailed summry of the film, and it never hurts a website's traffic to have names like "Johhny Depp" and "Michelle Peiffer" appear as often as possible.

DARK SHADOWS (synopsis)
Director Tim Burton brings the cult classic series "Dark Shadows" to the big screen in a film featuring an all-star cast, led by Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. In the year 1750, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from England to start a new life in America, where they build a fishing empire in the coastal Maine town that comes to carry their name: Collinsport. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of falling in love with a beauty named Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) and breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death—turning him into a vampire, and then burying him...alive.

Nearly two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972, a stranger in an even stranger time. Returning to Collinwood Manor, he finds that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin, and the dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the one person Barnabas entrusts with the truth of his identity. But his rather odd and anachronistic behavior immediately raises the suspicions of the live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), who has no idea what kind of problems she's really digging up.

As Barnabas sets out to restore his family name to its former glory, one thing stands in his way: Collinsport's leading denizen, who goes by the name Angie...and who bears a striking resemblance to a very old acquaintance of Barnabas Collins. Also residing in Collinwood Manor are Elizabeth's ne'er-do-well brother, Roger Collins, (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz); and Roger's precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gully McGrath). The longsuffering caretaker of Collinwood is Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), and new to the Collins' employ is David's nanny, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is, mysteriously, the mirror image of Barnabas' one true love, Josette.

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 27

Episode 27, "Unreasoning Hatred"
Aug. 2, 1966

DARK SHADOWS has been in a bit of a rut for the last few weeks. The "new" has finally worn off, and that initial exhilaration of meeting the characters (and watching them meet each other) is fading. The show has figured out what it wants to be, and whenever that happens DARK SHADOWS gets a little ... dull.

But, I was prepared for this. It's been a crazy week for me, and I haven't been able to post these updates as often as I'd like. Even though I don't have a schedule to follow for these "Diary" entries, it hasn't stopped me from worrying that my interest in the pre-Barnabas Collins days of the series was waning. The truth is I've mostly been busy, but right about now somebody really needs to kill Bill Malloy. I've got nothing against the character, but DARK SHADOWS could benefit from some honest bloodletting right about now.

So, with a plate of ginger snaps and a shot (or two) of absinthe in hand, I fired up Episode 27 and returned to Collinwood.

I was a little concerned that Joan Bennett had picked an inopportune time to take a day off. Following the previous episode's last-minute zinger, it was important that Liz be a part of the process of dealing with the new plot development. When the episode begins, though, she's nowhere to be seen. Vicky, alone, is searching Collinwood for David, who's gone missing just as he's been revealed to be the likely culprit behind his father's car wreck. The evidence, a bleeder valve removed from the brakes of Roger's car, has gone missing, making the boy's guilt anything but definite in the eyes of his aunt Liz.

Carolyn returns home (without those packages we last saw her with) and reminds Vicky that it's not necessarily bad news that David is missing. Vicky drops some not-so-subtle hints that a potential murdered is running around the mansion, and Carolyn quickly deduces she's talking about David.

Just as I was ready to write off Bennett from the episode, she emerges mysteriously from the locked door to the west wing (just as Vicky and Carolyn are talking about ghosts.) She's been searching for David in the closed-off area of the mansion, because everyone knows that's just the kind of place David likes to hang out. Vicky can't explain how the bleeder valve was taken from her locked dresser, but Carolyn solves that puzzle, too. She steps away from the scene for a moment, returning with the keys to her own dresser ... which also match the locks to Victoria's. Inside, she finds the copy of Mechano Magazine and turns to a "well thumbed" feature on brake maintenance. Liz continues to cast doubt on David's alleged guilt but stops short of calling Victoria a liar. Instead, she logically points out that nobody really knows what kind of car part Victoria found in David's room. It's not necessarily a bleeder valve.

The B-story takes us away from Collinsport to Bangor, Maine, where Burke Devlin continues to plot against the Collins family. We finally meet his shadowy agent "Bronson," who looks more like Mr. Peepers than Mr. Majestyk. It wasn't until late in the episode that I recognized the actor playing Bronson was Barnard Hughes of The Lost Boys, Tron, etc. Was this guy born old? (In 1987, there was an almost-but-not-quite reunion of the two actors in this scene. Mitch Ryan, who plays Burke Devlin, was the villain in the first Lethal Weapon movie, which featured a theater marquee advertising a screening of The Lost Boys. That totally useless bit of trivia was brought to you courtesy of my OCD, which has been aggravating friends and loved ones for several decades. But I digress.)

