Friday, October 30, 2015

The DARK SHADOWS Binge returns to Decades this weekend

Beginning tomorrow, Decades will air the second half of its DARK SHADOWS marathon. The binge kicks off at 1 p.m. EST with episode 295, which is also the first color episode of the series. It's also the debut of the show's now color opening, complete with wavy credits. (If I remember correctly, DARK SHADOWS was actually taken off the air for a week so that the studio could be re-tooled for color taping.)

If you use Twitter, keep an eye on the #CollinsTweet hashtag. While I'm not organizing any formal activities this weekend, you can bet that won't stop fans from chatting about DARK SHADOWS during the Decades marathon. You can find me on Twitter at @CousinBarnabas.

Click HERE to see if you get Decades in your area.


You have at least two fall back positions. The first is to simulate the marathon using DVDs. The second option is a little more interesting ...

During the last year, Hulu has been quietly expanding its offerings of DARK SHADOWS episodes. As of Oct. 30, they have a whopping 8 DVD collections streaming online. This covers episodes 210 (the introduction of Barnabas Collins) to episode 532. That adds up to more than 300 episodes (about 25 percent of the series) streaming at your fingertips. You can take a look at Hulu's DARK SHADOWS catalog HERE.

Then again, maybe you don't need to watch the show at all this weekend ... if neither of these options work for you, feel free join in the conversation, anyway, Just search Twitter for the hashtag #CollinsTweet to find us!

See David Selby on stage in FRONT DOOR OPEN

Greenway Arts Alliance continues their season of world premieres with FRONT DOOR OPEN, a drama written by veteran playwright Tom Baum, directed by acclaimed theater and television director Asaad Kelada.

Leading the cast are David Selby and Joanna Miles. If you're visiting this page. Selby needs no introduction. Frankly, Miles shouldn't either: she's been honored with two Emmys, a Golden Globe nomination, a Dramalogue Award, a Vision Award and an award from Women in Television & Film. I'm a geek, so I know Miles from the kinds of things she probably doesn't brag to her friends about (JUDGE DREDD, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, etc.) But she's got an impressive list of credits, which you can see for yourself HERE.

Here's the official summary:
Selby and Miles in rehearsals
An agoraphobic woman faces the ultimate crisis of her life:  Does leaving the house mean leaving her 50-year marriage behind?  When the woman’s daughter and granddaughter pay an emergency visit, the family is forced to confront the ripple effects of her disability—on their personalities, their careers, their long-held secrets, and their sex lives.
The plays is set to begin in Los Angeles next month. Two preview performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Nov. 11 and 12, with opening night set for 8 p.m. for Friday, Nov.13.  The limited five-week engagement continues through Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Greenway Court Theatre.

Via: Greenway Court Theatre

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Mitchell Ryan taped his last episode of DARK SHADOWS on May 25, 1967. His first job out of the gates was a spot on the short-lived television series CORONET BLUE, a spin-off of the primetime/daytime series THE NURSES. Ryan appeared in the fifth episode, titled “Faces,” which aired July 10, 1967. I’m sure it was a perfectly fine program, but his next gig is a lot more interesting.

Ryan starred as “Agamemnon” in IPHIGENIA AT AULIS, which opened Nov. 21 that year at the Circle in the Square theater in New York City. IPHIGENIA AT AULIS was written by Euripides in 414 B.C. The story is profoundly disturbing: Agamemnon must decide whether or not to sacrifice his daughter to the gods as a preamble to setting his troops in battle against Troy. It sounds like an episode of BLACK MIRROR.

By all accounts, Ryan sold the conflict well and portrayed Agamemnon as a conflicted, flawed leader: “Mitchell Ryan's Agamemnon, part politician, part hero, part father, provided a subtly judged performance of a man of patchy conscience who wants to do the right thing, but hasn't truly got the moral equipment to know what the right thing is,” wrote Clive Barnes in the New York Times that year.

The 1967 production was pretty successful, running until the following year for a total of 232 performances. Starring opposite Ryan was Christopher Walken as “Achilles” and Irene Papas as “Clytemenstra.”

Via: The Michαel Cacoyannis Foundation

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rolling Stone: DARK SHADOWS is "the definition of a cult classic"

The editors of Rolling Stone have named DARK SHADOWS one of the "25 Best Horror TV Shows of All Time."

