Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 31


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 295

Maggie, thought dead by most, arrives at the Blue Whale, her memory on the mend. A panicked Barnabas enlists Julia’s aid to wipe the remainder of her memory. Julia does so at Dr. Woodard’s office and none too soon.

This is one of the clearest examples of the topsy-turvy morality of DARK SHADOWS as it comes into its own. A few months earlier, Maggie was the heroine and Barnabas was the villain as the kidnapping story came and went. Now, when Maggie comes into the Blue Whale and Barnabas has a fantastic moment of panic, it’s clear that our sympathies have shifted. Barnabas is the… well, if not hero, then most interesting character. And they don’t seem to be sending him away. What does this mean? As an audience member, I’m not entirely sure. I think the writers are with me. Am I supposed to be rooting for a kidnapper and hoping to see his victim further brainwashed? Um, yeah. Yeah, I think so. And it’s not RICHARD III. Barnabas is not out to revel in evil. He’s stuck with a terrible disease, hatched a wild scheme to win back his dead love, and now does everything he can to cover his tracks. His desperation and aristocrat’s impatience explain his brutality. Verily, good help is hard to find.

Today marks the filming of DARK SHADOWS’ very first color episode. While it may not be the eye-popping spectacle of 20th Century Fox Technicolor, they go out of their way to sell those TV’s. Vicki’s dress is impressively pink. And if you want to swim in seas of brown and avocado, jump in! Barnabas is a wonderfully and suspiciously tan vampire. Does the tone of the show change? Many say yes. Orson Welles said that it was impossible to give a bad performance in black and white. Likewise, the use of black and white bestowed instant gravitas to the action. Color makes things more realistic, but that also creates a greater challenge to pull off DARK SHADOWS-type storytelling. That they do so, if with twists, is a credit to all involved.

On this day in 1967, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards finish a one month jail term. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 27


Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 33

Carolyn is shocked when Liz says that David will stay at Collinwood while stating that she’s eager for Carolyn to get married and move away. Meanwhile, a drunken Joe paints the town red, threatening Burke, rejecting his offer of business sponsorship. As Vicki readies to leave Collinsport, an even-drunker Joe enters, asking to see Carolyn. She comes downstairs, and Joe gathers everyone in the drawing room. Joe excoriates Liz for warping Carolyn, claiming she’s turned her daughter into a spinster. Carolyn, he says, is too scared to marry him. He blames Liz and staggers to the couch, warning Vicki that Collinwood’s a prison. He then passes out. Carolyn tries to reassure Liz that nothing he said was true.

Just when I want to sit here on my Tempur-Pedic futon throne and pontificate about how dull the pre-Barnabas storyline was, here comes an episode to kick me in my self-satisfied caboose. Each scene crackles with the truths no one had been brave enough to say. At the core? Yes, Joan Bennett, Mitchell Ryan, and Nancy Barrett are the gold standards in acting on the program in this episode, but Joel Crothers is an absolute rocket among rockets. Until he played Nathan Forbes, Crothers languished thanklessly as a sane, normative character. It’s thanks to the slow-burning soap format that he finally gets his turn. Drunk men tell no lies, and never has this been truer than on DARK SHADOWS. Playing drunk is so often an excuse for bad actors to exaggerate, generalize, and let overblown gestures and slurred deliveries do the work. Not so with Crothers. This is one of the most intelligent actors I’ve seen, and he uses the license of Joe’s drunkenness to express what the show has needed to say about the denizens of Collinwood since the first frame. The precision of his choices is microsurgical, but it’s far from a cold and calculating reading. He fuses that marvelously insightful text work with a heartfelt connection to his fellow actors. I have no choice but to love him as an actor as well as the character he unforgettably portrays. Moral centers are such pains in the neck. Not in this case. Crothers and Joe are voices from the heart. Joel Crothers adamantly establishes that -- despite future window-dressing of the supernatural -- this show was, is, and will always be about decent, fundamental humanity. It’s theatre’s job to remind us of those things. That’s what acting is all about, and there’s no finer ambassador to the art than Joel Crothers.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Harvey Keitel in this episode at the Blue Whale. I’m telling you, that kid has a future.

On this date in 1966, liquor was served for the first time in Mississippi in 58 years, thus ending Prohibition for good. Kind of appropriate for today’s episode. Bottoms up!

Dark Shadows: Blood & Fire named best audio of the year

UPDATE: The DARK SHADOWS audio "Blood & Fire" is now on sale at Big Finish for 50% off. You can find the sale at

Original story follows:

The 50th anniversary DARK SHADOWS audio "Blood & Fire" was named "Best Audio" of 2016 by the SCRIBE Awards.

The Scribe Awards are presented by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers to recognize licensed works that "tie in" with other media such as television, movies, gaming or comic books. This year's winners were announced last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.

Released last summer in time for the DARK SHADOWS 50th anniversary celebration in Tarrytown, New York, "Blood & Fire" reveals how Laura Murdoch Stockbridge first came to plague the Collins family, and how a battle between her and the witch Angelique almost derailed the entire line. The double-length installment features an impressive cross section of actors representing much of the DARK SHADOWS legacy, including a return by one-time "Victoria Winters" Joanna Going.

"Blood & Fire" was written by Roy Gill, who previously penned the DARK SHADOWS audio "Panic." You can read my thoughts on "Blood & Fire" HERE. (TL;DR - I thought it was excellent.)

Gill faced stiff competition in this year's SCRIBE awards, as well. "Blood & Fire" was competing against a DOCTOR WHO audio, "Mouthless," and two TORCHWOOD tales, "Uncanny Valley" and "Broken," the latter of which was written by our own Joseph Lidster.

You can get "Blood & Fire" on CD or MP3 directly from Big Finish HERE, or on CD from Amazon HERE.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 26


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 555

Nicholas further champions lying as a central tool for Adam’s burgeoning immorality. He then suggests moving Vicki to his home for safekeeping. He then goes to Carolyn and tries to shift suspicion onto Barnabas. Jeff reports about Tom Jennings’ strange death. As Carolyn joins the search for Vicki, Nicholas paints an increasingly suspicious picture of Barnabas to Jeff. Later, Vicki pleads with Adam to show the gentility that Carolyn reported he had. Nicholas tries to dictate terms to Adam about how to handle Vicki, but Adam is protectively resistant. This is countered by Nicholas with an assertion that Barnabas will soon begin the experiment to create a mate, and he should bring Vicki. She awakens in Nicholas’ home, but is uncertain of the location beyond hearing waves. Elsewhere, in his home, Nicholas opens a coffin that contains an undead Angelique.

Normally, morality plays about lying involve children and adults. But with Adam, you get a very articulate adult, and he provides much more of a force of physicality and conscience against which Nicholas clashes. It’s so tiring to see the devil once again treated as the Prince of Lies, but in this case, the DARK SHADOWS writers present Nicholas’ position as a philosophically valid slice of realpolitik. Adam wrestles with very real issues, and I find myself identifying with him on his journey. Kudos to both Humbert Astredo and Robert Rodan for taking what should be an obvious dilemma and breathing real dimension and unpredictability into it. Poor Adam, caught in such a web of lies. We can see that it pains him, and yet Nicholas is so marvelously sincere that it’s hard to imagine the lug responding any other way.

