Monday, June 30, 2014


Or, "How I learned to stop worrying and love the Hollywood reboot machine"

I'm of two minds about the prospects of DRACULA UNTOLD. While the world hardly needs another movie about Dracula, the concept driving this "revamp" seems strangely ... honest? Based on early promotional materials, DRACULA UNTOLD appears to know exactly what kind of movie it is, and how it might fit into the grand scheme of things.

After all, the line between vampires and superheroes has become so blurred in the last 20 years as to become almost invisible. And I don't just mean BLADE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, either. There's so little difference between the TWILIGHT and X-MEN movies that they might as well be part of the same franchise.

So, why not run Dracula through the BATMAN BEGINS re-boot filter and see what happens? Even though this looks like the kind of movie I'm likely to forget about until it pops up in my Netflix queue three years from now, I'm willing to give this the benefit of the doubt. Best case scenario, we get a fun new franchise with an open-ended future. At worst, Satan will have a film to package as a double bill with I, FRANKENSTEIN.

And count yourself fortunate they didn't call this DRACULA RISES, because you know they really, really wanted to.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

This week in DARK SHADOWS news

It was a busy week for DARK SHADOWS, especially when you take into consideration that the series was cancelled in 1971. Here's a list of headlines and links from the past five days:

* Podcast: MY DINNER WITH SHARON  Our podcast series returned to life this week, as CHS contributor Marie Maginity interviewed DARK SHADOWS cast member Sharon Smyth Lentz.

* NEVER TOO YOUNG (to get cancelled): A look back at the teen soap that was yanked from the air to make room for DARK SHADOWS in June, 1966. 

* Vote for the 10 best episodes of DARK SHADOWS We're doing a thing! Help us decide the best 10 episodes of DARK SHADOWS by taking part in this readers poll.

* Meet DARK SHADOWS artist Ken Bald this weekend  The legendary artist of the DARK SHADOWS newspaper strip is a guest at ToyConNJ in Parsippany, New Jersey, this weekend.

* COLLINSPORT INK: Pamela Seguin Vs. Collinwood A DARK SHADOWS fan discusses the thought process behind her tattoo of Collinwood.

* "Barnabas Collins" walks the boards in gothic opera  The names of the characters in a new performance of the German DER VAMPYR have been changed to reflect some of pop culture's most famous vampires, including one Barnabas Collins."

Friday, June 27, 2014

NEVER TOO YOUNG (to get cancelled)

Archimedes' principle indicates that the volume of displaced fluid is equivalent to the volume of the object immersed in that fluid. Drop a bowling ball into a bathtub full of water, and it will displace an amount of water equal to that bowling ball.

To put this into television terms, you can't launch a new show without first "displacing" another.

There being only so much programming time available in a schedule, ABC opted to displace with extreme prejudice the daytime drama NEVER TOO YOUNG. The soap was aimed at teens, and starred Tony Dow and Dack Rambo (years before his name became unintentionally ridiculous, thank you very much Mr. Stallone.) NEVER TOO YOUNG aired its final episode Friday, June 24, 1966. When viewers tuned into the timeslot the following Monday, they found a spooky, gothic soap opera called DARK SHADOWS in its place. Happy anniversary!

This was no surprise to anyone involved with NEVER TOO YOUNG. ABC had been promoting DARK SHADOWS for some time before it premiered on June 27, 1966. And, as famously terrible as DARK SHADOWS' ratings were during the first year, they were marginally better than those earned by NEVER TOO YOUNG. Had ABC had the benefit of a more advanced ratings system in 1966 (networks discovered several years later the value of younger audiences) there's a slim chance we never would have seen DARK SHADOWS. It's difficult to say, really, because anyone who'd cancel a show with Tony Dow is a heartless monster and can't be trusted to make rational decisions.

If you're so inclined, you can watch a clip of NEVER TOO YOUNG in the video below. There used to be a handful of episodes of the series available on Youtube, but those have since returned to the earth from whence they came. The clip below showcases a musical performance on the show by The Castaways performing "Liar Liar," which is a damn fine song.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Meet DARK SHADOWS artist Ken Bald this weekend

Ken Bald.
Ken Bald, possibly the finest comic artist to ever work on DARK SHADOWS (and that's saying a lot) will be attending ToyConNJ in Parsippany, New Jersey, this weekend. Bald worked on the DARK SHADOWS newspaper strip that ran from 1971-1972. It's reportedly his favorite work of his career, which is no small statement given that Guinness World Records has crowned him as the world's "oldest comic book artist." The man has worked on everything from DOC SAVAGE to CAPTAIN AMERICA to DR. KILDARE.