Before you click the link at the bottom of this post, the answer is "No, the editors of Rolling Stone don't value DARK SHADOWS as much as you do." Still, it places at #18 on the list, which isn't terrible. Here's what they had to say about the series:
Supernatural soaps of all stripes can all trace their roots back to Barnabas Collins, the vampire (played by Jonathan Frid) who made Dark Shadows a bright spot on the daytime dial. He didn't even show up on the series until 1967, a year into the atmospheric ABC soap's five-year run, but after being unchained from a coffin, his arrival transfixed the show's young-skewing viewers. From then on, the afternoon serial went from a mildly Gothic story to a full-fledged paranormal romance, mixing witchcraft and werewolves into its sudsy storylines about lost love. It's now the definition of a cult classic.
You can read the entire list for yourself HERE.

Via: Rolling Stone


The last DARK SHADOWS audio book of 2015 dropped this morning. "And Red All Over" reunites original cast members Kathryn Leigh Scott and Mitchell Ryan, who returns to the role of "Burke Devlin" for the first time since 1967. I've got a spoilery review of the story ready to go later in the week, as well as an even more spoilery podcast interview with its author, Cody Schell.

Until then, experience "And Red All Over" for yourself, courtesy of Big Finish Productions.

Via: Big Finish

Monday, October 26, 2015

Collectors's Alert: DARK SHADOWS "rack pack" hits Ebay

Here's something I've never seen before: a "rack pack" of DARK SHADOWS trading cards from 1968.

Sealed "wax packs" from this series pop up online from time to time, but this is the first I've heard that these cards were ever issued in the dreaded "rack pack" format. Rack packs were often surplus cards re-packaged in bulk as a way for companies to clean house, so to speak (though I admit the market might have been very different in 1968 than when I started collecting cards many years later).

One of these packs is now available for auction on Ebay. It ends shortly after midnight and has a starting bid of $125. I don't know how reasonable that price is, but this is a pretty rare item regardless.

Via: Ebay

Celebrate Halloween on the Satellite of Love

To truly love movies, you have to love them even when they're terrible. Which is why the various casts and writers who worked on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 are so adored by fans. There's a playfulness to their banter that's rarely ever hostile, even when some of those movies are demanding to be abused (the odious GUNSLINGER leaps immediately to mind).

Rights issues have meant that early attempts to bring the show to home video were frequently uneven. The more recent collections of DVDs from Shout! Factory has ironed out most of those problems, delivering box sets of MST3K's best and worst moments on DVD. These collections are treasure troves of badness that ironically represent some of the best television ever made. Go figure.

This week, MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 is one of Amazon's Deals of the Week. The online merchant has cut prices to MST3K collections as much as 57 percent. The sale ends at midnight EST on Halloween.

(In case you were wondering, I'm on Team Joel.)

Via: Amazon

Meet legendary DARK SHADOWS artist Ken Bald in November

Ken Bald, possibly the finest comic artist to ever work on DARK SHADOWS will be attending the Rhode Island Comic Con on the weekend of Nov. 6. Bald was the artist on the DARK SHADOWS newspaper strip that ran from 1971-1972. (Kathryn Leigh Scott collected Bald's DARK SHADOWS strips into a collected edition back in 1996, though her Pomegranate Press publishing house. The book is out of print, but copies are easy to find.)

The DARK SHADOWS strip is reportedly Bald's favorite work of his career, which is no small statement given that Guinness World Records has crowned the 95-year-old as the world's "oldest comic book artist." The man has worked on everything from DOC SAVAGE to CAPTAIN AMERICA to DR. KILDARE.

And he's stayed busy! Bald recently completed a cover for Marvel's "Contest of Champions," which pits the original line-up of the Invaders against their successors.  I think it's terrific.

h/t to Roy Isbell for the tip!


DARK SHADOWS: Marathon Wrap Up

I feel like I should be handing out bananas and bottled water to all the people who participated in last weekend's DARK SHADOWS #CollinsTweet event. Marathons can be fun, but they can also be exhausting. And people were starting to get a little ... twitchy as when the sun set yesterday on the second day of the series "binge" on Decades.

The channel played more than 80 consecutive episodes of DARK SHADOWS over the weekend, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.  Fans spent much of the event talking about the show on Twitter, tagging the epic discussion with #CollinsTweet. The final episode of the binge aired shortly before dawn today.

I was hoping people would get involved, but was bracing myself for disappointment. Decades is available in quite a few homes in America (about 45 percent of households, according to its Wikipedia page) but there are many markets left out. The channel isn't available anywhere in my state, so I tried to keep up with DVD and the episodes available on Hulu. Luckily, this overlap in programming availability didn't appear to hinder the discussion at all.