On this day in 1968, America was intrigued with the replacement series, THE PRISONER, which debuted earlier that summer. Going on to legendary status, it would also be explored by the fine folks at Big Finish. 

House of Dark Shadows: Music from the Motion Picture

If you see something on this website and wonder if it's real, the answer is almost always "No."

When Dan Curtis made his first feature film, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, he brought with him much of the cast and crew of the television series. Series writers Sam Hall and Gordon Russell banged out a script that retold the introduction of vampire Barnabas Collins. The cast was made up entirely of actors (and, in the case of George DiCenzo, a producer) from the television series. Robert Cobert was even brought over to create a cinematic interpretation of his small-screen music

Perhaps because of the rushed production schedule (and also because MGM was calling the shots) the  marketing blitz of its television counterpart was missing from the feature film adaption. Absent were the trading cards, posters, toys and other products sold under the DARK SHADOWS brand. The movie's merchandise was more or less limited to the Marilyn Ross novelization. We didn't even get a soundtrack release until many, many years later.

The television series, of course, had its own pop soundtrack. It was populated mostly by Cobert's music, with some newly crafted spoken-word parts written for actors Jonathan Frid and David Selby. It sold well, but was aimed more at mopey proto-goths than the kind of kids you saw dancing every week on AMERICAN BANDSTAND. Which made me wonder: What would a contemporary pop soundtrack for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS had sounded like?

It would probably have sounded awful, to be honest, most likely stuffed to the gills with acts like The Cowsills, Bread or Tony Orlando and Dawn. Barf.

But hindsight is 20/20. Given unlimited resources, what kind of album could I have built that would be an honest reflection of both the movie, the year and the market? Which brings me to the point of this nonsense: "House of Dark Shadows: Music from the Motion Picture," a Spotify playlist. You can find the playlist  online HERE. Below is commentary on the playlist.

Did Lou Reed watch DARK SHADOWS? It's a question you might ask yourself while listening to the lead track, "Ocean," a 1969 outtake from The Velvet Underground that would later find its way to Reed's first solo effort. "Ocean" sounds at times as if Reed is narrating the opening credits to DARK SHADOWS: "Here comes the ocean/And the waves down by the sea," with the lyrics diving deeper into the kinds of imagery that once haunted by Edgar Allen Poe. It's also a reminder that we never see the iconic shores of Collinwood in either of Dan Curtis' feature films, which is weird, right? (Note: Bob Dylan apparently saw more than a few episodes of DARK SHADOWS.)

From here, I wanted the songs to explore 1970 as much as possible, no matter how painful the results. I wanted the sounds and lyrics to lightly touch on the movie's themes and imagery, while also saying something about the musical landscape of the year. "Love Buzz" by Shocking Blue would have made a superior substitute for the rock and roll muzak playing at the start of the film, as Maggie is searching for David. Simon & Garfunkel's "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" is a reminder that this is 1970, and popular music was still kind of precious. "Can I See You In the Morning" finds The Jackson 5 at their most cinematic and esoteric. It's not a song many people are ever going to dance to, but it's still pretty cool.

After that is the even slower, dirge-ier "Planet Caravan" by Black Sabbath. As my late grandmother used to say, "Dark Shadows is metal as fuck," so it seemed weird to overlooked Sabbath's 1970 masterpiece, "Paranoid." But there's no one moment in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS that calls for Sabbath's driving, bottom-end rhythms ... but "Planet Caravan" is a perfect song for DARK SHADOWS, regardless of context.

I think George Harrison's (i.e., "The Best Beatle") 1970 song, "Beware the Darkness," speaks for itself, doesn't it? The Beatles were too much of a thing to graft themselves well to DARK SHADOWS, but the solo tunes are a different story. Paul McCartney is just too damn chipper for DARK SHADOWS, while I just want to punch John Lennon in the throat. And Ringo is ... Ringo. Which ain't a bad thing to be, but it's just not DARK SHADOWS.

Hey, it's The Velvet Underground again! Sorta! Nico's "Janitor of Lunacy" is as cold as ice, and makes me wonder what an entire score for the film by Nico and her collaborators might have sounded like. HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS already has the atmosphere of an extended funeral. (It's telling that Curtis has to use an actual funeral in the film to break up the extended moments of darkness.) This isn't my favorite track of Nico's, but I've always been impressed that she was willing to carry the chilly banner of the first Velvets album for as long as she did. RIP, you magnificent warrior woman.

Don't forget, this is 1970. So here's "Down is Up, Up is Down" by the Delfonics to bring the movie's themes home in the most contemporary way possible. "If I told you the sky was brown/would you look up or down?" kinda sums up the Barnabas/Maggie "relationship" as well as anything Bob Dylan would write. Meanwhile, Krautrock band Can conjures up music for a Spaghetti western with "Deadlock," while also foreshadowing Italy's Goblin by a few years.

For reasons I can't quite explain, Neil Diamond and DARK SHADOWS go together like peas and carrots, at least for me. HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS doesn't call for one of his bouncy, Everly Brothers-inspired songs, so I opted for "Coldwater Morning." It's the kind of ballad that would have been at home in the closing credits of an Irwin Allen movie. The next track, Hawkwind's "Hurry On Sundown," might hit the nail on the head a little too fiercely, but is also a good chaser for Diamond's sentimentality.

Which brings us to the theme for our closing credits: "Thunderbuck Ram" by Mott the Hoople. I 1970, the band was on the eve of a makeover, courtesy of David Bowie, and were still ... well, I don't know what the hell they were in 1970. This song isn't quite heavy metal, but I'm at a loss as to how else to describe it. Making it all the weirder is that lead guitarist Mick Ralphs is handling vocals here instead of Ian Hunter. "Life must still go on whatever's right or wrong/Realize what's gone and was never healing" describes a great many of the characters in this movie, most notably our anti-hero. It's sad, epic and loud. Just like HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 25


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 554

Jeff and Barnabas search for Vicki in the woods, and Barnabas discloses that the howl of wolves is a sure portent of the vampire. Elsewhere, Nicholas stands over Angelique’s coffin in an iron doored room. As he exits, he encounters Tom Jennings, his handyman. Afterwards, Nicholas suggests that the worst is yet to come for Tom. Jeff soon finds Tom dead, bite marks on his neck. Nicholas, from afar, says that it begins. At Collinwood, Barnabas hears wolves and knows that something must be amiss. He informs Julia that Adam has Vicki hostage. Self-aware, he’s more dangerous than ever. Nicholas enters and claims that he saw Barnabas in the woods earlier, running away. Jeff then also enters to call the police to report Tom’s death.

