Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dark Shadows Bingo!

It's been a slow news week, mostly because reality has an aggravating way intruding. At the moment, I've got four podcast interviews sitting on my hard drive waiting to be released into the wild. The plan is to have a new episode available tomorrow night, but haven't decided yet what it will be. There's some fun stuff ahead, regardless.

In the meantime, here's something I created for the Collinsport Historical Society's Facebook page. I wanted bingo tiles that had fun with the show's favorite tropes and eccentricities, but the trick was not creating something with a mocking tone. I hope I was successful.

Monday, July 29, 2013


During my recent trip to HereosCon, I picked up a few pieces of original art from some of the event's talented guests. Aside from a few signatures from folks like JIM STERANKO and NEAL ADAMS, I mostly spent the weekend adding "convention sketches" to my collection, including this drawing of BARNABAS COLLINS by DAN PARENT.

Parent is perhaps best known as the artist on various ARCHIE comics, including the landmark KEVIN KELLER series. Curiously, this wasn't Parent's first metaphorical trip to Collinsport ... a year ago a reader shared this little gem with me: A sketch of DENNIS PATRICK as the scoundrel JASON McGUIRE.

Curiously, the ARCHIE/DARK SHADOWS connection doesn't end there. FRANCESCO FRANAVILLA, the cover artist for Dynamite's DARK SHADOWS comic, will be providing covers for the upcoming series AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE. The book will pit the Riverdale gang against a zombie apocalypse. I didn't think I'd live to see the day where ARCHIE was publishing interesting, compelling comicbooks, but there you have it.

Friday, July 26, 2013


It's been too long since we talked about GRAYSON HALL. So here's a little bit of info about her appearance in the 1977 Broadway play, HAPPY END.

A three-act musical comedy written by Kurt Weill, Elisabeth Hauptmann, and Bertolt Brecht, HAPPY END debuted in Berlin at the Theater in Schiffbauerdamm in 1929. It closed after seven performances, but the 1977 revival fared quite a bit better, closing in July after 75 performances.

Directed by Robert Kalfin and Patricia Birch, the cast starred CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, MERYL STREEP and GRAYSON HALL, in a role referred to as both "The Fly" and "The Gray Lady." According to R.J. JAMESON's biography of Hall, A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW, the production was fraught with injuries. Lloyd was forced to perform on crutches after taking a fall from the stage, while a mishap during rehearsals left Hall wearing an arm cast early in the production.

The playbill for the 1977 production detailed Hall's career, outlining her recent theater work, the Academy award nomination and a mention of her role opposite one Canadian vampire: "She was featured on the daytime TV series 'Dark Shadows' and has done more films, TV and stage work than there is room in this program to mention."

You can see a video clip of a performance by the cast of HAPPY END from the 1977 Tony Awards HERE.

DARK SHADOWS original art auction

Artist BRET M. HERHOLZ, who was mentioned on this site back in January, is auctioning a piece of original art on Ebay. Depicting vampire BARNABAS COLLINS and the witch ANGELIQUE, the print will be limited to a single edition, with colors inspired by the recent restoration of THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI.

"The way this auction works is once a winning bid has been made, a print of the image will be made on a high quality glossy cardstock and signed personally to the winning bidder and dated," Herholz says on his website. "The original digital file of the image will be deleted making this print ONE OF A KIND. But, along with the print, you will also be bidding on the original artwork I used of Barnabas and Angelique. Which will also be signed to the winning bidder and dated." Visit his website for more details on the auction.

I love this guy's work, and you might wind up competing against me in the auction, which ends this weekend. Never fear, though. I'm a broke-ass blogger who can't afford to be too competitive on Ebay.

Berholz has a number of books available on Amazon, including Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner, and Memento Mori. Check them out!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Collinsport News Bulletins

* ROSEMONT BAY is a tabletop RPG of "supernatural relationship drama" aimed at fans of shows like DARK SHADOWS, AMERICAN GOTHIC and TWIN PEAKS. At least, it will be if it's funded. The game's creators have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the project, and is a little more than half-way toward meeting its $6,000 goal. Check it out!

* The latest installment of DAVID-ELIJAH NAHMOD's new BARNABAS' COLUMN is now up at the FANGORIA website. David takes a look at the career of Jerry Lacy, his lengthy tenure with DARK SHADOWS and his dramatic readings.

* Now is the time to stock up on several DARK SHADOWS books. Amazon currently has LARA PARKER'S first novel, ANGELIQUE'S DESCENT, for a mere $6, while her follow-up, THE SALEM BRANCH, is a stunning $5.20. Meanwhile, KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT and JIM PIERSON'S DARK SHADOWS: RETURN TO COLLINWOOD, is $1.99 on Kindle.

* ANSEL FARAJ, LARA PARKER and KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT participated in the FAMOUS MONSTERS "Stake of the Union" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif. Footage from Faraj's next feature, DOCTOR MABUSE: ETIOPOMAR, was screened at the event, and the director shared a new photo from the film online (below.)

