Monday, September 15, 2014


Last month, The Collinsport Historical Society asked you to name your five favorite DARK SHADOWS audio dramas from Big Finish. Every day this week we'll be revealing the results.

The first entry in THE FAVORITE FIVE is also the most recent release to make the list. The experimental “Beyond the Grave” was released in October, 2013. Unlike prior episodes in the DARK SHADOWS series, it was designed to function as a sort of “found footage” movie, telling the story of a fictional British television show investigating the ghostly goings-on at Collinsport.

Aaron Lamont, the episode’s writer, said “Beyond the Grave” was epistolary in nature from the very beginning. He pitched the idea as “DARK SHADOWS does DEATH OF A PRESIDENT,” referring to the 2006 fictional documentary about the “assassination” of Pres. George W. Bush and its aftermath. Producer Joseph Lidster had something a bit spookier in mind, though.

“Joe said ‘I want you to do GHOSTWATCH.’ Which is what I really wanted to do,” Lamont said.  “Maggie was the key – here's a woman who's been through hell, and she's still standing and still fighting.”

GHOSTWATCH was a television movie that first aired in the UK on Halloween, 1992. If you’ve listened to “Beyond the Grave,” the plot of GHOSTWATCH will sound familiar: The film followed BBC reporters conducting a live, on-air investigation of a haunted house.

GHOSTWATCH was just a jumping-off point for a much more personal tale, though. Lamont said his original proposal for “Beyond the Grave” was to take the one person in Collinsport with the least credibility and prove she was actually the sanest.

Kathryn Leigh Scott
“And, when I first heard Kathryn Leigh Scott deliver the line, 'I won't be mad for you,' I punched the air,” Lamont said. “She got it. And of course at the end, where Maggie has actually been driven insane, she was utterly devastating.”

“Aaron is a fantastic writer who really knows his stuff,” said Lidster. “It had elements of “The Crimson Pearl” in that we got actors who were already appearing in other stories that year to have cameo roles in it – either as the same characters or as someone new. So one minute Evelyn Adams is playing a terrifying ghost on a ship, the next she’s phoning a TV show to scream that her husband is coming after her with a knife.”

Beyond the Grave” was the capstone in a yearlong event that loosely tied the previous stories into a single narrative. While it wasn’t necessary to listen to previous episodes to understand the latest releases, listeners who stayed with the series throughout 2013 had a richer experience than casual audiences.

“I love how we managed to set it all up in the earlier stories and how it managed to continue the serial elements and character arcs from throughout the series,” Lidster said. “But, mostly I love that it works perfectly as a standalone drama. And it’s just simply terrifying!”

Lamont said the atmosphere in the studio was “unbearably tense” during the record session.

“It was actually terrifying,” he said. “After one scene, everybody shuddered.  And I just sat in the control booth with Joe and (producer David Darlington) grinning from ear to ear. We did something really special with that batch of audios.”

"(It was) simply one of the creepiest stories I have ever heard on audio, tying together so many elements from that season's range," said CHS reader Joe Hart, who named "Beyond the Grave" as his favorite episode. "It's probably the scariest DARK SHADOWS story ever."

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