Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 31


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 815

Petofi and his hand are reunited, and Barnabas’ demands that he help Quentin are met with ambiguous responses. Petofi removes Barnabas’ ability to teleport and then shows him what he thinks is the vampire’s impending death. Instead, he sees David die in 1969. Petofi learns that he cannot show a death he did not cause. Petofi then goes to Magda, who sees the Hand and follows his command to be shown Barnabas’ coffin. There, he lays on the Hand and has Aristede chain the coffin.

Absolute evil provides too much fun to be all that bad, all the time. Christopher Pennock, one of the heroes of this column, once remarked that John Yaeger was rooted in the joy and freedom of pure evil. And let’s draw the line between evil and meanness. For our purposes, evil is intense self-interest to the exclusion of the needs of others. Cruelty is about causing harm to others for the sake of pleasure. Of course, “pure” is probably a bad word to use. These things aren’t scientific absolutes. (Which is a polite way of telling people with counterexamples what they can do with them.) Count Petofi is an interesting case. Much is made of his evil, and St. Thayer David rolls his eyes and cackles like he’s trying to show Plato’s Ideal a thing or two about how you really play a heavy. However, his punishment of others only comes when they get in his way. Just because he’s theatrical about it doesn’t mean that he’s deviating from his purpose: to get them to stop getting in his way. Ultimately, his desires make sense. He wants his hand back. (You know, so he won’t die.) He wants to escape an organized manhunt via extremely thorough means. He wants to ensure that those who threaten him leave him alone. Permanently. Can’t fault him for that. Along the way, like a dark Dr. Lao, he usually imparts some kind of lesson or reveals some kind of profound or lasting truth. He’s at least 150 years old, and so he views wants, needs, and consequences differently. I’m not saying that I would mind crossing the guy, because I intensely would. But unlike Angelique, he’s not cruel. His techniques have a more pedagogical bent, “Here, I made my point by taking away your powers of teleporting. Imagine what else I could do? Now, sit down and have some champagne whilst we talk about what brought us together.”

From the teaser for the episode onward, Petofi owns 815, both displaying his powers on Barnabas with surgical relish and then being hoisted by his ample petard when Barnabas teaches him a thing or two about gazing into the future. As arguably the most powerful character on the show, short of Diabolos, Judah Zachary, and Lela Swift, he needs regular humblings. First, they keep the program from lasting ten minutes. Secondly, they get him good and steamed, which is when great things tend to happen. He has surprisingly little ego -- after a tantrum or two -- about learning new things, even his own limits. DARK SHADOWS has introduced its first real supervillain since Nicholas Blair, and he’s arguably more powerful because of his unallegiant nature. Barnabas is intermittent as a presence now, and his almost-guest appearance requires a great show. The teleportation shuffle is just that, and add to it the wonderfully ambiguous loss and victory of seeing David’s death mixed with the knowledge that Petofi’s powers to display tomorrow are extremely limited. Does Petofi have the last laugh? It started about a drama regarding a will and has become the pilot for a never-made DEADLANDS tv series. Of course he does. Magda gets knocked down a cribbage board worth of pegs and Barnabas has the Hand placed on him in his soon-to-be-chained coffin. We’re off to the races.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 8, 1969.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 30


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 557

Adam refuses to divulge Vicki’s location to Barnabas, who is equally worried about Tom Jennings and the threat of multiple vampires in Collinsport. Jeff Clark then berates him for his inability to help, forcing Barnabas to follow a hunch and go to Stokes. The professor, under a deadline from Howard Hughes and Hugh Hefner, is none to pleased to have his business of correcting ancient Tibetan love making manuals interrupted, but receives Barnabas, anyway. Stokes is shocked at the kidnapping and agrees to help find Vicki, but refuses to reveal Adam’s location. Then Adam tells Stokes that he might just kill to teach ‘em all a lesson. So, there.