It's fitting that Bronson looks more like a businessman than a vigilante, though, because Devlin plans on launching an assault on the Collinses finances and not a Death Wish-style shooting rampage. Bronson is supposed to be the face of this hostile takeover, while Devlin watches quietly from the sidelines. There's a brief bit of tension when it's revealed some paperwork about the plan might have been sent in error to Devlin's Collinsport hotel room, but neither I nor the show can work up much interest in this plot twist.

More interesting is that Burke learns via a telephone call that the sheriff searched his hotel room while he was out ... and that David was also caught trying to sneak into his room.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 26

Episode 26, "Ham Sandwiches and Attempted Murder"
Aug. 1, 1966

It's been a rough couple of episodes for Roger Collins. First, his sister extorts him into participating in her elaborate lie about Victoria's invitation to Collinwood, threatening to kick him out of the house if he doesn't play ball. Today, we got a look at his son's true face and learn his initial assessment of the child as a "little monster" was appropriate. Roger's starting to look heroically well adjusted to life, all things considered.

Victoria wastes no time confronting David about her discovery at the close of the previous episode. She shows him the bleeder valve found in his dresser drawer, which provokes him to attack her. She manages to secure the car part in her own dresser before tricking him out of her bedroom and locking him out.

David's first instinct is to go on the lam. Throwing on a coat, he heads for the front door, where he's headed off by Liz. She demands an explanation for his behavior, and David claims Victoria attacked him. The governess ventures out of her room and finds the two talking, and explains to Liz what really happened. She's dubious about Victoria's story, but agrees to follow her back to her bedroom to see the car part for herself. Neither notice that David is nowhere to be seen. Unsurprisingly, the bleeder valve is missing from Victoria's room when they arrive.

The B-plot in this episode is a pleasant enough diversion, but doesn't really progress the story. Roger and Constable/Sheriff Carter spar over the proposed arrest of Burke Devlin. Carter doesn't think there's enough evidence to move forward with an arrest. He's right, but he's also preoccupied by a ham and rye sandwich he's eating during most of the conversation. He's got a more complex relationship with this sandwich than he's got with anyone else on the show, so I can't blame the actor for milking this "story element" for everything it's worth ... but that doesn't mean anyone was interested in listening to him drone on about his condiment preferences for half the show.

Roger threatens to upset Carter's next election if Devlin isn't arrested. The constable/sheriff makes a momentary stand against him before totally caving in to his demands.  Carter finally refuses to let Roger accompany him on the search of Devlin's room. A man's got to have some standards.

The writers have a serious challenge ahead of them. After revealing David to be a violent maniac, they're going to have to work overtime if we're going to believe Victoria wouldn't quit her job on the spot. The bleeder valve is almost beside the point. Roger's a manipulative pervert, Liz is a liar, and David is a serial killer in training. There's really no good reason for her to stick around ... especially if nobody believes her about finding the missing part in David's room.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 25

Episode 25, "Shell Game"
July 29, 1966

There's been some method to this week's (sometimes) tedious madness. As it turns out, the last few episodes weren't just spinning their wheels out of laziness. Instead, it's been a matter of misdirection as the series builds up to its inevitable Friday cliffhanger.

Let's cut right to the end of the episode for a moment. Having lost a letter from the foundling home, Victoria Winters suspects David has stolen it and begins to search his room from the missing macguffin. During the search, she finds the car part taken from Roger's vehicle. It's unclear if she understands what she's found, or if she even suspects David of the crime. We'll have to wait for the next episode to learn what this new discovery really means, but I'm a little impressed that DARK SHADOWS played such a deft game of misdirection that I'd forgotten this clue even existed.

The episode extends this misdirection by returning to Vicky's letter from the foundling home, which has been an occasional topic of conversation during the previous week. David is caught reading the letter in Victoria's room at the start of the episode and is reprimanded by Roger, the one member of the Collins family who doesn't make a habit of reading other people's mail. The boy, still worried that he's headed to the hoosegow for trying to kill his father, continues to lobby his suspicions that everyone in the house would be happier if he'd just go away. Victoria is starting to see through his charade, though, and is a little concerned when David insists he didn't try to murder his father ... even though nobody has accused him of it.

The letter proves to be worth more than its weight in misdirection this episode. We finally learn that Liz is indeed hiding something about Victoria's invitation to Collinwood, and enlists Roger's aid in selling her story. She proposes to Roger that he tell the governess the family learned about her talents through an anonymous donor to the foundling home, and punctuates her proposal with an "or else" at the end. Uninterested in looking for a new place to live, Roger knuckles under to his sister's demands and regurgitates the story, plot holes and all, to Victoria.