Lara Parker as Madame Carrozza, Jerry Lacy as Dr. Mabuse, Bahia Garrigan as Christina Novello, Kate Avery as Maria, and Nathan Wilson as Lohemann.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Veteran star of stage and screen SHEILA STEAFEL has joined DARK SHADOWS to take part in THE LUCIFER GAMBIT. The story, which focuses on the character of Amy Jennings, has been written by returning author Eric Wallace.

"As the younger sister of a werewolf and a vampire, Amy has a fascinating, but very disturbing lineage”, says Wallace. “She’s the perfect character with which to tell a coming-of-age story. Only this one has madness, murder, and monsters.”

Dark Shadows: The Lucifer Gambit stars STEPHANIE ELLYNE as Amy and Big Finish newcomer SIMON LEE PHILIPS, playing Dominic. They're joined by screen legend SHEILA STEAFEL as Dominic's wife, Isobel. “I worked with Sheila a few years ago when I produced her own reading of her autobiography,” says co-producer DAVID DARLINGTON. “And I've been looking for an excuse to work with her again ever since! She has form in playing spooks, too, as UK listeners who remember The Ghosts of Motley Hall could confirm. She really gave it her all, just as we'd hoped, and really enjoyed being a demonic diva for us.”

The full cast list, cover, trailer and behind-the-scenes photographs are available HERE.

“This is a horror story about the consequences of gambling with your life,” says Wallace. “But it’s also about the only thing scarier than adolescence. And that’s adulthood.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Comicbook Resources has a sneak peak at issue #4 of DARK SHADOWS YEAR ONE. I've sworn off Dynamite's DARK SHADOWS books after the soul-crushing crossover with VAMPIRELLA, but what I've seen of this series looks pretty good. The artwork by GUIU VILANOVA not only captures the likenesses of the original cast, but manages to be moody and atmospheric, as well. That's not as easy a trick to pull off as it might sound.

I'm not adverse to the idea of re-telling the Barnabas Collins "origin" yet again, but previous attempts have managed to boost the tale's production values while also gutting it's labyrinthine narrative. If you're going to adapt this story, a comicbook might be the best place to do it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

DARK SHADOWS audiodrama wins SCRIBE Award

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers named DARK SHADOWS: THE ETERNAL ACTRESS the "best audio"story in this year's SCRIBE AWARDS, announced last weekend during Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif.

This year's Scribe winners are:

THE ETERNAL ACTRESS stars Tony Award winner DONNA McKECHNIE in the role of Amanda Harris, who she first played on DARK SHADOWS in 1969. Interestingly, the episode was competing against another DARK SHADOWS audiodrama, DRESS ME IN DARK DREAMS by Marty Ross, and DOCTOR WHO COMPANION CHRONICLES: PROJECT NIRVANA by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright.

(Note: Thanks to MARK PASSMORE for the heads up!)

DARK SHADOWS over the Rondo Awards

DARK SHADOWS did pretty good for itself at this year's RONDO HATTON CLASSIC HORROR AWARDS ceremony, held in May during the WonderFest expo in Louisville, Ky. I was unable to attend, but PATRICK McCRAY represented the website during the ceremony and let me say a few words to the audience via cellphone. The event went a long way toward maintaining my accidental CHARLIE'S ANGELS-esque mystique.

Patrick found this video of the acceptance speech over the weekend, and I admit to blushing quite often while watching it. Even at several hundred miles away, my phobia of public speaking was in full bloom, which is how that weird plug for The Kraken Gastropub worked its way into my nervous ramblings.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jonathan Frid visits Charleston, S.C., 1968

I've got a minor obsession with the promotional tour taken by JONATHAN FRID in 1968. Frid visited nine (or ten, depending on your source) cities in as many days, meeting fans and speaking to the press. And by "press," I mean he also took the time to be interviewed by high school newspaper reporters, which is pretty cool. Frid likely hated the experience of wading through mobs (and of having to stay "in character" for many of these appearances) but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans in places like Little Rock, Atlanta and Fort Wayne. They might have went a little Beatlemania at times, but their hearts were in the right places.

A few months after the national tour, Frid discussed the experience on an episode of THE DICK CAVETT SHOW, saying:

"All of my life I have wanted to go to Charleston. Well, I did and all I saw was the airport and a supermarket and the station. And I said where’s this beautiful Charleston that I’ve always heard about - well, look over there about five miles and you’ll see a steeple or something. Well, I never really get to see these towns. You just sort of - you’re on display all the time. But it’s you know, I enjoy it."
Cathy Robbins also sent me this excerpt from MALIA HOWARD's out-of-print book, JONATHAN FRID: AN ACTOR'S CURIOUS JOURNEY, in which he discusses the trip to Charleston.

I should mention that THE CURSE OF COLLINWOOD might have Barnabas Collins on its cover, but he doesn't appear in the actual story. Anyhoo, enough with that. Here's the newspaper coverage of Frid's visit to Charleston. Be warned: There are probably a few factual errors in the story, which was published more than 40 years ago.

Dream Launches Actor's Career
The News and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
May 22, 1968

By Mary Ellen Zeigler, staff reporter

A New York producer had a dream two years ago concerning a governess who came to live with a family and discovered that she had served the family many years back.

