Monday, March 31, 2014

DARK SHADOWS news bulletins


* Will McKinley explains how he was introduced to DARK SHADOWS: “Son, you should video this movie,” my father said, handing me a copy of TV Guide and pointing emphatically to the VCR he had just bought – for $1,000 – as a family Christmas gift. “It’s based on a soap opera about vampires. I think you’d like it.” LINK

* I've been dragging my ass this month, and have completed a total of zero reviews of Big Finish's latest DARK SHADOWS releases. THIRD EYE CINEMA has a review of THE HAPPIER DEAD for your reading pleasure, though. The review is available HERE, while the episode, which features Stephanie Ellyne, Lisa Richards, Murray Melvin, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Nancy Barrett, can be purchased directly from Big Finish HERE.

* David Selby will be reuniting with his FALCON CREST co-star Susan Sullivan in a production of Edward Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. (Sullivan reportedly appeared uncredited as a ghost on DARK SHADOWS during the show's earlier years.) LINK

Donna McKechnie and Andrea McArdle.
* Broadway World has photos of Donna McKechnie ("Amanda Harris" on the original DARK SHADOWS) from her March 24 appearance in the "Broadway at Birdland" concert series. LINK


Friday, March 28, 2014

The cast of DARK SHADOWS by The Clay Guy

More than a year ago, I shared a few links to DARK SHADOWS-themed sculptures created by a Chicago-based artist calling himself The Clay Guy. Coincidentally, Mr. Guy was one of the vendors present last weekend at MAD MONSTER PARTY, and he brought his friends from Collinsport with him. I snapped some photos of the characters, which were tucked in alongside sculptures of Buffy Summers, Herbert West, Jack Torrence, etc.

If you like his work, you can find him online at www.clayguy.com. Or jump straight to his DARK SHADOWS gallery by clicking HERE.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jonathan Frid makes THE CINEPLEX LEGENDS AWARD ballot


Jonathan Frid is one of nine nominees for this year's CINEPLEX LEGENDS AWARD from Canada's Walk of Fame.

"This is the first time his name has been included, and I can't tell you how excited I was when Cathy Robbins called me to tell me!" said Elena Nacanther, who has spent more than a year helping to organize a grassroots effort to have Frid's legacy recognized by Canada's Walk of Fame. "This is the best chance we have to get him in, because his name is out there and that means they have recognized his importance as Canadian Excellence. I am just bursting with joy."

Nacanther said the campaign is far from over, though, and that fans should continue to nominate Frid as often as possible, as well as taking part in CINEPLEX LEGENDS AWARD voting.

"We are working on getting more publicity and I have many irons in the fire!" she said.

The CINEPLEX LEGENDS AWARD is an annual award given posthumously to a Canadian pioneer in film and television, music, sports, arts or innovation.

Best known for his role as Barnabas Collins on DARK SHADOWS, Frid was a native of Hamilton, Ontario. After serving in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II, Frid set his sites on higher education and a career in acting. He graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton in 1948, and was accepted into  the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He moved to the United States in 1954, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1957.

After several years of well-received work in the theater, Frid planned to leave the New York City stage for a teaching career in California. As he was leaving, Frid was offered a short gig as a vampire on DARK SHADOWS. The "temporary" job would last until 1971, and would make him internationally famous.

The other nominees for this year's CINEPLEX LEGENDS AWARD are Rod Cameron,  Stompin’ Tom Connors, Barbara Frum, Corey Haim, Jeff Healey, Lorne Green, Rita MacNeil and Al Waxman.

Click HERE to vote today!

HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS added to Warner Archive Instant


Eagle-eyed correspondent Patrick McCray noticed that the ever-controversial HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is now available from the Warner Archive Instant streaming service. Warner Bros has been doing some wonderful work when it comes to connecting audiences with films that don't necessarily fit the marketing strategies of vendors like Wal-Mart, Target and the like.

Warner Instant Archive allows you to purchase films for viewing on your home computer, smart phone, tablet or Roku. While I haven't had the chance to browse WB's entire online collection, at appears most (if not all) of their films are in high definition, including HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

At the moment, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS is not available from Warner Instant Archive ... though actor David Selby's cult classic THE SUPER COPS is part of the collection. (As is his 1981 film RICH AND FAMOUS.)

Click HERE to visit the site's page for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

Collinwood Cocktails: THE HAND OF COUNT PETOFI


WARNING: Despite the relatively small amount of alcohol in this cocktail, this is NOT a beginner's drink.

Iced coffee is kind of a pain in the ass to make. Not because it's especially difficult, but because most people brew it so infrequently that every pot feels like you're making it for the first time. And, while there's only one way to properly make iced tea (my apologies to our U.K. readers) there are a lot of different ways to make iced coffee, depending on your taste. Here's a feature at Esquire about the drink  ... but it will probably just cloud the waters for novices.

