Archive for the ‘Dark Shadows’ category

Dark Shadows (2012)

May 14, 2012

Dark Shadows  (2012)  viewed in theater May 11, 2012


General Comments

The Good:  Visually, this is a great film.  Collinswood, in particular, was just splendid, both in its decayed and refurbished state.  Also, the cast performed well — given the material.  But that leads to . . .

The Bad:  The cast had to deal with a poor script.  To be sure, Dark Shadows does have a respectable plot;  it’s just hard to find, buried as it is under a load of silly gags and special effects.

Now, I have nothing against humor or FX per se;  the problem with the DS movie is the misuse of both.  The humor relies heavily on fish-out-of-water gags as Barnabas strives to adjust to the twentieth century, and the gags are often inappropriate.  For example, Barn attacks a television set in an effort to force out the miniature human he thinks is inside.  The problem is that the Collins vampire has been living and interacting with his modern family for quite some time by now.  Surely he has had ample opportunity to learn about modern technology?  Maybe he doesn’t fully understand it all, but he certainly should be aware that there is no ‘tiny songstress” inside a magic box.  The scene make Barnabas seem to be a fool, when he is, in fact, an intelligent being.

And the FX?  In some cases, downright ridiculous.  Whoever thought that airborne sex scene with Barn and Angelique was a good idea?  Ditto for the final confrontation at Collinswood — the talking pictures were ripped off from the Harry Potter series, and Angie’s cracking porcelain skin from Death Becomes Her.  

Great Moments

Not a whole lot, really.  The whole leap-from-widow’s- hill business was pretty impressive, but it would have worked better if we had a bit more background.  Without being able to know Josette and Barnabas very well at this point, it’s hard to feel a connection with the characters.  Perhaps they should have eliminated some of the silly gags and given us more time with Josette and Barn’s romance, shown us how Angelique forced Josette into suicide, and so on.  But I guess that wouldn’t have been comic enough.

Random Thoughts

It was nice to see cameos of four of the original cast, if that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment qualifies as such.  Good heavens, they spent more time with Christopher Lee and he wasn’t involved with the original at all. Yeah, I know.  Lee has more general box office appeal than Frid, Selby, Scott, and Parker.  Which is a shame, really. (no offense intended towards Lee, but if we’re going to have a cameo, it’s a little insulting to give an actor with no connection to the o.s. a speaking part, but not to the original cast.)

Looks like they’ve set things up for a sequel, what with Julia coming back to life, Carolyn  revealed as a werewolf (that was a little OTT there), and mentions of Elizabeth’s absent husband.  Not sure how I feel about that — could be an improvement, but, I fear, it would simply be MOS.

So, a werewolf daughter, a son who sees dead people, and a vampire cousin.  With the jocular tone this seems more like the Munsters than the Collins family.


2 out of 5.  Not a total disaster, but not very good, either.  I won’t be buying the DVD.

written on May 14, 2012


Enter the Official Forces — Dark Shadows 22 and 23

September 26, 2011


Item —  The local constable, Jonas Carter, is finally called in.  He’s very irritated that he wasn’t contacted until 12 hours after the incident.  He shows some common sense, not necessarily buying Roger and Elizabeth’s insistence that Burke is guilty, pointing out that other people could have had access to the car.  But then he proceeds to investigate the matter in the most slip-shod way — interrogating the witnesses as a group rather than individually, and being careless with the evidence.


Comment — Hardly CSI standards. How will this get solved with this guy in charge?



Item — Burke visits the Evans’s home, looking for Sam, but finds Maggie instead.  When he tells her that Roger’s accident was really attempted murder, Maggie is so startled, she drops her coffee cup.


Comment — It’s an over-reaction that is quite suggestive.  If she’s the guilty party, she may have thought the missing valve had gone undetected; or she may think that Sam is responsible.



Item — Sam and Roger run into each other at the diner, and have a tense conversation.  Interesting comments include : Sam — “We lied to protect ourselves”; Roger — “You and I are the only ones who know what really happened.  With one of us dead, the other wouldn’t have to worry.  Don’t tell me you haven’t thought of it.”


Comment — Seems to refer to the manslaughter case that Burke went to jail for.  Something is not on the up-and-up.  Could Burke have been framed?  The conversation  also puts more suspicion on Sam.



