Friday, September 23, 2016

Season of Horror: A Darkness at Blaisedon

It's late on Friday night and I can't decide what to watch. I considered Dead of Night, but didn't think I could stay awake through the whole trilogy. I realized I never watched Dead of Night: A Darkness at Blaisedon, which is included as an extra on the DVD. It's like watching an episode of Dark Shadows, which is expected since it shares director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall and producer Dan Curtis, as well as Robert Cobert's musical cues from Dark Shadows. We also have DS actors Thayer David and Louis Edmonds making appearances. Amazon Prime members can stream it for free.

This show aired in 1969 and was a pilot for a series about two handsome guys and a gal investigating supernatural events, which never sold. In this show, skeptical Angela Martin hires the investigators to help prove that the house she inherited is not haunted so that she can sell it. We can bet that that's not what will happen.

"When you're dealing with the dead, 

anything can happen."

Angela Martin is taking a tour of Blaisedon, the creepy, cobwebby house she inherited from her great aunt, against the advice of Matthew Morgan Seth Blakely, the crotchety caretaker, who tells her the house is not fit for the living. Jonathan Fletcher and his assistant, Sajeed Rau, are busy taking their chances with a 6th century Egyptian sarcophagus when Miss Martin shows up. The investigators are delighted that Angela is a babe and are enthusiastic about helping her determine if paranormal activities are happening at her house.

They head to the musty house and are met by Mr. Blakely, who is in a foul mood and not pleased to see them. They go to the library to camp out and wait for the poltergeists, and greet a familiar face on the portrait of Commodore Nicholas Blaise.

They do not have to wait long when suddenly the candles are blown out, Angela feels like someone is watching them, and the organ begins playing by itself. Angela hears sobbing upstairs and the guys head up, leaving her behind. When they reach the top of the stairs, she disappears and they run off to find her. A draped figure attacks Jonathan, and after a struggle it is revealed that it was Angela, who had been possessed by a ring. They determine that a presence is in the house that doesn't want Jonathan and Sajeed in the house. Jonathan suggests that, for some reason, the Commodore wants Angela, and the only way he can have her is if she's dead. Despite the danger, she's willing to stay and find out what's going on. Jonathan says she must never be alone in the house again, which surely means she will be alone in the house again.

They do more investigating and find out that after his wife's death, the Commodore never left the house. They also discover that there are no pictures of wife Melinda or the Commodore's younger brother Edward in the family album. I think we are getting the picture. They talk to Mr. Blakely who tells them Melinda died in the flu epidemic and the Commodore died a year later. They try to get Blakely to participate in a seance and he is unwilling until he realizes he works for Miss Martin and needs to do what she asks.

Angela is possessed by Melinda during the seance who explains that the Commodore will have Angela before morning and that they should find Melinda's grave. They dig up her coffin and find the body of a man inside. Angela says it is poor, dear Edward and starts crying. They try to find Melinda by having Rajeed play Bach on the organ, and Angela leads them back to a cold spot in the house they found earlier. They tear down the wall and find a door. Jonathan goes inside and finds Melinda and a suicide note she wrote to the Commodore. He also finds a portrait of Melinda that looks exactly like Angela.

Some dramatic events occur that put them all in danger and Angela finds herself alone, as expected. Eventually, our plucky heroes escape, the ghosts are reunited, and the guys decide that since Angela is so easily possessed, she should come work for them as a medium.

Unfortunately the three started celebrating prematurely as this series never got off the ground.

This show may be entertaining for Dark Shadows fans to watch, and cheesy though it was, I enjoyed it. I think it could have been much better. It may be excusable to have shadows of crew and uneven volume on a daytime show, but not on a series. The story was engaging, but fairly predictable. If this series had sold, it may have been the X-Files precursor that Kolchak: The Night Stalker came to be. I was disappointed that Louis Edmonds did not have a greater role in this show beyond hanging on the wall and speaking through his portrait.

Edmonds appears briefly as a ghostly visage.

And speaking of portraits, I've got to wonder how much of the budget Dan Curtis invests in having character portraits done. The Commodore's portrait seems a rather grand extravagance for a pilot episode. It's possible it was borrowed from Dark Shadows, as was most everything else in this show. I also wonder if there is a gallery of portraits from Dan Curtis Productions somewhere. There should be enough to fill a museum.

The Season of Horror continues...

1 comment:

Godzylla said...

A gallery of Dan Curtis portraits would be a fine exhibition! I just watched this and I agree, it was a lot of fun with all the Dark Shadows carryovers!