Dark Shadows: Monster Mash

Working in the lab late one night, Barnabas Collins’s two mad-scientist/doctor friends were attempting to transfer his personality into a new body to free him from his witchy ex-wife Angelique’s vampiric curse. It didn’t work the first time out, and Dr. Lang suffered an Angelique-induced heart attack in the middle of the experiment and died. Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas, however, are determined to try again before the body on the slab begins to lose its freshness.

Adam on the slab

What the two don’t know is that Dr. Lang left a taped message telling them exactly what will happen: both Barnabas and the new body will live, only Barnabas’s vampire symptoms will be transferred. If the new body dies, then Barnabas becomes a vampire again.

A couple of nights after Dr. Lang’s death, they run through the experiment again. Lots of electronic gizmos spark and flash, but in the end Barnabas finds himself in his same old body. He considers the experiment a failure, but as he pauses for a soliloquy over the new body, which he has named “Adam,” its eyes open.

Barnabas whispers “He’s alive!” He doesn’t shout it hysterically a few times over, as the various Doctors Frankenstein are wont to do in this situation, but he’s not a mad scientist himself and isn’t familiar with their tropes.

So Julia Hoffman and Barnabas Collins find themselves in the position of proud parents to a strapping 6-foot-plus toddler with a temper. They don’t know that he’s absorbed Barnabas’s vampiric qualities, but they do hit upon the idea that he must sleep in the daytime pretty quickly; he might just as easily be all tuckered out after trashing the lab.

The Calico Monster (My kitten does that all the time–not that the Calico Monster trashes laboratories, but she likes to curl up for a quick nap after some particularly energetic bit of mischief.)

Responsible for this new life they’ve created, the pair turn out to be appalling as parents. While Adam is asleep, augmented by one of the doctor’s handy sedatives, they convey him to the old Collins house. There, they chain him up in that same basement room where Maggie Evans was once kept prisoner, and leave him alone there most of the time with Willie to babysit.

Willie Loomis? When did he come back? A few episodes ago. Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman got him out of the asylum where he was locked up when everybody thought he was the one who kidnapped Maggie. Barnabas wanted him to help out with the experiment in the lab after Vicky’s new boyfriend Jeff quit, but Willie is a Renfield, not an Igor, and he doesn’t do lab work. Union rules.

A weird family dynamic begins to develop among this little group at the old house. Willie starts out terrified of the big lug he’s supposed to be taking care of, but he also seems resentful of his new baby brother, and perhaps just a bit jealous.

When Barnabas became human, his powers over his cousin Carolyn dissipated and she became more like her old self again. Although no one says so explicitly, the same must have happened to Willie. His character actually improved while he was in thrall; now, he’s becomes more like the bullying creep he was when he first appeared on the show, with a penchant for sparkly jewelry. At least, he has a better attitude toward women than he used to. After he has a non-threatening chat with Maggie, she believes that he wasn’t responsible for her kidnapping and that he was trying to warn her… although she doesn’t think to ask what he was trying to warn her about.

As he grows bolder, Willie taunts Adam into tantrums, then winds up trying to frame him for the theft of some hideously expensive emerald earrings he stole himself from Barnabas’s big jewelry box to give to Maggie.

To try and soothe Adam, Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman play music from Dr. Lang’s tape recorder, which they brought over from his house (after all, he’s dead and it’s not like he’ll be needing it anymore). They still don’t know about the important message that’s in the middle of the Mozart, but Adam gets to hear it enough times that he learns a few phrases from it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak clearly enough for anybody to understand what he’s saying.

After he’s been provoked by Willie one too many times, Adam breaks free and is seen wandering around the grounds of Collinwood.

Remember that scene from the Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein where the monster plays with the little girl and ends up killing her? Well, the only little girl at Collinwood is already a ghost, so David has to stand in. David doesn’t get killed; Barnabas talks Adam into putting the boy down.

Not an uncommon scene in monster movies

Adam then escapes a second time and heads for Collinwood to demand food and music (the two words he knows best) and to carry off Carolyn. Why Carolyn? Because she’s a pretty girl and that’s just what monsters do. There’s plenty of precedent.

The fact that Barnabas and the doctor show up at the door immediately afterwards, already armed, makes Elizabeth Stoddard-Collins highly suspicious that they were hunting for this brutish stranger and know who he is. Then Willie slips up and refers to him as Adam. Elizabeth has not forgotten the name of the supposed cousin whom Barnabas was expecting.

The police are suspicious too, since Adam seems to gravitate toward the old house, but they drop this line of inquiry when they finally catch up with their quarry on the crest of Widow’s Hill, where Carolyn is screaming and dangling over the edge of the cliff. She slipped after Adam set her down. He does pull her back up to safety, but seeing that he has no way to escape the police all around him, he jumps off the cliff rather than be caught.


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.