Novices like myself, I should say. Without my Keurig automatic brewer, you wouldn't be reading this post. Even so, this cocktail, dubbed THE HAND OF COUNT PETOFI, is a heady brew. Bastardly, even.

First step, get yourself a bag of Absinthe flavored ground coffee from World Market. The idea of licorice-flavored coffee might sound repellant (I certainly had reservations) but it's actually pretty tasty, as long as it's not abused. Throwing caution to the wind, I added creamer to it ... which made it taste pretty much like ordinary coffee. Cream dilutes the flavor, so this is a drink you're going to have to enjoy black, with sugar.

Next: Brew the coffee in your preferred manner. I needed a Solo Fill V1 Gold Cup, an off-brand accessory that lets Keurig V-Cup owners make any ground coffee they choose. I'm lost around a regular coffee pot.

Sweeten the coffee to taste. Depending on how you make iced coffee, this might be something you want to do while it's still hot. I preferred to extend my absinthe fetishism to this drink, and used an absinthe spoon to melt sugar over the glass after it had been chilled. I then added a dash of real absinthe for flavor, and viola! I had a drink that would rival the Pan Galactic Gargle-Blaster for flavor, if not strength. (But that can be remedied by adding more absinthe.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Podcast: William Shatner enters THE TWILIGHT ZONE



I spent the weekend at Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, N.C., where I met folks like Elvira, Doyle of the Misfits, Ken Foree, Heather Lagenkamp and many others. I also attended a few special panel discussions, including one on THE TWILIGHT ZONE featuring none other that William Shatner, Richard Kiel and Rod Serling’s daughter, Anne. The discussion was moderated by Terry Pace, a professor with the University of Alabama.

A word of caution: Richard Kiel and Anne Serling don't have Shatner's public-speaking experience, and are a little soft spoken (at least, by comparison.) If you've ever seen his talk show, you'll know Shatner is surprisingly good at conducting interviews ... and it doesn't take long for him to takeover the proceedings. Expect a few sound problems, as all four panel guests compete with not only each other, but the audience.

Listen to the episode streaming above, or download it as an MP3 by clicking HERE.

And subscribe to THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY podcast on iTunes for free by clicking HERE!

Grayson Hall in WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS, 1975


In 1975, Grayson Hall appeared in a revival of J. M. Barrie's 1908 four-act play, WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS. There's not much about the play circulating online, save for the essential nuts and bolts: According to the Internet Off-Broadway Database, the show ran for 71 performances, opening May 28 and closing the following month on July 27 in 1975. The show was staged at the Roundabout Stage I in New York City.

Grayson Hall and Fran Brill in WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS.
R.J. Jamison's biography of Hall, A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW, includes a number of reviews of the play (most of them positive) but history suggests the production did little to distinguish itself. Above is a June 1, 1975, item promoting the event from a New York newspaper, showing cast members Hall, Fran Bill and Susan Tabor in costume.

Monday, March 24, 2014

SCREENING REPORT: Brad, Columbia and Magenta crash
Mad Monster Party's ROCKY HORROR event


THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW should be out of gas by now.

Hell, it should have sputtered out years ago, sucked into the void with the entire “midnight movie” phenomenon. People don’t want to sit in a darkened theater with a bunch of strangers anymore. These days, people want their movies served the way they like their television: at home, doors locked, pants off and a little drunk. I can’t entirely fault people for their newfound love of worldly isolation, but there’s a spark to seeing a movie with an audience that you just can’t get any other way. Like it or not, but theaters are still the best way to see a movie.


Nobody should be as tired of the ROCKY HORROR experience as the movie’s cast, who have alternately rebelled and embraced the film during the almost-40 years since its ill-fated debut. Cast members Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell were scheduled to attend a screening of the film at the MAD MONSTER PARTY convention in Charlotte, N.C., this past weekend. What I anticipated was a quick introduction by the cast before the lights dimmed, allowing them to sneak back to their hotel rooms. THAT TYPE, a Charlotte-area ROCKY HORROR “shadowcast” was slated to perform and, after the anemic attendance of some of the convention’s other activities, I had concerns that the audience would be a quiet one.

None of those things turned out to be true. The place was packed to the gills, with the original cast appearing to have more fun than anyone.


The audience participation aspect of ROCKY HORROR has always been the most difficult element to control. A shadowcast can have the best props, best lines, ample rehearsal time and an infinite amount of enthusiasm, and it wouldn’t matter if you have a bunch of zombies in the audience. For the magic trick to work, the audience AND the cast need to be engaged, but you can never tell who’s going to show up to any given screening.