During Roger's badly staged alibi, David returns to Victoria's room and takes the letter, leading the governess to find the car part in the boy's room. It seems cut and dry to us (because we've seen a lot of things the cast has not) that David is the guilty party, so it will be interesting to see if the little monster is able to talk his way out of this one.

Five deleted scenes from Dark Shadows

 I have no idea if these links are kosher, but has a handful of deleted scenes from the 2012 DARK SHADOWS movie streaming via a Russian site. It ought to be fairly clear to anyone who's seen the film that a good bit of the movie found its way to the cutting room floor, but I'm surprised more of these scenes don't involve Barnabas and Victoria. Theirs was the relationship that got the shortest of shrifts in the film, even though it was the most important to the plot.

You can see more cut scenes from the movie HERE. The movie hits stores on DVD and Blu Ray on Oct. 2.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 24

Episode 24, "Law & Order: Collinsport"
July 28, 1966

Constable Carter is quickly turning into my least favorite DARK SHADOWS character this side of Harry Johnson. This is such a blah episode that there's not much more to write about beyond my growing distaste for the show's first cop. I'm more interested in talking about the new Amanda Palmer album, but this doesn't seem like the appropriate forum. (Seriously, though ... it's awesome.) But, when you commit to blogging about 1,200+ episodes of a TV series, you have to expect the occasional dud.

When the episode begins, we see that Carolyn has been out spending her mom's money. She strolls into the diner at the Collinsport Inn with so many packages that I thought it might have been a Christmas Eve episode. Instead, Carolyn is just meeting Joe for the most boring date in history: hamburgers and coffee during Joe's 45-minute lunch break. Scandalous!

Carter strolls in and immediately reminds everyone that he's missing valuable time solving crossword puzzles at his desk. "There's not  much to do besides sit behind a desk," he tells Burke, describing his regular workday before the convicted felon rolled back into town. After brushing off questions from Maggie Evans about Roger's wreck (and whether or not her father's name has come up in the investigation) Carter stages an impromptu cross examination of Burke that made Roger's earlier efforts look like the work of Johnnie Cochran. His most impressive trick is demonstrating his ability to remember participating in Burke's trial ten years earlier, which won't exactly make Batman worry about his standing as the "World's Greatest Detective."

Burke admits he's holding the teeniest of grudges against the Collins family, but claims he's not interested in murder. The line-fumbling cop drags Carolyn into the hotel room to badger Devlin, and that blows up in his face, too. Burke argues that trying to get away with murder doesn't make much sense when you let someone (in this case, Vicky) see you with the murder weapon beforehand. Also adding weight to his story is Carolyn's admission that Devlin was only at Collinwood that night at her invitation.

After Sherlock Holmes leaves the room, Carolyn confronts Burke on his assholery. She doesn't especially believe he tried to kill Roger, but she knows he's up to no good. The day before he'd told her of his plans to leave plans in a few days, but she learned from Maggie at the diner that Devlin was sticking around to have his portrait painted. Moments after Carolyn leaves, Burke gets another mysterious call from someone named "Bronson." Again, Burke says he's having to move his timetable up ... and I wish he'd get on with it already.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dark Selby talks Dark Shadows, Dark Knight

David Selby
 DAVID SELBY has an interesting interview over at, where he discusses his time spent playing Commissioner Jim Gordon in the upcoming DARK KNIGHT RETURNS animated feature film. Here's a sample:

"That was a special time in the 60s, and for whatever reasons these shows captivated the public’s imagination. Maybe we just needed it in the 60s. They were shows that allowed you to escape … shows that made life a little easier to cope. I think about New York City at that time and all the things that were going on. The corruption, the racial conflicts, the unrest at Columbia University. There were protests everywhere. Then there was Chicago, and the election in 1968. The assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Vietnam was raging. And then you had these shows. I’m sure some sociologist is examining all of this and working it out. But I think those two shows, Batman and Dark Shadows, they fit that expression, “Whatever gets you through the night.” It is interesting that they both came out of that period. But maybe not. Maybe the times were right."

Read the rest of the interview over at

Dr. Hoffman performs Nights in White Satin

Rachel as Helena Bonham Carter as Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman, performing Nights on White Satin by The Moody Blues, from the 2012 soundtrack to DARK SHADOWS. Got it? Good.

