The next three episodes, following up on my review of the Revival Series pilot.
Episode 2: Daphne Dies Twice
While watching the pilot, I realized that this revival more closely followed the story of House of Dark Shadows than that of the original series, but with the newly created character of Daphne Collins in place of her cousin Carolyn for the Lucy Westernra role of victim-turned-vampire. This doesn’t leave Carolyn with much to do in these early episodes, but it keeps her alive for later plotlines that never had a chance to unfold.
Before Julia Hoffman first suspected that Barnabas was a vampire, she let slip that Daphne’s memory could return at any time. Barnabas, unable to take the risk that Daphne might be able to identify her attacker, summons her telepathically out of the house, past the sleeping deputy and Joe who are supposed to be keeping watch over her. Daphne meets Barnabas out on one of the Collinwood terraces and is bitten one last time.
When the two men wake the next morning, they run searching around the outside of the house until they find her lying where Barnabas left her, dead.
After Daphne’s funeral, we get a scene that’s straight out of House of Dark Shadows: David is bouncing a ball against a flight of steps on another terrace and chanting, “If I catch this one, Daphne isn’t dead.” He repeats this three or four times, and catches the ball every time. This spooks him a little, and with the hour getting late, he decides to head back inside. But his late cousin Daphne steps out of the mists and shadows to try and take a bite out of him.
David runs into the house and tells the grown-ups what he’s just seen. No one believes him except for Professor Woodard (standing in for Prof. Stokes, who believed him in the movie) and perhaps Dr. Hoffman, although she doesn’t say so.
Still scoffing, Daphne’s bereaved boyfriend Joe Haskell goes over to the Collins family crypt in the cemetery and meets up with Daphne for himself.
I’m sorry to say that, unlike Vampire Carolyn, Daphne doesn’t look so great in her Bride of Dracula outfit. Maybe it’s the hair. Once she’s undead, it gets all late-80s big and pouffy. When she stands there in the brightly lit mists I want to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
After Joe is attacked, everyone believes David. The search is on for Daphne’s hiding place since she’s not sleeping in her coffin. Sheriff George Patterson, working with Prof. Woodard, believes that the best strategy is to wait for Daphne to call Joe to her for another bite. This turns out to be the right idea, since Joe, like Daphne before him, sneaks out of Collinwood when no one’s looking–except that he knocks out the poor deputy who’s supposed to be watching him.
He heads to what looks like an old barn or garage or other abandoned out-building on the Collinwood estate. Daphne is just getting her teeth into him when all the police in Collinsport storm in and surround the couple.
The scene plays out pretty much the way it did in the movie with Todd and Carolyn: Joe tries to defend his undead girlfriend, but some of the deputies restrain him while others hold Daphne down. The professor drives a stake through her heart.
In the next episode, David is still worried that Daphne will come back to get him, even though she’s been cremated. Sarah reassures him that Daphne is indeed gone for good: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Daphne is ashes. Daphne is dust.” Then she warns him that someone else close to him is in pain and will need help.
Barnabas has been absent from this episode since he killed Daphne at the beginning. He pays a condolence call on his cousin Elizabeth, explaining that he was away on business and only just heard about the horrible things that have been happening. While he and Elizabeth are talking, Julia Hoffman, who happens to be in the drawing room with them, glances into the mirror; she sees Elizabeth, but Barnabas has no reflection.
In a voiceover read from her journal, Julia announces that she is going to confront “the beast in his lair” and then she does so. Heading over to the old house at dusk, she pushes past Willie and his objections to reach the coffin room in the basement and opens the coffin to wake Barnabas up. Since she’s not stupid, she’s brought along a large crucifix to hold on him until she has his word that he’ll behave.
When Barnabas is ready to listen, she tells him about the strange cell found in the blood of his victims that she’s been studying while treating both Joe and Daphne. She believes that she can cure him of his vampirism. Barnabas scoffs at first, but he hates what he is and how he’s forced to exist. He agrees to submit to her experiment.
Episode 3: Dr. Hoffman’s Vampire Cure
Barnabas’s treatment is painful at first. When Julia Hoffman injects her serum into his arm, he describes “hot tentacles” and his blood boiling, then the pain passes and it feels like “silver in my veins.”
He tells her, “One day we will see the dawn together.”