And the audience for the MAD MONSTER PARTY event was total chaos. These were people from all over the region, and were likely accustomed to “lines” and interactions unique to their favorite venues. Consequently, Saturday night's show was a bit of a madhouse (in a good way.) This is one of the rare cases, though, where the audience's response didn’t matter much. All that mattered were the responses from Barry, Patricia and Nell. And they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.


All three spontaneously joined the cast on stage several times during the show. Nell and Patricia did the Time Warp, with the former pulling off the tap dancing segment effortlessly. And Bostwick joined the cast on stage during the floor show, providing me with the opportunity to get perhaps the best photo I’ll ever take (see top.)

My favorite moment probably went unnoticed by almost everybody there. Sitting with her castmates in the front row, Little Nell took out her phone and started taking photos of the performance. I doubt many of the guests at MAD MONSTER PARTY took photos for themselves during the event, but Nell was clearly impressed by what she saw. It was sweet.

The cast stuck around for a few minutes, valiantly ignoring handlers who were trying to rescue them from the throng of fans. They posed for photos with the cast of THAT TYPE, signed autographs and humbly fielded brief anecdotes from fans about how the movie changed their lives (stories I’m sure they’ve heard hundreds of times before.) Hyperbole aside, it was an incredible night. If I’d only had the good sense to have worn a costume …


THAT TYPE performs the first and third Friday of every month at Cinebarre, located at 8008 Providence Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277. Click HERE for more photos from last weekend's event.

Convention Report: MAD MONSTER PARTY


CLUSTERFUCK was the word on everyone's lips at MAD MONSTER PARTY this past weekend. I heard the word so often that it began to lose meaning, though the event maintained its ability to terrifying me with feats of mismanagement throughout the duration of the three-day convention in Charlotte, N.C.

I'd say the problems were in place when the event opened its doors 6 p.m. Friday at Hilton Charlotte University Place, but that's not exactly true. For a great many people, the convention didn't begin in earnest until several hours later because of the event's inability to manage crowds. Despite purchasing tickets weeks earlier (and getting in line about 45 minutes before the doors opened) my wife and I didn't get inside the hotel until sometime after 7 p.m. The first of the weekend's scheduled events, a ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW panel featuring cast members Barry Bostwick, Little Nell and Patricia Quinn, began at 6:30, while a photo-op with William Shatner was set to start at 8. You do the math.

The festival organizers spotted this problem and wisely began to go through the crowd, cherry picking attendees who had pre-paid for the expensive Shatner photo (though it's incredibly unlikely that some customers weren't overlooked.) They also announced that the ROCKY HORROR panel would be delayed until everyone made it inside.

The panel was pushed back all of 30 minutes. The location of the event was also not marked on the tri-fold brochure issued to customers, meaning nobody knew where it was taking place ... including the first few MAD MONSTER employees we spoke with. As it happens, the panel took place outside the hotel, in a large tent. After fighting our way back through the crowd, up the escalator and exiting the building, we managed to catch the final 15 minutes of the panel.

As did a lot of other people, apparently. This was the audience at the ROCKY HORROR panel.
When the panel was over, the line for customers outside was alive and well, and still wrapped around the hotel. Some of these were people waiting to buy tickets; others were people who'd bought tickets online prior to the event. There was just the one line for both kinds of customers. (There were also VIP ticket holders, who had the privilege of getting into the convention at the appropriate time on Friday. Win?)

I refuse to believe this woman is 62 years old.
And this is how the weekend pretty much went. The staff rarely knew anything about events taking place outside of their immediate area, and were not equipped with radios to find answers to questions. And more than a few of them knew much of anything about their own assigned tasks. I paid $75 (sigh) in advance to get an autograph from William Shatner at noon on Saturday and, like the ROCKY HORROR panel, the location was not marked on the brochure. Luckily, my wife spotted an elevated table on Friday, heard someone mention Shatner's name and guessed he'd be doing all scheduled signings at that location. She was right. And wrong.

I arrived early at the table to avoid the problems witnessed the previous day with lines. After standing around for a few minutes, it became worrying when nobody else got in line behind us. I asked a staff member assigned to the area if this was where Shatner was scheduled to do his noon signing. "Yes," I was told. Noticing the camera around my neck, he also told me I wouldn't be allowed to take photos.

We waited a few more minutes. Still: no line.

I decided to ask the guy again about the scheduled signing, and was much more specific with my second question: "Is this where we stand in line to meet William Shatner?" You probably know where this is going.

Shatner's line began on the other side of the convention hall, beginning with a door leading into an employee access space that ran behind a hotel wall, and back to to where I was standing. (We saw where the hotel stores its Christmas decorations, if you're interested.) The door was not marked, either on the map or, you know, on THE ACTUAL DOOR. If you wanted to attend any of the weekend's scheduled events, you essentially had to keep asking employees until you got the correct answer. And you'd better phrase the goddamn question carefully.

