Dark Shadows: Angelique’s Ashes

Witchy Cassandra/Angelique Collins was banished to some kind of spiritual limbo by the Reverend Trask’s successful exorcism of her. She’s not only disappeared from Collinwood, but her portrait has faded. No one has any idea what’s happened to her.

Then a man arrives, introducing himself as Nicholas Blair, Cassandra’s brother. Since modern-day Cassandra is the same woman as 1700s Angelique, this causes a great deal of surprise and some alarm among the people who know all about Angelique.

Nicholas seems more aware of what’s happened to her than anyone else. He reassures Roger that Cassandra is flighty and likely to go off suddenly and not tell anybody where she’s gone, but there’s an archness to his tone and a double meaning to everything he says, especially when he’s talking to Barnabas. When alone, he speaks directly to the faded portrait as if it were the missing Angelique before conducting his own private investigation to find out where she is. He first goes over to the old house to learn from Willie about the skeleton that’s reappeared in the basement*, then downstairs to chat with the skeletal Trask.

Skeletal Trask. Same skeleton as the sketetal bride above. The reappearance of the skeleton would indicate that Trask believes his corporeal work is completed, but Nicholas has other ideas. He calls up Trask’s spirit to ask what the late reverend did to Angelique. He seems to have some power over the ghost… until Trask whips out a crucifix. Nicholas reacts to the sight of a cross the way that Dracula usually does, but that we’ve never yet seen Barnabas do. Trask then disappears, laughing maniacally.

Soon afterwards, Trask shows up at Collinwood, presumably to warn Vicky about Nicholas, but he’s interrupted when her boyfriend Jeff comes into the room. Jeff not only recognizes the ghostly form of the 18th-century reverend, but calls him by name. To Vicky, this is finally the proof she’s been waiting for that Jeff is really Peter Bradford from 1795.
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DVD Review: Whistle, and I’ll Come To You

From the 1960s, the BBC presented a television series on Christmas Eve titled A Ghost Story for Christmas. Just recently, I picked up a set of episodes from this series on DVD, most of them based more-or-less faithfully on the short stories of Montague Rhodes James.

M.R. James, who was a Cambridge professor, biblical scholar, antiquarian, and historian, had his own tradition of reading his latest story aloud to friends or students on Christmas Eve. Many of his best ghost stories involve scholarly men like himself who accidentally stumble across some inexplicable horror–some, like the museum curator in The Mezzotint are merely witnesses and survive their brush with the supernatural while others, like poor Mr. Wraxall in Count Magnus, are not so fortunate.

The first of these I’m going to look at is one of my favorites, Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad. It’s on the Gaslight site at http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/jamesX08.htm.

Written in 1903, Oh, Whistle concerns a professor who doesn’t believe at all in the supernatural until he takes a vacation at a seaside inn; there, he finds an ancient tin whistle in the ruins of a Templar preceptory and blows into it, summoning up an entity that forms a body for itself from the sheets of the spare bed in his room. After his encounter with this creature, “the Professor’s views on certain points are less clear cut than they used to be.”

This story has been adapted twice by the BBC, once in 1968 for the show that led to A Ghost Story for Christmas and again in 2010. Both versions dropped the “Oh” and “My Lad” from the beginning and end of the original title (which, by the way, is a quotation from a song by Robert Burns).

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Dark Shadows: Monster Mash, Part 3

Barnabas on trial The last time we saw Barnabas Collins, he was facing a ghostly trial at the instigation of the Reverend Trask, whom he had bricked up in a basement wall in the old house, with his first 18th-century victims as jurors. That was the last that anybody saw Barnabas. Apparently, the reverend had his revenge in kind.

People have noticed Barnabas’s absence and wonder where he’s gone. Willie Loomis hears thumping sounds from the cellar, but he assumes it’s mice.

Adam, learning to paint with blind Sam Evans, suddenly sensed that Barnabas was in danger and rushed out into the night. I thought he was headed straight back to the old house to rescue Barnabas from behind the brick wall, but he never got there. Instead, he lurks around the town and the Evans cottage, and is riled to anger when Willie pays a visit to Maggie. Willie is sweet on Maggie, but she seems oblivious to it–and after her boyfriend Joe beats the snot out of him, she brings him into the cottage to tend his injuries. That’s when Adam comes in, announcing that Willie is bad.

Perhaps Willie might’ve been able to calm the big lug down using those sparkly emerald earrings he gave to Maggie, or perhaps Sam might have when he returns home, since they both have some idea of how to handle him, but Maggie’s never seen this very tall man with the scarred face and limited vocabulary before. She’s screaming and hysterical and makes it impossible for her dad to convince Adam that she’s his friend, especially after she hits him over the head. Adam isn’t hurt, but he becomes very upset and pushes Sam down as he flies out of the cottage; Sam hits his head as he falls and is taken to the hospital.
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Dark Shadows: Monster Mash, Part 2

When Adam went over the cliff at Widow’s Hill, I wondered if that would be the end of him. The late Dr. Lang’s recorded message about Barnabas becoming a vampire with Adam’s death is heard once again at the end of that episode. Would Barnabas begin to feel the effects with the next sunrise?