Bald will be at the ToyConNJ Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29. The artist will be bringing an assortment of 20 new #1 sketch covers that he recently illustrated, featuring characters like Captain America, Bucky, Wolverine, Spider-Man, The Thing, Sub-Mariner, Namora, and more.  
Admission to the event is $5. For more details, click

Bald's work on DARK SHADOWS is being collected in hardback later this year. DARK SHADOWS THE COMPLETE NEWSPAPER DAILIES AND SUNDAY has a projected release date of Sept. 9, 2014, on Amazon, and the book is now available for pre-order. The previous softcover, B&W edition of the newspaper strips, first published in 1996, is also available.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

COLLINSPORT INK: Pamela Seguin Vs. Collinwood

Welcome to COLLINWOOD INK, where we speak with people about their DARK SHADOWS tattoos. This week's fan is Pamela Seguin, who explains the concept behind her tattoo of Collinwood. If you've got ink you'd like to share with us, please send me a message at collinsporthistory AT gmail DOT com.

I wanted to incorporate some of my most fondest memories growing up, on my body. I have always been fascinated by the macabre. Vampires especially.

For my birthday this year, I wanted to "go to the place I have tattooed on me; in person." Like everyone else, I peaked through the bushes and was absolutely overwhelmed with the thought that Jonathan Frid walked on the same lawn I was standing on.

My artist is Sean Ambrose of Arrows & Embers Tattoo in Concord, NH. When we decided on this for my back piece, I didn't know that the building existed. I had no idea where it was. The only reference material we could get to design the tattoo was of "Collinwood Manor." Not Seaview Terrace. Which is what I wanted, the closest representation to the show, NOT THE MOVIE. 

This piece I had worked on off and on for about two years. In all it took probably around 25 hours (ish.)

Everyone loves my tattoos. I recently went to stay at Seaview Terrace for a Dark Shadows fan event. I got asked a lot if they could take a picture of it. Most people are impressed by my dedication.


I was probably around 9 or 10 when it used to come on at 4 in my house. After the episode was over, my neighbor and I used to reenact the scenes from the show. I was ALWAYS Barnabas.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Barnabas Collins" walks the boards in gothic opera

Tamara Ryan, Jonathan Parker  and Justin Hicks in OperaHub’s production of DER VAMPYR. Via The Boston Globe.

Barnabas Collins makes an appearance in a new stage production of DER VAMPYR in Boston.

Sort of.

I guess it's no surprise that Barnabas Collins would eventually pop up in a performance of DER VAMPYR, a German libretto with an almost meta-textual lineage. The original 1828 production was written by Wilhelm August Wohlbrück, which was based on a play by Heinrich Ludwig Ritter, which was based on the novella "The Vampyre" by John Polidori, which was incorrectly attributed to Lord Byron when first published ... and so on.

For the Boston production taking place until June 28 at The Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, playwright/librettist John J. King has revised the vampire's name from "Lord Ruthven" to "Nedward Barnabas Collins." The name "Nedward," I'm guessing, is a reference to George RR Martin's "A Game of Thrones."

But wait! There's more!

A quick glance at the cast list on the OperaHub website shows the play also features characters named Xander, Giles and Spike, which were the names of characters from the TV series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. (It's possible DER VAMPYR's characters "Muffy" and "Parker" are also nods to the show.)  Here's the production's official summary:

In the original, Lord Ruthven, the eponymous blood-sucker, has not been sucking his fair share of blood. The other vampires in his coven gather at the witches' dance to charge him with taking three virgins by the end of the third day, or he will perish as a mortal. Tragedy ensues in the local village until the vampire is vanquished.
Playwright/librettist John J King, whose IRNE-nominated parody FROM DENMARK WITH LOVE ran last summer at the Boston Playwright's Theatre and Outside the Box Festival, has turned the story on its head, tightened the plot by consolidating several characters and laden it with pop-culture vampire references.  

