Thursday, January 31, 2013

Coffin, live bat part of "House of Dark Shadows" screening

There's a right way and a wrong way to watch HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. In 1970, the Skyway Drive-In in Hopkinsville, Ky, decided to do things the right way.

"All the bats and other vampires will not be confined to the screen," Ray Glenn wrote in the Oct. 1, 1970, edition of the Kentucky New Era. "Theater manager Robert Jordan assures me he is going to have a live bat on display at the concession stand Sunday night, and each patron will be invited to open a locked coffin to see what's inside."

"For those with a yen to join Barnabus (sic) Collins, Frid in vampiring, Jordan says he will have a supply of 'store-bought' vampire teeth available."

I've suddenly got the urge to put together a public screening of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS here in my home town.

Collinwood Cast Alert!

Joan Bennett and Anthony Bushell in 1929's DISRAELI, set to air this week on TCM.

The 1929 film DISRAELI is scheduled to air 7:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1 on Turner Classic Movies. I haven't seen the film for twenty years and can't speak authoritatively about it, but there's lots of information on the film circulating the intertubes. I mention the film primarily because it features a 19-year-old JOAN BENNETT. It wasn't her first movie (Wikipedia claims that film was 1916's THE VALLEY OF DECISION, which featured a number of the Bennett family members) but it was one of her first films of note.

DISRAELI  stars George Arliss as British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. His performance won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The story revolves around the British plan to buy the Suez Canal and the efforts of two spies to stop it (thanks, Wikipedia!) It's not an easy movie to find these days, and I expect the print to be aired by TCM will look and sound much better than most of the versions of this film that have been circulating on home video since the 1980s.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 66



Episode 66: "Dear Victoria ..."
Sept. 26, 1966

Everything I hated about the last episode was forgiven today thanks to the timely arrival of some funny, biting dialogue. Furious to find Burke Devlin waiting for him in the drawing room, Roger spays the entire gathering with his acidic wit as he makes a beeline to the sherry decanter. He even gives Victoria a what-for, bitching about her habit of blabbing the family business to everyone in town ... which is only fair, I guess, since that's exactly what she does.

Burke is a little more direct. Once the two are alone, he asks Roger point-blank "Did you kill Bill Malloy?" I wonder what kind of answer he was expecting. Burke isn't in the habit of taking anything Roger says for granted, and would probably have called bullshit even on a straight-up confession. It's possible, however unlikely, that Burke is just as crazy as Roger always claims.

Today's B-Plot is downright depressing. Liz catches Victoria writing a letter ... to HERSELF. It's a habit she got into at the foundling home, she says, just so that she could feel the thrill of receiving a letter. Which is about the saddest thing I've ever heard. From the look on Liz's face, it's the saddest thing SHE'S ever heard, too. She's even held onto her letters over the years, accidentally creating a manuscript that would probably had been a bestseller had she thought to publish it.

This moment of tragedy porn is interrupted by Roger, who asks Victoria to come to the drawing room and serve as a witness to his whereabouts on the night of Malloy's murder. Yes, they've done this before, and I suspect they'll do it  few more times.

As a witness, Victoria kinda sucks. She's not terribly certain about Roger's alibi, but offers to relay Roger's story, anyway. Burke senses her ambivalence and pounces on it, but neither are especially satisfied with her testimony. "I'll be back to Collinwood," Devlin vows on his way out. "Possibly to stay."

This episode is an excellent example of how the show can succeed adopting a "less is more"attitude. Nothing much happens, but there's some fun dialogue (and terrific delivery by Louis Edmonds, who really knows how to sing this stuff) and lots of juicy melodrama. It was actually more fun than some of the busier episodes. The downside is that it doesn't give me much to write about, insert sadface emoticon here.

Big Finish announces Dark Shadows titles for 2013

Last years's DARK SHADOWS hoopla might have slowed down a bit, but that's not stopping BIG FINISH from scheduling a number of new audio dramas for the new year. The roster of talent involved in the up-coming adventures includes LARA PARKER, JERRY LACY and a mysterious (and un-named) guest star.

The press release:

The series kicks off in May with The Phantom Bride, by Mark Thomas Passmore. Private detective Tony Peterson (Jerry Lacy) and the witch Cassandra (Lara Parker) are back! Their latest case sees them investigating a series of mysterious deaths on a cruise ship. Tony and Cassandra were reunited in The Death Mask, and their adventures continued in The Voodoo Amulet and The Last Stop.

A serial killer strikes in Collinsport in Beneath the Veil by Kymberly Ashman, returning to the range after her debut with last year's Dreaming of the Water. This is followed by The Enemy Within by Will Howells, a writer new to Big Finish. Eric Wallace, writer of The Wicked and the Dead, returns to the range for The Lucifer Gambit, a story that also sees the return to Dark Shadows of an actor - and character - yet to have featured in the audio series... 

September's release The Flip Side is a psychological thriller by Cody Quijano-Schell, another writer new to Big Finish, and the series ends with a Halloween special, Broadcast Critical, by Aaron Lamont.
The plays will be released from May through to October and are available to pre-order now, individually and as a subscription. Further details on this series - and this year's Christmas special - will be released soon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Putting the "Con" in "DragonCon"


I was planning to attend DragonCon this year. The Georgia-based convention is the biggest of its kind in my part of the country, and gives those of us too far away from Los Angeles some of our only opportunities to meet folks like Leonard Nimoy or Bruce Campbell.

But there's an ugly side to the convention that doesn't get much press. From the ground, I'm sure it looks just like any other convention, cluttered with fanboys, geekgirls and a legion of cosplayers. But the money raised from the event has been going to help pay the legal expenses of an accused sexual predator. Here's what writer NANCY A. COLLINS has to say about it:
"DragonCon has had over 12 years to sever ties with this man, but has failed to do so. Although the convention’s chairman has bought enough shares from Ed Kramer to qualify as the controlling shareholder, Kramer refuses to be bought out. No matter what DragonCon does or says, funds from the convention will continue to go to Edward Kramer until either he dies or the corporation that runs the convention dissolves and reincorporates under another name. DragonCon knows what needs to be done, but has been dragging its feet on this matter, and has gone to great trouble over the last 12 years to hide the fact that they continue to fund Edward Kramer’s lifestyle. But now the cat’s out of the bag (in large part due to Kramer’s own decision to sue them for a larger share of the convention’s profits) and there’s no putting it back in."

 There's lots of documentation out there concerning Kramer's charges, which aren't difficult to find. Artist STEVEN BISSETTE had this to say about Collins' effort to educate people on how their money was being spent:
"Her struggle to get the word out has cost her dearly: personally, professionally, and those consequences have been very real and lasting, too.Now that there are public confirmations and articles vindicating Nancy and everything Nancy has been battling to warn folks about, the worm(s) are turning—though she has yet to receive a single public (or private) apology from the many professionals who maligned her and her work while they were busily defending DragonCon and its association with Kramer. Thus, Nancy has been pre-emptively “punished” for years now for speaking up and speaking out about what she perceived as a dangerous situation that continued to put children in harm’s way."
I mention this not in an effort to convince you stay away from the event, but you should know how your money is being spent. The Kramer case will definitely play a role in my decision on whether or not I'll be attending this year. It would have been the first trip for both my wife and myself, and we'd planned to go cosplay crazy (she's been itching to try out her ideas for a Snake Plissken costume.) Considering all of the unfinished business concerning DragonCon's finances, though, the whole thing just feels gross. While the convention isn't engineered to intentionally protect or shelter an potential sexual predator, the organizers could do more to distance themselves from the case. Instead, it seems doing nothing has proven easier ... and more lucrative.

