Revisiting Dark Shadows’ 1897 Storyline by Kristin Battestella

Let’s celebrate with Dark Shadows as we are so often wont to do! Though arriving in the middle of the macabre sixties soap opera, the 1897 storyline is the series’ longest time travel jaunt at 183 episodes. Its Victorian turn of the century vampires, werewolves, and panache make this plot the perfect place to sample what the eerie endurance of Dark Shadows is about as our company stock becomes all new characters for the period mayhem. Thanks to video releases and streaming options broken down into forty-episode seasonal Collections, viewers new or old can easily jump into this Dark Shadows breadth. Here’s a recap of said Collections covering the 1897 ghosts, secrets, and curses.

Collection 13

When the Ghost of Quentin Collins (David Selby) drives the entire Collins family from Collingwood, governess Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and her two possessed charges (David Henesy and Denise Nickerson) flee to the Old House as Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) search for answers to rid them of the poltergeist and stop Chris Jennings’ (Don Briscoe) werewolf transformations. When Barnabas and Professor Stokes (Thayer David) discover Quentin’s I Ching wands, Barnabas uses them to will himself to the year 1897. Once in the past, he introduces himself to Judith Collins (Joan Bennett) and investigates Quentin’s secrets. Unfortunately, Barnabas harbors a secret of his own – he has been unchained from his coffin and is once again a vampire.

Collection 13 begins with Episode 696 from February 1969, just before the nineteenth-century switch, and concludes with a wallop for Number 735. Opening narrations get the viewer up to speed on the scandals and ancestral players after the Episode 701 transition, and the paranormal tricks work well with the soap opera mysteries. We’re like the newly arrived vampire Barnabas indeed – at the mercy of unfolding mysticism, scheming gypsies, heirs at each other’s throats, and missing wills. Why is the maid Beth Chavez still on at Collingwood if her mistress Jenny Collins has left? Where is Edward Collin’s wife Laura and what does she have to do with Quentin’s banishment? Why does governess Rachel Drummond see lights in the empty Tower room? Borrowing from classic literature on Dark Shadows is apparent with this Jane Eyre symbolism, yet the familiar gothic tropes anchor the spooky changeover. Iconic Dark Shadows music accentuates the shockers, and Robert Cobert’s morose motifs and creepy cues help build character suspense. Scary shadows, fake cobwebs, spotlights, darkness, and candle effects invoke careful mood and ominous set design even as Dark Shadows remains notorious for its fly-by-night production cheapness. Thankfully, the antiques, colorful frocks, microphone shadows, and set bloopers alike set off the quality storytelling keeping us on the edge of our seats with illicit twists, fiery whodunits, and Martinique zombies. Episode 705 has a sweet, fatal climax, and plenty of red herrings and tower mysteries makes for some great undead kickers and fainting frights – especially Episode 723.

Collection 14

The mysterious Laura Collins (Diana Millay) returns to Collinwood determined to take her children Jamison (David Henesy) and Nora (Denise Nickerson) away from Reverend Trask’s (Jerry Lacey) strict boarding school. Her former lover Quentin Collins, however, has other occult plans for her. Barnabas Collins also battles Laura with the help of gypsies Magda (Grayson Hall) and Sandor (Thayer David). Unfortunately, his unraveling of Quentin’s secrets has deadly consequences, and Barnabas must help family matriarch Judith in the 1897 past to save the Collins’ 1969 future.

Dark Shadows adds even more supernatural elan with children in peril in Episode 736 and wolfy foreplay thru 775. The 1897 action interweaves bizarre dreams and eerie prophecies as the ensemble tackles several well balanced plots at once. Unlike slow soaps, something happens each episode with real-time half-hour pacing. First time viewers are treated to surprise connections and cliffhangers regarding the murders, blackmail, and poisons. Certainly, there are melodramatic hysterics, but the lycanthrope suspense, meddling witches, and phoenix – yes a phoenix – storylines remain unique. The impish Quentin is oh so suave, calculating, and full of love to hate charm as he causes trouble in every way possible. Paranormal layers populate Dark Shadows with bats, doppelgangers, Egyptian motifs, and psychic torment. Cool crypts, wolf howls, and chilling knocks at the door invoke atmosphere while the wobbly Styrofoam tombstones and visible boom mikes are drinking game-worthy. Poor Barnabas Collins, stuck in a foreign time and dealing with ghosts, wolf investigations, and vampire victims all at the same time. His flub, “My cousin, Uncle Jeremiah…” is certainly understandable! We can laugh and forgive such same day tape mistakes because Dark Shadows comes together so effectively – creating intense, ambitious daytime action with complex characters to match.

Collection 15

While werewolf Quentin Collins and Magda the gypsy who cursed him seek a cure for his lycanthropy, time-traveling cousin and vampire Barnabas Collins tries to keep their paranormal secrets from fellow family members Edward (Louis Edmunds) and the newly married Judith Collins Trask. Corrupt Reverend Trask has all but taken over the Collinwood estate and soon seeks to cleanse the family of its evils once the mysterious Count Petofi (Thayer David) and his magical cohorts come to town.