Professor Eliot Stokes gains fascinating dimension in 557. Normally, jovial and helpful, we see his protectiveness of Adam reveal an irascible and sternly just man within. Anton LaVey extolled “responsibility to the responsible,” and there are few other places where Barnabas gets both barrels of that. Stokes is perhaps the most inherently good man in Collinsport since his fellow freemason, Bill Malloy, took his last diving lesson. (Ironically, at the hands of Thayer David’s first character.) Stokes’ prime reason for siding with Adam and not Barnabas? The former vampire and Julia have withheld vital information for months. Yes, they have necessary trust issues, but this is Stokes we’re talking about. Adam may be a wildly unpredictable man-beast, capable of leveling Collinsport to sand before breakfast, but he’s also (until later in the episode) a prime graduate of Rousseau’s Finishing School for Noble Savages. He’s nursed greedily on the milk of morality that spurts abundantly from the ripe and straining teat of of Eliot Stokes’ moral tutelage. It takes a Nicholas Blair -- so often Stokes’ foil -- to teach him the less savory lessons in humanity. Stokes knows that there’s only so much danger in which Adam can find himself… Victoria Winters is another matter.

It’s one of the loudest episodes since episode 46, in which men with beards (of one kind or another) spend most of it shouting in Roger’s office. It may also be the shoutin’est until Keith Prentice joins the cast and acts as if he thinks the mic is broken, and thus he must raise his voice so that even viewers in Fresno can hear every word. It’s a tough day for Barnabas. He’s a man used to operational fiction and only wants some peace and quiet. Adam yells at him. Julia yells at him. Just when he’s ready to leave, Jeff Clark is hanging out at the door, waiting to yell at him. Then, Stokes yells at him. (Then, Adam yells at Stokes.) Geez, ma, stop givin’ me the business! No wonder he wants to visit Tom Jennings in the hospital. All Tom would do is hiss. And no wonder poor Jonathan Frid has unusually pointed trouble with his lines. He’s really lost at sea in 557, but as I always say, I’d forget my lines, too, under such circumstances. For me, those moments don’t rob the show of its realism, they heighten them. It’s especially bad for him because the only token he has of Vicki’s safety is that cheap ring Jeff probably got on sale from Wal-Mart (founded about five years before, thank you).

The Adam storyline gets a lot of guff, but it probably contains DARK SHADOWS’ most philosophical episodes. Barnabas, Jeb, and Quentin all deal with intense alienation, with Quentin’s starting before his curse. Jeb doesn’t care until the end of his storyline, but Adam is born with it. At least the other three can pass, but Adam’s scars send people running. And that was always a bit harsh of them. The makeup department had a responsibility that Jack Pierce dodged; they had to make Adam both a monster and a potential soap sex-symbol. It’s a clever trick of perception because the audience sees him as (very) ruggedly handsome while the characters view him as a patchwork golem. On a very realistic note, audiences of the time were used to Vietnam vets coming home in far worse condition, but that was a war that blessedly never reached Collinsport. Again, Robert Rodan is an unsung hero of an actor, delivering his existential angst with passion and truth. It’s a shame that his identification with an eventually unpopular character was probably a factor in Rodan not being recycled by Dan Curtis, despite being the dark-haired, blue-eyed “type” that typified the ruggedly handsome, DS norm (such as Selby, Lacy, Crothers, George, Ryan, Prentice, Storm, Bain, etc.)

Yes, 557 is loud, how can anyone contemplating the solitude of existence be heard without making some noise?

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 13, 1968.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 27


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1072

Barnabas and Julia make reintroductions to the family and consult Stokes about the impending doom. Meanwhile, Carolyn feels a ghostly presence, David has disturbing dreams, and a dress appears to Hallie.

We’ve had transitions within transitions within transitions. The Leviathans were a problem external to the Collinses, but they whisked Barnabas back to 1970 where we just had to get them out of the way. Since they don’t really result from anything done by a Collins (although Paul’s deal in the 40’s didn’t hurt), they are more of a means of time transport than a story development with a sense of meaning, with roots to the past for our characters. At least Parallel Time comes from a room at Collinwood, but what does it really do for the characters? It gives them a place not to be (or not to be at liberty) so they can star in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. But beyond that, not much. However… it gets Barnabas and Julia to 1995, and that gets what I call Ragnarok going. But even 1995 is a transition to that. And the first episode back in the present has so little interaction with our prime timeline family that it feels like, again, the last and smallest transitions in a sea of them. If you count the Leviathans as a long non-sequitur to the Story of the Collinses, then we haven’t had a non-transitional, core mythos installment since 884 on October 27 of the prior year. That’s the episode where Trask finally buys it in 1897 and Lady Hampshire basically trips and falls into 1795.