Dark Shadows Year One


 So, Dynamite Comics has announced a new series titled DARK SHADOWS YEAR ONE. The artwork looks good, and I'll be happy to see the book getting back to some kind of status quo after that brutally offensive DARK SHADOWS/VAMPIRELLA crossover. At this point, though, it might be too little, too late ... for me, at least.


 Last night I wrote a long, rambling, butt-hurt essay about the horrid state of mainstream comicbooks, but opted to delete it. There's enough fanboy whining on the Internet without my contributing to the pollution. Besides, these things tend to ebb and flow. Making comics is hard, and the corporate nature of the Big Two (Marvel and DC) just makes it that much more difficult to get anything interesting to the public. Maybe things will pick up again, but homogenization, dwindling circulation and rising cover prices have probably conspired to killed the monthly "pamphlet" format for good.


 During the last few months I accidentally let my subscriptions lapse, and found out this last weekend that my books had been put on the shelves because I hadn't been in the store in four months. Instead of disappointment, I felt relief ... because I really, really didn't want to shill out more money for those wretched books. (THE SHADOW from Dynamite was pretty good, but that was the only title I regretted missing.)


As I was saying at the start of this post, Dynamite has announced a DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE series. The artwork looks pretty good (artist Guiu Vilanova has posted some sample pages at his blog) but I'm sure the colorist will turn it into a murky mess. Also, I don't see the reason why we need to return again to the "origin," but whatever. For a while I was buying these books out of an obligation to this blog. I'm hopeful that the books will become vital before Dynamite alienates ALL of their readers and loses the license, but that's no longer my problem. I'm done with the book, and have been for several months. It's just that I'm only now realizing it.

Jonathan Frid featured in SAG awards video


Jonathan Frid is among the actors featured in this year's Screen Actors Guild Awards video looking back on the actors and actresses who passed away during the last year. It's been a pleasant surprise to see Frid featured in two of these videos so far, not to mention several print retrospectives. With the exception of his reprisal of Barnabas Collins in the Big Finish audio drama THE NIGHT WHISPERS, Frid hadn't worked in almost forty years, so it's amazing that a community with such a short memory is still willing to hold him up as an example to other actors. It's actually pretty sweet that they used a clip from the DARK SHADOWS television series in the video, and not a clip from the "more legitimate" HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS feature film.

Conrad Bain, who appeared in four episodes of DARK SHADOWS, also appears in the video below.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Podcast: The Groovy Ghoulies


I’m not gonna so far as to say time heals all wounds, but looking back at 2012, it was certainly an interesting chapter in the history of DARK SHADOWS. In recent months, I’ve avoided the topic of the Tim Burton film like the plague. It tends to bring out the worst in Dark Shadows fans, myself included. But, it’s been almost a year since the movie was released, and with a little time between us and the film, I hoped we could talk about it like adults. With that idea in mind, I rounded up the usual suspects and set about conducting a postmortem on DARK SHADOWS.

The original plan for this episode was to include a second segment for fans of the Burton film to talk about the movie. Ultimately, there just wasn't enough space to include both discussions without butchering their dialogues in editing, so I've split them into two episodes. The next episode, THE GREAT DARK SHADOWS REBUTTAL, will showcase the opinions of fans of the Burton film.

This songs featured in this episode are KNIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN by The Moody Blues, ALLIGATOR MAN by Stoneground and VAMPIRE MONEY by My Chemical Romance.

This week's panel is PATRICK McCRAY, WILL McKINLEY and myself, WALLACE McBRIDE. No blarney stones were kissed in the making of this podcast.

Download the episode as an MP3 HERE, and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast for free through iTunes.

Sample pages from Bret M. Herholz's proposed DARK SHADOWS comic series


Last summer, artist Bret M. Herholz posted several DARK SHADOWS comicbook pages he created as a proposal for a new series for Dynamite. I think this is the most fascinating comicbook interpretation of the series I've seen outside of the work of George Caltsoudas. Obviously, Dynamite decided to go in a more conventional direction with its DARK SHADOWS comic, but I hold out hope that they'll try something a little more daring (and interesting) before their license on the property lapses. This is the closest thing we'll ever get to an Edward Gorey comic.

Here's what Herholz had to say about the work:
"Dynamite has a really great roster of titles and the cult classic gothic soap Dark Shadows is one of them. Although I am aware Dynamite's portrayal of Barnabas Collins is his much later incarnation which he is cured of his vampirism I'm just more fascinated by the dynamics of his earlier Dracula/Renfield redux relationship between himself and Willie Loomis. And being a fan of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, I decided to render the pages in sepia tones."
You can see more sample pages at his blog.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Coming Soon: Down and Out in Beverly Heels


KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT has a new book shipping in March. DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HEELS is her second novel, and is about ... well, here's the Amazon product listing:

Former actress Meg Barnes used to have it all: tony Beverly Hills address, Amex Black card, Manolos for every day of the month. Not to mention a career as a popular TV detective that made her glittering life possible. 

But her lifestyle of the rich and famous has turned into a reality show for d-listed starlets. Lost in her Louboutins, she has one man to thank: her con man of a husband.Handsome FBI agent Jack Mitchell knows a suspect when he sees one—even if she’s as beautiful and gutsy as Meg. 

Meg’s ex “made off” with half of Hollywood’s wealth in an epic real estate scam. And Jack thinks Meg may have been involved.Determined to prove her innocence Meg teams up with her quirky, movie-mad best friend to track down her fugitive husband and exact justice.

But getting her life, and her career, back on track is harder than auditioning for Spielberg. Especially when her life is threatened. Meg has to trust Jack, the man who may want her behind bars…or as his leading lady for life.

The novel will be available March 26 from Amazon in both paper and Kindle editions. Scott is also offering a signed bookmark to customers with a Proof of Purchase from Amazon. Visit www.kathrynleighscott.com for details.

Scott's first novel, DARK PASSAGES, was published last summer.

DARK SHADOWS meets The Damned



Back in 2001, THE DAMNED released the album "Grave Disorder." From the very beginning the British band had been pulling in a lot of different directions, merging politics, horror, humor and social commentary into a bizarre stew that still has people arguing about whether or not they're really "punk."

"Grave Disorder" did nothing to mend that image and featured songs about horror movies ("Beauty and the Beast"), absinthe, John Lennon's dubious place in rock history ("Would You Be So Hot (If You Weren't Dead?)" and the surreal bullshit surrounding Michael Jackson in his later years ("Neverland").