The whole thing sounds a little too cutesy for my tastes, but the play got a positive review from THE BOSTON GLOBE. Tickets for the show are free and can be reserved in advance HERE.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This week in DARK SHADOWS

It was a busy week for DARK SHADOWS, especially when you take into consideration that the series was cancelled in 1971. Here's a list of headlines and links from the past five days:

* The six-part comicbook mini-series DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE has been collected in trade paperback and is now on sale. I recommend it.

* The Collinsport Historical Society launched a new feature this week titled COLLINSPORT INK, a Q&A with fans about their DARK SHADOWS tattoos.

* SEIZURE, the 1974 film which doubled as Jonathan Frid's final starring film role and Oliver Stone's directorial debut, will be released on Blu-ray in September.

* The Big Finish audiodrama THE DARKEST SHADOW, which reuintes David Selby and Donna McKechnie, has been delayed until July.

* Our COLLINWOOD COCKTAILS feature rose from the dead at the start of the week with the TOM COLLINSPORT, courtesy of Horror In Clay founder (and occasional CHS contributor) Jonathan M. Chaffin.

* Fred Olen Ray gave us the first look at Jerry Lacy in SPIDORA.

* has a list of the "10 most import vampire programs in TV history." DARK SHADOWS makes the list.

And don't forget to follow us at our social media sites:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

First look at Jerry Lacy in SPIDORA


Jerry Lacy
Back in September,  FRED OLEN RAY completed a Kickstarter campaign to finance a short film titled SPIDORA.The cult film icon behind movies like HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS and BIKINI DRIVE-IN persuaded DARK SHADOWS alumnus JERRY LACY to appear in the film as "Dr. Graves," operator of a freak show that showcases characters such as Electra, Mora, the Lobster Girl and Spidora.

Those of us who contributed to the Kickstarter effort have been getting regular updates about the production, which have included a variety of production photos. Today, Ray shared the first photo of Lacy in costume. He notes that this costume might not be what Lacy will ultimately wear in the film, but included the image as an example of the costumes that have been tested.

Here's the official film synopsis:

"SPIDORA is a dark journey inside the world of Dr. Graves' Palace of Illusions; a Museum of Human Oddities where mysterious creatures like Electra, Spidora and Mora, the Lobster Girl, command the stage. It is a world trapped between light and shadow where anything can happen... and does."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Holy shit: SEIZURE is coming to Blu-ray

Ladies and gentlemen, hell has frozen over. is reporting that Oliver Stone's first feature film SEIZURE is coming to Blu-ray. The 1974 film, which featured the last starring role of Jonathan Frid, is being released by independent distributors Scorpion Releasing, a company that appears tailor made for a bizarre cult film like SEIZURE. (UPDATE: It's now available for pre-order on Amazon.)
The release, which will be distributed by Kino Lorber, will feature a brand new HD transfer from the original U.S elements, as well as new interviews with stars Mary Woronov and Richard Cox.

The Blu-ray edition of SEIZURE is scheduled to be released Sept. 9.

SEIZURE has been in legal limbo for decades, and has become something of a "common law" orphaned film. It's possible someone, somewhere owns the rights to SEIZURE , but nobody has ever stepped forward to claim them. The DVD that's been available for the last few years is not only a bootleg, but also a rip from an earlier (and almost unwatchable) VHS edition. Scorpion Releasing might have untangled the film's draconian rights problems ... or they might have just said "fuck it, we're gonna release it, anyway."

If you're interested in the film, here are a few of the pieces about SEIZURE that have appeared here at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY over the last few years:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A closer look at DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE


DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE has been collected into trade paperback. Presumably, it's on sale in stores as of May 28, but I'm seeing various release dates online. Amazon has the book available for pre-order now, with a posted release date of July 1 .(UPDATE: Shortly after posting this, I received an e-mail from Amazon informing me the book will be arriving Wednesday, June 25.)

I was lukewarm to the six-part miniseries when it launched. The idea of re-telling the Barnabas Collins "origin" story seemed fairly pointless at the time, but I grew to really love the book by the time it wrapped. While it takes a few liberties with the original 1795 tale, those changes were in service to the story it was trying to tell, and not a matter of misunderstanding the original series.  I never felt like DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE was apologizing for its source material, even when it knocked down the studio walls to take the drama outdoors. It's a fun, respectful book, and I'll have a more detailed commentary to share with you at a later date.

