Dark Shadows: Barnabas Collins: Fearless Vampire Hunter

It starts when Angelique bites Joe Haskell’s cousin Tom, who then dies in the hospital after Joe, who has also been bitten and is in thrall to Angelique, leaves the window open so that she can get at Tom a second time. Barnabas, who isn’t a vampire at present, doesn’t know that Angelique is the new vamp in town, but he knows that there is one and that Tom will soon rise from his grave; he tells Willie to sharpen a stake. They head over to the cemetery the evening after the funeral but arrive too late to deal with Tom–his grave is empty.

Tom the Vampire While Barnabas and Willie are out hunting for him, Tom the Vampire comes to the old house. Dr. Julia Hoffman is alone down in the basement, working in the laboratory she set up to create a new girlfriend for Adam. Julia used to be much better with vampires when she was managing Barnabas, but Tom is a complete stranger to her.  She can’t fend him off and he bites her.

When Willie finds her on the floor a short time later, he doesn’t see the fresh teeth-marks on her neck since she’s wearing a high-collared blouse under her lab coat. She doesn’t tell him what happened and asks him not to tell Barnabas, but Barnabas gets the story of the supposed fainting spell out of Willie after Julia goes back to Collinwood to lie down.

As Joe is with Angelique and Willie, Maggie, and Carolyn were with Barnabas, Julia is now enthralled to this vampire who speaks all his lines in such a stilted manner. (Maybe it’s the fangs hindering his speech?). Whenever he calls out to her, she goes to him and gets bit again.

This goes on for two or three days, but Barnabas soon figures out what’s going on. After all, he knows all the signs of a vampire’s victim, including that tell-tale scarf wrapped high around the neck. He confronts Julia about it and tries to help her, but the call of Tom the Vampire is impossible to resist.

To get rid of Tom and save Julia, Barnabas has some silver candlesticks melted down to make bullets. When this came up in the Dark Shadows movie, it struck me as odd. Aren’t silver bullets for werewolves? I wondered about it again here, but Barnabas seems to think they’ll do the job. He just needs to know where Tom is hiding during the day, since he isn’t returning to his original grave.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard has escaped from the nearby sanitarium where she was placed after she began to believe she was Naomi Collins and attempted to re-create that 18th-century lady’s suicide. She happens to be wandering the cemetery near her home and thinking about death when she sees Tom the Vampire. Tom, who apparently has a thing for older women, comes at her; she screams and Tom vanishes before Roger and Nicholas Blair come to find her and take her back to Collinwood.

Elizabeth has recovered her wits enough to know who she is and who her brother is. She no longer thinks she’s Naomi, but she has a morbid fascination with her own pending death and an obsessive fear that she’ll be buried alive. She tells Roger her fears, and that’s enough for him to conclude that she’s not in a fit state of mind to come home yet.

Elizabeth looks like she wonders too. He asks Dr. Hoffman to call the hospital for him while he gets the car, but Elizabeth pleads with the doctor to help her.

While the two women are talking, Julia receives one of Tom’s summons and starts to speak in a distracted way that makes me wonder which of the two is supposed to be the not-quite-sane one. Elizabeth looks like she wonders too.

When Julia goes out to meet Tom at an empty crypt in the cemetery, Elizabeth follows.

After returning from her long vacation away from the show, Joan Bennett is a hoot. She seems to enjoy playing nutsy Elizabeth and coming out with bizarre non-sequiturs about her death obsession.

Tom isn’t at the crypt when Elizabeth catches up with Julia there, but all Elizabeth can see is the coffin on a platform in the middle of the room. “Is it mine?” she asks.

Is this coffin mine?Julia’s obviously waiting for Tom to show up and doesn’t want Elizabeth to be there when he does arrive. Instead of answering any questions, she kicks Elizabeth out.

Elizabeth then runs to the old Collins house to beg Barnabas to help her and hide her when Roger comes looking to send her back to the hospital. She also rants about the coffin in the crypt.

This would sound completely insane to anyone else, but Barnabas recognizes that it’s actually important information.

It turns out that Barnabas also has an unexpected ally in his vampire hunt: Nicolas Blair. Nicholas is even more eager than Adam for the build-a-girlfriend project to continue, since he has his own plans for Adam and the future Eve. Julia Hoffman is the only person with the appropriate medical and mad science background who might be able to successfully repeat the late Dr. Lang’s experiment. That’s not going to happen if she’s victimized or eventually killed by this upstart young vampire. Or perchance becomes a vampire herself.

Neither Julia nor Barnabas are aware that Nicholas has anything to do with this; as far as they know, it’s all Adam’s idea.

Hearing that Julia isn’t well, and guessing exactly what’s wrong with her, Nicholas pays her a visit and says the comforting little things about seeing her back to her old self again that people say, but with that arch double meaning he uses so often. If she were in better condition, Julia would certainly suspect that he knows all about the experiments and wants her well enough to go with them.

Barnabas stakes a vampire The silver bullets don’t come into play, but there is a struggle at the crypt just before sunrise. It looks like Barnabas might get bit, but then the approach of daylight forces Tom to seek the shelter of his coffin. It doesn’t save him, since Barnabas has the coffin open again a few minutes after dawn.

It strikes me as funny that the first person we see staking a vampire on this show is Barnabas Collins.

When Roger finally finds his sister at the old house, she tells him about Julia and the coffin in the crypt. Elizabeth insists that Roger go and see for himself and Barnabas reluctantly takes him to the crypt. To Barnabas’s surprise, the coffin is gone. Nicholas has thoughtfully removed it and not told anybody.

Julia, now recovering, of course can’t admit the truth to Roger, but she doesn’t feel it’s fair to make Elizabeth sound nuttier than she really is. She recommends that Elizabeth shouldn’t return to the hospital, and might do better if she’s in the comfort of her own home again.


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.