The album also features the gothic ballad "'Til the End of Time," a song that may or may not be about Barnabas Collins. The lyrics certainly suggest it's about a vampire, but there are two things that makes me think it might have been inspired by DARK SHADOWS: 1) the TV series had been airing in the U.K. for several years when the album was released, and 2) the song kicks off with a sample of Lara Parker's dialogue from the series. I've posted the full song above, but Parker's voice is actually included at the end of the previous track, the tune about Michael Jackson. If you want to hear it for yourself, follow this link and skip to the 3:20 mark in the song.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 65


Episode 65: "The Soft Parade Really Sucks"
Sept. 23, 1966

I've been listening to The Doors a lot lately. It's been a while since I've given the band much thought, but their first album recently found its way into the CD player of my car. Before long, five of the six slots in my CD player were Doors albums, one of those is even the much-despised THE SOFT PARADE album. I'm not feeling nostalgic or anything. It just seemed like a good time to gorge myself on the (occasionally nonsensical) psychic nightmares of Jim Morrison.

My first instinct was to try and bamboozle you with a few paragraphs explaining how The Doors and DARK SHADOWS complement each other, but that's a bunch of bullshit. The truth is that today's episode, save for a few fun moments, was a dud that I can't work up much enthusiasm about ... and I'd much rather talk about The Doors, instead.

But, I knew this was going to happen when I committed to the ridiculous idea of writing about each of the 1,225 episode of DARK SHADOWS individually, so let's get down to business.

Burke Devlin's dramatic arrival at Collinwood at the end of the last episode was put on hold today. The script has all of the desperation of a bad liar, forcing actors Mitch Ryan and Joan Bennett to stroll around the drawing room and grope for reasons to be there. Ryan is disconnected from the script and flying on autopilot (and possibly bourbon) as he stumbles over many of his tedious lines. Burke Devlin: Badass wastes a lot of time bitching about his impoverished childhood to a woman who was born wealthy. The whole thing seems beneath the character.

Liz, on the other hand, casts her best spell over Devlin, first threatening to call the sheriff when he refuses to leave, then pouring on the charm as though the two hadn't just been threatening each other. She changes gears faster than Bo Darville and begins to build a wall of dialogue so inane it would ward off an army of Jehovah's Witnesses. "Does it still feel like a small town to you?" she asks."Have you noticed all the new buildings that have gone up? Will NBC ever air the new season of COMMUNITY?"

When Victoria arrives, she finds Devlin confused and a little shaken by Liz's saccharine behavior. He says he doesn't know what he's doing at Collinwood, but says "I think I'm having tea."

The B-plot is a little more entertaining. Roger finds Sam at the Blue Whale and the two begin one of the most pointless discussions ever had by two humans, real or imaginary. Luckily, both actors are having a blast, which makes it easier to watch. Still at odds over how to handle their nebulous relationship, the two go round and round about Sam's place in the universe.

The artist asks Roger to make good on his offer to pay his way out of town, only to find Roger has lost interest in the idea. For reasons he doesn't share with us, he later changes his mind and offers Sam the money, only to find the artist is no longer interested. The highlights of the discussion involve Sam spilling his booze ("You can buy another drink, but you can't buy another life," Roger tells him) and Sam's giggle fit over Roger's assertion that the late Bill Malloy was a friend of the family ("The only time he was a friend to you was when he very conveniently died," Sam tells him.)

Roger returns home and isn't thrilled with the idea that Devlin is waiting for him in the drawing room. Hopefully, the two will have a chance to talk sometime in the next few episodes.

Moonlight Maxims


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 64



Episode 64: "Fight the Power"
Sept. 22, 1966

The Collins family is used to a little chaos now and then, weathering it with the kind of stoicism that would make Hannibal Lecter envious. The Collinses aren't the kind of people to let a little thing like murder interrupt their brooding, drinking and nefarious schemes.

While they've got lengthy experience with mayhem, the people of Collinsport aren't exactly known for coping well with the kinds of calamity that occasionally flow downhill from Collinwood. Right now, nobody knows what to make of Bill Malloy's murder, and any evidence that looks to prove one party's guilt will also be used to prove that same party's innocence. So, it's not terribly surprising that Matthew Morgan's bizarre, violent and extremely public display of assholery doesn't automatically peg him as a murder suspect.

Bolstered by several mugs of Collinsport Stout at the Blue Whale, Morgan bluntly tells Burke Devlin that he's going to kill him if he doesn't leave the Collins family - specifically Liz - alone. Burke responds by vowing to redouble his efforts, and even works in a few jabs at Liz in his pledge. He calls her a "neurotic" recluse while poking the grizzly-bear shaped Morgan with his index finger and is genuinely surprised when the Collinwood caretaker reacts poorly. Morgan tries to strangle Devlin in full view of the patrons of the Blue Whale. Oddly, the crowd seems to view Devlin as the villain in the fight: All eyes are upon him as Sheriff Patterson breaks up the tussle.

Despite Morgan's death threats and Devlin's devotion to vigilante justice, Patterson hauls both men down to the sheriff's office with all of the authority of an elementary school principal. Morgan argues that Devlin is a "troublemaker" and seems put out that Patterson stopped him from publicly executing his enemy. Devlin taunts Patterson, more-or-less calling him an impotent puppet of the town's ruling class.

Speaking of the ruling class, Liz and Carolyn get a little screen time in this episode in one of the show's more disturbing displays of parental manipulation. Liz's sense of maternal duty begins and ends with getting what she wants, and she doesn't hesitate to twist even her own words into new and interesting meanings in order to accomplish the task at hand. In this case, it's discouraging Carolyn from her interest in Burke Devlin.

Carolyn's own sense of character peeks out from behind Liz's foggy reasoning from time to time, realizing at one point that Morgan's creepy behavior at the Blue Whale might have been the end result of her mother's own manipulations. I'm not suggesting that Liz consciously intended Morgan to kill Devlin, but it's not impossible that some part of her knew how Morgan would respond to her earlier concerns about the Devlin's behavior. Carolyn is beginning to catch on to the fact that her mother has Jedi-like skills of manipulation, but still doesn't want to believe it.

The episode ends with the now-familiar "sting" of a surprise visit at Collinwood: Burke Devlin is back, with god-knows-what in mind for the Collins family. I suspect it's more empty vows of vengeance, but I'll have to wait until the next episode to find out.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Podcast: Doctor Mabuse



Director ANSEL FARAJ and actor NATHAN WILSON visit The Collinsport Historical Society this week to talk about their upcoming film, DOCTOR MABUSE. The feature film, set to premiere in April during a special event at Coronado Island, Calif., also stars DARK SHADOWS alumni JERRY LACY, LARA PARKER and KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT. Introduced in 1921, Mabuse was one of the world's first great antiheroes, and the prototype for characters as varied as The Joker, Hannibal Lecter and pretty much anybody that ever crossed swords with James Bond. The character has since dropped off the cultural map for all but the most hardcore film enthusiasts and, in this episode of The Collinsport Historical Society Podcast, Faraj explains why he's so eager to re-introduce Doctor Mabuse to the world.

