Dark Shadows: How Barnabas Stopped Being a Vampire

After their car crashes on the way to the cemetery, Vicky and Barnabas are taken to the local hospital. Vicky’s got a few minor injuries, but the hospital staff are alarmed that the unconscious Barnabas apparently has no blood pressure or pulse. This man needs a transfusion right away! He is soon under the care of a Dr. Lang, who seems to pick up on what Barnabas is pretty quickly and isn’t afraid to say the word “Vampire” out loud.

Except that Barnabas isn’t a vampire anymore. That blood transfusion started his cure, and Dr. Lang gives him injections that further it. He no longer craves blood and can stand the sunlight.

One of the subplots that was dropped during the long storyline set in 1795 was the enmity between Barnabas and Dr. Julia Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman was at the point of a nervous breakdown when Vicky went into the past but was perfectly fine and medically competent when Vicky returned and took change of her recovery. The doctor and Barnabas are allies again. When he first comes to in the hospital after the accident, he demands that they send for her as his personal physician. Dr. Hoffman does rush right over but by the time she gets there his transformation has already begun. She and Dr. Lang have some previous acquaintance as well; neither of them believes that the other’s attempt to cure Barnabas is the most effective way to do it.

By a remarkable co-incidence, the young man Vicky nearly ran over works for Dr. Lang. He was also the one who thoughtfully phoned for an ambulance. While she’s still in the hospital, he introduces himself. Even though he looks exactly like Peter Bradford from 1795, his name is Jeff Clark. This new name doesn’t stop Vicky from believing that he’s the same person, keeping his promise to seek her out through time, although she doesn’t harp too much on it and scare him away by sounding like a lunatic.

As it turns out, Jeff’s pretty well inured to the bizarre. What was he doing up at the cemetery in the middle of night? Collecting spare body parts, of course.

It emerges that Dr. Eric Lang, when he isn’t busy at the hospital, spends his spare time as a Mad Scientist. Oh sure, Julia Hoffman dabbled in Mad Science with her experiments to cure Barnabas, but this guy has a laboratory in his attic with big switches on the wall and all sorts of cool-looking lights and electronic gadgets, and a partially assembled body under a sheet on a gurney. He’s making a man with blond hair and a tan… at least, that was the original idea.

The offer he makes to Barnabas is that he will not only cure his vampirism, but help him escape forever from Angelique’s curse by turning him into somebody else entirely. Just as soon as the body on the slab is ready, Dr. Lang will transfer Barnabas’s mind/soul/personality/whatever over into it. It just needs a face to be complete.

Barnabas, seeing how quickly a romance has developed between Vicky and Jeff, decides that that young man’s handsome blond head is just the one he wants for his new body. I don’t know what he thinks Vicky is supposed to make of this. Does he believe she’ll think it’s the same old Jeff suddenly exhibiting a more Barnabas-like personality, or does he imagine that any young man with the same pretty face will do for her?

Since Jeff is threatening to leave Lang’s employ, the doctor is happy to oblige.

Jeff about to lose his headAfter sedating Jeff with a surprise syringe to the back, Dr. Lang tries to cut his head off–but every time he starts to do it, someone interrupts him. Isn’t that always the way when you’re trying to get something done? First it’s Barnabas at the door, then it’s Vicky looking for Jeff.

When he eavesdrops and overhears how worried she is and how much she loves Jeff, Barnabas has a change of heart. He doesn’t want Jeff’s head after all. He calls upon Dr. Hoffman for help, not only to hypnotize Jeff into forgetting everything that’s happened to him that night but also to give a hand to the making-a-new-man project. She objects to the latter at first, but in the end goes along with it.

Jeff, now free of Dr. Lang’s employment and with no idea how close he came to losing his head, rents a room at the Evans’s cottage while he looks for a new job.

Meanwhile, Roger, under the influence of Angelique’s indestructible portrait, makes an attempt or two on Dr. Lang’s life to put a stop to his helping Barnabas. When these fail, Roger disappears for awhile. He returns apparently in his right mind again, or at least not behaving like Joshua Collins, but he has a disturbing surprise or two for his friends and family:

  • Surprise 1–He got married to a young woman he met the day before.
  • Surprise 2–She looks exactly like Angelique, but with a short, dark wig rather than long, blonde hair.