After nearing over 100 hundred episodes in the 1897 storyline, Dark Shadows lends itself a hand by adding even more vengeful ghosts, gypsy curses, and freaky talismans to the gothic storytelling. 1969 names and plots are mentioned to remind the audience of this 1897 excursion’s original purpose, but the time travel troubles, shockingly bloody vampires, and expanding werewolf yarns lead to a zany off-screen shootout and elaborate action sequences. Character shakeups and spooky developments keep the paranormal fresh; no player is superfluous as each wrench contributes to the complex immediacy amid witches, zombies, and disembodied hands. Steamy dream sequences, psychics, and undead secrets come to a head as disposable policemen, jailed werewolves, and possessions provide tension and suspense. Manipulated wives mix with supernatural causes, and the infamously inaccurate Collins Family History book means anything can happen. The Picture of Dorian Gray twists delight along with a crazy finale in Episode 816. Of course, that monkey’s paw style hand leads to some wildly bad makeup and pasty skin effects that are actually ghoulishly fitting, and the black and white kinescope versions of Episodes 797 and 813 are more disturbing thanks to chilling séances and ghostly overlays. When the panning cameras, zooms, booming screams, coffin creaks, slamming doors, fog machines, and lights out cooperate, it’s the exclamation on all the fearful gothic mood. Certainly, the gypsy material here is stereotypical and cliché. For some audiences, Dark Shadows may seem comical in its juicy horror camp. However, today many shows seem to easily unravel with less material over shorter amounts of time. There’s even been a small Victorian cum steampunk resurgence onscreen, but Dark Shadows has been doing this kind of entertainment all along.

Collection 16

Vampire Barnabas Collins is re-entombed in his coffin by the warlock Count Petofi who is intent on escaping 1897 by traveling to the future with werewolf Quentin Collins. Unfortunately, the witch Angelique (Lara Parker) has marital plans for Quentin, leaving the possessed Charity Trask (Nancy Barrett), jealous maid Beth Chavez (Terry Crawford), and painter Charles Delaware Tate’s (Roger Davis) perfect woman come to life Amanda Harris (Donna McKechnie) with brokenhearted, violent, and trigger happy threats.

1969 time travel goals lay the 1897 exit groundwork as skeletons, full moons, gunpoint confrontations, and confessions spearhead the intersecting supernatural tangents, unreliable I Ching attempts, and astral projections gone awry. The vampires, vendettas, paradoxes, and possessions are no longer secret thanks to prophetic harbingers and fatal deadlines. Hooded executioners provide suspense and vicious murders push the daytime television envelope while deceptive visions create an eerie mix of who is who, past or present, and living or dead. Vampires can’t help against unique spells during daylight nor is the werewolf available during the full moon. Characters learn of their own suicides from their future ghosts as villainous malice and emotional anchors swell with sword-wielding terror. Spectral toppers, paranormal visuals, and dark romanticism balance the traditional two-shot soap opera conversations. Although the performances are sincere and earnest, the cast tries not to laugh over crazy dialogue, infamous flubs, and teleprompter glances. Enemies sit together over brandy, waiting for who will blink first before the witch hypnotizes a man to put the pistol to his temple. That’s Twisted! Hidden letters written in 1897 are read in 1969 just in the nick of time – bringing the ominous facts full circle with bloody bright red flashbacks, cyanide, and jealous women. Redemptions and rejections lead to dying for love morose, and mystical bargains trap the afflicted via voodoo effigies, shackles, or black magic. Episode 839 would seem to resolve this fatal past with all is well second chances but the lycanthrope troubles and bodily possessions then and now linger. Stolen portraits, magic rings, late messages, and all aboard whistles add to the diabolical in Episode 850, and unknown prices must be paid. On Dark Shadows, most characters accept the fantastic rather than balk. However, no one ever really escapes from Collinsport.

Collection 17

Barnabas Collins travels from 1897 back to 1796 with Countess Kitty Soames, the reincarnation of his beloved Josette DuPres (Kathryn Leigh Scott) after seemingly defeating the vile Count Petofi – who has switched bodies with the now immortal Quentin Collins in order to travel to 1969. Unfortunately, ancient Leviathan interference and an evil antique shop run by the enthralled Megan Todd (Marcia Wallace) upset numerous events past and present for Dr. Julia Hoffman and the rest of Collinsport.

Body swaps, mistaken identity, and abused I Ching hexagrams open Episode 858 amid bitter marriages, magical portraits, and blackmail. Enemies become allies as characters must prove who they are thanks to skeleton keys, psychic visions, and mystical ruses. Inner monologues matching the real person in the wrong body curb confusion as well as garner sympathy while buried alive threats and haunted punishments result in kidnappings and failed rituals. Dubious lawyers and lookalike vampire encounters ramp up the scares in Episode 868 as suspicious relatives and antagonizing ministers plot with buried suitcases and decoy burglaries. Will power over evil, cliffside desperation, and deadly shockers in Episode 876 up the intensity before 879 adds double-crosses, stranglers, poison, and fresh cement. Climatic scandals keep the paranoia and graveyard chases on track as victims must stay awake lest spells overtake them. Green screen mistakes and innate camera flaws may make the magentas look garish, however, the distorted hues are terribly effective for gaslight ambiance and ghostly overlays. Cursed people are packing, gold diggers are making plans – there’s a sense that 1897 is a wrap and 1969 is imminent thanks to psychedelic dreams, astral interference, and time travel technicalities. Unfortunately, the fiery 1897 finale fumbles thanks to a shoehorned in 1796 detour before the much maligned leviathan storyline with its naga lockets and necronomicons. After three odd colonial episodes, the vampire brides and meddling witches are also left hanging for torches and snake altars before the return to 1969 in Episode 888. It’s a big WTF that today would have audiences immediately tuning out and complaining on Twitter. If Dark Shadows had directly taken the I Ching back to 1969 and then revealed the unusual Lovecraft-inspired leviathan abstracts as a subplot to what happens with our 1897 immortals; the ancient rituals and cult incantations might have been received differently. A lot happens on Collection 17, but Dark Shadows has plenty of juicy left to come, and the 1897 escapade remains perfect for a spooky marathon.