Apparently not. The next episode begins with Barnabas and Willie searching the rocky beach at the foot of the cliffs for signs of Adam. Barnabas says that he somehow feels certain that Adam isn’t dead. Considering the connection between the two, he’s probably right about that.
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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.
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Dark Shadows: How Barnabas Stopped Being a Vampire

After their car crashes on the way to the cemetery, Vicky and Barnabas are taken to the local hospital. Vicky’s got a few minor injuries, but the hospital staff are alarmed that the unconscious Barnabas apparently has no blood pressure or pulse. This man needs a transfusion right away! He is soon under the care of a Dr. Lang, who seems to pick up on what Barnabas is pretty quickly and isn’t afraid to say the word “Vampire” out loud.

Except that Barnabas isn’t a vampire anymore. That blood transfusion started his cure, and Dr. Lang gives him injections that further it. He no longer craves blood and can stand the sunlight.

One of the subplots that was dropped during the long storyline set in 1795 was the enmity between Barnabas and Dr. Julia Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman was at the point of a nervous breakdown when Vicky went into the past but was perfectly fine and medically competent when Vicky returned and took change of her recovery. The doctor and Barnabas are allies again. When he first comes to in the hospital after the accident, he demands that they send for her as his personal physician. Dr. Hoffman does rush right over but by the time she gets there his transformation has already begun. She and Dr. Lang have some previous acquaintance as well; neither of them believes that the other’s attempt to cure Barnabas is the most effective way to do it.

By a remarkable co-incidence, the young man Vicky nearly ran over works for Dr. Lang. He was also the one who thoughtfully phoned for an ambulance. While she’s still in the hospital, he introduces himself. Even though he looks exactly like Peter Bradford from 1795, his name is Jeff Clark. This new name doesn’t stop Vicky from believing that he’s the same person, keeping his promise to seek her out through time, although she doesn’t harp too much on it and scare him away by sounding like a lunatic.

As it turns out, Jeff’s pretty well inured to the bizarre. What was he doing up at the cemetery in the middle of night? Collecting spare body parts, of course.
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Dark Shadows: Back in 1968

After being hanged as a witch in 1795, Vicky finds herself back in 1968, lying on the floor of the Collinwood drawing-room with a group of concerned people gathered all around her. The whole time-travel sequence might have been a dream, except that she’s wearing the same old-fashioned dress she was wearing in 1795 and she has a bandaged bullet wound on her arm. (She was winged while escaping from the jail.) Plus, everybody else in the room saw that other woman who said she was the Collinses’ governess.

Vicky back in 1968In her first moments of disorientation. Vicky speaks to the people around her as if they were their 1795 counterparts. Most of them are merely confused, but one of them is actually the same person.

When she speaks to 1968 Barnabas as if he were 1795 Barnabas, it disturbs him very much. When he learns that she’s actually been living in 1795, he’s certain she knows more about his past than she really does. Being shut up in jail during all the goings-on up at Collinwood, she missed out on a lot, especially the part where Barnabas became a vampire.

While watching the 1795 storyline, I wondered if modern-day Barnabas remembered Vicky from that earlier time and why he didn’t recognize her when he was first freed from his coffin. But it turns out that the woman Barnabas recognized was the other governess; he tells Dr. Hoffman that she was the one hanged as a witch, and that somehow Vicky must have taken her place. Not that this really makes sense: what made Vicky so vulnerable to the witchfinder was her odd behavior and foreknowledge of the future. The other governess wouldn’t have done the same things that Vicky did to lead to her arrest, trial, and conviction. Vicky herself will poke holes in this premise. She doesn’t believe that Peter Bradford would have fallen in love with that other governess as he did with her.

Her memories of her adventures in the past are blurred and muddled. She isn’t clear on a lot of what happened. But she doesn’t forget Peter and she feels sure he will keep his promise to try and reach her.

While she’s waiting, other parts of the past have followed her into the present.
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Winding up Dark Shadows 1795

The newly vampired Barnabas falls quickly into the routine of his undead life. He and his henchman Ben Stokes move the coffin to the basement of the otherwise unoccupied old house and Barnabas rises each night to wander the streets of Collinsport in quest of blood. He attacks women who have the misfortune to encounter him. Colonial Collinsport, by the way, has a surprising number of floozies and trollops; it must be because of all the sailors at the port.

