Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Great News for The Man Who Laughs

My dreams have finally come true! Flicker Alley will be releasing a 4K restoration of The Man Who Laughs in May! Check out the trailer below to get a sense of this film, or you can also peruse my lengthy spoiler filled write up from a few years ago. I am thrilled to see this film finally get a proper restoration, and look forward to seeing it with a new score, though I'm also glad the original score is included as an option. If this good news is evidence that someone over at Flicker Alley has been taking a peek at my posts, then I do hope that The Unknown and The Magician will be next on their to-do list. I'm not really delusional enough to believe that, but I thought I'd drop some hints just in case.

In other exciting news, they are also releasing another Universal Pictures film directed by Paul Leni, The Last Warning. You can read more about these releases from Flicker Alley's announcement. Thanks, Flicker Alley! I love you more with each new release!


The Man Who Laughs (1928) - Trailer from Flicker Alley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Another Year on Dark Shadows

1967 was not a good year for Victoria Winters, but 1968 turned out to be even worse. During her sojourn to 1795, Reverend Trask finally apprehended her, with the help of Angelique's burning tarot card tower, and she was subsequently jailed on suspicion of witchcraft.


It seemed like things were looking up for her when she met her dreamboat jail house guard and ardent protector, Peter Bradford. She was destined to fall in love with him when she had no one else to turn to in her foreign surroundings under such desperate conditions.


He was destined to fall in love with her because, as we learned much later, his only other prospect was a married woman who was renowned for being the most evil woman in the 18th century, Danielle Roget. Hooking up with a woman accused of witchcraft was a step up for him.


Unfortunately, Bradford made a series of inept decisions that led to Vicki's conviction at trial, and while he tried to help her escape, she was eventually recaptured and went to the gallows to hang for witchcraft.



Fortunately, she was whisked back to 1968 with only a few rope burns to show for it, and Barnabas wasted no time putting the bite on her to establish their engagement.


Just as they were running off to start a new undead life together, who should show up in the middle of a deserted cemetery road, but the reincarnation of Peter Bradford, which caused Vicki to drive off the road, injuring the eloping couple.


Jeff Clark had been working for Dr. Lang, digging up cadavers for his experiment to create life, and didn't remember his former life in the 18th century, getting rather irritated when Vicki tried to suggest he was Peter Bradford. While treating the injured couple, Dr. Lang discovered Barnabas' affliction and cured him of it in the course of one evening.


Free from Barnabas' vampire powers of persuasion, and believing that Jeff was her reincarnated boyfriend from 1795, Vicki dumped Barnabas and eventually got engaged to Jeff Clark.




Their relationship went sour when he fell victim to vampire Angelique and was required to do her bidding, ditching Vicki on their dates and then lying to her about it, which led her to break off the engagement.


She eventually reconciled with him and he rushed her into a wedding ceremony at Collinwood, then left her at the altar after Eve, who housed the spirit of Danielle Roget, gave him reason to believe he truly was Peter Bradford.


After digging up Bradford's grave and finding it empty, he was finally convinced that he was Peter Bradford, which led him to tell Vicki that they couldn't be together, since he thought he might be drawn back to the past at any given moment. He changed his mind after he and Vicki discovered Eve's corpse in his closet, and she insisted she wouldn't leave him, though the next time she appeared, she was completely changed.


He was charged with Eve's murder, but was released after Roger provided him an alibi. He then used some funny herbs that he obtained from Professor Stokes in an attempt to discover how he came forward in time, but found himself being pulled back through time until Vicki showed up to hold onto him in the present with the power of her love. They decided to get married in the middle of the night and woke Liz to act as witness to the ceremony.


As the newlyweds were popping corks and celebrating, Jeff ended up getting sucked back to 1796, leaving Vicki alone and distraught.


As she obsessed over her loss, convinced his spirit was trying to communicate with her, she begged him to return and take her back to 1796 with him, which he did, leaving Barnabas devastated.



1968 was the year all hell broke loose on Dark Shadows, when the monster population suddenly exploded to include numerous vampires and witches and ghosts, along with reanimated corpses and a werewolf. It had truly become a Universal Monsters fan paradise, and Vicki's role as a central figure on the show was waning as the focus shifted to Barnabas.

Back in 1795, as Vicki's trial dragged on, we learned the events that led to Barnabas becoming a vampire. Angelique finally succeeded in forcing him to marry her, but when she threatened to kill his sister to keep him from running off with Josette, he shot her. As she lay dying, she invoked the vampire curse on him, and he was bitten by a bat. Fortunately for us, Angelique turned out to be unkillable, but was unable to reverse her curse, and Barnabas became one of the undead.






His first order of vampire business was to choke his wife to death, though she returned as a floating head to continue to seek vengeance on Barnabas and his family.



While Barnabas did not seem to enjoy the vampire lifestyle, he snacked on quite a few ladies down at the Collinsport docks, as his loyal servant Ben assisted him in keeping his new way of life secret.


His sister, Sarah, saw him after one of his evening meals and freaked out, running off into a storm, which caused her to contract pneumonia and die.


Angelique pretended to be Barnabas and convinced Josette to meet him at Widows' Hill to elope, but when she got there, she gave her frightful visions of being a vampire, so that when Barnabas showed up, she threw herself off the cliff.



