Dark Shadows: Back to the Bride

Even though he’s forcing Dr. Hoffman et al to make him a new girlfriend, Adam still pines for Carolyn. In his hiding place in the abandoned west wing of Collinwood, his education continues to improve. He’s playing chess now and imagines he’s playing with Carolyn, until he finds out that she doesn’t know how. Nor has she ever read Freud, which he was looking forward to discussing with her. He’s disappointed, but he lends her a book that Professor Stokes gave him; perhaps it will help her understand what’s going on with her mother.

For Elizabeth Collins Stoddard continues to obsess over the idea that she’ll be mistakenly thought dead by her family and buried alive. She even has a nightmare about them closing the lid on the coffin at her funeral in spite of her last request that it be kept open. When she wakes, she tries to phone her lawyer but he won’t answer her call. (I’m not sure how late at night this is supposed to be; Elizabeth’s in bed asleep but everybody else at Collinwood is still up and about. But then I often wonder when these people ever sleep.)

Elizabeth's model mausoleumUnable to get hold of her regular lawyer, she then phones local lawyer Tony Peterson and gets him to come to the house to make a codicil to her will–a complicated set-up that describes the construction of a special mausoleum and coffin from which she can escape and summon help, as elaborate as the one Ray Milland created for himself in Premature Burial. If her family fails to follow her instructions, they won’t receive their inheritance. When Carolyn hears about it, she thinks it’s loopy but is willing to go along with it if it will give her mother some peace. Elizabeth’s brother Roger just thinks it’s loopy and wants to contest the will.

While Tony is at Collinwood that evening, he stops in the garden to speak to Carolyn privately. They used to date, if you remember, back before Cassandra/Angelique ensnared him with her spells. Both seem kind of interested in starting things up again. Unfortunately, Adam is spying on them through the window of his room. In spite of his new girlfriend waiting to be brought to life on the slab, he’s hypocritically jealous. As Tony is leaving, Adam comes out and attacks him.

This is the last we ever see of Tony, by the way; though he says he’s okay immediately after the attack, I can’t help wondering if he went home and died later that night of his head injury.

I’ve been getting tired of Adam’s selfishly violent behavior lately, but at least this incident makes him realize that however his Eve turns out, she won’t be Carolyn and she’s the one he wants. He won’t love this other woman. He tells Nicholas that he wants to stop the experiment. But Nicholas, who has his own reasons for wanting the experiment to go forward, tells Adam that there might be a way for him to have both Carolyn and Eve in one. Uh-oh.

Using the information on that tape recording left by the late Dr. Lang, Nicholas has deduced what part Barnabas played in Adam’s creation. He decides that he will produce his own candidate to provide that essential spark of life itself for Eve so that he can control her (since Barnabas controls Adam so well). Oddly enough, in spite of the suggestion above, it’s not Carolyn he has in mind.

Vampire Angelique Before we follow up on that idea, Angelique has a candidate of her own to put forward. Herself. Understanding that the experiment that created Adam also cured Barnabas of his vampirism, she wants to provide the life force for Eve and be cured too.

To that end, she visits the old house, where Jeff Clark is working in the basement lab. Jeff has been drawn into helping with the experiment since his fiancee Vicky’s been threatened by Adam and he wants to protect her, even though his secrecy about what he’s doing is straining their relationship. Also, he used to work for Dr. Lang and he isn’t as squeamish about dead bodies as Willie is.

Jeff doesn’t know who Angelique is, but once she gets her fangs into him he agrees to let her know when the experiment is ready. Angelique lies to Nicholas and tells him that Eve’s body won’t be completed for at least a couple of weeks when it’s really only a matter of days.

When the time is right, the two proceed with the experiment by themselves, in spite of the admitted fact that Jeff doesn’t really know what he’s doing. Angelique lies down on the one gurney, while the covered body is on the other. Jeff connects the dead and undead women up somehow and starts turning knobs and throwing the big wall-switches. There are flashing lights and electric zaps and blip-and-bloop noises that sound like the theme from Forbidden Planet.

While this is going on, Barnabas returns home, hears the noises from the basement, and knows that whoever’s down there isn’t watching classic sci-fi movies. He goes downstairs and discovers Jeff alone and disoriented. Angelique has disappeared from her strapped-in position on the gurney; the straps are still fastened. Barnabas doesn’t know what Jeff was up to, but forbids him from entering the lab again.

Barnabas’s own candidate for the spark of life is Maggie. I would’ve thought that the poor girl had been through enough, but he reasons that a) she lives alone and no one will notice if she’s gone for a few days–or longer if something goes wrong–and b) Dr. Hoffman can hypnotize her into forgetting all about her participation in the experiment after it’s over.

It’s Willie who puts a stop to Barnabas’s plan. Afraid that she might die during the experiment, he abducts Maggie to try and keep her safe. He takes her to the Collins family mausoleum and shuts her up in that hidden chamber where Barnabas was chained inside his coffin for so many years. Now that he no longer needs his coffin, it’s sitting back there again.