So the show takes nine months to get back around to being about the Collinses… in a way that really comes from the family, itself. With introductions (Hallie) and re-introductions being made, it feels like a season premier. Appropriate, since it’s only a month away from Labor Day, which at this time was the traditional beginning of the new TV season. 1072 brings the core cast into the entropic dread that Barnabas discovered, and with new fashion choices, manly new intonations (David Henesy is doing his best Barry White), and two, distinct tonal shifts, it’s a new show with a clearly defined sense of direction. (For now.)

What are the shifts? Even for DARK SHADOWS, this is dark. In past storylines, we had a sense of potential doom, and the mysteries were about what was going to happen and what was behind it. In this case, we know what’s going to happen. The question is if it can be stopped. Once Future Carolyn’s list begins getting ticked off, the question is answered. So, a dark, truly Gothic fatalism hangs over the events. With that, we have tighter episodes. At least, episodes with a more singular focus. In 1897, we had three or four stories going at once. Here, just one, ultimate DARK SHADOWS story. If you like it, you’re in luck. If you don’t, you may be like most people. I’m glad I gave it a second chance.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 4, 1970.

A Latin Tribute to Barnabas Collins, 1972

For a guy who didn't even own a radio, Barnabas Collins has had quite a successful career in music. He's appeared in hip hop, punk, pop and reggae songs. Thanks to a tip from a reader in Spain, we now know that Barnabas was also the star of a Latin pop song in 1972. Gonzalo J. explains:

"Hi, I'm a longtime follower of the Collinsport Historical Society. I'm Venezuelan but right now I live in Valencia, Spain.

The other day a Twitter follower sent me this link, redirecting me to a YouTube song by a famous venezuelan orchestra called Los Melódicos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CgjKMpo8FM

It's a song called 'Hasta cuándo Barnabás' (Until When Barnabas), you can hear it at 20:44. It says "Barnabás es un vampiro / que está metido en el guiro" and it even starts with compasses from the song 'London Bridge is Falling Down', heard in Dark Shadows.

'Dark Shadows' was a very popular show in Venezuela, where it was called 'Sombras tenebrosas'.

Los Melódicos was a band created by Renato Capriles. It played merengue, cumbia and many other latin rhythms.

This song is a complete rarity and a testament to Barnabas Collins' popularity in Venezuela."

You can listen to the entire album in the link provided above, or skip directly to a 60-second clip from "Hasta cuándo Barnabás" in the video below.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

October will be a big month for Dan Curtis fans

Back in January, Kino Lorber confirmed they were preparing Blu-ray releases of a trio of Dan Curtis television classics from the 1970s. The details and release dates for those titles have finally been released, and they're corkers. 4K restorations of THE NIGHT STALKER (1972) and THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1973) will be arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 2, with 1975's TRILOGY OF TERROR getting similar treatment on Oct. 16. None of these titles are yet available for pre-order, but I imagine that will change soon. Here's what you can expect:

The Night Stalker (1972)

• Brand New 4K Restoration!
• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
• NEW Interview with Director John Llewellyn Moxey
• NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
• "The Night Stalker: Dan Curtis Interview" featurette
• Limited Edition Booklet essay by Film critic and author Simon Abrams (Blu-ray only)
• Newly Commissioned Art by Sean Phillips
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (Blu-ray only)

Color 74 Minutes 1.33:1 Not Rated

Release date: Oct. 2

The Night Strangler (1973)

• Brand New 4K Restoration!
• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
• NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
• "Directing 'The Night Strangler'" Featurette
• Limited Edition Booklet essay by film critic and author Simon Abrams (Blu-ray only)
• Newly Commissioned Art by Sean Phillips
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (Blu-ray only)

Color 90 Minutes 1.33:1 Not Rated

Release date: Oct. 2

Trilogy of Terror (1975)

• Brand New 4K Restoration
• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith
• NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
• Audio Commentary with Karen Black and writer William F. Nolan
• "Richard Matheson: Terror Scribe" Featurette
• "Three Colors Black" Featurette
• Limited Edition Booklet essay by Film critic and author Simon Abrams (Blu-ray only)
• Newly Commissioned Art by Jacob Phillips
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (Blu-ray only)

Color 72 Minutes 1.33:1 Not Rated

Release date: Oct. 16

House of Dark Shadows in living stereo

In 1969, the DARK SHADOWS marketing machine was still going strong. Toys, trading cards, posters, pop music ... if you could slap a pair of fangs or sideburns on it, Dan Curtis would find a way to sell it.