And we had a few guest appearances, as well. Kathryn Leigh Scott and Kathleen Cody graciously dropped in Saturday to talk about their experiences with DARK SHADOWS. CHS contributors Patrick McCray and Brooke Perrin also took shifts, playing the roles of Collinsport Cheerleader to online fans, who found interesting (and occasionally outrageous) ways of expressing their love of the series.

And we're going to do it all again next weekend! Decades kicks off a second DARK SHADOWS marathon at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, beginning with episode 295, the show's first color episode. It will absolutely be a busy weekend for everyone, which will make boosting participation even more challenging. (And we might have exhausted our reserves of DARK SHADOWS cast members on Twitter during last weekend's event.) But you never can tell who might show up.

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 23, 2015

DARK SHADOWS: Binge & Tweet

As you might have heard, Decades will be airing more than 80 consecutive episodes of DARK SHADOWS beginning this Saturday at 1 p.m. EST. The channel hits a lot of major television markets in the U.S., but there's a chance you don't live in one of them. I don't, but that's not going to stop me from taking part in these marathons ... one way or another.

And we've got some fun events planned for the weekend. Original cast members Kathryn Leigh Scott and Kathleen Cody will be stopping by on Twitter to chat with fans. Scott will be joining us at 6:30 p.m. to chat about Episode 221 of DARK SHADOWS, the episode where here character Maggie Evans first meets Barnabas Collins. You can find her on Twitter at @kathleighscott.

At midnight on Saturday, actress Kathleen Cody is joining the conversation. Because of the curious habit of television to broadcast episodes of DARK SHADOWS produced during 1967, Cody doesn't actually appear in any of the episodes scheduled for this weekend (she was probably in junior high when these episodes were taped, but was already a working actress). Still, she will absolutely have an interesting perspective on these episodes. You can find her on Twitter at @_KathleenCody.

Here are a few other accounts to keep an eye on during this weekend's marathon:

Decades TV Network:

The Collinsport Historical Society:

Angela Englert:

Brooke Perrin:

Dark Shadows/Big Finish Productions:

Cody Schell (author of the DARK SHADOWS audio dramas "The Flip Side" and "Red All Over"): @CodyQS

Miguel Rodriguez:

It's pretty easy to participate in the event. All you need is a Twitter account to start chatting during the marathon. The idea is to keep the online discussion focused on the episode that is airing, whenever possible. The marathon begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with episode 210, with each new episode beginning in half-hour increments. If you don't get Decades, you can always keep pace with DVDs. (Though expect occasional lag because of commercial breaks.)

And here the most important element of the discussion:
Be sure to tag all of your tweets with #CollinsTweet. There's a group of DARK SHADOWS fans that chat about the series every Sunday evening, and we'll be hijacking their hashtag for the marathon. If you don't use the #CollinsTweet hashtag, other fans won't be able to find you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE soundtrack gets a vinyl release

Popol Vuh's soundtrack to Werner Herzog's NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE is getting a vinyl release from Waxwork Records this week.

The deluxe, expanded double LP includes four extra tracks from the film, and originally released on the Popol Vuh album, "Bruder des Schattens - Sohne des Lichts." Waxwork has worked directly with the family of late Popol Vuh founder, Florian Fricke, to restore and remaster the soundtrack for vinyl.

Artwork has been commissioned from Jessica Seamans of Landland, and is the first officially-approved NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE soundtrack artwork since the original 1979 soundtrack release. The LP package also includes an art print of the front cover artwork.

Standard LP package specs include:
Heavyweight 2xLP 180 Gram White Marble Castle Wall Colored Vinyl
Expanded and Remastered Soundtrack Specifically for Vinyl
Old Style Tip-On Gatefold Jacket
New Artwork By Jessica Seamans of Landland
Artist Liner Notes and Art Print

Limited Deluxe Web Exclusive Variant Limited to 500 units:
Heavyweight 2xLP 180 Gram Midnight Blue and Gold Swirl Colored Vinyl
An 11”x22” poster of Inner Gatefold Art
Expanded and Remastered Soundtrack Specifically for Vinyl
Old Style Tip-On Gatefold Jacket
New Artwork by Jessica Seamans of Landland
Artist Liner Notes and Art Print

The album goes on sale Friday, Oct. 23.

Via: Waxwork Records

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DARK SHADOWS is crazy cheap today on Amazon


Today at Amazon, DARK SHADOWS: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL SERIES is crazy cheap. The 131-DVD box set is now available for a limited time for just $224.99. I don't think I've ever seen this set for sale at that price. That breaks down to just 18 cents an episode.

You can find it HERE while supplies last.

Via: Amazon

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More amazing DARK SHADOWS art is going up for auction

Another wonderful piece of art by George Wilson is going up for auction next month.