Meanwhile, here's the product description, as well as some sample pages from the book's first chapter.

Marc Andreyko (w)
Guiu Vilanova (a)
Patrick Berkenkotter (c)
FC • 152 pages • $19.99 • Teen+

The origin of Dark Shadows, finally revealed! How did Barnabas Collins become a bloodthirsty vampire? What tragedies befell the Collins family through the generations? All it took was one night of weakness with a temptress named Angelique, and Barnabas cursed his entire family line — and himself — forever! Collecting issues #1-6, a complete cover gallery, and a behind the scenes look at the creations of Dark Shadows: Year One!

• Issues one through six of the critically-acclaimed series by Marc Andreyko and Guiu Vilanova
• Script to issue one by Marc Andreyko
• Complete cover gallery featuring the art of Patrick Berkenkotter



COLLINSPORT INK: Jeff Kenny Vs Collinwood

Welcome to the first installment of COLLINSPORT INK, a concept totally of my own invention and in no way suggested by and/or named by Will McKinley*. I've seen a lot of DARK SHADOWS tattoos over the years, almost all of them shared without any kind of sourcing. When a few popped up this week on Facebook, I asked the owners to share their art, as well as the stories behind them. This can be a lot more complicated than it sounds ... as a way to avoid being "randomly selected" for screening while traveling around Eastern Europe a few years ago, I took to covering the tattoos on my arm. There's a time and a place to share the story about how I came to have a Freman script tattoo, and the back room at a Romanian airport on my honeymoon qualified for neither. Suffice to say, it's a complicated tale.

Earlier this morning, I sent Jeff Kenny a few questions about his tattoo of Seaview Terrace. Here's what he had to say:

I have been in love with DARK SHADOWS since I was a child. I have been wanting to get a tattoo related to the show for quite some time now. The image of Seaview Terrace as "Collinwood" has been ingrained in my mind for 25 years now since I first discovered the show. It was used in all 1,225 episodes of the show, and next to the portrait of Barnabas Collins and the waves crashing on the rocks in the intro, would have to be one of the most iconic images related to the show. I have always been fascinated with the house and its history, and vowed that I would visit it someday. That dream came true in July of 2013 when I was finally able to visit the grounds of the house with two of my friends. Our first glimpse of the house was that iconic image of it from the show. It was simply breathtaking and a lot to take in, especially after being a fan for so long. It was Collinwood right in front of my eyes. It was then and there that I decided that the Dark Shadows related tattoo that I had been wanting for so long would be that iconic image that all of us fans of the show have come to love.

Chuck Iglinski, owner of Firehouse Tattoos in Crestwood, IL. 

Jeff Kenny
It was just under two hours which included the time it took the artist to trace the outline of the picture I gave him, apply the outline, then complete the entire tattoo.

The piece is only a couple of days old, but everyone who has seen it in person has loved it and commented on its detail. When I posted the picture of it online I got a huge response. Pretty much everyone that has seen it so far has liked it, even if they have never heard of DARK SHADOWS. It will be making its debut at the 2014 Dark Shadows Festival in Tarrytown, NY. I can't wait to see what the response is going to be from everybody.

One day when I was six years old back in 1989, my mom took me to our local video store. We were looking around for something to rent when she noticed a couple volumes of DARK SHADOWS on VHS. She was shocked when she saw them because she was such a big fan of the show when she was a kid. She used to watch it everyday with her mother and grandmother. She suggested that we rent some of the tapes to check it out. I was all for it. We got home and immediately put in the first of the four tapes that we had rented, Volume 17. The tape centered around David Collins getting locked in the mausoleum and the search for him. I was hooked from that very first tape. Back then, they were releasing the volumes four at a time, each tape containing five episodes. So every time the next four tapes would come out, we would rent all of them right away. The anticipation used to drive me nuts waiting for the next set. Those days would be the beginning of my lifelong fascination and love of DARK SHADOWS.

(*Okay ... this feature was Will's suggestion. Thank him by visiting his website.)

David Selby, Donna McKechnie DARK SHADOWS reunion delayed

David Selby and Donna McKechnie.
Big Finish has announced that the DARK SHADOWS audio drama THE DARKEST SHADOW, a double-length episode featuring the reunion of David Selby and Donna McKechnie, has been pushed back to July.