Dr. Hoffman’s experiment is kind of cool. Even though she has a full lab set up in her room at Collinwood, the principle test she uses is based on the blood sample she took from Barnabas before that first injection as a control; this, she’s divided into twelve samples in test tubes, stored in a box in a little fridge in her room. When she exposes a sample to daylight, it boils, then gets so hot that the test tube explodes! The blood almost immediately turns to red powder like Christopher Lee’s in Taste the Blood of Dracula.
This seems like a good time to note that since Barbara Steele showed up in the pilot episode, I’ve been wondering who decided that woman long famous for her very large and expressive dark eyes should have those eyes framed behind ridiculously huge glasses. And yet the moment when such eye protection would actually come in handy–when the first test tube practically bursts in her face–she isn’t wearing them.
Ten weeks pass. According to the doctor’s voiceover journal, the treatments are having some effect. Barnabas hasn’t “fed” for more than two months. We can see for ourselves that the more recent samples of his blood are able to withstand daylight for longer than the control, although they do bubble just a little.
Barnabas is delighted when he can see his own reflection in a mirror; he hugs Willie and declares they’ll hang mirrors up in every room in the old house.
His courtship of Vicky continues. The two are out walking in the woods one evening, when Vicky playfully runs too close to the cliff’s edge at Widows Hill. Barnabas has a flashback to Josette jumping off the cliff at that same spot.
It’s a good scene dramatically, but the day-for-night here and on other occasions is very bad. It’s so bright that my first impression was that Barnabas was cured enough to go out for a walk on a sunny afternoon–but he calls this “night” and later in this same episode, they’ll make a big deal out of his being exposed to sunlight for the first time.
Barnabas reads Vicky a poem his “ancestor” wrote for Josette while they are standing under her portrait (the portrait is different from the one we saw in the pilot). This goes over very well indeed and leads to some serious kissing–but while neck-nibbling, Barnabas suddenly feels a powerful temptation to go on to neck-biting and has to cut their date short. He asks Willie to see the bewildered Vicky back to Collinwood.
This incident is his incentive to finish up his treatment as soon as possible. He tells Dr. Hoffman that he’s ready to face the dawn.
The scene when the sun rises is beautiful. Barnabas embraces the moment and describes the warmth he feels on his skin, in his body … but then it gets too hot. The blood sample Dr. Hoffman has taken starts to bubble and presumably the blood in his veins is about to boil too. She and Willie quickly close the curtains and put Barnabas to bed–in a bedroom upstairs and not in his coffin in the basement.
It’s just then, right after sunrise, that Professor Woodard, Sheriff Patterson, and Roger come calling. Michael Woodard has been suspicious of Barnabas for some time –“Who’s new in town and never seen during the day?”–and suspects his friend Julia of aiding the vampire, since she’s still hanging around Collinwood weeks after Daphne has died and Joe is recovered.
Julia tries to put the three men off by telling them that Barnabas is very ill and feverish, but Patterson has a search warrant and won’t take No for an answer. They mean to see Barnabas by daylight.
Barnabas comes out onto the landing, with sunlight pouring in through the windows behind him. He does look ill, pale and sweaty, but he stands the light long enough to discredit Professor Woodard and convince the Sheriff and Roger that they were mistaken.
Woodard isn’t convinced, though. He visits Collinwood later that day, ostensibly to apologize to Julia but instead sneaks up to her room while she’s out in the garden and has a look around. He finds the last test tube of Barnabas’s control-sample blood–which bursts when he holds it up to the light–and finds her journal; he takes photos of the pertinent pages about the experiment with his little spy-camera and leaves without actually speaking to Julia.
This is stupid of him, since the minute Julia comes into the house, Elizabeth mentions that the professor was there. Julia goes up to her room and finds the broken glass and powdered blood on the floor, and the lock on the desk drawer where she keeps her journal broken.
She has to tell Barnabas what’s happened. She doesn’t want to see her old friend hurt, but he’s become too much of a threat to be disregarded.
Episode 4: Sarah’s Diary
Professor Michael Woodard meets a fate that’s a combination of Dr. Dave Woodard in the original series and Professor Stokes in House of Dark Shadows; I’d forgotten what happened to Stokes in that movie until I watched it again after watching this.
