Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Dark Shadows: Bloodlust- Episode 1


Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

“Tell me, my children, do you believe in...MONSTERS?!”

Click HERE to get the episode.
Big Finish’s massive 13-part new saga following the Collins family and the cursed town that bares their name begins in Bloodlust Episode 1! In celebration of Big Finish’s rerelease of this sweeping story, in which this first episode is available now for FREE on their website, with the remaining episodes being released on a bi-weekly schedule at a reduced rate, we here at the CHS, led by yours truly, will be taking you through the whole story, episode by episode. All from my Bob Cratchet roll top I have set up in a forgotten corner of the Society's hall. Should I make my bones on this, who knows? I may move up in the world! Get that electric lamp I’ve been coveting so I don’t have to keep schelping up to Bangor for lamp oil. By reviewing each episode semi-regularly along with the releases, we can really dig into and discuss the unfolding events while also getting ourselves good and ready for the looming sequel, which is sure to be yet another big hit for the publisher. And so, welcome to Bloodlust. I hope you enjoy and survive the experience.

Right from the jump, Alan Flanagan, Joseph Lidster, and Will Howells’ script, brought to life by the dread filled direction of Ursula Burton and David Darlington, instantly captures the mystery and charm of DARK SHADOWS. A young newlywed couple, Melody and Michael Devereux, have found themselves honeymooning in Collinsport. Their choice seemingly made by the universe as Melody randomly chose the place from a map. But as the episode clips along, the couple find a town that takes none too kindly to strangers, one gripped by a sort of dread. This episode’s story is mainly focused on the newlyweds but the writing staff still do a lot with just a little.

After arriving at the train station, checking in at the Inn, and meeting its kindly owner, Maggie Evans (actual ray of human sunshine Kathryn Leigh Scott), the pair then start to take in the sights of Collinsport and the story gets down to the good work of introducing us to our cast. A lot of these people we got passing mentions from thanks to Victor Frost’s dying confession back in Snowflake, but this episode finally puts some faces with names. At least as much as audio can do that.

First up we have Ed and Jessica Griffin, played by Jamison Selby and Marie Wallace. This mother and son team now own the Blue Whale and treat Melody and Michael to a nice honeymoon meal, complete with free champagne. But there is something vaguely sinister about the questions Jessica keeps asking the couple as she really taps into that pervasive paranoia that citizens of Collinsport inherently have when it comes to newcomers off the train. They are a bit like Westworld hosts in that regard. Then there is Ed, a recent window. Ed has a secret and that secret is the ding-dang g-g-g-GHOST of his dead wife that he talks to in the store room, even though unsuspecting newlyweds like Michael might hear.

We are also treated to a quick, but charming introduction to Jackie Tate (a bubbly Alexandra Donnachie), the only person who showed poor, doomed Victor Frost any kindness. Jackie is a good time gal, who is seemingly involved with Maggie, who is now running a sort of “Anti-Supernatural Club” and holding meetings in the Blue Whale. There is also a wild-eyed priest who also accosts the couple, providing the deliciously creepy quote that I opened this piece with. Victor makes brief mention of this nuisance in Snowflake and, even though we don’t get his name (YET), I will be damned if he doesn’t sound a lot like Jerry Lacy! Surely, we won’t be hearing from HIM again, he typed sarcastically.

Finally the pair meet one Kate Ripperton, editor of the Collinsport Star, played with a sort of Catherine Tate like spunk by Asta Perry. Ripperton is one of the standouts of the episode due to her boisterous energy and her, admittedly, over expository dialogue with the couple. She casually mentions that the Collins family is no longer in canning (which explains MY canning from said Cannery) and have now sunk their fortunes into mining, as they dig deeply into the town’s crust looking for...something. Also, the only occupant of the infamous Collinwood is now David Collins, having taken up the mantle of the “Collins’ Most Reclusive Member” from his grandmother Elizabeth.

So there is obviously a lot going on now, but Episode 1 still has a neatly fun anchor thanks to Melody and Michael. Though the actor who plays Michael, Jeff Harding, plays him very close to the chest, amplifying the character’s baked in squareness, he plays an excellent straight man to his new wife, Melody (Daisy Tormé exhibiting a level of charm to rival GRAVITY FALLS’ Mabel Pines). The pair, of course, meet an unfortunate fate, one that will serve as the inciting incident of Bloodlust but honestly, what did you expect from strangers that just HAPPENED to show up in Collinsport, a burg with a high per capita murder rate than any city from a Grand Theft Auto game? That said though, the time we spend with them as they take in the sights and meet the citizenry of Collinsport really feels worthwhile and offers up a few more tantalizing clues as to how they will fit into the overall narrative. I mean, I don’t think it's a coincidence that they picked this particular town to visit and couple that “happenstance” with Melody being an orphan, just like another charming young woman that was summoned to the town decades ago, and you have a whole lot of intrigue introduced in very little time.

One down, 12 more to go, but if Episode 1 is any indication, then we are in for one helluva ride talking through this thing, fellow ghouls and scholars. I am not entirely sure what kind of game this serial is laying out just yet, but I am very much interested in it, after hearing this opening episode and taking in its grim delights. I also can’t really articulate how cool it is to be hearing new stories in Collinsport, complete with a brand new, majorly awesome revamp of the classic theme tune. Big things have small beginnings and Bloodlust Episode 1 starts this story off with charm, vibrant performances, and plenty of dread sure to please fans of any stripe.

NEXT TIME we take a look at Bloodlust Episode 2, in which a murder is investigated and the town starts to reveal it’s true face. 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:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.