A year later that machine appears to have come to a grinding halt. Even with the national boost provided by MGM's HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, the previous year's flood of merchandise had become a desert. While the Marilyn Ross novels and Gold Key comics continued to exist within their own little worlds, no new trading cards, ViewMaster reels or much of anything else were produced for either the television show or feature film. Robert Cobert's "Ode to Angelique" proved to be a flop on the charts, and it would be decades before his scores for HOUSE and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS would be released. DARK SHADOWS was a certified Cultural Phenomenon TM, but it was essentially a mom-and-pop operation. Dan Curtis Productions could only handle so much responsiblity, it seems, and the weight of simultaneously producing a daily television show and two feature films was probably too much for it to carry.

I've spent the last six years occasionally filling in those merchandising gaps. Way back in 2012 I envisioned series of trading cards for both HOUSE and NIGHT, going so far as to even design wax wrappers for these imaginary products. (I also made a digital set cards for the 1991 revival series.) But the absence of a set of ViewMaster reels for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS has always bothered me. But merely designing a package for the reels seemed ... lazy? Was it possible to take this idea another step further?

Below, you'll see the end result. The idea was to create fake stereoscopic images, animated in a way to give them the illusion of depth you'd get from a ViewMaster reel. For a film shot in 1970 the photography in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is surprisingly spry, giving me only a few scenes from which to pull. I've got some doubts that these really work, but a poll of my Twitter peeps seemed favorable. If this post gets a good response, I might take a shot at NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS ... or even some of the television episodes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 25


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 807

Tate pressures Aristede to reveal Petofi, but instead hears that the Count is in suspended animation, and only has a few more weeks to find his hand before a curse consumes him. Jamison, possessed by the Count, bluffs his way into freedom, then has Magda take him to Barnabas.

Welcome to the Gordon Russell Fan Club. Be seated.

I think, of all the deceased DARK SHADOWS luminaries, Gordon Russell is the one I’d like to meet most. As fans of the show, we focus so much on the actors -- the collective face of the show -- that we forget the writers who gave them their sound. Dramatic writing is crushingly hard. Keeping individualized voices, especially when so many of them come from the same social world, is a difficult task on its own. But that’s not even the toughest part. DARK SHADOWS episodes are like telephone cords made of progressing Möbius strips. Most dramatic scenes are about economy. Nothing can be wasted. You have discoveries and resulting conflicts eliciting change. A chain of those creates the play. Badda boom, etc. No matter the medium, this never changes. But on DARK SHADOWS, you have to do that and also stretch the storytelling to the longest format possible… one that makes a Wagner opera look like a Bazooka Joe comic strip. But you can’t let it feel stagnant. Philip Glass luxuriates in the fact that his listeners know that he’ll take his time. Soap fans think they want action-action-action when what they actually want is to distract themselves for as long as possible with people they care about doing things that are vitally important. If a standard writer had been given the outline to 807, they would have written a script half as long and a tenth as interesting. Russell and the other writers fill the scenes with intense discoveries and purpose, fleshing it out with memorable characters, but with no linguistic flab. How they do it is simply the alchemy of their art. I wish I could replicate it, but in lieu of that, I have no recourse but to marvel at it.