From this dream, a daytime television program was born, launching the career of Jonathan Frid. Frid plays the role of Barnabas Collins, the sympathetic vampire on ABC-TV’s daytime series “Dark Shadows.”

Though Dan Curtis, the executive producer of the show, did not dream about the role of Barnabas, it seemed to work its way into the script.Originally, however, the part only called for  a pallid-looking actor to play the role of the vampire for a three-week stint.

Frid had recently returned from a tour with Ray Milland in “Hostile Witness,” when he auditioned for the part. He now has a two-year contract and has become one of the central character’s in the story’s plot.

The attractive six-foot actor visited the Port City Monday in conjunction with a promotional tour. While here, he met with reporters and discussed his career.

On his first trip to Charleston, Frid received a tumultuous welcome, beginning when he was met at the municipal airport by a group of youngsters carrying signs, “We love you, Barnabas.”

From there, his motorcade, with police escort, continued to Pinehaven Shopping Center, where he was met by a group of shrieking, shoving teenagers who mobbed his car and tugged his suit. “I guess I really egged them on,” Frid commented later, while dining in a Mount Pleasant restaurant, on local seafood. “I held up my cane, which I use on the show, and that only made them scream louder,” he quipped.

“But, then,” he continued philosophically, “we’re all kind of like that. We all love a parade. I did mad things when I was a kid in Canada.”

Traveling on his rented lear jet with his press agent, Phil Kriegler, Frid was dressed in a navy suit and vest, and dark red tie held in place by a sterling silver tie tax of his lear jet.

He spoke of his ling desire to visit Charleston, and of not being able to see the town while here, but promised to return when he had more time. Among the particular items which interested him were the shrimp boats and shrimping industry in Mount Pleasant.

The actor describes himself as unmarried and fancy free, adding that most actors who try to maintain a home and have children find it difficult.

The Canadian-born actor attended McMaster University, served in the Canadian Navy during World War II, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and toured with repertory companies in Kent and Cornwall.

He has acted in several Shakespearean festivals in the U.S. and Canada and appeared in several off-Broadway productions.

From Charleston, he traveled to Little Rock, Ark., on his 10-city tour.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Jeff Kenny, Brooke Perrin, and Carl Hershberger at the Seaview Terrace, which served as TV's "Collinwood."

Last week, myself and fellow fans JEFF KENNY and CARL HERSHBERGER embarked on the ultimate DARK SHADOWS road trip. For nearly a year we planned a trip to New England where many of the key locations from the original series were filmed, in order to take our own sojourn to Collinsport, Maine. Once the dates were announced for the Friends of the '91 Dark Shadows Cast Reunion, we decided to include the Reunion and Lyndhurst mansion part as part our journey.

From my apartment in New York City we made our way to Connecticut and spent the evening in Essex, where many of the locations you see in Collinsport reside. Essex is an incredibly beautiful and quaint little community with an adjoining marina along the coast. While there we couldn't pass up the opportunity to have dinner at the lovely Griswold Inn, aka the Collinsport Inn. I cannot speak highly enough of the friendly staff and delicious food we enjoyed there.

"Collinsport," 2013 and 1966

The Griswold Inn, left, Vs. "The Collinsport Inn."

The "Evans Cottage," now and then.
The next morning we set out for Newport, Rhode Island, the home of Seaview Terrace, the culmination of our journey. We were privileged to be granted permission from the owner to walk the grounds and photograph the magnificent house.

Seaview Terrace, TV's "Collinwood."

From there we ventured to the Cliff Walk in search of Widows' Hill and the iconic crashing waves from opening title sequence.

Cliff Walk/Widows' Hill

We concluded our time in Newport at Bannister's Warf home of the Black Pearl, better known to fans as the Blue Whale. There we enjoyed drinks, a hearty meal, and the best clam chowder I've ever tasted.
Carl, Brooke and Jeff visit "The Blue Whale."

That evening we traveled back to Westchester, New York, for the Reunion. Over the course of the weekend we sought out many of the locations from the films HOUSE and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, as well as a number of other locations from the original series on the Lyndhurst estate.

Beechwood in Briarcliff Manor, NY, which served as the "Old House" in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

The "Collins' Mausoleum" from HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, located in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery.
Near by is the historic Sleepy Hollow cemetery prominently featured in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. Also in the area are Beechwood (the "Old House" in HOUSE) as well as the train station (now a post office) that delivered Victoria Winters to Collinsport in the very first episode.

The train station from the first episode of the Original Series.
The trip proved to be an outstanding success and an experience I know the three of us will treasure for the rest of our lives. We would like to thank CHAD HOPKINS and committee for their hard work and dedication in putting together a wonderful Reunion as well as the incomparable GUY HAINES for his expertise and guidance which made our trip possible.

Disclaminer: Be advised some of these locations including Seaview Terrace, the Evans cottage, and Beechwood are private property. Should you wish to visit these locations understand entering the grounds without express permission from the owner is trespassing. Please respect their privacy.
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