Want more horror like Dark Shadows?

Dark Shadows Video Review

House of Dark Shadows

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Penny Dreadful 1 2 3

Crimson Peak


For even more Dark Shadows reviews, visit my detailed analysis at I Think, Therefore I Review!

Kbatz Krafts: Playhouse Turned Halloween Cat Shelter!

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz discusses the tools required and $200 budget for the initial plans in outfitting a curbside playhouse as a Halloween cat shelter before assessing the on hand hardware, pallets, and assorted plywood. After a garage clean up and power washing of the playhouse, it’s time for the interior insulation installation (say that three times fast!) The design, however, changes on the go as doubts and deadlines mount – removing plans for interior cleats, dividers, and platforms in favor of possible multi-use as a garden shed. After all, the cats may not appreciate the labor intensive assembly!

Now that the windows are weatherproofed, the base floor is attached, the insulation is installed, and some seemingly daunting setbacks are overcome; Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz works on the playhouse’s Halloween exterior in time for October 31. New color schemes, multiple acrylic coats, and hand painted trim turn the old plastic shutters into faux stain glass spooky to be preserved with a clear top coat finish. House cat inspection and approval required! Next, it’s time to spray paint the roof gloss dark gray and the walls with satin granite to create a tomb-esque look, coming in at $70 for an online order of spray paint and $5 for a comfort grip nozzle. Six cans of each color should be enough, right?

Rather than the initial notion to completely close the interior with a fixed replacement door on the playhouse turned Halloween Cat Shelter, Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz uses found pallets and plywood to make a new working door thanks to a crowbar and reciprocating saw. A smaller cat door is cut out with a jigsaw, and $15 worth of rustic hinges, a door pull, and a lion knocker provide interior access as well as Dark Shadows motifs to match the mausoleum design. With touch ups, trim work, and a total cost coming to exactly $100; it’s time wrap up and add catnip for a feline guest or two! (Unless there’s a rain delay!)

Enjoy the spooky sounds and shadows of the night in this All Hallow’s Eve Eve reveal of our curbside playhouse turned Halloween cat shelter!

Thank you for being part of Horror and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage! Show us YOUR Halloween DIY on Our Horror Facebook Group!

Follow more Kbatz Krafts at including:

How to Make Cardboard Tombstones

Goth Parasol Makeover

Halloween Thrift Haul

Halloween DIY Repairs

Decorating Like Dark Shadows

Follow Kbatz Krafts on Instagram or Facebook for more project photos!

Frightening Flix meets Kbatz Krafts: Decorating Like Dark Shadows!

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz details the inspirations, budget, logistics, and compromises in outfitting a basement studio with a Dark Shadows theme. From carpet and painting to walls and storage, come along for the pros and cons of taking on a redecoration during a pandemic lockdown.




Next Kbatz defines the vintage seating and multipurpose work zones in the re-envisioned Dark Shadows inspired basement studio – complete with maximizing spaces, aesthetic heating options, and craft organization tips. There’s also a not so intrusive cat and one pesky basement pole.



It’s heaps of orange for the Dark Shadows inspired basement with unique furniture, thrift finds, pumpkin crafts, retro refreshed lamps, and textile accessories as the studio starts coming together into a cohesive room despite bugs, ugly fluorescent lighting, and the struggle to stay motivated in difficult times.


Stay tuned for the finished results!


For More Kbatz Krafts as well as Frightening Flix, revisit:

DIY Cardboard Tombstones

Dark Shadows Video Review

Dracula (2020)

For more Project Photos, Follow Kbatz Krafts on Facebook  and  thank you for being part of Horror and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Kbatz Kraft: Gothic Dark Shadows Sconces

Anyone else love those giant candelabras in the Collinwood foyer on Dark Shadows? Over the years I’ve collected some fine iron stands and hefty glam candlesticks, but such tall electric faux mood is obviously tough to find. This past holiday season, however, inspiration in creating my own imitation struck thanks to wrapping paper rolls and Christmas tree ornaments. Yes!