Item — Constable Carter recalls that Burke threatened to kill Roger.


Comment —  This contradicts earlier information that Burke did not threaten murder, but to take over everything the Collins family owned.



Item — David wonders why his father never liked him, obsesses about crime and punishment, and is horrified to hear that the police are investigating the case.  Later, hearing about the possibility of fingerprints on the wrench, he knocks the item off the table and picks it up bare-handed, pretending it was an accident.


Comment — Clear indication that David has handled the wrench, and, being a bright kid, arranges things so that there’s an innocent reason why his fingerprints should be on there.  He is also suffering from a very guilty conscience.  Is he the perp?







And the Plot Thickens (Dark Shadows, 19,20,21)

September 25, 2011

Item: Bill Malloy, looking for Carolyn (at Elizabeth’s request), encounters a relatively sober Sam Evans in the bar.  Sam is very interested in the accident and asks if Devlin was anywhere near the car.  Malloy is careful in what information he gives, then tells Sam “I thought you might be afraid Burke would come after you, too.”  Sam denies this.

Comment: It sounds like Bill is deliberately baiting Sam, trying to gauge his reaction.  Sam is clearly lying; he fears both Roger and Burke.

Item: Roger, with a reluctant Vicky in tow, goes to the Collinsport Inn to confront Burke.  Burke acts like he is surprised to see Roger, and doesn’t seem to remember anything about a proposed business deal, then backtracks and claims that the “deal” was a proposal to buy the Collins cannery.  Roger then describes the accident and accuses Burke of tampering with the brakes.  Burke denies even touching the car; at this, Roger brings in Vicky as a witness to the contrary. Burke continues to deny the sabotage.

Comment:  Well, we can scarcely expect Burke to confess to attempted murder.  His “forgetting” about the business deal seems more than a little suspicious.  However, as he points out, Vicky did not see him actually do anything to the car.

Item: Maggie has left work early, claiming to have a headache.  When her father gets back home, he discovers she has been calling around, trying to find him, with no luck.

Comment: So Maggie and Sam’s whereabouts remain unaccounted for.


Item: Vicky and Carolyn discuss the accident and the missing valve.

Comment: Both women express ignorance of car mechanics (“I’ve never heard of a bleeder valve.”)  One or both of them could be putting on an act.

Item:  The next morning, Burke receives another visitor, Bill Malloy.  Bill accuses him of seeking revenge against the Collins family.  “I remember what you said when you were convicted, that you would come back and take over everything they owned.”  Burke says that’s all in the past.  Then Malloy brings up the matter of Strake, the detective Devlin hired.   Why was he asking so many questions about the Collins family?  Burke says he was just looking into the situation for business reasons.

Comment:  Burke does not contradict Malloy’s description of the threat he made ten years previous; therefore it’s most likely correct.  If Devlin’s idea of revenge is to take over everything the Collins family owns, then he may be telling the truth about the car, i.e, he was looking at it because he desires it, just as he desires anything a Collins may own.

Item: After Bill Malloy leaves, Burke calls up someone named “Bronson” in New York.  He tells him to fly to Bangor.  “Things are starting to happen, and I want to get moving fast.”

Comment: What kind of “long game” is Devlin playing?  (tune in tomorrow!)

General comment on various character’s reactions:  Elizabeth is certain of Burke’s guilt, and scolds Carolyn for being interested in him.  Carolyn wants to believe in Burke’s innocence, partly because of her infatuation with him, and partly out of guilt, as it was she who brought him to the house.  Vicky believes he is telling the truth, but admits she could be wrong.

The Collinswood Not-Quite-a-Murder Mystery

September 22, 2011

Episodes 16,17, and 18

Roger Collins has been in a serious car crash, from which he emerged with minor injuries.  But . . .  it was no accident. The brakes have been tampered with.  It’s an almost-murder mystery.  Whodunit?

As with any good mystery, we have a number of clues —  and everyone’s a suspect.  Let’s start with the most likely:

Could it have been . . .?

David Collins —  Roger’s troubled nine-year old son tops the suspect list.

Motive — David hates and fears his father, and is afraid he will send David away to an institution.

Means — i.e., does he have the mechanical skill to mess with a car?  Possibly, yes.  David is a bright kid, and has been seen reading Mechano magazine.