Richard Kiel, William Shatner and Anne Serling take part in a panel discussion about THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
The two panels I hit were sparsely attended. The front section was reserved for VIP customers, but so few people attended that everyone got a free upgrade and was allowed to sit in those seats. I don't know if the low attendance was the product of disinterest or confusion. (The actual panels were terrific fun, BTW.) While confusion and crowd management on Saturday weren't as chaotic as Friday's mayhem, there was still a lot of room for improvement. Such as when a staff member gave us directions from the hotel to the outside tent, which involved climbing over a small wall and walking up an unpaved hill to the event. My wife is five months pregnant, just so you know.

Patty "Frankenhooker" Mullen & friend.
The crown jewel of the weekend's activities was a ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW screening by That Type, a Charlotte-based shadowcast. I saw them a few years back and knew they did good work, but cast members from the original film were also supposed to take part in the event. I had no intention of missing it, but felt my balls crawl into my belly when I saw the line for the screening stretched from the tent to the front door of the hotel.

BUT: This tale has a happy ending. Mad Monster Party was beginning to get its shit together and had everybody seated in a timely manner. It was an AMAZING experience, one I'll share in a separate blog post.

So, where does that leave us? I heard no apologies from anyone for Friday's widely acknowledged clusterfuck, and organizers have chosen to downplay the problems online as "growing pains." I heard complaints from vendors about confusion regarding how their space was allotted on the floor of the convention, while constant delays continued to snowball and create new problems. If you were late getting your photo taken with a celebrity, chances are you were late receiving the photo, as well. By the time someone told me their photo with Shatner had been lost, it was almost funny.

But it's not all bad news. While I expected much, much better from a business that conducts these events all over the country, management has not (as yet) taken to deleting negative comments from the Facebook event page. That's a promising sign. With luck, Mad Monster Party will learn from last weekend's mistakes ... though their responses to these problems (both online and at the actual event) have been difficult to decipher. For the time being, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Little Nell, Patricia Quinn, Barry Bostwick and the THAT TYPE! shadowcast.
And none of this is to suggest I didn't enjoy myself. While it often felt like the event was at odds with its customers, the celebrity guests were all outgoing, and Mad Monster Party created once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for fans. Here's a non-essential tale of weirdness that could only have happened at there:

FYI: Dick Miller has a Twitter account.
I got to share the stage for about 10 minutes with Barry Bostwick, Little Nell and Patricia Quinn during the finale of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW screening (I actually held Patricia's hand and helped her down the stage stairs afterward.) While heading back to the hotel, I spotted a goose standing in a small patch of grass. At first, I thought it might have been a discarded prop ... there's not a patch of grass within 20 square miles of that hotel that's not part of an artificial "greenspace" project. A flaming skull? A bloody hatchet? Finding something like THAT discarded outside the hotel would have made more sense, as odd as that might seem.

As it happens, the goose was very real, and looked like kind of an asshole.

I took a photo of the rogue fowl and headed back toward the hotel when I saw Ken Foree (of DAWN OF THE DEAD) and Heather LagenKamp (of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) smoking on a set of stairs outside. I stopped to talk and showed them the photo of the goose, saying it was "the weirdest thing I'd seen all weekend" (or something like that.) Even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew I was topping the random goose sighting story by becoming "The Guy Who Tells Random Goose Sighting Stories." 

"LOOK AT MY GOOSE PHOTO, GUYS!"

"I wouldn't be surprised if it was someone in costume," I said about the goose, ha-ha, before shouting "SMOKEBOMB!" and running away. (I made up the smokebomb thing just to sound cool.)
 
The photo in question.
It's not my intention to throw Mad Monster Party under the proverbial bus. Was it fun? Absolutely. Was it frustrating? Without a doubt. Can these problems be fixed? YES. Assuming this story doesn't get me banned for life, I expect to be back in 2015 for the next event. I just hope it's better organized next time.

(NOTE: For more photos of MAD MONSTER PARTY, visit our Tumblr and Twitter feeds.)

An awkward moment from the ROCKY HORROR screening.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Birthday WILLIAM SHATNER!

Greetings from MAD MONSTER PARTY in Charlotte, N.C.

If you've been following me on Twitter and Tumblr this weekend, you'll have a head start on everyone else as to what you can expect from this website later in the week. If not: I've been attending a horror convention with a battery of guests that involves everyone from Cherie Currie to Tom Savini. There was also no less than one FRANKENHOOKER, 50 percent of The Dukes of Hazzard and 100 percent of the world's surviving Fonzies.