Barnabas resurrected her against her wishes, but after seeing the results of her face eating the cliff, decided he should let her rest.


He channeled his anger towards seeking vengeance on Reverend Trask for wrongly convicting Vicki for witchcraft, by walling him up in his basement.


His dad found out his supernatural secret, and when he realized he couldn't kill him, he elicited help to try and have the curse removed from him, which was unsuccessful.


Meanwhile, Barnabas' former friend, Lieutenant Nathan Forbes, convinced Barnabas' cousin Millicent to marry him and then gaslit her after learning she transferred all her money to her brother Daniel. Barnabas didn't help matters when he chomped on her neck, which drove her already fragile mind to insanity.


After discovering her son was a vampire as a result of Nathan Forbes' interference, Naomi Collins drank poison and died.


He repaid Forbes by strangling him to death, and while Joshua claimed he would finally end his curse by shooting him with silver bullets, he lost his nerve and had Ben chain Barnabas in his coffin instead, not considering that Barnabas would be undead and conscious of his confinement for all eternity.


There was no respite upon Vicki's return to the present day as she was immediately inspired to purchase a portrait of Angelique, which housed her spirit, allowing her to exert an influence over Roger, and enabling her to return to Collinwood as his wife, in order to continue to mess with Barnabas.



Meanwhile, crazy Dr. Lang enlisted Barnabas' support to help make his experiment to create life a success, as well as help Barnabas achieve a permanent cure from the vampire curse, by using his life force to bring his creature to life.


Angelique, as Cassandra, sought to reinstate the vampire curse on Barnabas, and used the roundabout method of making many of the folks in Collinsport experience a terrifying dream that would eventually lead to Barnabas becoming a vampire once again.


When she found out that Lang was going to help Barnabas become immune to the curse, she killed him off before the experiment could be completed.


Fortunately, he left really good notes for Julia, who was successful in carrying out the experiment which brought Adam to life, and provided Barnabas protection from the vampire curse.


Julia and Barnabas found parenting the newly born corpse difficult, and Willie was released from Windcliff to help babysit the immature creature.



Barnabas tried to get Angelique off his back once and for all by paying Sam to alter her portrait to age her to death. When she showed up to get her portrait back and he refused, she caused him to go blind.


Meanwhile, the spirit of Trask returned to pay Barnabas back in kind for his Poe-like demise.


Blind Sam befriended Adam after his leap from Widows' Hill, but when Maggie showed up and provoked him, Sam was forced to defend her and was then mortally wounded by Adam.


Trask found out that Angelique was the real witch he sought and he exorcised her.


The mysterious Nicholas Blair arrived at Collinwood, claiming he was Cassandra's brother, and secured himself an invite to stay at Collinwood so he could find and restore Angelique.


Blair was able to bring Cassandralique back, causing him endless consternation as she continuously meddled in his grand scheme to create a race of master beings with Adam.


He punished her disobedience by making her a vampire, and she attacked newbie hunk, Tom Jennings.


She then went about biting the necks of every hot guy in the town of Collinsport.


Julia finally got some vampire action from vampire Tom Jennings.


Angelique persuaded Jeff Clark to use her in the experiment to create a mate for Adam in an attempt to cure her vampirism.


She was nowhere to be found when Barnabas and Julia successfully ran the experiment, with the soul of evil Danielle Roget provided by Nicholas Blair, thereby creating the ill tempered Eve as a mate for Adam.


Meanwhile, Nicholas gave away his power to Maggie by falling in love with her.


Angelique had the opportunity to bring Barnabas back under her control.


Eve stupidly taunted Adam and he killed her.


Angelique appealed to her boss, Diabolos, to have her vampire curse removed by tattling on Blair for falling in love with Maggie.


Diabolos punished Blair, and with the end of the storyline, Adam fell off the face of the earth.


David and his new BFF, Amy, went ghost hunting in the West Wing and ended up being possessed by the angry spirit of Quentin Collins and his mysterious companion, Beth.


Maggie was hired as the new governess for the possessed children after Vicki returned to 1796 with Peter Bradford.


Vampire Tom Jennings' brother Chris came to town and things got a little hairy at the time of the full moon.


After Joe Haskell was attacked by Wolfy Chris, he went batshit crazy.


Eventually, he was sent for an extended stay at Windcliff.


Cassandra returned to make sure that Liz hadn't forgotten that she was afraid to be buried alive, reinstating her curse on her, and causing Elizabeth to appear to be dead. The year ended with the possessed children causing mayhem, and Barnabas believing that Vicki was trying to contact him from the past.



It seemed to me an essential part of the show was lost with the departure of Alexandra Moltke in the role of Victoria Winters. The show will continue on just fine without her, but especially after watching the show from Episode 1, when she initiated the narrative, it felt that the show fundamentally changed with her exit. Losing long time cast members, Joel Crothers and David Ford also served to usher in a new era with new characters on the show.


It certainly was a whirlwind of events in 1968, and there's no sign of slowing down in 1969, as it promises to be even busier as we get to know more about Werewolf Chris Jennings and the malcontented spirit of Quentin Collins. I look forward to more time travel in the year ahead on the show, and can't wait to see what the monsters have in store for us. Come join John and I as we delve into another year of daily episodes over at Dark Shadows Before I Die.