Barnabas reluctantly begins to ponder the loss of his cure. What more appropriate force could make him a vampire other than another vampire… at last, Angelique. Nicholas is a crafty SOB and he deserves a lot of thanks for the irony. Also notable in this one... we have one of the first encounters with Tom Jennings. It's so odd to see Don Briscoe as a redneck, but he plays it well, and yet again proves that he is one the best actors on the show. It's my opinion that 1970s cinema would have looked extremely different had Briscoe survived. As it stands, he is the sad Brian Wilson of DARK SHADOWS. When I did the DARK SHADOWS experiment in 2012, I dedicated it to  Briscoe, much to Mission Control’s understandable bewilderment in the post-mortem toast. Because, for some strange reason, my heart just went out to Mr. Briscoe. I’ve even calculated how long it would take to get to Memphis and his grave. There is a strange soulfulness and is acting that moves me tremendously. Pay attention. Perhaps he'll have that effect on you.

On this day in 1968, work began on the extensive electrical system needed to support the disastrous 1968 Democratic convention that would unfurl in a month. Politics was never the same. In some ways, that’s a tragedy.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 24


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1070

Barnabas awakens in his coffin to find the sherrif ready to kill him, so he eliminates the lawmen in self-defense. Upstairs in the Old House, Julia confesses to divulging Barnabas’ secret to the sheriff. She is under the command of Gerard, but Barnabas quickly trumps the phantom with vampiric mind control, releasing the doctor. Summoning Stokes, Barnabas insists on a seance to reach Carolyn and find out more information about Collinwood’s doom. In the ceremony, Julia is possessed by Carolyn, who reveals the six clues that led to the fall of Collinwood. Gerard appears, ending the ceremony and killing Stokes. Julia vanishes, and Barnabas finds her with Gerard in the playroom. She is about to kill herself when the ghost of Carrie appears and reveals a door. Barnabas drags Julia through it and down a strange staircase. Emerging, they find themselves in an undamaged Collinwood where a twin of Carrie demands to know who they are.

Beginning with a rousing start of pure action, episode 1070 is an express train of action that doesn’t stop until the closing credits. Not only does it end 1995 with true blood and thunder, it sets the tone for the breathless Ragnarok storyline to come… itself a springboard for the 1840 flashback that concludes the series and brings the story of Barnabas to a close that is both deeply satisfying and terribly sad. Barnabas is certainly ready for the fight, and this episode puts an exclamation point on that. He has gone from an uncertain and paranoid victim at the beginning of the series to heroism of Homeric bravado and unshakable determination. His loyalty to Julia is a testament to her own heroism, and we see him in 1070 as fully engaged in the defense of his home and family. It is simple, rousing, bold, and sans pretense. Barnabas Collins is every bit the tactician we saw him as when he first appeared as the series’ villain, but one transformed by the events of the series into its uncompromising champion. The flashforward began in the ruins of Collinwood, and it just kept increasing the pressure and urgency with the deaths of beloved characters that it audaciously unfurled. It is both quintessential DARK SHADOWS and totally unlike the small and timid program that debuted just four years prior.

On this day in 1970, the USSR performs nuclear Test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk. It was not in relation to the birth of November 1992 Playboy Playmate, Stephanie Adams, also born on this day.

That’s the official story, anyway. 

Dark Shadows DVD set for sale at Amazon for $10,000

Two weeks ago, Dark Shadows: The Complete Series (the DVD "coffin set") was on sale for a few hours at Amazon for $265. Today, it's available at the same online retailer for the low, low price of $9,999.99. What gives?

Well, it's probably not time to panic. When you see these fantastically insane prices at Amazon, it's almost always a sign that the product is simply out of stock from all available vendors. Rather than update online inventory whenever a product is temporarily out of stock, some vendors will use bots to quietly boost their price point above their competitors. The idea here is to keep you from ordering something that's out of stock. After all, why would someone order the most expensive item when there are identical units for sale at the same site?

When everybody sells out, though, the bots go on a rampage. Prices expand rapidly as the bots compete to stay ahead of the other vendors in hopes that nobody orders anything, leaving us gifts like a $10,000 price tag for a $300 (give or take) product.

I've got my concerns that Dark Shadows: The Complete Series will go out of print someday, but it doesn't appear that that day has arrived. Over at MPI Home Video's website, you can still grab a set for $375. That's not quite the bargain that Amazon was offering a few weeks ago, but certainly better than $10,000.

Via: Amazon

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 20


Taped on this date in 1966: Episode 27

As Liz, Carolyn, and Vicki await the return of a missing David, we find that the scamp has snuck into Burke’s hotel room. He and Burke bond and declare friendship, but when Burke leaves the room to make a “Burke Devlin Special,” David hides the bleeder valve under the couch. After he leaves, Burke discovers it.

The early part of the series specialized in episodes where characters just, well, talked to each other. Sounds boring? Hardly. The characters were ripe with potential about a very active and high stakes world totally unspoken, except in allusion and lies of omission. I could have chosen an action packed 1995 episode, but this one feels like it has more going on in it. Large dominated by a Burke/David two-hander (interspersed with diametrically opposed, feminine hand-wringing at Collinwood), it is almost… almost… a completely inert installment. Inert, except that in their conversation, we see one would ending and another world beginning. Burke’s indulgent patience always gets me (points to heart with thumb) right here. When he finds the bleeder valve that David clumsily hid, he doesn’t display anger, just bemused resignation. What else was he to expect? Only in Collinsport do people foster deep, meaningful, authentic friendships to later betray with lethal deceit. It’s what gives the town its charm. GAME OF THRONES? Catch up!

We may see the best acting in the first part of the series with episode 29, as Burke and David continue to bond. They have an astounding rapport, with a kidlike Burke interacting with David with unaffected mirth, and an astoundingly mature David exploring one of the only two points of kindness and trust in his life, and doing so with winning gravitas that Burke keeps cracking through. David needs a dad, friend, and big brother, and here he is. As for Burke? Even though I think the timeline forbids it, I still wonder if Burke thinks David might be his son. It certainly plays that way.

On this day in 1966, Gemini X returned to Earth after docking in space and going higher than we had ever gone before. The crew, Michael Collins and John Young, enjoyed later illustriousness. Collins went on to pilot the Apollo 11 command module, and Young commanded the maiden flight of the first space shuttle. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Exclusive to The Collinsport Historical Society: 25% off Dark Shadows short stories

Big Finish Productions have been producing officially-licensed DARK SHADOWS audio dramas since 2006 – bringing back many of the original cast to continue the story on from where the television series ended. Last year they released their first short story collection, the critically-acclaimed "Echoes of the Past." To celebrate today’s release of their fifth collection, "Love Lives On," the Collinsport Historical Society is pleased to exclusively offer 25% off Echoes of the Past and the following three collections.

To access the offer, visit and enter the code “quentin” when required. The offer expires 23:59 (UK time) on Aug. 31, 2017.

We asked series producer Joseph Lidster to tell us about the stories.