This week's episode includes the songs EVIL WILL PREVAIL by The Flaming Lips, and a cover of the Rolling Stones classic SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL by the Electric Hellfire Club.

Download the episode as an MP3 HERE, or subscribe to it through iTunes.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Collinwood Cocktails: Wake Up, Willie!


(Technically, this is a very easy Vietnamese Coffee recipe I got from my friend, Ron Mikulak of the Louisville Courier Journal.  It's so easy that even a harried Loomis can make it.  It prepares itself overnight with no work, which is clearly an advantage for Willie.  And in chilly Maine, it can even make itself without electric power.  Most importantly, it provides much needed energy for daytime operations, given that the adventures of Collinwood usually begin at sundown with no time left for catch-up sleep during the day.  It's the official morning drink at the Collins Foundation and got us through many a marathon day. - Patrick McCray) 

From the Desk of Willie Loomis:


Yah gonna need:

One regular-size French press coffee maker.  If they have them in several sizes, choose the middle-sized one. Ah'm busy, Julia; ah don't have time for countin' ounces. 

1 measuring cup.  If ah ain't got one of those, ah use most of a mug.  

Light roast, ground coffee.  They try and fool you with dark roast. See, Adam, light roast's got more zip to it.

Sweetened, condensed milk.  In case ah need wake up Maggie, 'cause Barnabas'll be here any minute.  An' it's sweet, see?  Like her.  And ah don't want nothin' bad happenin' to her.

Tall tumbler or glass.  Like a highball glass.  The kind ah borrowed from Burke.  

Here's whatcha do:

Put a heapin' cup of the ground coffee in the French press.

Pour in water until it's full.  But not so full as you'll spill it on that old rug he likes and make him hit you with that cane of his.

Stir it.

Chill it in the icebox.

Wait about 8-12 hours.  That's it.

Strain it with the press.

Take that highball glass Burke's lookin' for and put in a finger or two of the sweetened, condensed milk.  Few tablespoons.  Depends on how sweet you want it.  

Pour in that cold-brewed coffee.  Ah gotta nervous stomach 'cause Adam finally ate that chicken leg, but this don't hurt as much, 'cause the cold brewin' takes out the acid.

Mix it up real good and drink it.  That'll keep you goin' till you make it to the Blue Whale so they can Irish it up.

So, remember:
  • 1 cup of ground coffee beans (any flavor or roast you like.
  • Water.
  • Chill 8-12 hours in refrigerator.
  • Strain.
  • Pour into a glass with 1-4 T of sweetened, condensed milk.  
  • Mix and drink.*
*If you want it to have even more kick, make a batch of the pre-sweetened coffee a day earlier and pour it into ice-cube trays.  Freeze those and use them as cubes in the Wake Up Willie.  
 
(Note: Willie Loomis screencap courtesy of WILLIE LOOMIS SAVES COLLINSPORT, which you really should visit.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Podcast: Shadows and Bloodlines



This week, JESSICA DWYER leads a discussion about ... well, it was supposed to be about the role of women in horror, but the guests had other ideas. The real goal behind this podcast is to bring together interesting people and see (or, in this case, hear) what happens. It didn't take long for writers P.N. ELROD and NANCY KERSEY to decide they'd rather talk about DARK SHADOWS than anything else. Given my own habit of rambling on about all things Collinsport, I can hardly blame them. And I think you'll like the results.

This episode features the songs CAST A SHADOW by Cub, WITCHCRAFT by Book of Love, VAMPIRA by The Misfits and LAISSE TOMBER LES FILLES by France Gall.

Download the episode as an MP3 file HERE, or subscribe to it through iTunes.

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 63


Episode 63: "Strangers in the Night"
Sept. 21, 1966

Conrad Bain died Monday, news that didn't start to make the rounds until yesterday afternoon.

Bain, of course, was in a handful of episodes of DARK SHADOWS. His credits at the Internet Movie Database say he appeared in four episodes, but two of them were fairly notable. He was one of the actors in the first episode (where he welcomed Victoria Winters to Collinsport at the local inn) and made his exit from the show a few years later at the hands of a werewolf. There were almost 600 episodes between his last two appearances, but his involvement in the show was enough to get him invited to take part in cast discussions from time to time.


Bain's third appearance was mentioned here not too long ago as part of this feature. So, it's not that surprising when his name was the first thing I saw as I fired up the DARK SHADOWS: THE BEGINNING DVD on my laptop to watch another episode this morning. The funny thing is that the disc should have begun where I left off, at the credits of Episode 62. Instead, it skipped backward over a full episode to begin fully on Bain's credit for episode 61.

I posted a screencap of Bain's cast credit on the site's Facebook page. I post a lot of weird shit over there and people sometimes can't tell when I'm joking. But it happened. I'm not suggesting we call out Mulder and Scully or anything. My laptop is a piece of junk held together by good will and duct tape, so buggy behavior isn't unusual. But it was a pleasant coincidence.

None of that has anything to do with today's episode, though, which spends a lot of time moving its chess pieces around the board for dramatic effect. A few characters venture into new territory in this episode, the most significant of which is Maggie Evans making a visit to Collinwood. The waitress has had enough of the Burke/Roger/Sam intrigue and stormed up to Collinwood to demand an answer from Roger Collins about the strange goings on.

"I've lived in Collinsport all my life but I've never been within a quarter mile of this place," she tells Liz, who seems to be the mansion's appointed greeter for virgin sacrifices. After all this time, it's weird to see two characters on a show who've never met, especially one as economical as DARK SHADOWS. But Liz hasn't left the house since before Maggie was born, while Maggie has never been offered an invitation to Collinwood. So it's fun to see the two spar. It's not the greatest dialogue ever written, but it's interesting to watch two people act simultaneously aggressive and defensive without any idea of how the other might react.

Liz, naturally, wins the duel. Maggie is outclassed, but also makes the mistake of showing her hand by telling Liz "I'm so confused I don't know what is true and what isn't anymore." She's prepared to leave without having addressed her concerns to Roger when Carolyn makes a surprise appearance.

I say "surprise" because Carolyn has spent the entire episode at The Blue Whale whining about Bill Malloy's death. She bumps into Matthew Morgan there, who's throwing back a few mugs of liquid courage before dealing with Burke Devlin. He's plotting some gambit that's supposed to end all of Liz's troubles but won't say what (I suspect it has something to do with putting his giant, cat-strangling hands around Burke's neck, though.)

When Carolyn doesn't get anything but the most cryptic answers from Matthew, she returns home and barges in on Liz and Maggie's scene. I'm anticipating a lot of melodrama in the next episode.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conrad Bain, 1923-2013


TMZ (ugh) is reporting that Conrad Bain, star of DIFF'RENT STROKES, has passed away. Fans of DARK SHADOWS will remember that Bain had an occasionally reoccurring role as Collinsport Inn manager Mr. Wells, who ultimately died at the hands of werewolf Chris Jennings.