Upon finishing the wrapping paper, I swished the empty cardboard roll like a lightsaber as you do, but could these large tubes become a supersized Halloween Candle Cluster? Tea light toppers seemed too small, but eureka the Dollar Store came through once again with oversized light bulb shaped ornaments! Of course, they’re supposed to hang upside down, however sitting upright on top the cardboard rolls they’re perfect for that mid-century mood. A few hours and mixed coats of orange, red, and gold paint later, that bold flame faux was in full Dark Shadows effect. The location in mind for these candle imitations, unfortunately, is a small spot with little floor room for any ornate base – perhaps a re-purposed tall lamp or plant stand. On what then could I set my faux candle rolls? I spent the winter browsing ugly brass and plastic sconce shelves in the thrift store yet none were the right size, shape, or material for this old fashioned Dark Shadows look. Sconces would keep the floor free, but perusing home improvement stores didn’t yield any kind of affordable corbel or ye olde wooden plaque, either. Then, #stayathome forced my search online, and after a late night scouring on Amazon, I finally found a set of reasonably sized sconce shelves with an ornate scroll motif in the spirit of those big old candelabras. My black heart could see passed their white finish thanks to some handy burnt umber paint! The interior scrolls were painted black for dark definition, and after two umber coats, a yellow ochre dry brush added a bronzed patina.

Initially, the cardboard rolls were cut into four twelve-inch and two fourteen-inch candle pillars. Glue drips around the top created that faux melting wax, and the painted bulbs were glued on top. The bulb height, however, made the candles too tall for the shelves, so they were cut down to two ten-inch and one twelve-inch pillar per sconce. After a white base coat, more yellow ochre mixed with a dash of brown added dimension to the glue drips before mixing the white with the yellow ochre for a creamy, antique finish. The completed candles with bulbs were glued to the sconce, though the candle base felt bare compared to the Dark Shadows lamps with metal foliage accents. A $5 roll of metal craft trim from Amazon worked splendidly once painted with black and ochre for an aged look and glued in place (and I used the remaining piece to make an impromptu tiara, as you do in a pandemic amirite?) Although I spent more than usual for the sconce shelves at $20 for a set of four, the “only a few left” and delayed shipping fears are what really kick-started this three-day project into action. With $2 for wrapping paper, $6 for the bulbs, and $5 for paint and glue sticks already in stash, $38 total is an affordable, fun homage compared to a much more complex electrical redesign or antique purchase.

These gothic mock sconces were a case of working with what I had, finding inexpensive items to use in new ways, and paying more for a completed vision. It’s difficult to hold out for the right pieces or even see creative value in these tough times, but ideas and inspirations can still become a reality! There is however, a certain irony to making fake Dark Shadows candles imitating a real electric lamp that was fake candles – “vampires pretending to be humans pretending to be vampires.”

Revisit more Kbatz Krafts and Frightening Flix including:

Dark Shadows Video Review

DIY Cardboard Coffin

Painting it Black

For more step by step Project Photos, Follow Kbatz Krafts on Facebook




Say hello to our favorite 10iversary television blogs!


The Addams Family 1 2

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Dark Shadows Video Primer

The Frankenstein Chronicles

Friday the 13th The Series 1 2 3

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Penny Dreadful 1 2 3

Tales from the Crypt 1 2 3

Tales from the Darkside 1 2 3

Thriller 1 2


Terror Trax: David Leinweber

David Leinweber
Guitar, Piano, Lyricist

Album/Song/Tour you are excited about right now.

I played some of my ghost songs like “Daphne and Little Sarah” at the Popular Culture Association Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in April.

What singers or bands inspired you growing up?

I grew up listening to Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens, and hard rock like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Mott the Hoople.  I was also raised in Detroit and love a good bar band.

Who are your favorite artists today?

I think some of the best music today, that I come across, is in films.  I enjoyed “Shallow” by Brad Cooper and Lady Gaga.

What non-musical things inspire your music?

Movies, books, memories of people and past times, history.

Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

Detroit, Spain, and long walks.

What’s been the greatest achievement of your band?

When Kate Jackson, the star of Dark Shadows who played the beautiful ghost Daphne Harridge, called to tell me how much she loved my song “Daphne”.  We talked for about thirty minutes. She told me a lot of inside stores about the old Dark Shadows show and some of the stars.  She loved the song Daphne and said it really captured the spooky, atmospheric, romantic nature of the character.

Where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

Also, I was invited two times to perform as the Flatpicking Professor in Scotland for the Scottish Bluegrass Association.

What are your favorite horror movies?

The Vampire Lovers with Madeleine Smith, Dracula with Frank Langella, The Wicker Man, and almost anything by the old Hammer studios.

What was the scariest night of your life?

Walking home from partying at a friend’s house after seeing the Salem’s Lot TV miniseries.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band? 

An English pub with Eric Clapton.

What are you working on now for future release?

I’m hoping to get my musical Dracula finished and done.  Also, I’m working on a new cycle of story songs.

Final thoughts:

It’s all about the song, and every song has a story.


FRIGHTENING FLIX: Dark Shadows Video Review


Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz is very excited to at last ramble about the highs and lows and ways to watch the gothic sixties soap opera Dark Shadows! In this introduction to the series, learn about the storylines, technicalities, and monster mayhem!



Get involved in the kitschy conversation on our Facebook Group!


To read even more of Kristin’s Dark Shadows Reviews, visit I Think, Therefore I Review.


Thank you for being part of Horror and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage! Next month look for our coverage from the NJ Horror Con and Film Festival March 29-31. Can’t wait!

Book Review: Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross

Dark Shadows is a classic for Horror Addicts everywhere, so when I saw a row of 1970 paperbacks based on the Dark Shadows theme at a thrift store, I couldn’t pass them up. My only regret is that I didn’t buy all of them.