“We’ve been producing full-cast audios for a number of years but recently we wanted to try something a bit different. I love short stories – there’s an intimacy to them that you can’t find anywhere else. The television series is basically one long bedtime story. It’s something you watch in the dark to be scared and thrilled by. And, of course, it’s the story of one family and their friends (and enemies!) set over hundreds of years. These collections have allowed us to get inside the minds of many of those characters. As well as telling stories set after the television series, they’ve allowed us to fill in some of the gaps from throughout the history of the Collins family. What happened to Quentin Collins before his return to Collinsport? How did Josette du Pres’ mother die? Why did Harry Johnson leave Collinsport? Who was Elizabeth Collins Stoddard’s one true love? What happened to Sebastian Shaw in Windcliff Sanitarium? Performed by actors Nancy Barrett, Andrew Collins, Stephanie Ellyne, Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker, Christopher PennockLisa Richards, Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Selby, Marie Wallace and Matthew Waterhouse, the collections also include two stories written by Angelique and Trask themselves – actors Lara Parker and Jerry Lacy. It’s been a real honour to produce these stories – complete with sound effects and music – and I’m so pleased as to how much the actors have enjoyed performing them and the fans have enjoyed hearing them.”

The link also offers you the chance to download a story for free. The Missing Reel, starring David Selby, sees Quentin Collins meeting a mysterious film collector in Los Angeles, 1958.

Trask The Exorcist by Jerry Lacy
A tired and hungry Reverend Trask is summoned to perform an exorcism. But when he meets Penelope Bascomb he will face the Devil’s greatest weapon... temptation.

The Missing Reel by Ian Farrington 
Los Angeles, 1958. The world is changing – but then again, it always does. Only people with short lives assume things stay the same. When you’re immortal like Quentin Collins, you realize that it all moves at a lightning pace...

Lunar Tides by Philip Meeks 
Maggie Evans knows everything. She knows what Barnabas has done and has banished him from the town. But who will help her when a mysterious mist descends on the town and the people of Collinsport start falling ill?

Confession by Paul Phipps 
The witch Angelique sits alone in her cottage, writing a confession. But what is she confessing to? And why can’t she stop writing?

Hell Wind by Marcy Robin
A young Josette Du Pres is terrified for her life as a deadly hurricane smashes into the island of Martinique. She rushes for shelter but she’s not the only one fighting to survive…

Communion by Adam Usden
1861 and War rages across America. The preacher Elias Trask and his young son Gregory, are hiding from men who wish to kill them. But something else is already in their hiding place…

The Ghost Ship by Lara Parker
The warlock Nicholas Blair has transformed the witch Angelique into a vampire to serve him. Her love for Barnabas Collins, though, will never die…

A Face from the Past by Kay Stonham
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is returning to her home town of Collinsport. But on the train, she is stunned to see the young man who was once the love of her life. Could he also have returned to the town that once tore them apart?

Last Orders at the Blue Whale by Rob Morris
Thrown out of Collinwood, petty criminal Harry Johnson is waiting to catch the next train out of town but a rash decision in the bar of the Blue Whale will unwittingly lead him into a battle for his very soul.

The Scarlet Bride by Ian Atkins
Agnes is getting married but what should be the happiest time of her life is being spoiled by strange dreams of a scratching at her bedroom window. She dreams of a mysterious man trying to break into her room… A man who stares at her as she dreams…

On the Line by Ian Farrington
Carolyn Stoddard is embracing her new life at university but a mysterious telephone call is about to change everything…

In a Broken Dream by Penelope Faith
In an attempt to distance herself from her past, Amy Jennings is visiting Elizabeth Stoddard and Roger Collins in Paris but, mysteriously, they are not there. Will her life ever be free from the unexplained?

The Reflected Man by Alan Ronald
Sabrina Jennings is broken. Her husband is dead and her life means nothing. Alone in the city of New York she believes that her life can’t get any worse. But she is about to discover that there’s always something darker… hiding in the darkness…

Old Acquaintance by Matthew Waterhouse
New Years Eve, 1971 and Quentin Collins is celebrating in the Blue Whale. But something is coming for him… Something he first met in a Welsh village in 1914. Will the people of Collinsport survive to see 1972?

Devil’s Rock by Kate Webster
Barnabas Collins and Willie Loomis are beginning a journey. A journey that they hope will lead them to their old friend, Julia Hoffman. But, on this night, they are about to discover that Collinsport isn’t the only town in Maine to have a dark, terrible secret.

Cobwebs by Aaron Lamont
Something is very wrong at Windcliff Sanitarium. Sebastian Shaw wakes from a nightmare, alone. There are no doctors... no nurses... just a tiny little spider weaving its web on his wall. And outside, in the hospital corridors, the Burned Man is calling for him again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 19


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 550

Carolyn contacts Stokes in a tizzy over Adam’s maturing interests in her. As he comes to the rescue, Jeff Clark asks Vicki to marry him, and she agrees. In a later conversation with Adam, Stokes determines that the best way to cool his jets is to explain how and why they are different. That involves disclosing his origin. After Stokes leaves, Adam’s existential crisis drives him to attempt suicide.

Okay, okay, who let in Gene Roddenberry? This episode exists on a STAR TREK-level of existential mystery. Professor Stokes, despite his open mind on the occult, is sadly limited by small-town, New England thinking when it comes to guiding Adam toward appreciating (or, at least, not hating) his nature. But who, besides starship captains, actually gets trained in the practical application of questions surrounding What Makes Us Human? Of course, to generate drama in the fewest possible steps, Stokes must be inadequate at bolstering Adam’s spirits, and Adam must be disgusted at his difference. Even now, we have an organic bias that favors the natural and shuns the man-made. Usually, DARK SHADOWS characters have every reason to loathe rather than embrace what makes them different… their differences are usually lethal until understood and focused. Not so with a maturing Adam. The tragedy is not that Adam is different, but rather that no one can translate why that should be celebrated rather than condemned. So, he was created in a lab? So what? To me, that makes him a marvel. Where is Virginia Postrel when we need her? Or Michael and Denise Okuda? They’d straighten him out. And does this make the manipulatively accepting Nicholas Blair this story line’s Magneto? Hardly the only similarity between DARK SHADOWS and X-MEN.

On this day in 1968, the world said hello to future thrash metal artist Robb Flynn of Machine Head. Happy birthday, Robb!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 17


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1065

Following ghosts and a phantom melody, Barnabas and Julia find a perfectly preserved playroom in Collinwood that they never knew existed. In it, an insane Carolyn is of no help as she laments a birthday party whose guests have vanished. Leaving her behind, they visit Stokes, a man not quite mad, but not entirely sane. He’s equally ignorant as to the cause of Collinwood’s ruin. When they leave him, we learn that he harbors Carolyn, and he is still seeking answers from her. Back at Collinwood, they find a mad Quentin, recently escaped from a mental hospital. Returning to the playroom, Julia and Barnabas find a birthday card to someone named Tad. Just as suddenly, David appears in a smart, 1970-era suit.