Barnabas’s treatment continues, and he’s now able to go out into the sunlight for short periods. In his enthusiasm for his life, he shows Julia Josette’s music-box and tells her that he “so looks forward to the day when I can give it to the woman who will take her place.”
Julia misunderstands whom he’s talking about.
Vicky has overheard David talking to his friend Sarah several times since the first episode, but doesn’t really believe in Sarah’s existence until the little ghost-girl appears to Vicky herself. Sarah leads Vicky into a library in the closed-off part of Collinwood and, after a chat, gives her her diary.
David and Vicky agree that they’ll tell each other if Sarah speaks to either of them again, so they can figure out what her cryptic warnings about someone being hurt mean. David also wants Vicky not to tell anyone else about Sarah–especially Barnabas. He stands by what Sarah told him: Barnabas is evil.
But Vicky doesn’t believe that. On their next date, she gives the diary to Barnabas. She says that she found it, though, and doesn’t tell him about Sarah appearing and giving it to her.
Barnabas is reading aloud to Willie from his little sister’s diary, when he discovers a folded-up picture of a woman tucked inside the loose cloth cover. This, he crumples up and tosses into the fire–and the woman’s screaming spirit comes at him out of the fireplace!
I give Willie credit for his bravery. He hides behind Barnabas while this happens, instead of running off and not stopping until he’s halfway to Boston.
After the paper is fully burnt, the spirit dies away. When Willie asks who that was, Barnabas replies, not surprisingly, “Angelique… The true curse of my existence.”
Since Vicky has taken up the role of Josette’s reincarnation and the image of Barnabas’s lost love, Maggie Evans, like Carolyn, has been pushed off to the sidelines with not very much to do. But what the writers did give Maggie to do shocked me when I first saw it: She and Roger are having an affair (!!!). They can’t get married because Roger is already married; his wife Laura is in an asylum in England and there’s no chance of a divorce.
Laura Collins, says Maggie, “is not like other people.”
It’s through this secret relationship that we are introduced to the beginnings of another new and intriguing storyline.
David shows Vicky an artist’s studio up in the tower room, locked and no longer used. The paintings are in a Monet-esque Impressionist style and one still on its easel unfinished is of a nude woman’s back as she cradles a baby against her shoulder.
Roger finds the two of them up there; he’s very angry and chases them out.
“This room and everything in it doesn’t exist anymore,” he tells Vicky.
When I first saw this scene, I thought that it was an introduction to a version of the surly, limping Charles Collins we saw in Night of Dark Shadows and perhaps even the appearance of a Quentin. Now that I’ve watched it a couple more times, I think that Roger was meant to be the painter, and the woman and baby are Laura and David.
In what looks like revenge for being yelled at by his father, David makes a voodoo doll using some pipe-cleaners, hair from Roger’s hairbrush, buttons from a coat, and other personal belongings. This, the boy sets fire to.
Maggie is with Roger at her own studio in town (she’s a sculptor), when he crumples screaming in pain. She also psychically sees the burning doll, and Vicky coming in to stop David and put the fire out.
Later on, Maggie tells Vicky about her vision, and explains that David’s mother is a witch. Laura, she says, is working through the boy to strike at Roger and herself.
It looks like Dan Curtis was definitely planning to reuse the Phoenix storyline from the original series but sadly, this plot didn’t have a chance to go any farther before the show was cancelled. We’ll hear no more about Laura or the locked studio in the tower room.
Back at the old house, Sarah’s diary has been taken out of Barnabas’s desk and is sitting on a table in the parlor.
Barnabas thinks that Willie left it there, until a wind comes up, the fire blazes, the candles are blown out, and fresh writing appears on a blank page of the diary in Sarah’s handwriting:
“Oh, my brother, you must stop your plans for the young girl with the dark hair or else she and you are in terrible danger.”
I don’t know why Sarah doesn’t call Vicky by name; Vicky told her who she was when they talked earlier in the episode. Or perhaps it wasn’t Sarah’s ghost that wrote this message?
Barnabas doesn’t take the warning to heart. He intends to go on seeing Vicky, and propose to her once his treatment is finished so that he and his lost Josette can be together in this lifetime. He tells Willie to put the diary back on his desk.
After Willie leave the room, the diary flutters open and turns to the back. That picture of Angelique that was thrown into the fire is there, undamaged.