This afternoon, I was present for a panel on THE TWILIGHT ZONE that involved William Shatner, Richard Kiel, and Rod and Carol Serling's daughter, Anne.

Today was also Shatner's 83rd birthday. At the end of the panel, Shatner was presented with a birthday cake by convention staff. I snagged a few photos and decided to share some of them, because it's not everyday I get to see something like this.







Friday, March 21, 2014

Too Much Horror Business



I’ve discovered in recent months that there’s a some friction between the various COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY outlets. Twitter and Facebook are too flimsy to do much more than share jokes and links, while the main “dot com” site has become almost respectable (GASP!) during the last year… leaving little room for sharing personal bullshit. After all, why push actual news and commentary further down the page just to make room for my daily ramblings?

Which is where Tumblr fits into the scheme of things. For whatever reason, my Tumblr readers are hardcore fans who want more than to see the same photos every day, and are more likely to pay attention when I’ve got an announcement to make. (Tumblr also represents my SMALLEST following on any social media network, but whatever.) Much of this post appeared at my Tumblr feed yesterday.

This weekend, I’m attending the MAD MONSTER PARTY in Charlotte, N.C. This is the official start of convention season for the CHS, which will actually see me as an honest-to-god guest at no fewer than two events later in the summer. (Click HERE for a full schedule of events.) I’m just a customer at MAD MONSTER PARTY this weekend, but plan on taking photos and blogging about it from the scene.

The extent of this effort will be determined by my wi-fi connection at the hotel, as well as my wife’s energy levels. I was waiting for her to announce it on her DAY DRINKING podcast, but Sara is pregnant, which is terribly exciting. I’ve never been so happy in my life … and Sara has never been so tired. Sleeping, itself, has turned into a workout for her. I’m tinkering with the idea of the two of us recording a podcast from the convention, but she might not be feeling her wittiest after spending most of the weekend wading through zombies, cosplayers and S&M fetishists.

So, if all else fails, look to see photos from the event here on Tumblr this weekend. I’m scheduled to meet William Shatner on Saturday, and hope to score signatures from the cast of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW later that day. Besides that, I’ll just be hanging out, taking photos and (with luck) blogging.

If wi-fi fails me, you might want to keep an eye on my Twitter and Tumblr feeds, though.

*

Fred Phelps died yesterday, and prompted the above response from me. One thing led to another, and I was quoted in a story published on the blogs of SF WEEKLY. It was also my most-read tweet (sigh) since I started using the network, which suggests people like kindness more than they like DARK SHADOWS. And I'm cool with that.

The tweet also lost me all of one follower ... which is a weird response. As my wife pointed pointed out: "Homophobic DARK SHADOWS fans are like racists who really really like the FRIDAY movies. You gotta figure there's something up."

Click HERE to read the SF WEEKLY story.

*

YAHOO ANSWERS: "Where idiots turn to for continuing misinformation."  LINK.
(Warning: That link might make your head explode. And not in a metaphorical way, either. Remember that scene in SCANNERS?)

*



One last plug: Remember SILVER SCREAM? No? Well, you're not alone. The so-called "sister website" of THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY kinda died from neglect like so much tamagotchi, with most of the original content gradually folded into this website. While the content-driven SILVER SCREAM site is no more, its Tumblr feed is thriving. Right now, it's actually more popular than our main Tumblr feed. CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF.

THE MAN BENEATH THE VAMPIRE'S CLOAK, 1969


Jonathan Frid was subjected to so many interviews during the run of DARK SHADOWS that he was forced to fall back on sharing many of the same anecdotes, which is a pitfall of getting asked the same questions repeatedly. The unidentified writer of this story actually gets some good material from him, and the story features some of Frid's best commentary from those days.

Unfortunately, the story is undated. Not only do I not know neither the date nor the author's name, I don't even know where it first appeared. A reader in the comments section below believes it was published in INGENUE, but I've been unable to verify that. (The photos were taken from outside sources.)

THE MAN BENEATH THE VAMPIRE'S CLOAK 

"I'm like a teen-ager about Barnabas Collins. Maybe that's the whole secret. They know that I'm as much infatuated with him as they are."

Jonathan Frid looked startled at what he had just said. The tall, hazel-eyed actor had just finished a day's shooting for Dark Shadows, the ABC daytime television drama series in which he plays. -175-year-old vampire. Relaxed now, in a handsome tweed sport jacket and smart turtle-neck jersey, the Canadian-born Jonathan may have put aside the flowing black cape, massive carved cane, onyx ring and fangs that are synonymous with the gentleman-vampire, but he had not quite erased Barnabas' appealing look of weary melancholy.