From TMZ:
Bain family sources tell TMZ, Bain died Monday night in Livermore, CA. So far, details surrounding his death are unclear.

We spoke with Bain's daughter Jennifer who tells us, "He was an amazing person. He was a lot like Mr. Drummond, but much more interesting in real life. He was an amazing father."

Bain -- who became a household name starring opposite Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges on the iconic 80s series -- is survived by his three sons and one daughter. He also has a surviving twin brother Bonar Bain.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 62


Episode 62: "Counting Flowers on the Wall"
Sept. 20, 1966

Burke Devlin spent five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. After this episode, I know a little about how he feels, because it amounted to 22 minutes of my life I'll never get back. This doesn't exactly qualify me for a teardrop tattoo or anything, but I'm here to tell you ... hard time changes a man. By the time the episode ended I'd learned how to make a shiv.

It not like I didn't know what I was getting into. Two episodes back the show introduced a dangling plot point of pornographic proportions, only to immediately forget it. Then, after a bit of drama at the Evans Homestead, it looked as though Sam was going to finally confess his part in the conspiracy to Devlin ... only I think we all knew THAT wasn't going to happen. Not yet, anyway.

Instead, we get a bunch of rambling dialogue from Sam that sounds like Sylvia Plath doing bad improv comedy as he explains (repeatedly) why he fled the dinner party a few hours earlier. It goes nowhere. All we get from him is a confession that he didn't kill Bill Malloy.

For Burke, this "confession" is all the evidence he needs that Roger Collins is the killer. The suspect list is a short one, after all, made all the shorter by how much Devlin hates Roger. Even the town's most studious fan of homicide, David Collins, seems blameless in the crime. Roger doesn't do himself any favors by pouring on his brandy-soaked charm for Victoria Winters, not-so-slyly interrogating her about the dinner party with Sam and Maggie. Much to my surprise, Victoria doesn't fall for his bullshit and flat-out asks him what he wants to know.

She also reveals herself to be a blabber mouth on par with Gladys Kravitz. Not only did she spill to Maggie, Sam and Burke on all the recent activities at Collinwood, she tells Roger everything that was discussed at the Evans home. It's like the Collins family hired Facebook to instruct David.

Anxious to rid his home of the walking Status Update, Roger tells Victoria that he's got friends in Florida that could use a governess, and paints a tiny portrait of the state as some kind of tropical paradise. She declines (duh) and the status quo of Collinwood remains unchanged.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

John Karlen wins in Emmy (1986)


I stumbled upon a message board post a few minutes ago that gave me a shock. The writer slipped several times into the past tense when referring to John Karlen, making me think the actormight have passed away. Turns out the writer just doesn't have a keen grasp of grammar.

Anyhoo, lets take a moment to look back at Karlen's 1986 Emmy win for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" for his role on Cagney & Lacey. There's an amazing collection of faces in this video, from the two presenters (ne-er-do-well Stacy Keach and Angie Dickinson) to Edward James Olmos, William Daniels and more.

Also, on the off-chance that the Grim Reaper is reading this, STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM JOHN KARLEN.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vampires 101: No Stalgia is Good Stalgia


When DRACULA was first published in 1897, it was an attempt by Bram Stoker to breathe life into the vampire legend. Either by design or by accident, he combined different folk tales to create a new version of the vampire, a monster from legend that was still relatively shapeless as the 19th century was winding down.

It wasn’t an especially groundbreaking book in regards to its narrative. While Stoker succeeded in crafting a story dripping with oral sexuality, its villain behaved pretty much like the villains of the VARNEY THE VAMPIRE “penny dreadful,” and John Polidori’s THE VAMPYRE. Even its epistolary style of telling the story through journals, letters and press clippings was old hat by 1897.

But DRACULA managed to hit at the right place at the right time, and played to a variety of Victorian phobias that had been brewing for decades. What made it really special, though, is that Stoker created a modern novel for modern audiences. Unlike many of its predecessors, DRACULA was set in the world inhabited by its readers. Even the locations he was forced to invent, such as the fantastic Transylvania landscape conjured mostly from his own imaginations, probably looked how the people of England in 1897 imagined them to be, complete with wandering packs of wolves, superstitious peasants and quaint meals.

Say what you will about the truncated stage adaptations of DRACULA, but they succeeded - for a time - in maintaining the story’s contemporary setting. When the play was adapted for the screen by Universal in 1931, it also set the story in “modern” London.

"I'm gonna break my foot off in Peter Murphy's ass."
But, a funny thing happened along the way to the 21st century. DRACULA gradually became tied to the era that first spawned him. Universal Studios occasionally reinvented the character in order to make him relevant to changing audiences (and to tailor him to whatever actor was playing the part) but Hammer hit the reset button in a big way in 1958 with DRACULA/HORROR OFDRACULA. It was the start of a new franchise that re-established Dracula as a creature from the past. But, even Hammer felt the need to upgrade the tale by the time the Swinging ‘70srolled around. Not only that, the last film to feature CHRISTOPHER LEE as the Count took place in a dystopian future.

Since then, there have been a few attempts at resurrecting DRACULA for modern audiences, but most of them have only paid lip service to Stoker’s novel. Most straight adaptations (such as the JOHN BADHAM and FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA films) have embalmed the tale in the year in which is was written. The more faithful these movies are to Stoker’s novel, the less they have in common with it.

Subtext, schmubtext.
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is among the best of the Dracula pastiches, if for no other reason than it captures the spirit of its time in a ruthlessly vicious manner. The story is strikingly similar to Stoker's, thanks mostly to a careful distillation of the original DRACULA novel over the previous seven decades. While the sexuality of the vampire is mostly downlplayed in the film, the idea of “vampire as pestilence” is pushed to the forefront, a theme which is at the heart of Stoker’s novel. But HOUSE turns the concept of pestilence on its head in a reckless, rebellious manner that shows a keen understanding of its audience.

Movies like THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, ROSEMARY’S BABY and their knock-offs shared a common sentiment that the next generation was something to be feared. A lot of adults couldn’t tell the difference between The Beatles and The Monkees, and probably assumed any kid with long hair was setting up a Manson Family franchise in their neighborhood. Unlike its contemporaries, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS gives the middle finger to these sentiments in a bloody, nihilistic manner. If the world has anything to fear, the movie argues, it’s of previous generations' inability to change. Barnabas Collins is the embodiment of “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30,” a man who can’t stop himself from repeating the mistakes of the past no matter how much harm he does. He was Richard Nixon with fangs.

Jonathan Frid's time at the White House is more fondly remembered, though.
Curiously, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS also exhibits something I think of as “The Varney Effect.” DRACULA owed a huge debt to the VARNEY THE VAMPIRE “penny dreadful” serial published in the 1840s, and most movies that riff on Stoker’s novel with a lack of devotion to the source material often wind up making VARNEY THE VAMPIRE by mistake. The similarities between the Barnabas Collins story and VARNEY are numerous, right down to both having portraits of look-alike “ancestors” hanging in the family mansion. Varney also takes advantage of the knowledge of his ancestral home by using secret passages to assault women in the night before fleeing to his own home located on adjoining grounds. This will all sound familiar to fans of DARK SHADOWS.