“The story reunites David Selby and Donna McKechnie as Quentin and Amanda for the first time in over forty years,” producer Joseph Lidster explained in a statement on the company website. “And we really felt it was important to record the two of them together, for such a special occasion and such an ambitious script, which meant waiting a few months until we could synchronize their schedules. Also, this being a double-disc story for the price of a single disc release has obviously meant a lot more work at every stage of production. We’re very sorry for the delay but confident that people will find THE DARKEST SHADOW worth the wait!”

Disappointing? Sure. THE DARKEST SHADOW has been in the works for a while, but this kind of delay is actually good news in the long run. This time next year we won't even remember this delay. While waiting a few more weeks might be inconvenient for fans, it does nobody any good to rush an unfinished product to the market. And it's hard to argue with Lidster's goal of finding in-studio chemistry between the actors.

The episode is written by Nev Fountain, who is making his debut in the DARK SHADOWS line of audio dramas with this episode. (NOTE: A Google search connected Fountain's name with his DOCTOR WHO credits for Big Finish, but not DARK SHADOWS. Had I only thought to search my own website I'd have remembered Fountain won an award for his prior visit to Collinsport.)  I'm not entirely sure what to make of the episode's official summary, though: Olivia Corey, a pseudonym adopted by Amanda Harris, is offered a starring role in a movie titled "The Curse of Collinwood," being directed by one D. Curtis. Her role? Amanda Harris. Nobody can fault Big Finish for being timid in its approach to storytelling.

Oh, and Wally Wingert is in it!

You can listen to the first 13 minutes of THE DARKEST SHADOW below.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Collinwood Cocktails: TOM COLLINSPORT


¾ oz. Lemon juice
1 oz. Rock candy Syrup
2 oz. Plymouth Gin
1 dropper Fiendishly Tropical Bitters
Shake, add 1oz lemon flavoured or plain seltzer, strain into Collins glass with fresh ice.
Garnish with large lemon peel.

Like much of the beloved DARK SHADOWS cast, the "Tom Collins" is an oldie but a goodie ... a cocktail for the ages.

A drink known as a "John Collins" has existed since the 1860s at the very least and is believed to have originated with a head waiter of that name who worked at Limmer's Old House in Conduit Street in Mayfair.  Limmer's Old House was a popular London hotel and coffee house around 1790–1817.  This "Mr. Collins" popped up again and again ... and was immortalized around 1876 "Bartender's Guide" under the name of Tom.

Seems only fitting to update this classic with a bit of a twist made possible by the growing craft bitters trend.  Warning: This "adult lemonade" is VERY drinkable.


Jonathan M. Chaffin is an Atlanta-based graphic designer and art director and a lifetime fan of horror stories and film. His current project is where he uses artifacts and ephemera to tell stories...he also produces horror-themed tiki mugs and barware like the Horror In Clay Cthulhu Tiki Mug. In addition, Jonathan occasionally does voice-over and podcasting work and appears on panels at sci-fi fantasy and pop culture conventions on a variety of topics. You can follow him @CthulhuMug on twitter or by friending HorrorInClay on Facebook and G+

Friday, June 13, 2014

The trailer for ARE YOU HERE gives you the full Selby

MAD MEN creator Matthew Weiner shot his first feature film ARE YOU HERE in North Carolina last year, and you'll get the chance to see it in a few months. The film stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler, as well as one David Lynn Selby in a prominent supporting role. I've got no idea how much Selby will appear in the film, but the role is large enough to get him in several scenes of the new trailer, which hit the Internet last night.

It's not the first collaboration between David Selby and Matthew Weiner. In 2009, Selby appeared in an episode of MAD MEN titled "The Arrangements," while DARK SHADOWS, the show that gave Selby's career its first big boost, was a plot point on an episode titled, naturally, "Dark Shadows."

ARE YOU HERE premiered last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it appears to have mostly been overlooked by critics (except for this writer at Indiewire that insists on referring to the film as "YOU ARE HERE.") It opens in America Aug. 22. You can watch the film's trailer below.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: THE AUTEUR #1

THE AUTEUR is going to confound a lot of readers. It will no doubt disturb, anger and offend a great many more. The first issue of the new comicbook from Oni Press boasts the kind of non-linear, violent, misanthropic storytelling you'd expect to hear during group therapy at Arkham Asylum, and I loved every panel of it.