Back in August, Wilson's original cover art for issue #10 of the vintage DARK SHADOWS comic from Gold Key sold at Heritage Auctions for $2,270.50. On November 19, Wilson's original painted art used on the cover of #15 of that series is going on the market.

I love Wilson's work. If you place the winning bid on this piece of art, be advised that I'll be polite and cordial to you in public, but will privately hate you.

You can see the original artwork below, with an inset of the book's cover as it appeared in print.

Via: Heritage Auctions

Monday, October 19, 2015

Which DARK SHADOWS character are you?

In preparation for their upcoming DARK SHADOWS marathons, Decades has shared a personality quiz to determine which character you're most like. (I got Barnabas Collins, to the surprise of nobody.)

Decades has two weekend marathons of the series planned to celebrate Halloween this year. The first "binge" begins at 1 p.m. EST on Oct. 24, kicking things off with episode 210 ... the first appearance of vampire Barnabas Collins. More than 80 episodes will be playing back-to-back this weekend. Click HERE to see if Decades is available in your area.

The second marathon begins 1 p.m. Oct. 30, beginning with episode 295, the first color installment of DARK SHADOWS.

There are a few wonderful moments of serendipity scattered throughout the first weekend's marathon. First up, one of the best episodes of DARK SHADOWS (according to our readers) is part of the weekend's festivities. Episode 233, where Barnabas Collins recounts the tragedy of Josette Du Pres to Victoria and Carolyn during a thunder storm at Collinwood, is set to air at midnight on the first day of the marathon.

The following midnight sees the broadcast of episode 281, which sees Victoria Winters relive Josette's death during a séance at the Old House. How's that for setting the proper mood for Halloween?

Stay tuned for more details!

Via: Decades

Friday, October 16, 2015

Guillermo del Toro's DARK SHADOWS

In a perfect world, Guillermo del Toro would have helmed a DARK SHADOWS movie. Here's how the marketing for that film might have looked. (BTW, CRIMSON PEAK is now available on DVD.)

Collinwood Cocktails: SANGUINE MOON MAI TAI


2 oz Lime juice  
1 oz. Solermo blood orange liqueur
1 oz. orgeat,
½ oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Myers Dark rum
2 oz. Appleton Special Amber rum

Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour unstrained into your vessel.  Spank a mint sprig for garnish.

What a horrible night to have a curse, but what a great time to have a drink!  With the bad moon newly risen, pour yourself this delicious variation on a classic Trader Vic's Mai Tai.  (Rumor has it, the Trader himself was hipped to this ghoulish variant while staying the night at the Cranshaw House and exploring the grounds beneath a blood moon...I wonder who...or what...he encountered).

While we all seemed to have survived the tetrad called for by the Blood Moon Prophecy, why not keep the fixings for this cocktail around all the time... I'm sure there will be another Doomeday event predicted any time now.

"The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day."


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+

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Robert Cobert's "Ode to Angelique"

The DARK SHADOWS phenomenon was beginning to wind down in 1970. Fans have been speculating for decades about the causes of the show's decline, but I think it's simply a matter of fatigue. Nothing lasts forever, and DARK SHADOWS managed to outlast contemporary series like STAR TREK, BATMAN and WILD WILD WEST — none of which made it out of the 1960s.

Billboard: July 4, 1070.
That fatigue was evident with the release of Robert Cobert's final(?) single from DARK SHADOWS, "Ode to Angelique." Released in in August, 1970, I can't find any evidence that the song even charted. Which is a shame, because it's a pretty good melody, and as distinctive as any of the previous selections of DARK SHADOWS music released.

As with the previous singles, "Ode to Angelique" also functioned as a plot element of the television series: The melody was written by composer Bruno Hess, an obsessed (and psychotic) former lover of Angelique Collins during the "Parallel Time" storyline. The 45 was backed with a track by Cobert titled "Missy" which appears to have nothing to do with DARK SHADOWS. The track was later included in the DARK SHADOWS 30th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION album released in 1996.

Below is a collection of memorabilia related to the song, including a playlist from a New Jersey radio station that hilariously sandwiched the melody between tracks by Sugarloaf and Jackie DeShannon.

Note: The DARK SHADOWS fansite Darkness Falls recently returned from the dead and has the piano sheet music for "Ode to Angelique" available for download. Nevermind. It appears to be down again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"You have to be very friendly to ghosts"

A few years ago, David Selby offered his advice to the DIY Network on how to tell a "Scary Tale."
I think he knows what he's talking about. LINK

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Meet Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott this Halloween

UPDATE: Original DARK SHADOWS cast member Christoper Pennock has announced on Facebook that he'll be joining Kathryn and Lara at the event.