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 23

 Episode 23: The Sword of Damocles
July 27, 1966

The first cop we meet in Collinsport isn't exactly Columbo.

Introduced as "Mr. Carter," the guy is a self-impressed bureaucrat. He doesn't have much to say in this episode, but most of his dialogue is tinged with apathetic pragmatism. Yes, he's absolutely right when he tells Roger Collins that it's a little early to be on the lookout for a "murderer" when nobody has been killed, but he just comes across like a guy who's avoiding work. He makes a point of telling Roger that his job mostly entails traffic stops and dealing with barroom brawls. In other words, "Lower your expectations, Mr. Collins."

Carter is also a little put out that Roger launched his own amateur investigation of the wreck before calling the police. He and Liz present Carter with their "evidence" that Burke is responsible for the incident, but the cop isn't persuaded. The "evidence" is mostly circumstantial, but Carter's kind lazy, too. He's going to need the proverbial smoking gun before even admitting a crime might have been committed. Which is fair, I guess.

Because the writers felt it was necessary, Carter mentions Burke Devlin's conviction, saying "We all know what happened ten years ago." By "we," he means the people of Collinsport and NOT the audience, because they still haven't told us what the hell happened.

Carter also thinks the time that has passed suggests Devlin wasn't responsible for the wreck. Sure, he threatened to kill Roger back when Eisenhower was still president, but he's had ample opportunity to make good on those threats. Why wait so long to act unless he's "insane?" (Carter's word, not mine.)

David has taken an almost-obsessive interest in crime and punishment. Now that the cops are involved in the case, the boy is living with the sword of Damocles hanging over his head, and he's got the feeling someone's gonna be cutting the thread. While subtly interrogating Victoria about her past mistakes, she tells him she once bloodied a girl's nose in a fight at the foundling home. That place sounds worse and worse each episode.

The boy is clearly spooked by Carter's presence, which the dimwit dismisses in the episode's strangest line of dialogue. "He's probably just impressed with the dignity of my badge," he says, before inserting his head back up his own ass. The wrench believed to have been used to remove the bleeder valve from Roger's car is discovered, and Carter is going to take the tool to have it checked for fingerprints (good luck with that) which doesn't make David feel any better about his impending doom. David clumsily pretends to knock the wrench off a table and applies a few more fingerprints to it while picking it up from the floor. His backside is properly covered. For now.

Dark Shadows: Motion Cards

I'm still working on the latest entry of the DARK SHADOWS DIARY. In the meantime, waste a little time with these Dark Shadows Motion Cards.

I have unleashed the power of GIF! LOOK UPON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Boy Who Loved Dark Shadows

The Creepy Bopper is a USC student film "about a boy who runs home every day from school to watch the original Dark Shadows." It was first uploaded in 2010, but I stumbled over it this morning while avoiding reality on Reddit. The filmmaker doesn't say when he completed the film, but it was part of a larger student project that included other movies. "We weren't allowed to use dialogue or sync sound, and I always struggled with that, even adding a voice-over intro to this film," he says in the Youtube comments section. (Also, I don't know of the filmmaker is a man or a woman, but figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting the gender right in that previous sentence.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 22

Episode 22, "The Joy of Painting"
July 26, 1966

If today's episode has a lesson, it's that Maggie Evans looks adorable no matter what time of day it is.

Even though we've barely got the first four weeks of DARK SHADOWS under our belt, the Maggie Evans introduced in the pilot has little resemblance to the character now appearing on the show. The blonde, brassy waitress transformed into Collinsport's sweetheart so slowly that I barely noticed it happening. The first week of the show featured some impressive story telling, so heavily produced that it was shocking to think those episodes were created with no intention of ever airing them as reruns. Continuity for a daytime show was less important than in primetime. While it meant a lot of programs were lost to limbo, it also gave writers the opportunity to tinker heavily with their stories as they were still being told. Not even comicbooks can get away with that.

Burke Devlin pays an early morning visit to the Evans home and finds Maggie there alone, looking more chipper than anyone living in Collinsport has a right to look. Proving that she's a step ahead of both Victoria and Carolyn, Maggie knows her father's increasingly erratic behavior was prompted by Devlin's arrival in town. He's is up to no good, but that doesn't stop her from being a gracious host.

Sam and Roger accidentally collude after bumping into each other at the diner, but Roger has stopped trusting anybody since his wreck. "We're the only two who really know what happened 10 years ago," he tells Sam, implying that their secret is motive enough for murder. Neither man elaborates on said incident.