Eight years to the day after this episode was shot, actor Thayer David died of a cardiac arrest. He was only 51. It makes an episode like this incredibly poignant, showing the actor at an “old age” (sixty-eight) that he never reached. Anyone familiar with the daybook knows that Mr. David is the real star of the show and this column. A touch of that is camp, but it’s a sincere camp, sincerely inspired. Chris Pennock considered David to perhaps be the program’s finest actor. David had range, passion, and a committed sense of truth… and yet none of these grounded him so much that he lost his capacity for joy in his performances. Matthew Morgan, Ben Stokes, Count Petofi, and T.E. Stokes are all some of the show’s most memorable characters, and we have David to thank for that.

Curtis had already begun the motif of the phantom and disappearing room with the Parallel Time storyline. Is his fascination a concession to paranoia? Larger conspiracies manipulating events? Timing is everything. Why do they arrive now? To see the escaped Quentin, or does Quentin escape because he senses Barnabas and Julia? Either way, they are here because Judah Zachary wants them there. It’s a trip that is both catalytic and fatalistically demoralizing. The events of 1970 would have been baffling without a preview. With one? Barnabas knows exactly how powerless he really is.

On this day in 1970, over 30,000 people attended Randall Island’s rock festival in New York City. Like Altamont, it was total chaos. Prone-to-violence, proto-SJW political groups such as the Black Panthers and the yippies demanded pieces of the action and were at each other’s throats. Gate crashing was rampant. Stars such as Ravi Shankar, sensing they wouldn’t be paid, refused to perform. It was no Farm Aid. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA added to Amazon Prime

It seems as though I've spent the entire week writing about Amazon. First, they dumped some really terrific sales related to DARK SHADOWS as part of this year's Prime Day event, then they went and added a few dozen episodes of the original series to its Prime streaming service. In the middle of this storm, the company also dropped Joan Bennett's final feature film, SUSPIRIA, on Prime.

This is good news if you're familiar with the film. But it's even better if you've never seen it, because you get to watch Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece for the first time. I've written lots about SUSPIRIA here over the years, so I won't waste time repeating myself.  If you haven't seen it, watch it. And if you have seen it, watch it again.

You can find it HERE.

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 14


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 288

Vicki begins to identify with Josette more and more. Meanwhile, Julia finds that a girl matching the portrait of Sarah has been seen multiple times, often described as a ghost. When she shows Barnabas the family portraits from 1795, she examines what she thinks will be his reflection in a mirror. There is no reflection, and Julia comes to the only logical conclusion; Barnabas Collins is a vampire.

Julia Hoffman: she’s like Bruce Wayne with guts. Julia’s journey is one of learning how much there is to fear, and then, in 1840, showing how she’s mastered it. Her adventure has Joseph Campbell written all over it. When Julia delves into Barnabas’ world, she can do anything because she has no idea how much it will cost her. Just as fools rush in, so does she, and the plot takes off like a rocket as she straps herself in. Grayson Hall portrays a monster of confidence, and that’s the one match Barnabas never expects. This episode also gets increasingly specific about the identities of Barnabas’ relatives, gearing audiences up for Victoria’s journey. Little did they know that they were getting a primer on the upcoming storyline. In literary terms, both Vicki and Barnabas are people without homes. Vicki’s is in the past, with Peter Bradford. She just has to find herself there. Barnabas’ home is actually in his future, with a family that needs him, respects him, and where, out of the shadows of Joshua and Jeremiah, he can become the man destiny has cast him to be.

On this day in 1967, Surveyor 4 was launched to the moon, but exploded just before landing. I still suspect foul play. Simultaneously, The Who was opening for Herman’s Hermits. Yeah, okay, but Ken Russell never made a movie based on “I’m into Something Good.” Unless you want to count LISTZOMANIA, and why not. Here’s a trailer.

What date did Barnabas and Julia arrive in 1995?


Continuity is a soap opera's great strength. It's also its great weakness. The serial format really lets writers dive deep into character relationships and conflict, creating worlds that are notoriously easy to confuse with reality. The Collins family of DARK SHADOWS, for example, isn't so much a tree as a fractal, splintering into divergent futures and timelines that span hundreds of years. Even casual fans of the series can name members of the family across several generations. When your lead is a 200-year-old vampire, understanding these multi-generational relationships is kind of essential.

These complicated details become a lot more dubious on closer examination, though. A character can be dropped from a storyline, only to be reintroduced several years later ... but how much time as really passed? On soaps, a single Halloween party can be dragged out for as long as necessary, squeezing weeks worth of infidelity, murder, comedy and conflict into a period that -- technically -- only takes places within a few hours. When four weeks of episodes only comprise a single day, how much time actually elapses during an entire year?

On DARK SHADOWS, it's difficult to nail down a specific date without the aid of a newspaper or some other milestone. Even then, the production can be incredibly coy with the specifics. A newspaper front page seen in episode 238, broadcast May 24, 1967, appears to have an April 26 date, a muddied detail probably created by an inability to give the propmaster a specific broadcast date. As the series progressed, it became necessary to buff out these sorts of incidental details. When you've got a character travelling back in time from 1969, but returning "home" in 1970, it's best not to bog things down with too much indicia.

Which brings me to this: When, exactly, did Barnabas and Julia arrive at Collinwood in 1995? One fan managed to nail down the specific date of Ice Cube's 1993 song, "It Was a Good Day," but Cube was a lot more generous with the details than Dan Curtis. But there are certain assumptions we can make that can help narrow things down quite a bit.

At the start of episode 1061, Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman are fleeing Collinwood in a parallel version of 1970. Timothy Stokes (who's a major creep in PT1970) has set fire to the mansion, forcing Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman to flee to their own timeline through the dimensional rift in Angelique's room. Once there, they discover they've missed their mark. Yes, they've returned to their own timeband, but have arrived 25 years in the future. Collinwood, as well as the family that once lived there, is in ruins.

Because of the disastrous timeslip, it should be impossible to determine the exact date of their arrival. Except the writers let slip a few crucial details that suggest the date lines up with the episode's date of broadcast: July 20.

First off, we can assume that any given episode of DARK SHADOWS more-or-less takes place on the day its broadcast. Sure, we lose a few dates here and there (the first five episodes of the series appear to take place in a single 24-hour period, for example) but the narrative has a way of self-correcting as things move forward. These bumps tend to happen at the start of a new storyline, which is how someone can travel forward in time from 1969, but return "home" in 1970. And episode 1061 is absolutely the start of a new storyline.

We're given two milestones in 1995 to help establish the date. Both are tombstones: David Collins (1956-1970) and Henry Beecham (1967-1995). Thanks to the Halloween aesthetics of DARK SHADOWS, neither tombstone appears to have been recently installed. So, we can assume that Mr. Beecham has been dead and buried for a few months, at the very least. (Both tombstones conveniently omit specific birth and death dates.)

There's also a continuity error that suggests the duo have arrived in a warmer season. When Barnabas left 1970 Parallel Time, he was wearing his Inverness cape. Upon his arrival at Collinwood in 1995, though, that cape is conspicuously absent. Throughout the next few episodes we see Barnabas and Julia trekking around Collinwood and Collinsport at night without aid of winter clothing, suggesting its not especially chilly outside. (Note: Bangor, Maine, is expected to get no warmer today that 69.1° F.)