Opportunity — David is given very little supervision, and seems to wander around the grounds at will.  He could have entered the garage at any time.

Comments — David’s behavior is very suspicious.  Shortly before the incident, he shows up at the house very dirty and holding something in his hand that he refuses to show his aunt.  Later, we see it is metal object that resembles the bleeder valve that Malloy says is missing from Roger’s car.  David keeps changing the hiding place of the object; at one point, he tries to put it in Vicky’s room.  And as Roger drives off to his appointment with Burke, David says, “Mother, he’s going to die.”

After the accident, David acts as if the Furies are after him.  Sleepwalking during a nightmare, he keeps shouting “No!  I didn’t mean to kill him!”  He even tries throwing himself out a window, but Elizabeth stops him in time.

All this may seem to be conclusive, but . . .!  We don’t actually see David take the bleeder valve from the car.  Perhaps he merely found it, and, because he has wished for his father to die, believes that he is responsible. (Not logical thinking, but remember that he is a very disturbed boy.)

Or could it have been . . .?

Burke Devlin — the handsome and perfidious former convict

Motive — Revenge.  It was Roger’s testimony that put him in jail for manslaughter.

Means — It is unknown what mechanical skills he has.

Opportunity –On the night of the accident, Vicky sees Burke in the garage looking over Roger’s car.  He has a wrench in his hand which he claims he found on the front seat.  His explanation is that he wants to buy a car like this, and was just checking things out.  In addition, it was Burke who set up an appointment to meet with Roger in the Blue Whale that evening, thus creating a situation in which Roger would need to use his car.

Comments — Devious Devlin clearly has had something more on his mind than visiting his old home town.  And he may not be as wealthy as he seems.  Is murder part of his business plan?

Perhaps it was . . .

Matthew Morgan — the eccentric hired hand

Motive — Matthew is devoted to Elizabeth, and dislikes Roger, believing that his return to Collinswood was a bad thing.  Elizabeth has stated that Matthew could be violent in her defense.

Means — One of Matthew’s duties is to maintain the cars at Collinswood.  He therefore must have considerable mechanical skills.

Opportunity — He could have access to the garage at any time.

Comments — Many years previously, Matthew had an accident very similar to the one Roger just had, also caused by faulty brakes.  If he wanted to harm Roger, something like this may naturally come to his mind.

Or maybe it was . . .

Roger Collins — Could the victim have set this up himself?

Motive — Unknown, but possibly to implicate Burke Devlin and send him back to jail.

Means — Uncertain.  Roger doesn’t seem to know much about cars when Malloy tells him about the bleeder valve, but later he sounds like he is fairly knowledgeable.  Perhaps he was playing dumb?

Opportunity — could have access to his car at any time

Comments — Roger had no foreknowledge that Burke was coming up to the house, or that he would arrange a meeting in town.  However, it is possible he would have time to tamper with his car between the time Burke left and he himself left.  A couple of things are noteworthy:  1)  After so much tension, fear, and suspicion,that Roger would agree to meet with Burke to discuss a business matter seems strange.  Why the quick change of heart?  2) Roger emerges from a serious accident with minor injuries — was he lucky or did he manage to arrange it that way?

These are the most obvious suspects, but there’s more on the list.  We must consider, for instance . . .

Bill Malloy — The Collins business manager.  Is he as forthright as he seems?

Motive — Does not appear to have one —  certainly he appears to be on good terms with both Elizabeth and Roger, and takes a fatherly interest in Carolyn.  But perhaps there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Means — Has a good knowledge of cars.  He investigates the wrecked car and discovers the missing valve, drawing a diagram to show Roger.  Note, however, that at this point all we have is his word that a missing bleeder valve caused the brakes to fail.  And since he went back alone to look at the car, he could have tampered with evidence.

Opportunity — Malloy is a frequent visitor to the Collins home and could possibly have snuck back to the garage.  However, he is not known to have been at Collinswood during the time the car would have been sabotaged.

Comments — Malloy was the first at the scene of the accident.  In a mystery novel, that’s always suspicious!

Let us also consider . . .

Carolyn Stoddard — that very pretty  —  but very peculiar — young lady.