Barnabas, Quentin, and the Sea Ghost by Marilyn Ross were a combination of everything we love. A vampire, a werewolf, and what seems like a pirate ghost, Jenny Swift.

Nora and her father have come to Collinwood to head a salvage project deep under the sea. They’ve been told of the curses of the Jenny Swift including the death of the wife of the last salvage expert. But those warnings fall on deaf ears as Nora and her father are skeptics. As soon as Nora arrives, she encounters a midnight visitor and then shortly after meets Barnabas Collins who she falls in love with.

Despite the rumors of the curse of the Jenny Swift, the salvage operation goes forward. But when accidents start to arise and Nora finds seaweed in her bed, she thinks there might be something to it. On a scary night in the fog, she sees the apparition of Jenny Swift, the beautiful side of her face calling her to the ship and the horrid, mutilated side of her face scaring Nora to the bone. But when Nora is attacked in the cemetery—only to be saved by Barnabas—the Collinwood family wonders if there’s more going on. Could the mysterious Quentin Collins be the one attacking villagers and Nora? Adding a fortune hunter claiming to have rights to the treasure and you’ve got quite a story.

I really enjoyed the story and the descriptions especially of the cemetery and of the apparition Jenny Swift. Some leniency can be given to the quality of writing because of the time and because of the writing style being very script-like. If you can get your hands on this book, I say buy! And if you see any others, buy them up! Or, call me so I can go get them! For lovers of Dark Shadows, these are must-reads and for us regular Addicts it’s a pretty damn good waste of an evening.

Guest Blog Post: Gothic Collaboration

Gothic Collaboration: The Making of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross 

26796951We love Gothics. Tamara teethed on Dark Shadows, rushing home every day to watch vampire Barnabas, witchy Angelique, and ghostly Quentin. Alistair devoured Rebecca and Turn of the Screw at a young age. The tales we both grew up loving are centered on an innocent young woman (be it governess, servant, or bride) caught up in the dark mysteries and romances of a spooky old mansion.

The Gothic has attracted readers for centuries and with good reason. Gothics generally include a naive heroine, a sprawling mystery-laden house with closed off rooms or wings, a handsome brooding master of the manor to warm the cheeks – and the panties – of the heroine, and several mysterious servants who may or may not be the heroine’s ally. And there is always someone who obviously has it out for the sweet young woman – generally the head housekeeper. What’s not to love?

In our younger years, both of us scoured libraries and used bookstores for Gothics written in the 1970s and 80s, strumming through anything with a cover featuring a spooky mansion or castle, and a windswept girl fleeing in the night. Both of us were after Gothics with a supernatural flair. The bigger the flair, the more we loved – and still love – it.

“Write what you love,” they say, and our novel, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, is pure Gothic. It follows governess Belinda Moorland as she settles into Ravencrest Manor’s routine. From the moment she arrives, the self-styled “house administrator,” Mrs. Heller, has it in for her, but the elegant butler, Grant Phister, is warm and friendly even though he is obviously keeping secrets of his own. On her very first night, a handsome ghost tries to seduce her. As the story moves along, Belinda encounters more and more mysteries and the reader even gets to visit Ravencrest in 1788 to find out why some of the ghosts in contemporary times are so tormented.

But The Ghosts of Ravencrest is modern. While it has plenty of romance, horror, and sex that sizzles, it still retains the feel of the old-time Gothic mysteries. So far, we’ve met witches, a trio of evil nuns, and a disfigured harlequin, as well as a slew of other spectres including the White Violet – a beautiful actress who went mad in the 1930s – and Amelia Manning, aka, The Bride of Ravencrest, who – after the death of her beloved husband – proclaimed herself the manor’s eternal companion.

We learn about the history of Ravencrest, how it served as a madhouse and hospice during in the Civil War era and housed an orphanage in the east wing around the time of the great witch hunts in the early years of the nineteenth century. Many were burned, but the real witch escaped to live on to torment the inhabitants of Ravencrest another day…

The Ghosts of Ravencrest is the first book in The Ravencrest Saga. We will begin releasing episodes of the second novel-in-progress, The Witches of Ravencrest, later this fall. You will meet more supernatural beings, not just ghosts and witches, but creatures of every ilk. Perhaps we’ll uncover what Old Peckerhead, the scarecrow, has up his tattered sleeve. Or what makes Riley, the groundskeeper, have such a voracious appetite. Or maybe we’ll delve into the story behind the gliding, gibbering nuns, Sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity. The sky’s the limit, but certainly, we will see more Belinda’s special talents, and her budding romance with Eric Manning. And of course, some Ravencrest mysteries will be resolved even as new ones surface.  But that’s only the beginning. At Ravencrest, it’s wise to dig into the earth before something digs its way out and finds you first.