Russell is helped by dropping one of 1897’s most easily-forgotten exposition bombs, courtesy of Aristede, the Smithers to Petofi’s Montgomery Burns. Petofi’s mission to find his hand has been going on for a century, placing him beginning it within a year of Barnabas’ initial entombment. If publishers realized there could be a DARK SHADOWS author whose name is not Lara Parker, we could enjoy a book of short stories looking at the adventures over that century. Just imagine Quentin and Desmond using the hand for dimensional travel. A young Nicholas Blair using it. And so on. Petofi is helped by how others refer to his legacy as much as what he does. In this, Tate calls him someone who enjoys only the suffering of those around him. This both clashes with Thayer David’s ebullient performance and gives it subliminal menace. That mix -- Petofi’s jovial appearance versus the fog of evil that others describe -- may be what makes him one of the richest and most watchable characters in all of DARK SHADOWS. He is their Falstaff and their Gloucester all at once. Helping this is the fact that he’s the only character on the show to be played to the hilt by three actors, all of whom are named David -- Thayer David (whose first name was actually David), David Henesy, and David Selby.


But where would Petofi be without the writing? Nowhere at all. It’s fitting that this episode should feature Charles Delaware Tate and his curse so prominently. That’s a strange story -- even beyond Barnabas and Josette, it’s the closest we come to pure fairy tale. Imagine writing characters who inflame the public imagination so ardently. Like Tate’s powers to craft paintings that spring to life, that’s what the DARK SHADOWS writers must have faced at this time. How much are they Tate and vice-versa? And does that make Dan Curtis their Count Petofi?

Come to think of it, he was an avid golfer who was often seen wearing a single glove….


This episode hit the airwaves July 29, 1969.

Dark Shadows Lives!

For a television show cancelled in 1971, there are a lot of people talking about DARK SHADOWS today. Here's a roundup:

►The movies that introduced Carl Kolchak to the world are getting high-def upgrades this year, just in time for Halloween. Kino Lorber is prepping 4K restorations of 1972's THE NIGHT STALKER, as well as it's 1973 sequel THE NIGHT STRANGLER. Both are scheculed for release Oct. 2 from Kino Lorber this October, along with its 1973 sequel, THE NIGHT STRANGLER. Note that contributions from our own Robert Cobert and Dan Curtis appear on the bonus features for both discs.

The Night Stalker (1972) with optional English subtitles
• Brand New 4K Restoration!
• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
• NEW Interview with Director John Llewellyn Moxey
• NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
• "The Night Stalker: Dan Curtis Interview" featurette
• Limited Edition Booklet essay by Film critic and author Simon Abrams (Blu-ray only)
• Newly Commissioned Art by Sean Phillips
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (Blu-ray only)

The Night Strangler (1973)
• Brand New 4K Restoration!
• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas
• NEW Interview with Composer Bob Cobert
• "Directing 'The Night Strangler'" Featurette
and more.

Dark Shadows Before I Die arrives at episode 539, which brings Harry Johnson back into our lives and finds much of the cast exhibiting a lot of unearned confidence in their abilities to control Adam. Abstract: "Perhaps she should provide him with some of Roger's old Rover Boys books from the basement to read, rather than the Elizabeth Barrett Browning love sonnets that appear to be inspiring amorous feelings for her." Read the whole piece HERE.

The Dark Shadows Daybook is spending the summer in 1968, just a few episodes away from our previous bullet point: Episode 552. "As Adam looks to Barnabas to solve all of his problems, I felt a bit as if I were watching Sam Hall recount Grayson’s encounters with unhinged fans who looked to the stars as living gods." Read the whole piece HERE.

►Work on the sequel to DARK SHADOWS: BLOODLUST, titles BLOODLINE, has entered the studio phase. The official Twitter account for the Big Finish audio like posted the photo below, shwing some shadowy figures recording their lines at an unspecified location.

►Meanwhile, Janet Varney confirmed on Twitter that her costume design for an upcoming episode of STAN AGAINST EVIL was inspired by HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS.

And if that's not enough evidence, here's what series creator Dana Gould had to say:
"I totally showed wardrobe and hair the pic of Carolyn from HODS and said 'That.' I dare say, Janet has never looked better."

►Finally, here's a nifty sketch of Barnabas Collins by Zuri Grimm, aka @spookeriffic

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 24


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 810

Quentin stops Charity from calling the police by proving that her father murdered her mother. She bargains for the whereabouts of Tim Shaw. As Magda tries to locate him, they learn that Quentin’s infant daughter is dying. After fighting Aristede for an ineffectual, magic medallion, Quentin and Magda summon the ghost of Julianka for help. Instead, the ghost of Jenny appears.