A word of warning: The most challenging thing about THE AUTEUR is not its graphic content or twisted sense of humor. Nihilism isn't exactly a commodity that's in short supply, and if that's all that writer Rick Spears, artist James Callahan and colorist Luigi Anderson had to offer, I'd be the first person nailing the book to the wall of my outhouse. While the plot of the first issue might seem a little thin on first inspection, there are genuine ideas on display here. In a world where a GODZILLA reboot is hailed as compelling storytelling, its exciting to find a story that actually has something to say. THE AUTEUR functions both as a satire of the business model necessary to connect art and audience (and the misguided assholes in charge of those decisions) as well as a genuine exploration of the creative process. It's rare that I'll give anything this kind of unqualified blowjob, but reading THE AUTEUR felt vaguely .... miraculous? I mean, how does a book like this get made within an industry that thinks you can revitalize a 50-year-old series by resetting the issue number to #1? WHO ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN?

So, what's it all about? THE AUTEUR follows the exploits of Hollywood producer Nathan T. Rex, most of which are internal. Rex wants to make blockbuster, popular movies with "real" emotional content, but is oblivious to how those concepts are diametrically opposed. His fantasies/nightmares look like the unholy offspring of a "Third Eye" blacklight poster and an issue of TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

And that's pretty much that. Except it's not THAT, at all. I was hesitant to try and explain the plot here, because I knew it would go over about as well as that time your brother tried to tell you his favorite George Carlin bit. Sometimes you just have to experience something for yourself.

Luckily, you can read the first issue online for free. I can't promise you're going to connect with the book the way I did, but you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. Especially if you're bored with watching superheroes in shiny underwear punch each other.

It takes a lot of planning and discipline to create a comicbook, and the deadlines associated with script, art and production duties have a tendency to drain the spontaneity from any story. Reading THE AUTEUR almost felt like watching a live performance, and the book always feels like it's on the verge of going off the rails. Spears, Callahan and  Anderson  manage to keep the train on the tracks for the duration of the first issue, and it's going to be interesting to see if they can maintain the book's energy in later issues without devolving into self-parody.

What I'm trying to say is, "Can I have the next issue, please?"

UPDATE: My preferred comic store just informed me they have issues 1, 2 and 3 on the shelf. This is what getting old feels like.

DARK SHADOWS news digest

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Lara Parker on DARK SHADOWS, 1967.

There's an interesting editorial at The Huffington Post about Lara Parker. Here's a sample:

Now some 43 years after its cancellation, Angelique is still flying...or rather Lara Parker is flying, trading in her broomstick, for the comfort of jetliners around the country meeting new fans alongside her rival (on the series) Kathryn Leigh Scott who played Maggie Evans, Josette Dupres and several other characters on the show. Recently, the dynamic duo of good and evil have been making the rounds at conventions in North Carolina and Alabama. All this as they gear up for the official Dark Shadows Festival June 28 and 29 at the Lyndhurst mansion in Tarrytown, New York. The mansion was used as Collinwood in both of MGM's feature adaptations of the Dark Shadows saga. The event offers Dark Shadows fans a chance to meet "Angelique," get an autograph, purchase her books and maybe even convince her to "laugh" for them.

Grayson Hall in WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGGOO, 1966.

In 1962, Grayson Hall made two appearances on the radio show SUSPENSE, a popular radio program that launched two decades earlier in 1942. Both of Hall's episodes, SNOW ON 66 and WEEKEND AT GLEEBESS, are now streaming on Youtube. Intrepid explorers might even find these episodes available for download as MP3s on other sites. (Thanks to Roy Isbell for the links!)


Um ... the headline pretty much tells you what you need to know about the Greenville, S.C., event scheduled for the weekend of July 18. Not only will Sharon be there, so will Butch Patrick and Pat Priest of THE MUNSTERS, making this a singularly amazing "monster kid" bash. I'm working to get the DARK SHADOWS fans from around the region to turn out for the MonsterCon event so, even if you are unable to attend, please tell your friends. LINK

Turner Classic Movies is airing a pair of Joan Bennett/Edward G. Robinson/Dan Duryea/Fritz Lang collaborations Tuesday, June 10. At 8 p.m. EST is THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, which also features Raymond Massey. I haven't seen the film and can't comment on it, but the 10 p.m. film, SCARLET STREET, is terrific. Dark, funny and surprising, SCARLET STREET is the kind of film the Coen Brothers would have made in the 1940s had they been born a few decades earlier. The film is actually in the public domain and can be seen online for free HERE. See TCM's online schedule for more details.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