An interview with Kristin Battestella

Our featured author for episode 116 of the Horror Addicts podcast is Kristin Battestella. Kristin has been a staff member at for a couple of years now and also contributed several articles to the Horror Addicts Guide To Life. Kristin will be reading an excerpt from her Fate and Fangs series for episode 116. Recently I asked her some questions about her writing:

When did you start writing?

unnamedI hope it doesn’t sound too pretentious, but I started really early, about when I was eight and nine years old. My mom saved all the stuff I used to write and wrote the dates on them. Those are, of course, pretty bad! I even showed them at several kids book events I did and saw I had spelled ‘author’ as ‘arthur’! I was always dressing up and making up stories and couldn’t keep track of what I was doing anymore, so I started writing it down. Early on it was mostly fantasy and science fiction stories before I started submitting to contests in high school and writing ice hockey articles for some local magazines. After writing part-time for my local newspaper and working in senior healthcare, I started looking into e-publishing for all my vampire stories. So really, I’ve been writing for over twenty years, so it is more a question of when wasn’t I a writer or telling stories, because I feel like I always have been.

What got you to start loving horror?

Wow, back when I started writing horror in the late nineties, there really wasn’t that much to read. Just King, Rice, the biggies you know. So I wrote what I wanted to read, first and foremost for myself. I was interested in exploring good and evil and consequences. I like vice in fiction, a way to explore danger and fear without actually doing anything scary! I think that came from watching a lot of paranormal shows and scary movies as a kid. I wasn’t afraid watching, but more fascinated with why the scares work in making you jump and scream. Why are fear and adrenaline so connected? Why do we enjoy scaring ourselves and activating that fight or flight response? I watched a lot of The Twilight Zone, and I used to study scenes in Psycho and Alien to see what is so frightening in them. I like the mirror to nature genre examination. In horror, it is okay to say that violation of the home or body and all we hold dear is scary to us. I do still write fantasy and SF, I have to alternate and give the scares a break at times, but I like the healthy exploration of fear or monstrosity.

What was the inspiration behind the Fate and Fangs series?

When The Vampire Family was first published in 2008 with Eternal Press, there was a lot of material 13485078that didn’t make it into the final novel. The timeline jumps around and there are several family members that come and go through the ages, and The Vampire Family was more about the centuries old coven wars between the Welshires and Lilithan vampires, so the more quiet, personal vampire stories didn’t quite fit. Instead of going right to the next novel, I wanted to have the bit of ‘getting to know you’ vampires through history moments in between with specific over reaching themes. So you have Love, Punishment, Struggle, Debauchery, Lust, Humanity, and Resurrection with each asking but not always answering the questions about choosing between good and evil, i.e. Fate and Fangs. Each also takes place in a different era, from Viking times to colonial America, and post war speakeasies. I like having vampires pop up in unusual times and places.

Tell us about how you got involved with Morning Coffee?

Morning Coffee is the flagship show for the RadioVision Network here in South Jersey. One of my fellow local paranormal authors I met through the NJ Authors Network Stefani Milan invited me as a guest to her show focusing on books and writers on the network, called Read All About It. When I spoke to the staff more after they heard about all the cool horror media talk in Horror Addicts Guide to Life, they invited me as a recurring guest to talk about movies, television, and where to watch options. I just started not that long ago, but hopefully it’s an informative segment for audiences looking to cut the cable cord and find more of what’s out there then what the box office tells you. Also, you can see how pale I really am in the video archive on the website!

What are some of your favorite TV shows and movies?

13485083Addicts who’ve read my articles here know I love Dark Shadows and old school Hammer and Universal scares. Most of what I like is older and spooky, but I love mainstream classics, too. My favorite movie is The Searchers, actually, a John Wayne western, and my favorite actor is Montgomery Clift. One of my all time television faves is Blake’s 7, with Homicide: Life on the Street a close second. I tend to lead towards more British shows, too, but I’m behind on all the big franchises. I’m more into Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings, which somehow, makes me feel old now more than watching old movies!

What will you be reading for episode 116 of the podcast?

 My reading tonight is a condensed version of  Resurrection: Stephanie 12348944after the Lilithan, Book 7 in my Fate and Fang: Tales from the Vampire Family novella series with Muse It Up Publishing.  The series is a set of personal vampire vignettes in between my first The Vampire Family novel and the sequel I’m working on now, tentatively called Requiem for The Vampire Family, so this is a bit of the middle piece catching up what has already happened and bridging what will come next. In Resurrection, former vampire Stephanie frets on the human ho-hum and has a disturbing visit with the mysterious and magical Mestiphles – who gives and takes life as he sees fit. I’m not sure if my reading is perfect, though. I think I flubbed up a few times on my own character names – you aren’t thinking about if they are easy to pronounce when you only write them! However, I really enjoyed doing a dramatic reading. I do read all my writing aloud when I write it as a final editing polish, but it is very cool to know others will hear it this time! So, thank you for the opportunity, Addicts, and I hope you enjoy it!

Where can you we find you online?

Where am I not online? Truly I prefer meeting friends in person, so if you are a nearby Horror Addict or writer, keep an eye on the NJ Authors Network for upcoming workshops: horror and Fate and Fangs pages:
If you haven’t browsed already, you can find more of my treats here under the easy to pronounce Kbatz label:


KBatz 5 (ish) Antarctica Essentials!

As the wicked summer heat begins to fade, Horror Addicts. net has opened the dead mail bag, and what should there be but a fan question for Kbatz!!

Lovely UK fan Alex asks what 5 box sets I would take with me were I stranded in Antarctica.  Wow, that’s a toughy. I hope my exile isn’t in the summer, sunshiny time! I need it dark and icy!