So much of the 1897 storyline feels like primetime show that’s wandered onto daytime tv. After all, as any bored kid in the 70’s with chicken pox will tell you, soaps are not bastions of action and adventure. In 810, after slogging through lengthy scenes of Charity Trask panicking over Quentin, fuming over her father, and pining for Tim Shaw, we are treated to one of DARK SHADOWS’ rare but hilarious fistfights. These are usually left to David Selby (or Christopher Pennock), and in this one, he dukes it out with Aristede. The deck is stacked in Quentin’s favor from the beginning. He’s fighting a man usually seen either napping, primping, or admiring his jewelry (all of which -- including napping -- Michael Stroka does with panache). Lucky for Artistede, he battles with the aid of the “Dancing Lady,” an unimposingly small piece of plywood cut into the shape of a wavy knife. Of course, he has no idea how to use it. He holds it blade-out rather than gripping the handle and keeping the blade pointing backwards... for slashing on the upswing, stabbing on the downswing, and it’s bad news for anyone who tries to seize the wrist or forearm. But I digress. Or do I? Aristede’s incompetence is, as always, his undoing. Quentin makes fast work out of him to steal his magic medallion and save the life of his daughter, ailing from the curse of a dead gypsy.

Just read that last sentence over and over again. This is the 800th episode of the show. 799 episodes earlier, we saw the first episode, and I can guarantee that no one involved imagined anything contained in this one. In the prior episode, a severely scarred, bleeding, werewolf-ravaged girl was the subject of the lingering camera. In this, blasphemous prayers to the ghost of a gypsy are the only hope for a dying baby. After that three-year descent into weirdness, Standards and Practices must either look older than the mutated Barnabas or they simply surrendered and camped out at happy hour until 1971. And in a year? The camera will be drinking in the sight of a dead Carolyn, murdered by a ghost, on screen, and morbidly displayed in a haunted playroom in a fetishistic tableau. You know, for the kids.

Not that the beginning of the show lacked bar room brawls and scrappin’, but I don’t need to list the ways in which this is different. The show continues to find ways to top itself, and the circus tent seems to have no roof. Moments later, Quentin’s murder victim/spouse will violently rock the casket-shaped cradle of her own dying daughter. To save her, of course. A demonic doomsday cult cannot be far behind.

Nor should it be. The time slot may be daytime, but the show is anything but.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 1, 1969.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 23


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 552

Adam demands that Barnabas make a mate, even after learning that it was Julia who eventually created him, not Barnabas. Vicki tells Barnabas that she and Jeff are to marry, and Barnabas takes it with grace. However, Adam sees his affection for Vicki and kidnaps her.

I don’t know what it’s like to find out that one of your parents -- presumably the mother -- had been artificially inseminated. However, if I did, I think I would understand more of how Adam feels. I so understand some of it. He’s been dealing with Barnabas as a bad parent and now he’s merely a bad sibling. The role of parent now goes to Julia, and somewhere in Barnabas’ mind has to be a smidgen of Schadenfreude. For a year, she’s been the author of various greatest hits, including a “cure” that aged him hideously. At last, credit where due. Like any couple, there is affection, loyalty, and constant stealth warfare. She’s the one who ticked Adam off by stabbing him with a needle when he was first born, after all. Kinda informs a guy’s view on the world. Well, Julia, how about them Promethian apples?

While Adam’s demand for a mate and the kidnapping of Vicki are straight out of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, I was also reminded of DARK SHADOWS… but DARK SHADOWS backstage. As well as a specific work by Stephen King. Guess which one. As Adam looks to Barnabas to solve all of his problems, I felt a bit as if I were watching Sam Hall recount Grayson’s encounters with unhinged fans who looked to the stars as living gods. Those “godstars” made them as they are, after all. And if they understand the true nature of those stars, it must work in reverse. How dare the godstars blashpheme themselves by disavowing their own omnipotence? There is a subtext to this with Adam and Barnabas, as if Adam were the ultimate fanboy. Jonathan Frid turned him into a fanboy, and by godstar, now Jonathan Frid will turn a girl into a fanboy to keep him company between episodes.