When you borrow the skeletal structure of DRACULA, you’re really appropriating the structure of VARNEY. You’ll see the same thing happen in Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS film released in 2012 to much different effect. To his credit, he experiments extensively with the vampire story archetypes, using many of the plot points from DRACULA only to knock them down. It doesn't really accomplish anything because the credited screenwriter, Seth Grahame-Smith, doesn't do anything significant with these ideas.

The script also doesn't really know where to go with the vampire legend, trapping it firmly between the rock of Victorian tradition and the hard place that is the "superhero" vampire of the 21st century. Burton’s film twists the “pestilence” of the vampire into a power to be envied. In HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, Barnabas spreads his own disease with careless abandon, inadvertently ending his bloodline through his misdeeds. In Burton’s film, though, the disease is a power to be coveted, and will be shared only with a select few. It becomes the source of Barnabas' salvation in the movie’s final scene, where he “shares” this curse to remake a woman in his own image. The “Bitches Be Crazy” subtext of the film is hard to miss, but I never noticed how gross it was until I typed that previous sentence.

"Now try on the Jack Sparrow costume."
The addition of Angelique to the story changes the overall DRACULA dynamic quite a bit, giving the vampire something to worry about other than a “Van Helsing” surrogate trying to put a stake in him, while also stripping him of his role as “invader.” The movie devotes a lot of time to domesticating the vampire as though he was a stray cat, but it never quite overcomes its own quaint revulsion for its era. While the villain of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS was an “elder generation” villain, the script to the Burton film desperately wants to be counterculture. Johnny Depp’s interpretation of Barnabas Collins has him rescue/create a soulmate in the movie’s climax, delivering our antihero from social solitude. But it also has him murder a bunch of “hippies” in a throwaway gag because, you know, hippies are stupid. Or something. In fact, there’s something revealing in Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Barnabas Collins as a fringe character who also feeds on other fringe characters. As an artist, Burton lacks the self awareness to see himself in his own work. Much like Hot Topic, he is hawking phoney rebellion and iconoclasm for corporate entities that understand neither concept.

Burton also decided to embalm DARK SHADOWS in a bygone day, which might have dangerous side affects for the property. DRACULA was designed to be a modern tale, but was confined to the past by later generations who can’t differentiate between story and artifice. Until 2012, this chronic sense of nostalgia never appeared to be much of a threat to DARK SHADOWS, a show that was hardly set in its own time even when it first aired.

It will be interesting to see if Burton’s film will have an impact on future interpretations of the story. It’s probable that we’ll see Collinwood revived to a contemporary setting at some point in the near future, but I’ve seen enough comicbooks “rebooted” over the years to know that revisiting a property’s heyday is an irresistible lure for some creators. If it’s achieved nothing else, Burton’s multi-million dollar reliquary might have trapped Barnabas Collins in a timeline he’ll never escape now that the character is so firmly ensconced in the minds of casual audiences as a campy, kitschy antique with about as much relevance as go-go boots and 8-track tapes.

Moonlight Maxims


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 61


Episode 61: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
Sept. 19, 1966

Damn, I'm tired. I've got no reason to be. The most strenuous thing I've done all day was drink a cup of coffee while standing upright, but I'm so not in the mood for this.

That's something to inspire further reading, isn't it? When a writer proclaims their apathy LOUDLY at the start of whatever he/she is writing, how can you expect whatever follows to be anything less than shit? It's a little like throwing a bucket of cold water on somebody just moments before you start flirting with them.

Luckily, Burke Devlin has the answer for my rainy day blues: When all else fails, act like an entitled asshole.Not being an independently wealthy antihero, though, I don't have the luxury of meeting life with a whiskey-fueled swagger. So I have to be content to live vicariously through Devlin ... even when he acts like a cretin (which he most certainly does in this episode.)

Not that Burke shouldn't feel entitled to something. The man is about 51 percent sure he went to prison for somebody else's crime but can't exactly offer up any proof to his own innocence. And, when the one man who thinks he might have a point is quickly struck down with great vengeance and furious anger ... well, Burke ought to be a little pissed off.

His biggest obstacle is that nobody seems to really know what happened the night he, Roger and Laura Collins went for a drunken joy ride that sent someone to the bone orchard. Even though he's not aware of it, he certainly shares some of the blame for what happened. Whoever it was that died (and they haven't told us anything about the victim) didn't ask to be squished like day old Frogger. Sam seems to know something about what happened, as does Roger. But everyone has told so many lies (or has spread accidental misinformation) that nothing can be accepted at face value. Not even a confession would clear the air.

Refusing to embrace the fog of war that perpetually hangs over Collinsport, Burke heads over to the Evans homestead and invites himself to dinner. He's told "no" several times, but that doesn't stop him. He even makes Victoria feel guilty for asking him to leave.

If crashing the Victoria, Sam and Maggie dinner party weren't enough, he also brings up the topic of his manslaughter trial and demands everyone join the conversation. He's a little more charming than Dennis Hopper in BLUE VELVET, but not by much. "I was drunk and don't remember too much about that night. But I do remember Roger Collins taking the wheel," he says. He then apologizes for ruining the dinner party, as though he had anything else in mind when he barged in. (It's also worth mentioning that defenses which begin with "I was drunk ..." rarely covert many people to your point of view.)


Proving he's not as dumb as he sometimes behaves, Sam seizes the first lull in the conversation to get himself a drink from the kitchen. He fails to tell his guests that he's going to the kitchen at the Collinsport Inn, and fucks off while nobody is paying attention.

The episode marks the return of the occasionally reoccurring character of Mr. Wells, the hotel clerk played by Conrad Bain. Sam asks for the sealed confession he gave Maggie, which is locked inside the hotel safe. Wells chats with Sam as he slooooooowly retrieves the letter, then makes a point of calling Maggie to get her permission to give the letter to her pop. Long story short, the letter is locked inside the safe before the scene ends.


The dinner party completely ruined (and no mention of the mysterious portrait of Not-Victoria introduced in the last episode) Burke storms off, probably to refresh his bourbon-scented aftershave. He bumps into Sam at the hotel and finds the artist is suddenly eager to have a "private talk." If this were a movie, the next scene would probably involve Burke getting shot five of six times. But DARK SHADOWS has time to kill and space to fill, so I'm not getting my hopes up for a climactic resolution in the next episode. It doesn't help that the next episode was aired on a Tuesday, which almost guarantees it's going to be talky.

Jim Henson's "House of Dark Shadows"


Liz notes of the resemblance of Count Von Collins to his ancestor in this still from “Jim Henson’s House of Dark Shadows.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1987 PBS documentary celebrates Dark Shadows


I'm still in the process of watching this, but what I've seen so far is fascinating. CASTING SHADOWS is a documentary produced by the defunct PBS affiliate WNYC-TV in 1987 to promote a new broadcast of the original episodes.