1. I’d have to cheat and agree with Alex’s email and say the complete Dark Shadows box set. Classic, campy, scary, 1200 episodes plus will fill a lot of chilly nights, too!
2. Purely on non-horror indulgence, I’d have to take me some Sharpe and Sean Bean or the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.  🙂 Man love!
3. Tossing in some sci-fi as well, I got The Alien Quadrilogy blu ray set for my Christmas! We just finished the exhaustive features disc for all 4 films. Lordy, I’d have to pack some Fassbender and Prometheus, too.
4. More old school UK props, I have to say my favorite show ever is actually Blake’s 7. Learn it, live it, love it!
5. I’m a chick and I am so, so over packing, but I have to end my list with the ‘every Hammer Horror film ever’ box set.  Simply because I don’t really think such a collection exists in a pretty set, and it dang well should!
What are YOUR Top Stranded Arctic/Island Genre Essentials, Addicts? Tell Kbatz! Because, just my luck, I’ll get all nestled in ala The Thing and realize I forgot a major favorite!
And Thanks for asking Alex! 🙂


Guest Blog: KBatz – Dark Shadows Bloopers

Dark Shadows Bloopers Still In Good Fun
By Kristin Battestella

My father and uncle cringed when hoisting my heaviest trunk up my new condo’s steps, and my husband was downright appalled when he asked what was inside. “My Dark Shadows tapes,” I told him.

All 42 taped off TV with their scribbled labels-some even with commercials!  My mother was a fan growing up, so I saw reruns now and again as a child and spent most of my teen years thanking the Sci Fi Channel for airing the entire gothic soap series from beginning to end. My obsessions come and go, so I’ve never upgraded to MPI’s VHS series or the new DVD releases of Dan Curtis’ half hour daytime soap, which ran from 1966 to 1971.  Every October, however, I get a hankering for Barnabas, Quentin, and that creepy theme music. Thus I rented Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures.

Perhaps one of the most well known-if not THE most- known show ever for hokey production values, Dark Shadows episodes were taped live, with no time to correct mistakes, much less budget and technology of the day. Some of the bloopers presented are almost famous; the late Louis Edmunds as Roger Collins claiming, “Some of my incestors-incestors!-my ancestors are buried here.” There’s falling sets, name flubs, and just as many trick candles, cameramen, and boom mikes as there are cast members.  Although some of the editing is poor, and a few of the mistakes presented are actually tough to spot.  It would have been nice to have the segments divided and labeled or introduced by the cast.  There’s no background music, but it’s neat that the goofs seemed to be grouped together by actor.  Who’s the biggest culprit?  I can’t tell you!

The music video segment opens and closes with some creepy highlight reels and poetry from Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, but of course we have nearly all the musical segments from the show.  Both incarnations of Pansy Faye and ‘I Wanna Dance For You’; Quentin’s theme and the lyrics to ‘Shadows of the Night’; even a very young Nancy Barrett grooving it up at The Blue Whale.

This compilation dates to 1991 and 1992, but Lara Parker looks quite old in her newer In Salem segment.  The witch history, locations, and guests are very interesting and go hand in hand with Dark Shadows’ resident witch-who’s also pushing a new DS novel.  Unfortunately, the sound and editing is poor and tough to hear.

At least there’s great fun to be had in the game show segment, although I’d never heard of The Generation Gap.  (The clothes! The Hair!) Jonathan Frid’s heartthrob cheers from What’s My Line and Alex Stevens’ removal of his wolfman mask on the same show is a delight.  Joan Bennett needed no introduction on Line, and it’s sad her prolific work is not known to today’s audiences. Yet it’s amazing that there’s still treats like this to be discovered from almost a fifty year old show.

The promos segment is a little misleading, however.  This is Dark Shadows Bloopers after all, so the promos-which were promoting MPI video, conventions, and Dark Shadows books- are instead a reel of slip ups with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and Jonathan Frid.  Comedy Tonight turns the tables and presents Dark Shadows inquisitor Jerry Lacy as a vampire, and there’s even a commercial for Barnabas pillows.  Alrighty then!  There’s a separate section devoted to merchandise as well, including books by David Selby, and a very creepy trailer for the Dark Shadows audio dramas.

I was surprised to find this DVD widely available, although my VHS Dark Shadows Scariest Moments is just that, a VHS only.   The menus and music are fun and user friendly, I like the jazzed up rendition of Quentin’s theme.  Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures is a must for fans young and old, but I don’t know its caliber as an introduction piece.  Young folks might laugh and tune in or laugh and tune out.  There’s plenty of DS material to be had for all:  DVDs, books, even mouse pads from  For some spooky fun, try Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures one October night.

Guest Blog: KBatz – Dark Shadows Specials

Dark Shadows Specials Feed your Need

By Kristin Battestella

It’s inevitable. Every Fall I get that hankering for a good old marathon of the classics sixties gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Now mind you, I prefer the latter half of the series, and only have from the Quentin Collins introduction to the end of the series on tape. Even if that’s the case, this lingering Halloween temptation still gives me thirty-five VHS to watch! Who has that kind of time? Fortunately, a Dark Shadows fix can be quelled with several video specials: Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, Dark Shadows: The Special Edition, and The Dark Shadows Reunion.

