I hadn’t realized when I bought this Dark Shadows audio drama on CD that parts of it would already be known to me. When I listened to it for the first time, familiar phrases jumped out:
“My name is Quentin Collins. I come from an old family–and old families have long-held secrets…”
“I’d forgotten what a strange town this is…”
“…poor people, barely people at all. They seem empty.”
I’d heard these lines spoken multiple times in an ad that appears at the very end of each of the Dark Shadows: The Beginning DVDs, long before I’d seen Quentin Collins on the show or grew to recognize Angelique’s evil laugh. Intriguing as the ad might be, however, these phrases never really gave me an idea of what the story behind them was about.
The House of Despair takes place a few years after the end of the series–how many years, I’m not certain. Quentin Collins (David Selby) returns home from his world travels. Even before he gets there, the conductor on the train has some information for this passenger with a ticket to Collinsport. It’s a place with a reputation. “Bad things happen” there; “murder and sin are all they know”. The “Collins family is the scourge of Maine” [Quentin agrees, aware that the conductor doesn’t know who he is]. And, just as they arrive at the station, there’s this last piece of ominous advice:
“Once you leave this train, you won’t have a chance. It will be dark by then.”
A lesser man might be daunted, but Quentin has lived over a century and seen plenty of weird and horrible things going on in his hometown. He gets off the train, and soon finds that the town is worse than ever. Collinsport has almost literally become a ghost town.
Few people remain in town since the cannery closed, and many of those who still live there are in a dazed state. They’re called The Lost, since they go about wandering the streets at night as if they’re looking for something. They don’t even seem to remember who they are. Flocks of strangely behaving seagulls also menace the town. Townsfolk who are not afflicted lock their doors and stay in after nightfall.