When Nicholas hears about Maggie’s abduction, he puts forward Carolyn (via Adam) and uses his insidious mind-control powers to send her over as a “volunteer” for the experiment. Carolyn tells Roger that she’s going away for a few days, packs a little bag, and shows up at the old house. She tells the astonished Barnabas that Adam told her all about the experiment (actually, Nicholas did) and that she’s willing to help.

Nicholas also tries to use his powers to make Willie set Maggie free, but that proves to be problematic.

After spending some time locked up in the secret room with that now-empty coffin, Maggie’s memories of her previous abduction finally start to emerge. We get some flashbacks to that time when Barnabas was keeping her prisoner at the old house and trying to make her believe that she was his beloved Josette. Some of these scenes are recreations of ones that were originally done in black and white, now in color, and others are new.

Most vividly, Maggie remembers being in this same room once before, when Barnabas was punishing her for attempting to escape and brought her to there to put her into the coffin. He also bit her. That’s more than enough for Maggie to know the truth at last.

Maggie glaresWhen Willie returns to her, she tells him, “I know what Barnabas Collins is–and so do you!”

Well, he can’t let her go after that, especially since she says she’ll go straight to the police.

Instead, Willie rushes back to the old house to tell Barnabas what’s happened. Barnabas wants Dr. Hoffman to go over to the cemetery and hypnotize Maggie into forgetting again… but the doctor’s just a bit busy at that moment. She’s actually in the lab prepping the body when Barnabas comes to her. She agrees that they can delay the experiment for a little while–neither of them really wants to go through with it anyway–but before she can leave the house to see Maggie, Adam shows up. He doesn’t agree to a delay. Nobody’s going anywhere until the experiment is done. But Willie manages to slip out.

Before Carolyn comes down to the basement, Adam starts fussing over his prospective “mate”: Will she look like Carolyn? Will she be like Carolyn? Will he like her? Then, for the first time, he wonders if she’ll like him.

When he goes upstairs to bring Carolyn down, it emerges that she has in fact fallen in love with Adam. She doesn’t even mind the facial scars anymore. He loves her. She loves him. So, what do they need this other woman on the slab for?

Alas, regardless of her new feelings, Carolyn isn’t ready to run off with Adam to who-knows-where and leave behind the life she knows. Even though nobody involved wants to do this, they’re going to do it anyway.

Lab experimentCarolyn gets strapped to the second gurney and Dr. Hoffman shoves Barnabas and Adam into a corner so they’re out of the way while she starts throwing the big switches. We’re on to Round 2 of the blinky lights and zaps. Carolyn seems to be in some pain. After getting zapped two or three times, her breathing becomes shallow and the wavy line on one piece of equipment goes flat. (It’s not a primitive EKG; Dr. Hoffman calls it a “sine wave.”)

When Carolyn passes out, the doctor stops the experiment and tries to revive her, but Adam has one of his hissy fits after seeing the woman he loves suffering and carries her back upstairs. He doesn’t even glance at the covered body on the other gurney.

Upstairs, lying on Josette’s bed, Carolyn eventually recovers consciousness. She tells Adam about the horrible sensation she had of separate, individual body parts wanting to drain the life out of her; as she speaks, we seen superimposed images of hands and feet, mostly male, and that skull with the creepy staring eyes that showed up in the dream-curse makes another appearance. Then Carolyn fades out again.

Is she dead? Dr. Hoffman examines her and says she is. Adam rushes out of the house in a rage of grief, injuring Barnabas on the way when he tries to stop him. When the doctor retrieves her medical bag from the bedside in Josette’s room to tend to him, she finds the bed eStaring skullmpty. Adam couldn’t have taken Carolyn’s body. Did someone else, or did she get up and go out by herself in spite of being declared dead?

“I don’t like this, Julia,” Barnabas says when he hears that Carolyn has disappeared. “There’s something frightening about it.”

They’re both worried that Adam is going to carry out his threats to kill Vicky and the rest of the Collins family. He’s done it a dozen times–whenever things aren’t going exactly as he wants, he threatens to kill somebody. It’s not his most attractive trait. Barnabas used to do this too when he was a vampire, but doesn’t anymore. It must be one of things that got transferred over to Adam when he was created. However, in this instance, Barnabas and Julia don’t seem anxious enough about it to go after him and try to stop him or warn the others that their lives are in danger.

In all the excitement, they’ve both forgotten about Maggie, until Willie comes back to remind them. He also mentions that he saw Adam sitting and sobbing under a tree in the woods and not heading to Collinwood to murder anyone.

While Dr. Hoffman goes over to the crypt to try and hypnotize Maggie, Barnabas decides that he must go to Collinwood and, whatever the consequences, tell the family about Carolyn’s death.

Julia Hoffman’s errand doesn’t work out as planned; the minute she brings out the glittering little compact that she uses as a focus to bring about an hypnotic state, Maggie remembers it and utterly refuses to cooperate. She says she’d rather be dead than mind-wiped again. She knows that the doctor’s in on it along with Barnabas and Willie, so she’ll be in that secret room for awhile longer.

Barnabas’s mission also has a surprising outcome. When he gets to Collinwood, he knocks on the front door… and Carolyn answers it.

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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.