For the past two years, Collinsport Historical Society correspondent, Collins Foundation webmaster, and overachieving madman Patrick McCray has conducted four immersive studies of DARK SHADOWS and BABYLON 5.  The DARK SHADOWS projects have lasted for months, the first of which involved watching the entire show in only 45 days.  The second found him following the series from the perspective of Barnabas and penning a 90,000 word, online epistolary novel based on the show.  This summer, he’s moving from from the undiscovered country of un-death to another Undiscovered Country … that other TV phenomenon of the same era, STAR TREK.  The CHS caught up with Patrick and grilled him on his deteriorating sanity regarding these projects.

CHS: As we asked back in 2012, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

PM: That’s a vast question best left to seasoned occultists.  The most I can say is that it’s become like an extreme sport.  People think it must be very easy work, but it’s really, really difficult.  It requires tremendous patience and mental discipline, and when things inevitably run behind, it can take a physical toll as well.

CHS: What’s the payoff of these marathons?

PM:  Getting to see the whole show at once as a single text.  In that concentrated a dose, you can still recall the beginning when you get to the end.  The whole experience becomes richer, and weird patterns emerge.

CHS: I can see that with DARK SHADOWS, but the TREK franchise spans six series that go in wildly different directions.

PM:  Yeah, the purpose of this one is different.

CHS: In what way?

PM: I want to see a number of things.  Are they still good, or are these shows good only in memory?  It’s been a while since anything new of substance has been written about STAR TREK.  Is that because it’s been exhausted or because there’s very little new material out there or because tastes in storytelling have become so dark?  I don’t know.  But there’s more.  I also want to compare the series to each other immediately.  How do they evolve, parallel to each other?  How do they reflect each other or deviate?  And how do I keep myself from going crazy from the monotony of weeks of one of the series I’m not too crazy about? 

 CHS:  So, how?

PM:  I was really dreading this project in a lot of ways.  I only considered it after another project fell through and I realized that visiting friends — the lifeblood of my sanity when I do these things — would kill me if I didn’t take a summer off from DARK SHADOWS.  STAR TREK kept being suggested, but it sounded like such a cliche.  But then I thought about watching the shows in concert.  What if I watched the first hour of each in a row, the second hour, and so on.

CHS: Will you be doing any kind of “Captain’s Diaries” like you did with the Collins Chronicles?

PM:  I’m incredibly proud of the Collins Chronicles, but they just about killed me.  Creative writing every twenty two minutes for twelve hours a day?  No, this will be like the first Dark Shadows Experiment.  I’m going to enjoy myself, absorb the shows, tweet and blog when I want to, make my videos, etc.

CHS:  What is it about STAR TREK that makes it so special for you?

PM:  There are a lot of sentimental reasons, but the thing I like most about it is the thing that drove the later writers crazy.  Gene had the audacity to say that human life would improve, our perspective on one another would improve, and that we would have to make that happen as a prerequisite for making it into the future.  Most literature is so pessimistic.  This isn’t. 

CHS:  It’s a stretch, but do you see any DARK SHADOWS connections?

PM:  Absolutely.  Both shows deal with regular humans having to expand their world view to include those who are different.  Now, in DARK SHADOWS, they usually want to attain humanity, but so does Data.  Of course, those who are different do pose a threat in DARK SHADOWS, but that’s often because they misunderstand themselves. Often, their differences end up saving the day.  How can differences be harnessed so that all can benefit?  It happens with Angelique, Barnabas, Chris Jennings, and so on.

CHS:  Where can people monitor the progress?

PM:  I’m keeping things at  There’s even a schedule so that you can follow along.  I’ll have YouTube videos and you can find me on twitter @therealmccray.  And the more interactive people can be, the better. 

CHS: Finally, best captain?

PM:  Does Sulu count?

Patrick McCray and ENTERPRISE star Anthony Montgomery at ConCarolinas last weekend.
PATRICK McCRAY is a comic book author who resides in Knoxville, Tenn., where he's been a drama coach and general nuisance since 1997. He has a MFA in Directing and worked at Revolutionary Comics and on the early days of BABYLON 5, and is a frequent contributor to The Collinsport Historical Society. You can find him at The Collins Foundation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Convention Report: CONCAROLINAS

Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott stop by the CHS table at ConCarolinas.