As Adam threatens and cajoles Barnabas into considering making a “sequel” to Adam, holding Barnabas’ very life at stake, I suddenly saw vision of Kathy Bates. (And not the ones I normally do. Only in my private visions does she visit me dressed as all of the Fruit o’the Loom guys.) But it was Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, the deranged fan of injured romance novelist, Paul Sheldon, in MISERY. She holds him hostage to bring Misery Chastain back to life in an unplanned sequel to the romance novel in which he killed the heroine. Now, Barnabas must appease Adam by bringing yet another woman back to life. King was all too aware that he was writing about deranged fans. Was Sam Hall? Even if he wasn’t, he was.

Frid spins the tension of Adam’s visit into an unusual benevolence toward the news that Vicki is marrying Jeff Clark. At least someone is visiting him happy, with good news. The relief radiates off the screen. But this is the worst thing for Adam to see… for Barnabas, anyway.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 6, 1968.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Stan Against Evil goes full Collinsport in season 3

The teaser for season three of STAN AGAINST EVIL debuted Saturday at Comic-Con, with the cast and crew on-hand to give fans an idea of what to expect when the series returns to IFC on Oct. 31. I'm too busy to dive deep into this trailer at the moment, but needless to say: Familiar imagery abounds! If you get a DARK SHADOWS vibe from the vampire elements (such as that screencap of series MVP Janet Varney at the top of this post) that's by design. Series creator Dana Gould has spent a lot of time in Collinsport and knows his way around town. I'll have more to say about all of this later, but for now enjoy some images from DARK SHADOWS that are some obvious touchstones for STAN AGAINST EVIL. (Bonus points of you spot the reference to KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER in the teaser.) You can should watch the trailer for season three at the bottom of this post.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Dark Shadows Lives!

For a television show cancelled in 1971, there are a lot of people talking about DARK SHADOWS today. Here's a roundup:

►The Dark Shadows Daybook dwells on the sadness of 1967, specifically the specter of a dead child looking for a playmate on the grounds of Collinwood in episode 292. Patrick McCray says: "Despite all of her talents, Sarah is a prisoner to the Collins estate, as are so many others for so many reasons, most of which boil down to relationships." Read the entire essay HERE.

►Dark Shadows Before I Die arrives at episode 539. This part of of John and Christine's summary should have been the published TV Guide summary: "I'm having a hard time believing that the kid who was able to figure out how to remove a bleeder valve from his dad's car to make the brakes fail when he was two years younger is now having difficulty working a tape recorder. Or that he would go to his evil stepmother for help with it. Where's his governess and why isn't she doing her job?" Read the entire post HERE.

►OK, this one's not new, but it's new to me: a cocktail named after our very own Joan Bennett. This one's been around for a while, according to Difford's Guide, which explains:
"Adapted from a Tiki drink featured in Jeff Berry's 'Intoxica' and originally created in 1932 at Sloppy Joe's Bar, Havana, Cuba. Named after Hollywood ingénue, Joan Bennett, who in the same year starred in Fox's Careless Lady. Years later she hit the news when her husband, producer Walter Wanger, shot her agent in the crotch after catching them in bed together."
You can get the drink recipe at Difford's HERE. And a shout-out to @joanbennettfan on Instagram for bringing this one to my attention. Also note "Served in a Collins glass."

►This Amazon fail is self explanatory.

►Below is a video from Instagram. I made this and feel deeply embarassed by it. I also kind of love it. It's awful. And it's getting buried at the bottom of this post in hopes that fewer people see it. Don't judge me.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: July 19


Taped on this date in 1967: Episode 292

Woodard confronts Julia about Maggie’s extended stay at Windcliff, and she reveals the connection to the supernatural, convincing to continue covering for her. Outside the Old House, Sarah bemoans the fact that she can’t find the very much alive Maggie. David takes the story of Maggie’s survival back to Collinwood, and Vicki reveals to Burke that she’s become strangely smitten with a new house by the sea.