Sam returns home and, after four weeks of episodes (which is about three days in Dark Shadows Time,) finally meets Burke. Naturally, he doesn't much want to hang around with the guy he helped frame for manslaughter, but it's not like he can come out and say that. Burke offers him $1,000 to paint his portrait, establishing villainous etiquette for Collinsport. He's not the last guy to ask Sam to paint his portrait as a smokescreen to hide his real plans. He's a little more upfront that that other guy, though ... his intentions to hang his portrait on a wall at Collinwood are less than ambiguous.

Carolyn drops by the show briefly to remind us that she's the center of the universe. She tries to convince Roger not to call the cops about Burke's alleged involvement in his wreck. She's also feeling a little guilty, she's to blame for enabling Devlin to act ... if he's really responsible for the incident.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 21

Episode 21, "Some People That I Used to Know"
July 25, 1966

Victoria Winters shares a troubling story with Carolyn about the foundling home where she grew up .. and it was a LOT darker than I was expecting. It's not SLEEPERS dark (I'm sorry for putting that image in your head) but it points to a childhood that wasn't as serene as we were lead to believe.

She tells Carolyn that, when she was six years old, one of the attendants at the foundling home played a "trick" by telling her that her real parents were coming to pick her up. This is as much a "trick" as punching someone in the face.

Victoria's breakfast chitchat is resoundingly dark. Carolyn interrupts her as she's woolgathering, asking the governess if she's thinking about "the meaning of life." Victoria responds by saying the exact opposite concept is on on mind. That would be "death," for those of you playing at home. Victoria is rapidly turning into a goth Pollyanna, and it's easy to imagine her listening to The Cure in the dark while writing poetry about unicorns.

Victoria is troubled by Roger's near-fatal car wreck the night before and its possible connection to Burke Devlin. Even though we've already seen David a.) with the car part removed from his father's car and b.) planting a magazine about automotive maintenance on Victoria, DARK SHADOWS seems to be hedging its bets as to the identity of Roger's would-be assassin. It wouldn't surprise me if the show pulled an 11th hour plot twist to reveal everything we've seen about David has been a red herring. For the time being, though, just about everybody on the show is lying about something, murder or otherwise. If Victoria isn't quick to acquit OR convict Burke on the evidence she's seen, she can hardly be blamed.

Bill Malloy, on the other hand, has already made up his mind that Burke was playing satanic mechanic on Roger's car and doesn't mince words. He visits Burke in his hotel room over breakfast and tells him as much, pointing out that Devlin's claims of playing Collinsport tourist are a bunch of shit. The private investigator he hired, Wilbur Strake, is mentioned again, and Burke eventually admits to hiring the man to investigate the town's social and business climate. That would be a plausible explanation had Victoria not received a letter from the foundling home telling her that Strake has been asking questions about her in New York, as well.

Feeling the jig is up, Burke makes a phone call and warns an unseen business associate that "Things are starting to happen and I want to get moving ... fast."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 20


Episode 20: "Absolute Hypocrisy"
July 22, 1966

Mitch Ryan's a cool guy. You'd never know he was in the grip of a serious drinking problem while on DARK SHADOWS. He's got a confident swagger, the cool cynicism on Humphrey Bogart and a chin so squarely cut that Lloyd Bridges was probably envious. Even though Ryan's  been cast as the villain (of sorts) in this series, it's difficult not to take his side in his ambiguous rivalry with the Collins family.

The scripts seem intent on painting Ryan's character of Burke Devlin as a schmuck, though. For the second time in his life, Devlin is facing accusations of a crime he didn't commit, making him one of the most unlucky cats in Collinsport (Willie Loomis has him easily trumped.) Some of this is laziness on the part of the writers. The cast is supposed to buy into the idea that Devlin might be responsible for Roger Collins' car wreck. The only evidence were presented with is that Devlin, for some stupid reason, decided to take a look at Roger's car as he was leaving Collinwood earlier in the evening.

It doesn't help that the excuse to bring Roger to town (which lead to the car wreck) was total nonsense. Burke was going to offer to buy the Collins Cannery, an idea the script quickly drops like the stupid idea it is.

This is all the evidence Roger needs to believe Devlin is responsible. He even drums up a bit of dinner theater as he accuses Devlin of the crime and presents Victoria Winters as a "surprise" witness for an imaginary jury. I think he saw too many episodes of PERRY MASON and expected Devlin to spill his guts out of courtesy. He doesn't oblige.