"What made you want to come to a GAME OF THRONES convention?"

It was a fair question, given the number of Cersei Lannisters, Daenerys Targaryens and Petyr Baelishs wandering the halls of the University Hilton Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., this last weekend. The annual ConCarolinas event brought out a lot of hardcore gamers and fantasy fans, and even the big guy — GAME OF THRONES creator George RR Martin — was present. DARK SHADOWS stars Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott were definitely spending the weekend outside of their comfort zones.

DARK SHADOWS fans were in the clear minority for ConCarolinas, but enough turned out to support two discussion panels and a screening of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. The latter proved to be an illumination and a challenge: I'd never seen the film with an audience, and the room's energy underscored just how violent it is. And I don't only mean the physical violence that's on screen, either ... the film is even edited with the psychotic exuberance of a first-time serial killer. It was a little unsettling, truth be told.

As for the Q&A afterward, I found myself juggling several duties at once. I couldn't find the room's light switch in the dark or figure out how to turn off the video projector (which had rolled around to the Czech legal notices by the time I simply hit the "power" button.) Then I had to fetch Lara and Kathryn and bring them back to the screening room before the audience grew impatient and left. Insert "Yakkity Sax" montage here.

Sara and Patrick man the CHS table.
I hosted the first Q&A, myself, despite constant reminders from the Internet that Lara was not in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. (Unsurprisingly, she was aware of this.) The interview went OK, though it was difficult to balance the questions between the two actresses. I wanted to focus the discussion on the original films and not poach potential material from Sunday's panel, which might have made the proceedings unnecessarily complicated. Still, my thanks to the ladies for taking part.

I asked Patrick McCray to lead Sunday's panel, and he did a terrific job. (He opened with the GAME OF THRONES question at the top of this piece.) The panel ended when I asked both actresses to read from the DARK SHADOWS joke book published in 1969, "BARNABAS COLLINS IN A FUNNY VEIN." Yes, I've got audio from both events, but I still haven't figured out what to do with it. An obnoxious audience member continued to throw questions at Lara and Kathryn, even as Lara was trying to read from the joke book. Manners were not at great supply among the visitors at last weekend's convention.

Lara Parker reads from the DARK SHADOWS joke book.
For a DARK SHADOWS fan, I'm almost at a loss for words to describe the weekend. This website has humble beginnings. The original mission of The Collinsport Historical Society was nothing more or less than to connect with other fans. My experience with the series had been fairly isolated, and I was surprised to discover how many fan clubs DARK SHADOWS had inspired. I'd missed out on all of that, and hoped to recreate the experience as best I could. In that regard, The CHS has been a spectacular failure, because fandom's "old guard" want nothing to do with this site.

Luckily for me, the cast members of DARK SHADOWS have been incredibly kind and gracious with their time. Lara and Kathryn were both trusting and inclusive at the convention. I got to meet Ben Martin (as a journalist and photographer, myself, that was a bigger thrill than I might have let on) and had an amazing time.

What about the convention, itself? When compared to my experience with Mad Monster Party in March, ConCarolinas was a model of efficiency. There were a few glitches here and there, but the events took place where and when they were supposed to happen. Once your feet were on the floor, the convention was pretty easy to navigate.

ConCarolinas might even be the first convention I've attended where there was too much to do. That's not a complaint, mind you ...  just an observation. The events that I missed (a double bill of HEAVY METAL and WIZARDS, a BLAKE'S 7 screening, etc.) were interesting enough to have kept a second convention afloat. While I missed the panels and signings involving George RR Martin because of other obligations, his hotel room was right across from mine and we wound up sharing an elevator at least once. And I got to see Valentine Wolfe perform, which is always a treat.

And, as usual, it was fun hanging out with Patrick. It's only the second time we've ever met, but we were careful on this occasion not to do so during a full moon. Despite his protestations otherwise, lycanthropy in not just a "lifestyle choice," and my weekend was already busy enough without having to worry about a rogue werewolf running around a crowded hotel. He's a smart, charming guy, but Patrick McCray makes for a mean werewolf.

- Wallace McBride



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