When the romantic and brooding non-hero first appeared on the Gothic mystery series less than two years ago, his appeal was instantaneous. Initially, the show's writers had intended the character's appearance to be a brief, two-or-three-week spot. And then the fan mail started. Mountains of it. Today, Barnabas Collins receives some 2000 letters each week. In a visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana, he drew bigger crowds than President Nixon. Penn State University issued a stern warning to students who were cutting classes to watch his television show (which has now been shifted to 4 p.m. E.T., in order to accommodate Barnabas' thousands of teen-aged fans).


"Some parents keep their kids from watching the show," Jonathan said. "Not because Of the violence, but because their children are liking a villain. And yet, Barnabas has been 'cured' Of his morbid habits for many months, now. Although there's always the threat . that he could become a vampire again." Through two plot maneuvers — a massive blood transfusion following an auto accident, and the surrendering of part of his life-force to create a new human being named Adam—Barnabas is now a normal man. But with the horror of his past constantly lingering over him, and with the unspoken threat of that past to his future, Barnabas has become a contemporary  equivalent Of the traditional Byronic hero—like Heathcliff, in Emily Bronte's romantic, nineteenth-century novel, Wuthering Heights.

"What's interesting to me about the transformation of Barnabas is that people have not lost their involvement; they're really interested in the character I've created," explained Jonathan. The point is an important distinction for the actor, who says "one of my great philosophies is the difference between personality and character."


For Jonathan, Barnabas is a real character with dignified human characteristics. Remembering an early show in which another actor had adopted a condescending attitude toward Barnabas, Jonathan said, "I can recall thinking: you modern day Americans think you're so natural, but you're not. You're just as phony as those people who lived during the eighteenth century. I am going to play Barnabas as a civilized, sensible human being. I'm also going to play a certain quality, a hidden pride within me.

"One of the troubles with our civilization is that we're all looking around for fun-people. There's too much fun going on, just as there was at the end of the Roman Empire. It's a very dangerous life we're going through now in America.”

Which partly explains the fascination that Barnabas Collins, the serious-minded vampire, has for the actor who creates each" day. "Barnabas hasn't got time to be fun. Yet he has to cope with åll these fun-people, and he resents them."

Although Jonathan obviously admired such strength of character, it was equally obvious that he felt dissatisfied with his own life-style. "I'm rather a paradox this way because my style is rather superficial and grand, and I know this. That's probably one of my guilts — that I'm a fairly superficial person looking for fun-people. I don't make friends with good, solid characters—people you'd trust your life with. My conscience tells me that this is not going to save me in the end. But the older I get the more everything becomes crystallized.

“I’m very much oriented toward these people who write to me—especially the teen-agers. Probably because I was a very emotional kid myself. I had yearnings to know, even though I never had the nerve to write letters. A lot of people joke about the more hopeless pleas I receive; despise them, even. But something else is operating here. Their very inarticulateness—this eagerness to know me or to know Barnabas — touches me. I know exactly how they feel. There's this soft part of me that bleeds for them.”


The actor's easy identification with his young fans was an honest; if rather painful, admission. I was a lonely teen-ager. I'd go to the movies and, in my emotional way, I would see the stars as gods of sorts. I would emote with them, identify with them, and I urged to suffer terribly.

“I guess I was kind of a movie freak then," Jonathan said, remembering "that when a new film was announced as "Coming Friday" on the  screen he would raise his hand over his face and cover the "ay" in "Friday" so that the big bold letters read: "Coming Frid." In a sense, his entire youthful life way a preparation in fantasy for the day he actually became an actor. After church services (his family brought him up in a very religious atmosphere), the young Jonathan used to dress up to resemble the preacher and then recreate his sermon to the delight of the Frid family. And, with a boyhood friend, he concocted elaborate fantasy-voyages whenever they rowed out in a small boat. "We were rotten sailors, but we thought we were a couple of Errol Flynns. I used to bicycle around my teacher's house, too. Miss Paisley, her name
was. She had a funny little old house, but it seemed like a palace. Later, I adored Katharine Hepburn so much that I was all up tight when I actually worked with her on the stage."

Had he finally given up "heroes," now that he was himself a hero of sorts for so many other people? "I don't think I've ever quite grown up that way. I think it has to do with the fact that I was the youngest of three boys. Grownups always had more fun. I hated being the youngest because they were all older and out doing things, going places. I was always kept home. And I felt this very strongly when I was young, so I can still identify with the yearnings of young people."