Two original cast members from DARK SHADOWS will be guests at the upcoming Hollywood Show the weekend of Oct. 30 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Lara Parker will be signing for the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and environmental studies. If you collect signatures, this event is a great opportunity to double-up on autographs for certain DVD collections.

For example:

* Loretta Swit of MASH is also a guest at the Hollywood Show event. Swit starred with Parker in 1975's RACE WITH THE DEVIL.

* The event is also hosting a DALLAS reunion, with about a dozen actors from the series attending. Scott appeared in several episodes of the series in 1989.

* HUNTER's Fred Dwyer is scheduled to appear at the event. He and Scott recently appeared together as Hydra officers in the AGENTS OF SHIELD episode, "Aftershocks."

* Parker and guest Kent McCord appeared in the two-part episode of GALATICA: 1980, "The Night the Cylons Landed." Herbert Jefferson Jr., who appeared in both BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and a handful of GALATICA: 1980 episodes, is also a guest at the event.

* Both Scott and Parker appeared on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. (Parker is in the pilot as Bill Bixby's late wife; Scott appears in the second season episode, "A Solitary Place.")

Via: The Hollywood Show

Friday, October 9, 2015

The best episodes of DARK SHADOWS (according to IMDb)

(Warning: this post is going to piss off the hardline DARK SHADOWS fans.)

You can go mad trying to make sense of the film rating system at the Internet Movie Database. Numerically quantifying art and entertainment is a weird concept to me, but it's been a part of how we examine movies for almost as long as there have been movies. But evaluating a movie the same way you would grade a child's spelling test is not only reductive, it seems to entirely miss the point of art.

Today, all of these reviews, star ratings, letter grades, etc. are fermented at Rotten Tomatoes to create the ultimate binary grading system. Just to make things more complicated, that binary system is inherently uneven. In order to get a "fresh" rating, a movie needs to score 60 percent favorable reviews ... which predicts your chances of any given film being "fresh" is slightly better than a coin toss. Confused? Well, maybe you should be, because this entire system makes about as much sense as using a dipstick to decide if a piece of music is "good" or "bad."

Goober Pyle says the new Ryan Adams album is about a quart low on oil. Also: it sucks.
IMDb has one of the strangest rating systems online, thanks almost entirely to its democratic process. Users can rate a movie or television show from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Just so you know, no movie has received an aggregated Perfect 10®. Perched at the top of the site's humongous list of movies are THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GODFATHER, both with a rating of 9.2.

By comparison, the best-rated episode of DARK SHADOWS has a rating of 8.3. That might sound like a sharp difference, but places it comfortably above such films as RAGING BULL, DIE HARD and CHINATOWN.

And here's where the list gets pear shaped: Barnabas Collins is always cited as the hero of DARK SHADOWS, arriving on the eve of cancellation to save the show from becoming a really, really hard Trivial Pursuit question ("Name the soap opera that starred screen legend Joan Bennett.") Yet the character appears in only ONE episode on IMDb's top nine.

The other eight episodes were later committed to Windcliff Sanitarium under mysterious circumstances.
The nine-best rated episodes of DARK SHADOWS range from a high of 8.3 to a low of 8.1. Each rating is an average of individual ratings given by users of the site. And it might come as a surprise to you, but younger DARK SHADOWS fans adore the early episodes of the series. I don't see this as a rejection of Barnabas Collins. Fans who have discovered the show on home video often experience DARK SHADOWS in a way few people ever have: by following the narrative from the very beginning.

The funny thing is that this list doesn't change much if you rank DARK SHADOWS episodes by the number of votes they received. If you take a look at the episodes that received the most votes, the early, pre-Barnabas episodes still dominate the list ... although Barnabas' first three appearances are all in the top ten.

In case you're wondering, the answer is "No, users have NOT ranked all 1,225 episodes of the series." A great many of them have not been rated at all. See the entire list for yourself HERE.

No matter how you slice it, IMDb's ratings system is wonky and doesn't do justice to DARK SHADOWS. But it's a fascinating look at a segment of fandom that has absolutely no issues with embracing the series as a whole. And I'm totally down with that. Whether or not these specific episodes represent the absolute best of DARK SHADOWS, they're still pretty damn good.

Below is a list of IMDb's nine-best rated episodes. (I stopped at nine because there were nine episodes tied at the next lowest ranking, 8.0.) Click on the images to visit their summaries at the Dark Shadows Wikia.

Via: The Internet Movie Datebase
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