JONATHAN FRID introduces the proceedings, which also includes extensive interviews with Frid, KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT, CLARICE BLACKBURN, JOAN BENNETT, NANCY BARRETT and LOUIS EDMONDS. It also includes some footage from a DARK SHADOWS FESTIVAL of the time.

Thanks to David-Elijah Nahmod for the link!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Podcast: Sonja Blue and Nancy A. Collins



Blogger Plucky McFeatherton speaks to author NANCY A. COLLINS about gothic horror, her upcoming projects (including the return of anti-hero SONJA BLUE to print after a ten-year hiatus) and the sight of actor JONATHAN FRID in Bermuda shorts. The music for this episode includes HINT OF HER BLOOD by Danzig, SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK by The Cramps and KILL CITY by Iggy Pop.

Download the Podcast HERE, or subscribe to it for free through iTunes.

Collins is raising money for the next SONJA BLUE novel via indiegogo, and is about halfway toward meeting her target. If you ever wanted to see yourself get killed in a horror novel, make sure you check on the "Red Shirt" perk at the campaign website.

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 60


Episode 60: "Doppelgänger"
Sept. 16, 1966

Your experience watching a movie or television show depends a lot on who you're watching it with. Most of us have had the joy of sharing a favorite movie with a child for the first time, a not-entirely altruistic ritual that lets us recapture a little of our own experience of discovering the movie. It doesn't always end in happiness, though. Sometimes the little brat thinks you're movie is total crap and would rather watch re-runs of Hannah Montana.

Last night, I decided to watch an episode of DARK SHADOWS with Mrs. Cousin Barnabas (who's real name is Sara, btw.) She's mostly kept up with this feature and was familiar enough with the show to follow what was happening. And the experience was ... interesting.

For the casual viewer, not a lot happened during this episode. Except that a LOT happened: Sam tells Victoria about the fatal "moving violation" that sent Burke Devlin to prison a decade earlier. Victoria finds a portrait of a woman at Sam's home that looks eerily like her. And we get another subtle warning that Laura Collins is on her way to fuck with the Collins family and set a violent supernatural precedent for the series.

These plot points weren't presented in a DUM-DUM-DUMMMMMM! kind of way, though. Watching the show with someone who doesn't share my level of investment numbed me a little to these revelations. They were tossed off without melodrama by the actors, with the bulk of the show's soapy intensity devoted to the clash of words between Devlin and Sheriff Patterson (who vows to have Devlin arrested if he keeps meddling in the investigation into Bill Malloy's death.)

Sara was more interested in Victoria and Maggie's quiet moment that allowed them to behave like friends. Both women probably missed out on huge chunks of their childhood thanks to hardship and tragedy, so their short, giggly scene was a welcome moment before the town's mysteries began to insist upon themselves again.

It's been 20 years since I've seen these early episodes and I'd completely forgotten about the doppelgänger portrait of not-Victoria. I'm pretty sure we never find out who this woman was, but it's not out of the question that it's a portrait of Victoria, herself, given the show's later preoccupation with time travel.

Or perhaps its just another iteration of the DARK SHADOWS narrative interloper, a woman who, like Victoria, had been consumed by show. Maggie later takes her place as Collinwood governess, but I don't know if Maggie's eventual "departure" to Wyndcliffe Sanitarium means she escaped this fate, or if she was just another victim of Collinwood. Like a serial killer, Collinwood had a fetish for young, dark haired women like Daphne Harridge, Maggie Evans, Rachel Drummond and (on more than one occasion) Victoria Winters. Their stories never end well.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Podcast: Morbius the Living Vampire!



Joe Keatinge, writer of Marvel's new MORBIUS THE LIVING VAMPIRE series, and comics legend Roy Thomas speak about creating - and re-creating - Marvel's first vampire. Morbius was at the crossroads of several historic changes in comics. Not only was his first appearance also the first issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN not written by Stan Lee (who turned 90 this week,) but he was also the first vampire character at Marvel following changes to Comics Code Authority prohibition for supernatural characters. In this interview, Thomas speaks about the events that lead to Morbius making his debut in 1971, his script for the DARK SHADOWS parody "Darn Shadows," and how the Marvel office was not allowed to disturb him when a television show featuring a certain cane-carrying vampire was on.

PATRICK McCRAY speaks to Joe Keatinge about resurrecting Morbius in a post-TWILIGHT world, and how he's working to make the character relevant to modern audiences without showing disrespect to the writers and artists who have come before him.

The music for this episode includes THE PINK ROOM by David Lynch, THE VAMPIRE CLUB by Voltaire, and V IS FOR VAMPIRE by Powerman 5000.

Download the file as an MP3, and find us on iTunes.

Read a preview of the first episode of MORBIUS below.


Howlers


This week's installment of Bill Branch's classic HOWLERS comics.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 59



Episode 59, "Lies, Damned Lies and Tide Charts"
Sept. 15, 1966

In THE REPUBLIC, Plato described the need for something he called "The Noble Lie" to maintain order in society. Plato described a fictional culture made of specific classes, such as The Rulers, the Auxiliaries, Farmers, etc. Each of these classes contained a unique "metal" in their bloodstream/souls that determined their lots in life.

The "Lie" in this society is that these metals were put in place by God and could not be changed. These metals also prevented people in different social classes from intermarrying or climbing the social ladder. This lie was necessary, he argued, to keep the masses happy and maintain a stable society.

Naturally, the people at the top of this ladder had the most to gain, and probably perpetuated the lie more than anyone else. We can argue the relative noblity of this lie, but I mention it here because "The Noble Lie" is something Roger Collins probably appreciate. The lie Roger told that sent Burke Devlin to prison was an effort to protect his family and preserve his own comfortable existence. Devlin might also have been sacrificed to continue the prosperity of the town. Had a member of the Collins family been prosecuted for manslaughter, or even convicted, it would surely have had an impact on the local economy. The Collins family is, after all, the primary employers of Collinsport.

Since then, though, Roger has told so many lies to cover for his first deception than nothing he says can be taken at face value. Even when he's telling the truth, it's usually a falsehood. Collinsport's fragile social structure is sitting precariously on a foundation of lies.

Unfortunately for the Collins family, the town's social structure is obliged to pull at the loose threads of this tapestry and tempt its own doom. Sheriff Patterson arrives at Collinwood in this episode to speak to Liz and Roger (mostly just Roger) about Bill Malloy's suspicious-looking death. The "evidence" so far doesn't point to foul play, he says, but you have to overlook a great many things to think a man slipped and accidentally drowned himself while taking a walk on the beach just before midnight.

Malloy, we learn, suffered a blow to the head, but it's inconclusive if the injury happened before or after his death. Also, his watch stopped at 10:45, which is the kind of clue that might matter in a Sherlock Holmes story but doesn't really mean shit in real life. Roger is a little put off by Patterson's questions, but changes his tune to offer as much "help" that he can in the case. He also advises Liz to keep her trap shut (phrasing it as "Remember that I'm your brother,") not because he did anything, but because he's spun so many lies that he could probably be successfully prosecuted for any crime the cops wanted to pin on him.