Jonathan believes that Barnabas Collins' struggle after goodness is part of his appeal, and he realizes that he shares this yearning. "I'm not ashamed to Want goodness because I'm not good," he said, vehemently. "I'm really selfish to people and I know it. I'm a Good-Time-Charlie myself. And I do so little for people, really. But I know it, and have strong guilt. I'm not perfect; I have problems in my life and sure, I bear on them. I use my anger, my frustrations—anything that I'm unhappy about or feel guilty about— when I play Barnabas. I’ve always played a man of conscience. I was never a villain—I mean, Barnabas was never really evil. He's very much like Macbeth. I've borrowed from Richard III, too. Richard holds back his conscience, he isn't even aware he has one until the very end when it confronts him like a geyser and he's left there with emptiness. He is nothing in a vacuum."


Of all the intricacies in Barnabas' character—from his compassion for others to his agonized feelings of guilt —Jonathan believes that it is Barnabas' determined strength that makes him most attractive to his fans—and to Jonathan, too. It is also the facet of Barnabas from which Jonathan feels most detached. And envious.

"Barnabas has decision and authority. He's always making declarations: 'This must be done! I must this! I must that!" I think the word 'must' is probably half the reason for his success. Well, Jonathan Frid never says 'must.' I'm some kind of eccchh. I'm sort of this way and that way and all over the place. I'm always running off at the end of a sentence into a dot-dot-dot. People don't dislike my indecision — they're just indifferent.

"Women, especially, like strong men who make pronouncements. I suppose it's what they call a 'father image.' I've never been a lady killer. I've been stood up I don't know how many times. Actually, I have no social life at all. I go home at night and work two or three hours on the script, get up at 6:30 and work for an hour over breakfast before going to the studio. Girls may have fun with me for ten minutes or so, but something deep within them loses interest. I guess they really want someone who waves a cane and says, 'I must!'"




(NOTE: Many of the images used for TGIF: Thank God It's Frid-Day, are courtesy of Elena Nacanther, who is part of an effort to get Jonathan Frid nominated to Canada's Walk of Fame, a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization that recognizes Canadians who have excelled in music, sports, film, television, and other artistic endeavors. You can find the NOMINATE JONATHAN FRID TO CANADA'S WALK OF FAME Facebook page by clicking here. Please pay them a visit.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First look at Kathryn Leigh Scott in OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jeffrey Patrick Olson in an upcoming episode of OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS.

Kathryn Leigh Scott recently completed filming an episode for the third season of the web TV series OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS. Leon Acord, the writer/executive producer/star of the series, sent us a pair of photos from the episode, which will serve as the season's finale. 

Scott plays the mother of character "Al 'Muscles' Carter," played by Jeffrey Patrick Olson.

"Ms. Scott was lovely and gracious, from our first email interaction to her saying goodbye when she was finished shooting," Acord said. "I never know what to expect with guest stars, and she couldn't have been more hospitable. I offered to carry her costumes both arriving and leaving, but she wouldn't have it. She was quiet, professional and totally delivered in her scenes. I think the few folks in our audience who don't know her work will fall in love with her!"

Here's the elevator pitch for OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS, taken from the series website:
    
"Does (sex) life end for gay men as they approach 50? That’s the question explored by the comedic, fast-paced & serialized web series Old Dogs & New Tricks, through the friendship and tribulations of four diverse and otherwise successful West Hollywood men – each one located squarely within middle age."
 

The new season of OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS is set to debut later in 2014. Previous seasons are available on Hulu, Netflix, GayDirect and streaming at the show's official website. Both seasons are also available on DVD from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The inevitable DARK SHADOWS/DARK SHADOWS crossover


Do you remember the time Lara Parker made an appearance on the 1991 DARK SHADOWS "revival" series? No? Well, it sorta happened.

As producer Dan Curtis was making the promotional rounds for the series, he occasionally mentioned the possibility of cast members from the original television series making guest appearances on the new program. In his memoirs IN AND OUT OF THE SHADOWS, actor David Selby says he was invited by Curtis to reprise his role of Quentin Collins on the revival. "I told Dan that I was too old to play Quentin, who never ages thanks to the Dorian Grey portrait," he recounts. While Selby would visit the set of the series to speak with actress Jean Simmons, he admits he refused the role out of respect for his experiences on the original series.

Lara Parker/Lara Hoffman.
The new DARK SHADOWS lasted only twelve episodes, which was hardly enough time to accommodate any kind of appearance by members of the original cast. (Now that I think about it, Jonathan Frid would have made an awesome Professor Stokes.) But the opportunities for cameos didn't end with the television series.

As with the show's previous incarnation, the "revival" was accompanied by a comicbook series. Unlike the Gold Key comics published in the 1960s and '70s, though, Innovation's tie-in to the 1991 series was lush, imaginative and created by people with a clear understanding of the property.

And, in the November 1992, issue of the Innovation series, Lara Parker loaned her likeness to "Lara Hoffman," the aunt of Barbara Steele's "Dr. Julia Hoffman." (Parker is only two months older than Steele, but whatever.)