Finally, Julia says it's been one month since she was last in the main time-band of DARK SHADOWS. Ordinarily, that wouldn't mean much for a soap opera, but in this case she's pretty accurate. The episode she refers to was 1035, broadcast June 12, 1970. If you put all of that together, there's absolutely no reason to believe that Barnabas and Julia don't arrive on July 20, 1995, 25 years after the broadcast date.

Complicating matters is the show's habit of self correcting its own timeline. As I've mentioned already, DARK SHADOWS likes to reset its odometer whenever a new arc begins. They not only do that in 1995, but when Barnabas and Julia return to 1970, as well. When they return "home" in episode 1071, Quentin Collins tells them the date is Aug. 3, 1970. Julia backs up his date, saying they left parallel time on the same date ... meaning no time has passed while they were in 1995. The problem? Barnabas and Julia say they were in the future for a week, placing their arrival time at July 27, 1995.

This is the only firm date we're given during this block of episodes, but I'm still hesitant to accept it. The show's insistence that it's HAPPENING NOW! (in this case, using the Aug. 3 date on the Aug. 3 episode) is just an attempt to retroactively alter its continuity in order to realign the story's calendar with the broadcast calendar. I'm not going to unfriend you on Facebook for subscribing to the July 27 theory, but I would reserve the right to comment on your posts with snarky gifs.

So, what was going on in the world on July 20, 1995? The Ramones released "¡Adios Amigos!", their fourteenth and final studio album, that week. (It included such DARK SHADOWS-friendly song titles as "Makin' Monsters for My Friends," "It's Not for Me to Know," "Take the Pain Away," and "Cretin Family.") FREE WILLY 2: THE ADVENTURE HOME made America stop caring about killer whales for a while, probably because we were distracted by the devastating sex appeal of Paul Rudd in CLUELESS. (Both movies opened that week.) And, in Chicago, a scorching heat wave caught the city unprepared, killing 739 people between July 13-20. Talk about a shitty week. Maybe we ought to run with July 27 after all.

Weirdly, a Google search consistently turned up one photo taken that day in Bangor, Maine. Back in 2015, Stephen King shared a photo on Twitter of himself and his dog, Marlowe, which was taken July 20, 1995. He didn't identify what he's working on in the photo, but his next major project, the serialized "The Green Mile," would be released early the next year. Or maybe he's drafting a poison pen letter to Stanley Kubrick. Who knows?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 13


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1061

Artwork by Bill Branch
1970PT and 1995MT. Timothy Stokes, driven mad, has set fire to Collinwood. Barnabas and Julia race to Angelique’s room, but Roxanne is barred from entering. As he screams for her, they find themselves in Main Time without her. But… when? The great house is a post-apocalyptic ruin. Julia finds a note from Elizabeth, saying they must leave Collinwood before the day is out. They then find a burned diary. Then, they find an old grave… David Collins 1956-1970! An elderly Mrs. Johnson says they vanished 25 years before and have returned unchanged. Mrs. Johnson says the Collins name is forbidden. She’s babbling and lying, clearly. They let her go to her solitary madness. Before she goes, she speaks of the old shack at Findley’s Cove. There, they find all manner of Collins memorabilia. Then, a door opens.

I have no idea what the people of 1970 thought hit them. At least Barnabas and the Leviathans all took place against the backdrop of normalcy. When this episode aired, the backdrop was so dark, fatalistic and fantastic that the realistic part was a vampire.This is post-Manson DARK SHADOWS. All bets are off, the center cannot hold, and nobody wants to dance with anyone else.

This is also one of the most vital episodes in the series.

Soap operas trudge along. The sets are always there.  The continuity rarely budges. Here, it’s almost as if the writers knew the show was doomed and began a slow, painful degradation of everything we hold dear. After all, we think we’ll bounce right out PT and into some other adventure. As in life, how were we to know that the end was neigh. Even though it takes place in only in the near-future, it has a nightmarish intensity and horrible, icy finality. Seeing Collinwood in ruin is like a personal wound for any DARK SHADOWS fan, and Barnabas is soon on the cusp of the most of the challenging decisions of his life. He is at the apex of his heroism. The test will not be pretty.

Several other items of note. This begins the 1995 storyline. Unfortunately, someone neglected to give Dan the memo about ray guns and silver, spandex jumpsuits. It also features a marvelous moment when Barnabas and Julia first arrive in 1995, and he realizes that he’s lost Roxanne. Julia inspires a look of vague chagrin from him when she reminds him, “We forget how rare a life of love can be. You're not the only one who's had so little hope. It’s something one learns to live with. We can get used to anything if we have to.”


On this day in 1970, building begins on the Amsterdam metro. So, you can finally settle those bets over that burning issue.

Dark Shadows earliest episodes arrive on Amazon Prime

In 1966, DARK SHADOWS didn't need vampires, witches and werewolves to be disturbing. The show got by just fine with Roger Collins (a serial sex offender), son David (a puppy killing sociopath), niece Carolyn (proud owner of an Elektra complex), and sister Elizabeth (who was almost certainly a murderer). Sure, the occasional ghost popped in to keep things spiritually ambiguous, but there was more than enough menace to go around.

Which is why it's so surprising to me that many fans of the series have never seen these early episodes. If you started watching at episode 210 (the traditional starting point for the series since it first entered syndication back in the 1970s) you really have no idea who many of these characters really are. By the end of 1967, for example, Roger had become a stern-yet-lovable authority figure at Collinwood. A year earlier, though, he was trying to force his way into Victoria Winters' bedroom in the middle of the night. He was such a rotten creep that the writers' originally planned to bump him off at the climax of the first story arc ... but they discovered that actor Louis Edmonds was just too good of a commodity to waste.

If you haven't seen them, good news! Amazon has added 69 episodes from the first year, slugged as "Dark Shadows: The Beginning," to its Prime streaming service. The downside is that it's missing a sizable chunk of episodes in its Prime catalog. The first 35 episodes (which feature some of the best episodes in the entire series, and that's not just according to me) are streaming as "Season One," while are episodes 71-105 in "Season Three." That creates a pretty big speed bump in the form of "Season Two," which you have to pay for.

Still, the first block of episodes should be enough to help you decide if you're interested in that first Barnabas-free year of DARK SHADOWS. You can jump straight to Amazon's listing for "Dark Shadows: The Beginning" by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 12


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 801/802

1897. When Magda connects Victor to Julianka’s death, Quentin wrests off his artificial hand, and the truth is known; Victor is Count Petofi! His hand was sawed off a hundred years prior as payment to cure him of lycanthropy. He then explains that the saddest day of the Count’s life was when he woke to find that a wolf had killed his pet unicorn. But werewolves, Quentin points out, have no memory of what they do. This somehow proves that he is Count Petofi, and Petofi fesses up and gives them only a short time to bring him the hand. Evan is too frightened to assist. But he admits that Tim Shaw has the hand. Back at Collinwood, Petofi tells Jamison that he’s leaving Collinwood and kisses him on the cheek. Quentin and Magda enter, reporting that the hand is missing. Petofi orders them to get it. To vex them, Petofi chuckles that he’s left them a gift that he might undo if the return his hand. After Petofi exits, Jamison reappears, possessed by the count!