Cassandra primps in front of Angelique's portraitShe says her name is Cassandra and she’s a student of Professor Stokes, which is how she met Roger. But you just know who she really is.

When confronted in private by Barnabas and called by her real name, she acts as if she’s bewildered by his accusations, but when she’s alone she can be caught smirking and primping herself in front of her portrait.

For her next trick, Angelique puts a dream curse on Barnabas. What this means is that the people around him will have the same bad dream; each person who has it will tell the next person, who then has the dream progress just a little bit further, and so on and so on until it gets to Barnabas and destroys him.

It starts with Maggie Evans.

Maggie dreams that she answers the door and Jeff is standing there; Maggie hasn’t seen Jeff yet in real life, but they’ll meet the next day when he comes to see about renting that room. Dream-Jeff doesn’t speak, but beckons to her and leads her to a place with lots of mist and gauzy curtains and rows of closed doors, where he shuts her in.

While Maggie is screaming, she hears a voice recite a poem about choosing doors through trial and error to find the way back to the beginning and that jingly tune from Josette’s music-box plays. Maggie tries one of the doors and finds behind it a skull with creepy staring eyes.

Maggie in the Dream CurseShe is disturbed by this dream all day and, when she meets Jeff, feels compelled to tell him about it.

Jeff next dreams the same thing, except the person who knocks on the door is now Dr. Lang and Jeff opens two doors, first the one with the creepy staring skull, then one where the blade of a guillotine slides down inside the door frame. He tells Dr. Lang, who dreams about Dr. Hoffman and adds a headless figure behind a third door.

Dr. Hoffman, who’s always been the smartest person on the show, figures out that something’s up (although Dr. Lang didn’t tell her about Jeff’s and Maggie’s dreams so I don’t get how she got that information to put it all together that fast). She consults Professor Stokes and learns from him about dream curses, realizes that this one is aimed at Barnabas, and tries to put a stop to it by refusing to tell the next person–that would be Mrs. Johnson, the Collinwood housekeeper–about her nightmare which ended with a laughing skeleton in a tattered wedding dress behind the latest door.

Staring skull While all these dreams are going on, the two doctors carry on with their experiment to create a new body for Barnabas. Dr. Lang has finished putting the body together, though he doesn’t say where he got the face from. It’s got a few scars on it, so even if it had been Jeff’s head it wouldn’t have been transferred to Barnabas in pristine condition.

Barnabas lets his relatives know that he plans to return to England for an indefinite period and that a young cousin named Adam Collins will be coming to look after the old house for him while he’s away. These preparations concluded, it’s time for him to move into his new vampirism-free body.

But Angelique/Cassandra intervenes again. Earlier on, Barnabas had gotten an amulet from Professor Stokes that protects the person who wears it from witchcraft; this, he gave to Dr. Lang so that he could continue his work without having stabbing head-pains or bespelled Roger showing up to try and kill him. But instead of wearing the amulet, the doctor carelessly left it in a desk drawer and Angelique/Cassandra got hold of it. So he is now at her mercy again–and she doesn’t really have any.

Voodoo dollShe gives Dr. Lang a heart attack right in the middle of the transferring procedure with flipping the big switches and sparking the electronic gadgets. She doesn’t mean to kill him, just torture him a bit by sticking a pin into a little voodoo doll, but she’s accidentally startled and ends up stabbing the little doll straight through. Oops!

Before he dies, Dr. Lang tries to tell Dr. Hoffman what will happen: if the experiment succeeds, both bodies will live–Barnabas as a human being and Adam with the symptoms of a vampire but he won’t go around sucking people’s blood. However, if Adam should die, then Barnabas will revert to his vampiric state.

Okay, then.

Dr. Lang leaves this crucial information on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and tries to tell Dr. Hoffman about it with his last gasps of life. She is clever enough to understand that he wanted to say he’d recorded something, but she and Barnabas listen to the wrong part of the tape and all they get is a few minutes of Mozart before they try the experiment again.

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Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.