His frustration with his potpourri of lies comes to a boil when he confesses to Liz that he murdered Malloy, and then admits he only said THAT to see the look on her face. Asshole.

Patterson gets a little help from Collinwood's favorite sociopath, David, who again steals his every scene. Disappointed that the sheriff isn't arresting his father, he presents Patterson with tide charts of his own creation to help him figure out where Malloy was murdered. When Patterson leaves, David and Roger share a long, scary and hilarious look that summarizes their adversarial relationship better than words.

The show has been foreshadowing the climax of this story arc almost from the very beginning. David is more interested in the end of this story than anyone,consulting ghosts, tide charts and his crystal ball to learn the identity of the town's resident murderer. But, like his father, the junior-grade Doctor Doom has burned so many bridges with lies that nobody is paying him any attention.

If you're interested in pursuing David's newfound hobby, here's a website devoted to tide charts in Maine. They don't appear to have an app for tracking the journey of Bill Malloy's body, though.

"If a man can become a Muppet,
then a Muppet can become a man."


"One! One DARK SHADOWS movie! AH AH AH!"

That was the year that was


This has been a weird year for DARK SHADOWS. The property reached STAR WARS heights of cultural awareness in 2012, but the whole experience was less than the sum of its parts. While it's possible to harm previous work in the eyes of some by revisiting/revising it (ALIEN/PROMETHEUS, the STAR WARS series, etc.) it doesn't look like the 2012 film has had a negative impact on the original series. Not everyone who sampled the series because of the Tim Burton film liked what they saw, but DARK SHADOWS certainly has more fans now than when 2012 started.

The Burton film aside, 2012 was an unusually distasteful year for DS fans. Not only was the movie a creative failure,  the comics from Dynamite were a semi-monthly reminder that the narrative acrobatics achieved by the original television series were much more difficult than they looked. We also lost Jonathan Frid this year, even though I like to pretend he faked his death to avoid having to talk about the goddamn vampire to a whole new generation of terrible journalists. It's been a bittersweet year, to be polite.

I don't know what's going to happen for DARK SHADOWS in 2013, but I've got some plans in mind for this website ... and you'll be seeing some of these changes in the next few weeks. Some of these additions are a long time coming. My background is in print journalism, and those of us devoted to  newspapers are easily disgusted by "journalists" who insist on making every story about them. You see this most often on television, as reporters fall all over themselves to interject themselves into their own narratives, conjuring themselves like so much Beetlejuice by repeating their own names as often as possible. If we get lucky they might even cry on cue.

Print media isn't immune from this, either. I have no patience with people more concerned with promoting their own celebrity than in sharing the stories of others. I tune out pretty quickly when a story about police brutality in Los Angeles begins with what the writer had for breakfast.

I'm also protective of my privacy, something I had to learn the hard way during my rookie years in newspapers. I've had angry criminals call my home to complain about seeing their name in print. I've been the topic of discussion on message boards managed by organized crime. I've been manhandled by an  angry mother furious with me because my newspaper refused to paint a woman not yet charged with the crime of child abuse as being patently guilty. Because, you know, fuck jurisprudence when you're angry.

When it comes to protecting my identity, Batman ain't got nothing on me. I've played fast and loose with my identity on this page for reasons I don't even need to explain, but I think it's time to lift that veil. It's been removing itself gradually over the last few months, anyway. During the recording of THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY's first podcast, someone pointed out (Will McKinley, I think) that I was the only one in the group on Skype that wasn't using a photo of myself as an avatar. It was a little like showing up to a Christmas party wearing a Halloween costume.

I've also been a little concerned that the DARK SHADOWS DIARY feature is obtusely impersonal, especially for something called a "Diary." I let a few odds and ends about my wedding slip through the defenses (mostly because I was at a loss to explain why the blog wouldn't be updated for several weeks) but do you folks really care to hear about my day-to-day bullshit? There's a fine line between Truman Capote and Harry Knowles. I'm aiming for a little more warmth in my writing in 2013, as well as a little more interaction with my readers ... but it's all very new to me.

The future will arrive whether we're ready for it or not. So, for now, let's dwell a little on the past before the calendar moves us inevitably forward. At the bottom of this post are the 10 most-read stories at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY in 2012. Some of those stories aren't especially interesting, so I thought this was a good time to refer you to more interesting stories that could use a little more love.

Catch glimpses of the real Jonathan Frid in Seizure
Humility is a wonderful thing. I met Glenn Danzig when I was college, and everybody who knows me knows this ... and they're tired of hearing me talk about it. Will McKinley worked for Jonathan Frid when he was a teen and, if I were in that position, it would be on my business cards. But Will has more taste than that and doesn't teabag his readers the way I would. Back in August, though, he wrote a little about his relationship with Frid and Frid's last film, SEIZURE. Read it!

The Devil's Chicken and the Two Julias
Also in August, Mrs. Cousin Barnabas took part on a PBS blog event called COOK FOR JULIA. We found out quickly that food and DARK SHADOWS are two elements that don't go easily together. Barnabas and Adam are the only character on the show with noticeable appetites, but ain't nobody wanna read about recipes involving blood and fried chicken. So, Mrs. CB improvised, using a recipe called The Devil's Chicken. It was one of the more popular posts of 2012 that didn't have the words "Johnny" and "Depp" in its text.

Kathryn Leigh Scott is crowned Queen of DS Fandom
Well, not really. But we need to establish a sovereign state of Dark Shadows Fandom so we can appoint her our queen, because she's been EVERYWHERE in 2012. Granted, she's got a publishing company that's at the center of this promotional whirlwind, but if it's a chore for her you'd never know it. I don't think anyone really appreciates the Venn Diagram of Impossibility that's necessary to create a woman like her. I'm sure the cast of the original STAR TREK were a nice bunch of people in their own way, but Scott makes nice guy Leonard Nimoy look like Jerry Lewis. Here's a tiny sampling of 2012 appearances (including TWO interviews with the Collinsport Historical Society.)


HOUSE/NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS return
There's been a lot of controversy about the Blu ray/DVD releases of the original DARK SHADOWS feature films. While I'd love to have had commentary tracks for each film (and it's just careless and lazy that these tracks weren't recorded) the bottom line is that the films were released into the wild for the first time in more than a decade and THEY LOOK GREAT. There's been no shortage of features about these movies here. You can find our NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS archive HERE, and our HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS archive HERE. We also managed a contest for Warner Bros and asked readers to pitch a third film for the series. The winner, titled CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS, was pretty amazing.

BLOG BLOG BLOG
A century ago, the idea of the Internet would have been so technologically advanced as to have appeared to be the work of magic. How do we put this miracle of science to use? By blogging about DARK SHADOWS, of course. A bunch of us got together to write about GRAYSON HALL, our FAVORITE MONSTERS of DARK SHADOWS, to spew pea soup and bile at TIM BURTON, all of which culminated in the recording of our first official PODCAST.



The Top 10 Collinsport Historical Society posts 
(based on traffic) in 2012: 

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