Let’s hear it for Gordon Russell and his first episode. Over the next four years, he will become DARK SHADOWS’ most prolific writer. In it, we see his one of his great strengths: writing relationships with truth, twists, and surprises. Grayson Hall is particularly adept at pulling off his verbal labyrinths. In the first scene with Woodard, Julia actually talks the hard-headed generalist into receptiveness toward her vision of science’s conquest of the supernatural. She evades, warns, bullies, and eventually flirts her way into his trust. Her coming out as what has become a mad scientist is done with both credibility and wit. DARK SHADOWS has expanded its redefinition of the soap opera universe as one in which the supernatural is seen as something absolutely real… and one in which we humans have a fighting chance. By selling Woodard on it, she further sells the audience. So often, supernatural stories -- from DRACULA to the world of Lovecraft -- posit a universe where terror exists because it cannot be understood.  Her quest to do so isn’t folly at all, and it further roots one of the key concepts of the series. These things have limits and origins, just like we do. Moreover, they have accessible weaknesses. This isn’t man vs. the omnipotent. The seemingly “omnipotent” have challenges and foibles of their own. The story shifts from drama to horror, then back to what DARK SHADOWS truly is: drama involving horror. The power that people like Barnabas wield makes their vulnerabilities all the more poignant. And doesn’t DARK SHADOWS begin that way? Despite all of their sway, the Collins family cannot escape guilt and fear.

We see further limits with the next scene, involving David and Sarah.  Sarah, a ghost who can materialize at will, has lost Maggie. As the scene went on, I wondered what the show would be like if Sarah had simply followed Maggie to Windlciff and encouraged her to escape. Just as interesting, but probably shorter. There is a natural sadness to the scene. Despite all of her talents, Sarah is a prisoner to the Collins estate, as are so many others for so many reasons, most of which boil down to relationships.

Russell curiously juxtaposes this with the next scene involving Burke and Victoria. Vicki is a human empowered by knowledge of the paranormal, and credits it with helping her discover Seaview, a house beyond, to which she’s inexplicably drawn.Escape from Collinwood may be possible after all.  So, what is the supernatural in so many of these cases but love? It’s an extraordinary power to some and an imprisoning imposition to others. Instead of referencing it literally, DARK SHADOWS accomplishes the same thing figuratively. It’s all the business of the daytime genre, but by using the supernatural as a metaphor, Russell gives the idea an even greater universality. Not only that, he opens up a world in which both love and the occult can be examined with fresh, occasionally jaundiced, and ultimately optimistic eyes.

This episode hit the airwaves Aug. 8, 1967.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dark Shadows Lives!

For a television show cancelled in 1971, there are a lot of people talking about DARK SHADOWS today. Between you and me, the whole "Dark Shadows Lives!" thing was an experiment, one meant to illustrate that the series has an active, vibrant fanbase despite having been off the air since Nixon was president. There were some nagging doubts that this feature would blow up in my face Looney Tunes-style after a few days. Instead, I've been struggling to keep you with you all. Here's a roundup of today's activities:

The Dark Shadows Daybook reaches peak Barnabas/Julia with episode 291.It's an episode that Patrick McCray thinks is a prime example of everything the series does well. "Some episodes are more fun. Some are cleverer. And some are more pivotal to the canon. But you know what? Not many. 291 is neither an origin nor a resolution, but a key moment of change and evolution for some of our main characters." Read the entire piece HERE.

Barnabas and Adam are trapped in a coffin together over at Dark Shadows Before I Die. Only one of them is physically in the coffin, but that doesn't matter much given the spiritual bond they unwillingly share. Abstract: "Sadly, the events of today seem to seal Adam's fate. As long as he lives, Barnabas will be free of the vampire curse. And that can't last forever. We'll see how long it takes for Angelique to find out, at which time we can expect she will have a new target." Read the entire piece HERE.

The poster for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is the topic of discussion at the MoviePosterPorn subreddit HERE. For some users it's their first time learning of the film. The post is scoring well, but there's not much in the way of commentary attached to it.

DARK SHADOWS "peg people" by Michael J. Pribbenow, courtesy of his Instagram account @mikeysimagination. DARK SHADOWS was "campy, kooky 60's madness at its best," he says. You can get individual looks at these creations on his Instagram feed. He also has an Etsy store HERE.

Remember @lunettarose from yesterday's "Dark Shadows Lives?" Well, that's not her in the photo below, but that's her artwork on the shirt.

OK, Anna Bowden. You have my attention.

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