He also sinks his teeth into Josette. Not that he intends to at first–he only wanted to warn her away from Collinwood before Angelique’s curse destroyed her too–but now that he’s a vampire, his impulse control has pretty much disappeared. He keeps coming back to her, not simply to feed but to try and make her a vampire as well. Though her family tries to protect her from a danger they don’t fully comprehend, she’s more than willing to go to him, even to the point of slipping out of the house via a secret panel in her bedroom.

Josette as a vampire Of course, this ends badly. Josette can’t escape her fate.

While wandering the cliff top, she encounters the apparition of Angelique, who shows her a pale and ghastly vision of herself as Barnabas’s vampire bride. Horrified, Josette flees and heads straight off the cliff to fulfill that destiny we’ve been hearing about from the first time her name came up in the earliest episodes.
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Dark Shadows 1795: How Barnabas Became a Vampire (Part 2)

If you were worried about Barnabas’s witchy wife Angelique being buried alive, don’t be. It takes more than a premature burial to keep her down.

Jeremiah buries AngeliqueAngelique is dug up and rescued by the Collinses’ indentured servant Ben Stokes, whom she has ensnared with her spells, before she’s even out of breath.

Unfazed by having a dead man come up out of his grave to try to kill her (I guess that’s just the sort of thing that happens when you’re a witch), she is soon focused again upon her ultimate purpose of making Barnabas love her or else destroying him and his entire family–one or the other; she fluctuates wildly between the two from episode to episode, which makes her motivations seem a tad inconsistent.

Meanwhile, Vicky Winters has been arrested for witchcraft due to her 1960s clothes, her odd behavior while adjusting to being thrown over 170 years back in time but still seeing the same familiar faces all around her, and her foreknowledge of certain events. Also, Angelique needs a scapegoat to draw attention away from herself, and poor hapless Vicky is certainly the best candidate.

Vicky does, however, have a few friends. Naomi Collins is as kind and supportive as Elizabeth Stoddard-Collins always was. She also gains a cute young law student named Peter Bradford as her advocate. Barnabas also believes her innocent–at first because he doesn’t believe in superstitious nonsense like witches, then because he suspects who the witch really is. It’s Angelique’s unwilling henchman Ben who finally gives her away, using his new-found basic literacy skills by writing down her initial for Barnabas; he too is sympathetic to Vicky’s plight.

This is where Barnabas’s downfall truly begins. Once he’s certain that his bride is in fact a witch, Barnabas decides to put a stop to her before she can do any more harm. An attempt at poisoning her wine doesn’t work; a plan to stab her is likewise thwarted. By this time, Angelique is aware of his plotting against her and tells him plainly that if he doesn’t knock it off, Josette will be the next one to die. Instead of giving up his plans when faced with this threat, Barnabas first tries to get Josette safely away from Collinsport before he carries on.
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Dark Shadows: How Barnabas Became a Vampire (Part 1)

The old Collins house, looking pretty

Time has been suspended at Collin- wood. It waits for the completion of an uncertain and frightening journey into the past, back to the year 1795…

With some variation, this is the new opening voiceover for every episode of Dark Shadows. Since the character of Victoria Winters has been sent back into the past to witness the beginning of the unhappy story of Barnabas Collins and his family, actress Alexandra Moltke no longer does these introductory speeches and the other women in the cast take turns with it. Sometimes, it’s a voice I don’t recognize and I wonder if the woman speaking is a production assistant or perhaps the show’s director, Lela Swift?

I have to note that when we were first introduced to Josette Collins in the very earliest episodes of Dark Shadows, and even when Barnabas first arrived, the key events of their lives and deaths were supposed to be happening in the 1830s. At some point in the narrative, the timeline shifted back about 40 years to the late colonial era, which is where Vicky suddenly and unexpectedly finds herself.

Vicky has been in love with the past and dreaming about the history of Collinwood for some time, but she’s about to discover that the olden days weren’t all that great to live in.

Not that we’ll see this at first. As we and Vicky approach the old Collins home when it wasn’t so very old, the initial impression is of a bright and cheerful place. There are flowers all around the handsome colonial house. Inside, the drawing room is painted pastel colors–pink and minty green.

Vicky. Barnabas, and SarahBarnabas, who seems like he might’ve once actually been a nice guy before that whole vampire thing, is out in the sunshine with his little sister Sarah, awaiting the arrival of his bride-to-be, Josette, from Martinique.

Vicky is more than a little bewildered, not just by this information that contradicts what she knows of the Collins family history–that Josette was the bride of Jeremiah Collins–but also that this Barnabas who looks just like the Barnabas she knows in 1968 doesn’t recognize her.

Poor Vicky’s bewilderment will only increase as she meets the rest of the family, who also look just like people she already knows. No wonder it takes so long for her to accept that she really is in the past; this double casting gives things a sort of Wizard-of-Oz “and you were there, and you,” dream-like feeling.
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