This episode was shuffled around for the moon landing (airing the day after Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface), and nothing could be more ironic, given that it features a psychological duel between a werewolf and an ex-werewolf. With the proper introduction of Count Petofi, we finally get DARK SHADOWS most complex and unpredictable character. Don’t let literary snobbery lead you astray just because he’s of the comic book variety. Thayer David has what must have been the time of his life with this broad, pompous, humane, compassionate, ruthless, and lovingly amoral anti-hero. As much literary weight as I place on Barnabas and Angelique, the execution of Count Petofi may be the series’ boldest and most innovative move since Barnabas came out of the coffin. Buckle up!

On this day in 1969, ‘marching season’ rioting forces many families in Belfast to flee their homes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Amazon Prime Day Vs Dark Shadows

It's Prime Day on Amazon! It the day when Amazon unleashes a wave of deals for members of its Prime service, a gesture that admittedly hasn't meant much for DARK SHADOWS fans in the past.

But that changes today! At the moment, there are at least two deals on the schedule that fans will find interesting. First up is the recent six-disc "Dark Shadows: The 50th Anniversary Compilation" which is being offered for $10.99. This deal ends at 2 p.m. EST.  (64% of available units had already been claimed when this post was written.) You can find it HERE.

Also on sale for Amazon Prime Day is the DVD edition of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, which is going for $9.99. You can find it HERE. (Note: I'm a little worried that this movie might be going out of print. The once reasonably priced Blu-ray edition of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is now selling for the much-less reasonable $27.22.)

The most exciting item - at least potentially - is the massive "coffin set" of DARK SHADOWS, the 131-disc complete collection. It's been a long time since Amazon has listed this item for sale, but it's scheduled to be among Amazon's Prime Day offerings starting at 11:15 a.m. EST. A price point has not yet been announced, but you can keep an eye on the product page HERE.

UPDATE Dark Shadows: The Complete Series is on sale for Prime Day at $265.51, which breaks down to just 22 cents per episode. (And that's not even counting the 120 cast and crew interviews and other assorted bonus features.) You can find it for sale HERE. The sale ends at 5:15 p.m. EST, or when available units sell out.

Barnabas Collins is black and white and red all over

It's vaguely ironic that comic books, the source for the 20th century literary tradition of "origin stories," had so little use for the history of Barnabas Collins. When Gold Key introduced its adaption of DARK SHADOWS in 1969, the character's epic backstory was relegated to a one-page introduction, an obligatory gesture needed by the book's creators to tell the stories they wanted to tell. The production schedules of a comic book and a television series were never going to be compatible, so it's difficult to find fault in the decision to dissociate the properties. That decision left a lot of great characters and stories on the table, though, replaced in their stead by viking ghosts, Egyptian sorcerers and an endless parade of shirt tale Collins family relatives.

The DARK SHADOWS newspaper strip adopted the same policy, but to different results. If Gold Key's quarterly schedule for its comic book adaption was incompatible with a daily television series, the rigid parameters of a daily newspaper strip were even more confounding. There was little choice but to extend the misadventures of Barnabas Collins in yet another direction, cutting a path away from the television series, comics, Marilyn Ross novels and HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

And the comic strip pruned the floral Collins family history with ruthless efficiency. Gone from the scene were Roger Collins and his son, David, leaving Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and her daughter, Carolyn, the only inhabitants of Collinwood. The mansion seems a little sparse without the rest of the family drinking and plotting in the background, but writer Elliot Caplin and artist Ken Bald recognized their limitations and tailored the strip around them. (This is a lesson that Tim Burton and Seth Grahame-Smith might have learned from their 2012 motion picture, which was a wasteland of underdeveloped supporting characters.) With three panels a day — and as many as eight on Sundays — to tell their story, there was no space for inessential players. It might have sometimes felt like a plague had descended on Collinwood, but at least Barnabas wasn't tripping over his supporting cast every time he left the room.

Caplin and Bald took a classic approach their introduction of Barnabas Collins. Again, we get the vampire's iconic arrival at Collinwood, bathed in mist, moonlight and lies. Here, he also borrows from Julia Hoffman's playbook, not only identifying himself as a British cousin of the family, but also as a writer researching the family history. "Never — under any circumstances — am I to be disturbed during the daylight hours," he suspiciously tells Carolyn and Liz.

All of this is intercut with his origin: spurned by Barnabas Collins, Angelique casts a spell on her former lover, transforming him into a bat. This is a truckload of exposition, but Caplin and Bald manage to convey this data in just eight color panels. See for yourself, below.

The strip made its debut on March 14, 1971, and it was an uphill battle for success from the very start. DARK SHADOWS the television series would tape its final episode just 10 days later, while many newspapers in the Bible belt found the strip's tales of vampires, witches and warlocks too distasteful for print. Caplin and Bald would finish their one-year contract on the strip, publishing its final installment on March 11, 1972. It's probably the least-scene DARK SHADOWS spinoff, but is also among the best loved. Ken Bald is the reason the strip worked as well as it did; he has a gift for both atmosphere and likenesses that makes the strip feel downright cinematic at times.

Pomegranate Press press collected the series in a well-researched, poorly conceived edition back in 1996. Hermes Press made a run at collecting the strip in a landscape-shaped hardback in 2014 without success. The publishers are revisiting the project and expect to have their collection, complete with the Sunday strips in color, available in early October. You can read more about that project HERE.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This month we're gonna party like it's 1795

Arkham: Shadows of the Night is upon us once again! The DARK SHADOWS-themed party has become a bit of a tradition in the Brooklyn area, with the first taking place in 2012 between the death of actor Jonathan Frid and the release of the Tim Burton motion picture. That sounds more depressing than it probably was: Kathryn Leigh Scott dropped by the party via Skype to help raise a few literal and metaphorical spirits.

Since then, Arkham: Shadows of the Night has turned into a semi-regular event. It's bounced around from different venues over the years, but will take residence later this month at Bizarre Bushwick, a pub located just nine miles from the studios where DARK SHADOWS was taped.

The party begins at 10 p.m. July 28. Arkham has established an event page for Shadows of the Night at Facebook, which you can find HERE. I live too far from NYC to attend the event, myself, which is a damn shame. I can think of nothing else I'd like to do more than watch DARK SHADOWS, drunk absinthe and listen to the occasional Siouxsie and the Banshees. I'll just have to live vicariously through you nice people.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Junior Sophisticates

It's easy to forget that DARK SHADOWS was a product of New York City. While contemporary programs like STAR TREK, BATMAN and THE MONKEES were able to pull from resources around the world, DARK SHADOWS had to rely almost exclusively on the talent residing within single city. Most of the show's creative teams were veterans of the NYC theater community, which proved to be up to the task of quickly finding actors to feed to the show's ever-changing narrative demands. At the close of the '60s, New York City was a place where you could see Brother Theodore perform one night, the Velvet Underground the next, and close out the weekend with an off-Broadway show featuring such actors as Al Pacino, James Earl Jones or Christoper Walken. Had DARK SHADOWS been produced in Los Angeles, it might have been a little more polished ... but it would have been a lot less interesting, too.