Innovation made a splash a few years earlier with an adaption of Anne Rice's THE VAMPIRE LESTAT. A 12-part mini-series, the comic was a hit and placed Innovation on the industry map. Unfortunately, publishers misinterpreted the success of that book, turning its lushly painted style into a company wide aesthetic. Almost every book by Innovation was made to look like the Anne Rice adaption, whether if worked with the story or not. When it came to books like THE MASTER OF RAMPLING GATE (another Rice adaption) and DARK SHADOWS, the style was a perfect fit. With adaptions of properties such as QUANTUM LEAP and LOST IN SPACE? Not so much. Within a few years, the novelty of THE VAMPIRE LESTAT had turned into a cliché, and few of Innovation's titles came close to matching the success of its first hit. (I've also heard stories that editors had a passion for cleavage that would have made Hammer Studios blush, routinely kicking back pages to artists with instructions to "SHOW MOAR BOOBZ!" Although the memos were probably phrased a bit more professionally.)

With DARK SHADOWS, Innovation lucked into series that was a good match for its company aesthetic. It helped that the book's writers were willing to take stories in strange new directions, rarely relying on any incarnation of the TV series for guidance. It introduced new villains, explored existing relationships and filled in a few of the gaps created by the television show's rush to introduce Barnabas Collins into the mix. For fans of the show, Innovation's book was required reading at the time.

Unfortunately for all involved, DARK SHADOWS was cancelled in early 1991. A few of the show's actors have made appearances on Big Finish's terrific line of audio dramas, but the TV series' final episode remains one of televisions great unresolved cliffhangers. As with Gold Key, Innovation's DARK SHADOWS lived longer than its inspiration. The company completed a pair of four-part series before going out of business in 1993. Sadly, Innovation folded after the ninth issue of DARK SHADOWS, leaving yet another storyline unfinished to this day.

If you're interested in tracking down this series, all nine issues are inexpensive and easy to find through outlets like Ebay and Amazon. Visit the DARK SHADOWS WIKIA for details about the individual issues.

MONSTER SERIAL UPDATE: WE’VE GOT A BOOK! AGAIN!

Oops.

In the flurry of activity, I forgot to mention the revised edition of MONSTER SERIAL is now available in print and Kindle from AMAZON. Oh, I climbed every other mountain on the Internet and shouted about the book to the heavens ... I just, you know, forgot to mention it on my own website. Accidents happen.

The first edition went on sale not long before Christmas last year. The new revision, subtitled the SATURDAY MORNING SUGAR RUSH EDITION, was released in January and corrects a few errors, adds a few small items and polishes the book's overall design. The is the "real" version of the book, as it was originally envisioned.

MONSTER SERIAL is the product of a month-long blogging effort by the writers of The Collinsport Historical Society. Ordinarily dedicated to the cult-TV drama DARK SHADOWS, the website’s writers stepped away from Collinsport for a month to write about their favorite horror films. MONSTER SERIAL contains the bulk of those essays, as well as some new features. The collection of writings touches on everything from the classic Bela Lugosi DRACULA, Vincent Price’s works with William Castle and Roger Corman, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, the movies of Val Lewton, Stephen King and dozens of others. For a full list of film's covered, see the book's table of contents, which is available for viewing at Amazon.

Here’s what people are saying about 
THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY:

BLOG OF THE YEAR, 
2012 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

“Wallace McBride must haunt the cobwebby lower stacks of old newspapers and magazines by the hour to unearth the flabbergasting array of long forgotten articles based on anything and anyone Dark  Shadows. Furthermore, colorful and exhaustive coverage of everything new and happening (including fan art) ensures that The Collinsport Historical Society is the most comprehensive (and then some) Dark Shadows web site imaginable. McBride’s ‘fang in cheek’ glorification of the show makes this site more than mere information — it is exalted entertainment.”

 — LARA PARKER, author of
DARK SHADOWS: WOLF MOON RISING

“I’m a big fan of Wallace’s blog, The Collinsport Historical Society, because he is clearly passionate about Dark Shadows and the horror genre in general. What I love, though, is that there’s a sense of irreverence in his writing. Reading his writing is like being in a pub with an old mate. He knows what he’s talking about, he cares about it but he’s not afraid to have a laugh about his passion.” 

JOSEPH LIDSTER, writer for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures; 
producer of Big Finish’s dark shadows audiodramas

“MONSTER SERIAL offers engaging appreciations of some fine fright films. Chaffin and McBride lend pungent, personal, well-wrought observations and McCray’s essays are of particularly focused passion. These pieces will inspire you to review favorites with a refreshed perspective as well as to embrace other movies for the first time, lead by these authors’ enthusiasm.” 

MAGUS PETER H. GILMORE,
High Priest of the Church of Satan

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