The scene does allow Louis Edmonds the chance to parade his brand of smug sleaze for the audience. He brags to Victoria that $5 will buy any information he wants from the hotel clerk, which gets more disgusting the more I think about it. Roger is also oblivious to Burke's genuine concern for his safety after learning of his car wreck. It's like he'd already decided a course of action and is unable of revising his strategy, even when the facts urge him to do otherwise.

Not a lot happens in this episode, but there is one landmark worth mentioning. Actress Kathryn Leigh Scott is mercifully allowed to shed that terrible blonde wig, suggesting producers were warming to the idea of giving her character more to do. She certainly has more to do in this episode than serve coffee and pie. She calls Fake Sam Evans on his bullshit after he finds out she's had people in town keep tabs on his whereabouts. Sam acts like he's a lot angrier than he really is, and the dynamic we're presented is surprisingly subtle. Maggie has to play both the role of daughter and wife to Sam, a man who'd have drowned on his own vomit years ago if left to his own devices. Unlike Carolyn's daddy fixation, Maggie's issues with her father are sad instead of gross.

Dark Shadows: The Video Game

Here's something I created a few weeks ago for my Tumblr account: a fake "start screen" for an 8-bit DARK SHADOWS game. It seems to be pretty popular, so I thought I'd share it here. There was also a little confusing among the people sharing the image, so let me repeat: the game doesn't exist. The picture is just a bit of wishful thinking on my part.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Dark Shadows/Vampirella #1

DARK SHADOWS is one of the few horror/sci-fi properties with a disproportionally large female audience. The new Dark Shadows/Vampirella crossover comic from Dynamite Entertainment wants to reverse that long-standing trend, and they might have succeeded if it wasn't for the gloriously insipid cover on the first issue. If you want to make sure women don't read this book, bravo.

I don't really know where to place the blame for this horrible excuse for a comic. My instinct is to pin that dubious medal to the chest of writer Marc Andreyko, but Dynamite has a history of incorrectly crediting its creative talent, so who knows if he's even the actual author.

The biggest problem with Dynamite's recent DARK SHADOWS comics have been the writing, but after months and months of shitty comics it's now clear the problems with these books are beginning on the managerial level. Andreyko exhibits a casual understanding of DARK SHADOWS and its characters, which is fine if you're a reader of this comic but is inexcusable if you're one of its creators. But a paycheck is a paycheck, so I can't blame Andreyko for accepting a job he was offered, even when he's so clearly unqualified for it.

Incompetence is just par for the course with this book, though. If you think bad storytelling is a crime, at least the script has a grasp of the English language, correct spelling, decent grammar and is easy to follow. The character of VAMPIRELLA suggests it was created by someone whose knowledge of women is mostly derived from rumor and innuendo. I paid for this piece of shit as I bought my usual comics today and felt compelled to stick it between the pages of an issue of BARELY LEGAL so that nobody would see me reading it. Seriously, that cover? Vampirella looks like a life support system for T&A.

So, the "story." Jack the Ripper, decked out in top hat, cape and other assorted cliches, is interrupted during one of his murders and turned into a vampire. Still crazy after all these years, Jack has turned his attentions to modern New York City and has murdered a young woman descended from one of the victims of Barnabas Collins. Apparently, in an episode I missed, Barnabas swore some unrealistic vow to protect the descendants of the women he killed when he was first turned into a vampire in 1795. This would have been a difficult vow to uphold, given that he was trapped in a coffin from 1795 until 1966, but whatever.

Barnabas, followed by some guy who looks nothing like Quentin Collins but apparently is Quentin Collins, travels to the Big Apple (do people still call it that?) to look into the crime, where we get a taste of Superhero Comics 101: Barnabas and Vampirella meet and mistake each other for the murderer. This plot development would have been trite in a 1979 issue of Marvel Team-Up and is about as out of place in this book as a robot gorilla or space herpes.

The art's not terrible, and is actually quite good in places. Drawing likenesses isn't as easy as it sounds and has been a bone of contention in comics based on "licensed properties" for decades. Just because you can draw an ace Superman doesn't mean you can draw Christopher Reeve. Many successful, talented comic artists have steered clear of licensed books for this reason, so I'm not going to bust the chops of artist Patrick Berkenkotter from drawing a Dark Shadows book that never really looks like any version of the story we've ever seen. Again, blame management.

Please, Dynamite ... I'm BEGGING you ... put an editor in charge of the DARK SHADOWS books that knows something about storytelling. These books are embarrassing for everyone involved. Look at that thumbnail to your right (the image of Barnabas fighting Vampirella) and tell me you're seriously proud of this work.
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