Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dark Shadows: Snowflake — A Ghost Story for Hallowe’en


Spooky Season is upon us now and Big Finish sought to give us a gift. All throughout the month of October, they are re-releasing their mammoth 13-part DARK SHADOWS miniseries Bloodlust. Even better, the first episode and it’s prequel are available for nary a red cent RIGHT NOW! Every few days, with the use of the code DARKSHADOWS2018, listeners can enjoy the rest of the series at a vastly reduced rate. This release schedule is designed to emulate the show’s serialized life on television, giving new rubes like me a real ground floor opportunity to experience the miniseries in its entirety before the sequel, Bloodline, drops in April 2019.

Also, to be frank, I am new to the CHS. We haven’t gotten the chance to really bond as of yet. So the benevolent Wallace McBride sent word from the Old House and assigned me this macabre beat. I am happy for the work. You all know how it is with all the murders at the Cannery and just the lack of small business in and around Collinsport. Anywhoozlebee, yours truly will be covering the whole mcgillicutty as episodes release. Delving deeply into Big Finish’s first big swing with the property, one that brought back fan favorites and introduced new ones in a sweeping opening saga.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I have read it is a very good place to start. The prequel to Bloodlust is an intimate, goth-as-hell creepshow called Snowflake - A Ghost Story for Hallowe’en. Released as a free teaser of the incoming series in October of 2014, the one track tale might not seem like much at first, but really portends of some proper creepiness to come. A posh P.I. by the name of Victor Frost (played with intensity by Daniel Collard) has been summoned to Collinsport by a mysterious client known only as Mr. Snowflake. The client has an odd request. Frost is to poll the citizens and ascertain whether or not the people of the town believe in ghosts.

Joseph Lidster’s script, presented as Victor’s final recording to an unseen Alex, really lays the groundwork for the incoming series well. “Have you ever been in a school at night? THAT’s Collinsport.” intones Victor into this recorder. Collinsport and horrific lore surrounding it take center stage in this story. Victor comes to town looking for answers, like any other yokel we have seen in the past. He visits various landmarks of the town like the Collinsport Inn (which Maggie Evans now owns), the Blue Whale, and the infamous Widow’s Hill. Lidster really keeps the story contained and focus on the grimness of Collinsport and it instantly invokes the lingering gothic charm of the town and property overall.

Director David Darlinton also gives this opening story a richly eerie production value throughout its running time. Starting with a startling pop of an old tape recorder and armed with the lashing of rain against Victor’s hotel window throughout the tale, Darlington really closes the sound in the listener, highlighting the text and Collard’s performance. When I first listened I thought that the constant rain effect would grate on me through the headphones or distract from the story, but by the time I had taken it in, I realized that the effects and various other highlighted sounds (Victor drinking a glass of wine and the shuffling of papers) were mixed really nicely into the track, giving it a extra layer of performative horror perfect for the Season of the Spooky Sound FX Records.

As Victor continues his survey he meets a new character, Jackie Tate. Presumably Jackie factors in heavily in Bloodlust, I think at one point Victor identifies the town sheriff as “Jackie’s Mum”. She fits a neat Carolyn Stoddard like mold in this story as Victor interviews her about the town. He finds her a restless, youthful type of character. Jackie also points Victor to his doom at the base of Widow’s Hill, where a mournful spirit lies in wait, driving him insane and exacerbating a sort of creeping dread that Victor has discovered has infected the town. Lidster’s script only has a short fifteen minutes to ostensibly tee up the incoming saga but the story found in Snowflake is a really eerie standalone experience all on its own. It will be interesting to see how this whole tale factors into the serial especially after its dramatic black magick infused ending, but if you’ve ever wanted just a clear, creepy entry point into Big Finish’s bigger works then it doesn’t get much better than Snowflake

If I was to choose the best way to get me excited to take on a massive 13-episode serial, I would choose “Moody, Dread Filled Prequel Story” and that is precisely what Snowflake - A Ghost Story for Hallowe’en is. Tautly written by Joseph Lidster, given sonically pleasing gothic atmosphere by the direction of David Darlington, and performed by a leveled intensity by Daniel Collard, this prequel story really gets me excited for what Big Finish has in store for me and the other jabronis that didn’t listen to this thing the first time around. Dark Shadows: Snowflake is available on the Big Finish website as a free download. It’s worth every penny.

NEXT TIME! We will be looking at Bloodlust Episode 1, which is also available on the Big Finish website for free! It’s Halloween, y’all. Let’s act accordingly. Be seeing you. 

Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.  

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...