New York City even contributed to the fashions of DARK SHADOWS. Ohrbach's, a "moderate-priced department store," famously contributed to the show's costumes. Also pitching in was Junior Sophisticates, a clothing line launched in 1948 by Ben and Anne Klein. While Anne would later become a legend in the fashion world, it was a lesser-known designer for the company that brought Junior Sophisticates to DARK SHADOWS. Below is a surprisingly interesting puff piece about actress Kathryn Leigh Scott, who reveals in this interview from 1970 some surprising facts about our favorite gothic soap, shows an understanding of fashion that would make David Bowie blush, and displays her ability to deliver a good interview no matter how airy the subject matter.

Fashions for a Star: Clothes That Move

Afternoon TV
By Jay Edwards

Kathryn Leigh Scott, the long-suffering Maggie Evans of Dark Shadows, was standing in a pouring rain in front of her apartment building, wearing a rain suit with boots to her hips, when she had her first real conversation with Tom Nasarre, the young designer who is her neighbor and now the major influence on her very special fashion look.

"Every time I see you in the elevator," a young designer said to Kathryn Leigh Scott, "you look smashing. I think you'd look absolutely marvelous in my clothes."

"I loved the idea," Katie remembers. "Up to that time I'd been designing and making almost everything for myself — I love design, and I'm very particular about what I wear because my wardrobe has to be right for my way of life. Fortunately for me I knew Tom's work — he designs for Junior Sophisticates, and his clothes were featured in the May issue of Cosmopolitan — and I admired it very much. We had dinner together after that, and he sat there all evening sketching. Things I dream of making he actually does — his clothes are beautifully refined, very contemporary and very wearable."

An example of Scott's Junior Sophisticates wardrobe, from the May 20, 1970 episode of DARK SHADOWS.
That "very wearable" is a very important quality to Kathryn Leigh Scott; besides her natural feminine awareness of beauty and fashion, she is also a young actress very much on the go, and it is absolutely necessary that her clothes can be packed easily for traveling, and that they be totally comfortable.

On a recent whirlwind visit to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Antique Charity Auction Fair, she made seven personal appearances, including a visit to the mayor to accept the key to the city, and all her luggage went on board the plane in one leather satchel and a dress-bag containing one dress.

"The outfit I took with me for that trip happened to be one I designed myself. It's a 1930s fabric; bottle-green." (Unfortunately, the pictures with this story are not in color — Katie's hair is a gorgeous red). "It's a crushed panne velvet suit with a very long jacket closed by four little covered buttons. It has a deep neck and sleeves that are tight at the top and then flute out. The blouse I wore is 75-years-old; my great-grandmother made it for my grand mother."

Kathryn Leigh Scott manages to travel in style, but she never travels cluttered: "One day when I was at the studio doing Dark Shadows I got a late call to go to Philadelphia that night to replace someone in a show. I was wearing a pants suit and I just had time for a cab to run me home and wait while I grabbed my toothbrush and a skirt that goes with the suit. I was in Philadelphia for two days but that gave me a complete wardrobe that I packed — literally — in one large purse. I believe in clothes that move with you!"

Katie hasn't given up designing for herself altogether, but since working exclusively with Nasarre she does much less, and she never sews any more.

"For me to meet a designer I like enough to completely stop sewing is really something," she said, "but I think that much of his work. I've gone to every one of his fashion shows since, which is also great; he actually got a standing ovation at his most recent showing.

"He paid me a compliment once that I treasure. He saw me in a pants suit I had made, and said 'I love it — I'd put it in my own show!' Coming from a designer, that's like getting an Academy Award."

Working with Nasarre has also taught Katie a few lessons about making clothes that she had ignored before, when she was creating her own wardrobe: "I always used to make a lot of things that I just threw away, because they didn't work out right. Now, when I have an idea that I like, I make it first in muslin or crepe; sometimes I make three or four trials before I actually finish the dress. This way, if I don't like the result, I can just buy some more cheap fabric and make another test instead of giving up and hanging my mistakes in the back of the closet."

Interestingly, Kathryn Leigh Scott's fascination with design is not simply the usual style-consciousness that one might assume — the subject fits in with her whole attitude toward the world around her. "I'm fascinated by our way of life right now," she said. "All the sights, the sounds, the political unrest — design is just an extension of all the senses that make our awareness of life. The important thing to remember is that design isn't just the look of clothes; it's an expression of all your attitudes and values. I love making things because they're all mine — the same way that I love wearing Tom's clothes because he understands me.

"The important thing for a woman to remember — even if she doesn't feel she can design and make her own clothes—is that simply selecting things expresses the same personal values. Putting one special lorgnette with one special vest; one special blouse with one special suit — the important thing is that what you wear should express what you are."

And — if you happen to be a popular young actress starring in one of television's most successful daytime shows — it should be something that you can pack in one large handbag and still look as though you just walked out of a salon in Paris. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 6


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 281

As Vicki relives Josette’s death in her trance, Barnabas stops the seance at its climax. Later, Vicki has recovered and all are amazed that Josette spoke through her. Carolyn is convinced that Josette is trying to send them a message. Is one of them in danger? Later, Sarah appears and Barnabas finds evidence of her presence. Speaking to Josette’s portrait, he realizes that he must live in the present, and that to have her again, he must love someone from the present. He then calls on Vicki, stunned to see him. She feels that the past and the present can fuse together at moments. He agrees, and says that she seemed to be Josette at one point. He then presents her with the music box as a reward.

In the long running effort to involve the show’s ostensible lead in a storyline that’s evolved past her, the writers finally concede on having Barnabas be too stuck in the past. This all goes back, I think, to the cigarette they couldn’t unsmoke, meaning using Kathryn Leigh Scott as the ghost of Josette long before the character of Barnabas had been conceived. By that one action, Vicki would eventually be consigned to storyline irrelevance. It was fine when Jonathan Frid was a short timer. The kidnapping storyline gave Scott a chance to show off her acting chops. But at this point, trying to jimmy in Vicki as kinda-sorta Josette is an awkward choice. However, it also works in that Barnabas is on the rebound, and chooses the safest option possible. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood on sale at Amazon

Lara Parker's latest DARK SHADOWS novel, "Heiress of Collinwood," is currently on sale at Amazon. Released last fall, it has a list price of $15.99 ... but is momentarily on sale for $8.50.

Inside, you'll find the latest in competing theories on the parentage of Victoria Winters ... perhaps the most fascinating (and disturbing) revelation about the character so far. It's going to be a long, long time before DARK SHADOWS will see a storyline this off-the-wall again.

Via: Amazon.