Motive — Uncertain.  She has had a crush on her uncle, but has recently transferred her affections to the square-jawed and oh-so-exciting Burke Devlin.  She even flirts brazenly with him while on a date with Joe.  Still — why try to kill her uncle?  Well, why talk about suicide pacts just out of the blue and try to scare your new-found friend with scary stories?  Carolyn is a loose cannon,I think, and has unknown levels of perversity.

Means — Her mechanical skills are unknown.

Opportunity — Could have accessed the garage at any time.

Comments — A weak suspect, but can’t be discounted.

Or how about . . .

Elizabeth Stoddard — the matriarch of the Collins/ Stoddard family, she seems like a tower of strength, yet hasn’t left the house in eighteen years.

Motive — Uncertain.  There’s a good deal of tension between Roger and herself; in fact, she’s told him that the only reason she allowed him back to the house was for his son’s sake.  But does she dislike her brother enough to kill him?

Means — Her mechanical skills are unknown.

Opportunity — Has never left Collinswood in 18 years, but how strictly are we to take that?  Does this mean that she literally has not set foot outside the mansion in all that time?  Or does she possibly step out on the porch, take a stroll in the garden — or a take a walk to the garage?

Comments —  An even more unlikely suspect than her daughter — unless she’s working in collusion with someone else. It’s noteworthy that, after hearing Vicky’s story of seeing Burke hanging around the car, she doesn’t pass the info on to Roger.

Could it possibly have been . . .

Joe Haskell — Carolyn’s boyfriend seems like a nice guy, but he does have a temper

Motive — Jealousy?  He probably has some inkling of Carolyn’s infatuation with her uncle.  Nevertheless, he has never expressed any hostility to Roger.  Moreover, Burke Devlin is a more dangerous rival.

Means — Unknown, but Joe is a self-sufficient type, so probably knows something about mechanics.

Opportunity — Joe came to Collinswood to pick up Carolyn on the evening of the accident.  There’s a possibility that he went back to the garage beforehand.

Comments — Joe seems a pretty unlikely candidate, but could he be working in collusion with Burke Devlin?  Burke approached Joe with an offer of money for information, which Joe says he declined.  But did he really?  Is it possible he agreed to work with Devlin and his hostility to him is just an act?

Here’s another suspect . . .

Sam Evans — the eccentric alcoholic artist has secrets he keeps even from his daughter

Motive — Sam fears both Roger and Burke.  The reasons are unclear, but seem connected to events ten years previous that caused a man’s death and sent Burke to prison for manslaughter.  Did Sam decide to remove one of his enemies?

Means — unknown

Opportunity — Sam is not a regular visitor to Collinswood; in fact, IIRC, Roger has forbidden him to go to the house.  Nevertheless, Sam has been seen on the grounds, and could have gone up there again.

Comments — we know nothing of his whereabouts at the time of the crime

And if we consider Sam, we must also consider . . .

Maggie Evans — sassy waitress and loyal daughter to Sam

Motive — dislikes and fears the Collins family, even calls Vicky a jerk for working for them.  Knows her father is afraid of Roger Collins.  Could she have attempted murder for her father’s sake?

Means — unknown

Opportunity — is not a regular visitor; in fact, she fears the house and the people who live there.  Still, it’s not out of the question that she could sneak up to the Collinswood grounds.

Comments — As with her father, we don’t know her whereabouts during crucial time period.

Now, here’s a long shot . . .

Victoria Winters — Milk-and-cookies on the outside, but what lies within?

Motive — Uncertain.  Roger has not been very nice to her, but that’s not much motive for murder.

Means — Unknown.

Opportunity — As resident of the house, she could have access to the garage.  However, as she is quite new, she would have little knowledge of the location or of people’s routines.

Comments — A most unlikely suspect, but we must include her for the sake of thoroughness.

And, lastly . . .

Whoever, or whatever, is in the unused wing of Collinswood — Vicky sees a door opening and closing.  When she tries to enter, the door is locked.  She thinks at first it is David, but the boy has been in his room.  He suggests ghosts are responsible.  Is there someone lurking about in the locked-off portion of the house?  Or are there really ghosts?  Could a ghost tamper with Roger’s car?  And why?

Well, ladies and gents, there you have it.  Who’s the guilty party?  Tune in tomorrow!