My sister and I have been watching DARK SHADOWS, the classic gothic daytime soap opera which ran on ABC from 1966-1971. She had seen all of it before and I had seen most of it. We are a little over halfway done with the approximately 1,245 episodes and have been seriously enjoying the atmospheric visit to Collinsport, Maine. It all started with a young woman arriving to be a governess to a disturbed boy at Collinwood mansion, but it wasn't long before supernatural elements began to manifest. The most notable of these, of course, is the vampire Barnabas Collins.
For the record, we are not watching for the series' allegedly camp qualities. My sister and I are so emotionally absorbed in the characters and storylines, that we don't see the so-called cheap special effects. It also helps that we keep in mind that TV studios didn't allocate a huge budget to daytime dramas, and still don't. From Josette's first spectral appearance to Laura Collins' flammable Phoenix exit to Barnabas standing at the door to the Infinite, DARK SHADOWS has managed to create effective, edge of your seat moments within its limited budget. The latter is why I'm writing this.
It's early 1969 and the Collins clan has abandoned Collinwood due to the extremely malevolent spirit of Quentin Collins, who has possessed young David. The family takes refuge at the Old House, which was their original ancestral home and is also where Barnabas is residing. Barnabas, who is currently not a vampire (long story), decides to confront the spirit of Quentin and save David by using the ancient Chinese divination practice of I Ching. In a trance, Barnabas' spirit must pass through the Door to the Infinite to face Quentin on an equal astral plane. Fate has other plans for Barnabas because the door leads him to 1897, where he essentially Quantum Leaps into his vampire body. This is where an extended time travel storyline begins and so far the events are thrilling!
However, it is that moment when Barnabas is standing before the Door to the Infinite which impressed and fascinated me. It's such a simple scene that would probably be CGI nowadays. Back in 1969, the incredible manual lighting trick gives the moment a beautiful and unearthly quality. The screenshot I took appears even more beautiful and haunting because it looks like an artist's rendering of the scene. It challenges the viewer to imagine what might wait for them beyond the Door to the Infinite. An eye exam chair would probably be there to ensnare me. For Barnabas Collins, a chained up coffin awaited him because, human or not, he will never fully escape the vampiric curse. Also because that's where his vampire body could be found in 1897. To find out how Barnabas escapes the confines of his coffin, you can watch on Amazon Prime!
Perhaps I'll blog more about Dark Shadows when my sister and I have finished the series, which might be in March or April. Until then...
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words and have a productive 2020.
P.S. My television posts were once called The TV Freak and here is one of those...
DARK EXCURSIONS is a post-modern gothic romance.
With its intriguing twists and turns, this novel is sure to entertain the soap opera fan in your life...