Like Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures, the Dark Shadows Special Edition serves up several wonderful documentaries, commercials, treats, and more. The hour-long Behind the Scenes segment contains rare early footage, photos, and outtakes to go along with the dozens of interviews from the cast and crew. It’s a little dated and very late eighties in style, but it’s great to hear the set anecdotes and see some of the actors who have since passed on. Tribute is also paid to the then departed as well; and I have to say, the subtitles are also glorious!

The next hour length documentary called ‘Nightmares and Dreams’ showcases all those bizarre dream scenes Dark Shadows fans know and love. Some of its old and looks slow and dated, but it’s so great to see these commercials and other rarities have survived on DVD-especially the very bizarre Spanish dubbed episode. The On location segment shares some very old footage; but is still intriguing, as is the Inside the Shadows feature about the casting of Jonathan Frid and the vampire mythos. Non-fans or viewers not interested in vintage gothic film making might find all this boring. The Dark Shadows enthusiast, however, is in for plenty of spooky delights. I mean, the Barnabas Collins Board Game-need I say more?

The Dark Shadows Reunion is a two-hour plus disc capturing a special cast reunion from 2000. Previously on tape as the ‘35th Anniversary Celebration’, creator Dan Curtis and most of the original cast reunite to share clips, memories, and the cultural impact of this spooky soap. Highlights include a segment from the very first episode among other early clips, a lengthy reel of key scenes from the series, and a Q&A from the audience. The format is a little long in the tooth (hehe, no pun intended!), but again it’s a treat to see some of the late cast sharing stories of the behind the scenes craziness and fun.

Of course, all this is very dry and flat to the non-fan, but old time Dark Shadows convention goers can cherish this fanfare. Bonus features on the set include interviews with the late Joan Bennett and the absent Jonathan Frid-in addition to more commercials and promos. However, there are no subtitles here, and not everyone is present at the reunion. Understandable, of course, but critical players like Frid and David Henesy would have been a hard-core fan’s delight.

The half hour Dark Shadows Scariest Moments is a quick, creepy fix highlighting some of the series’ most memorable moments, from the original Phoenix storyline line right up to the final 1841 Parallel time episodes. Though not all of the pro-offered material can be deemed truly scary, it’s fun to recall some of the show’s unique and iconic scenes. Where else on daytime television are people buried alive or plagued by a truly horrendous dream curse? The editing and pacing is a little slow and uneven, sometimes taking quiet a long time to get to the big scare, but that was the style of the show, too. Thankfully, the music goes a long way in the Dark Shadows mood and atmosphere. When we hear those familiar themes by Bob Cobert, we know what’s in store.

Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, however, is not an introduction piece. It jumps from character to storyline, the past and parallel time. You really have to know who is who and appreciate the series for this spooky, gothic video to  have its full effect. I’ve always thought the later Gerard Stiles and Head of Judah Zachary storylines were freaky and frightful, but there’s pieces here of everything Dark Shadows has to offer. Of course, it’s also fun to look for some bloopers in these spookies, too.

Fortunately, I have Dark Shadows Scariest Moments on VHS, but it appears it’s never been available on DVD. In a new effort to appease audiences, MPI appears to be releasing several more compilation and highlight DVDS- including Dark Shadows: the Curse of the Vampire and Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood. These new sets look to be nice refreshers on Barnabas’ introduction and Quentin’s haunting, respectively. While these don’t appear on Netflix just yet, the season sets are all available for rent. The 1991 Revival series is viewable online as well. The feature film House of Dark Shadows is also available at Amazon’s video on demand for a quick fix. Dark Shadows Scariest Moments advertises The Best of Barnabas and the Best of Dark Shadows tapes, but who knows if these can still be found. Unfortunately, the second full-length film Night of Dark Shadows has also not seen the light of DVD’s day.

If you don’t have the time to invest in a full on Dark Shadows viewing devotion, or if you’re short on cash to buy the season sets, Dark Shadows Scariest Moments, The Dark Shadows Special Edition, and The Dark Shadows Reunion can curb your Collinwood urges-until next October, that is!

My Fearful Symmetry and Women Scorned

I’ve read four vampire novels in the last six months and I’ve noticed that each vampire book that I read has a different take on what vampires would be like. This is what I think makes vampires so interesting. There are so many different ways to tell a vampire story and in each story the vampires themselves can have very different personalities.

A good example of this is My Fearful Symmetry by Denise Verrico. Denise Verrico was heavily influenced by the show Dark Shadows and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Denise’s vampires aren’t like the vampires that Anne Rice wrote about. The vampires in My Fearful Symmetry enjoy being vampires, they’re  religious but use it as a way to hold power over others and they keep other vampires as slaves.

The star of My Fearful Symmetry is nineteen year old Cedric MacKinnon. He makes his living as a prostitute in England and has recently discovered he has AIDs. He gives up prostitution and starts to perform as a street musician. One night he meets a mysterious stranger named Raj. Raj is a vampire and promises to give Cedric wealth and eternal youth if he agrees to join him.

Cedric agrees thinking that his life can’t get any worse then it already is but his life is no easier as an immortal being. He has to move to a temple in India and is forced to  go through rigorous training  to become an adept. Adepts are dancers, artists, servants and sex toys for the elder vampires. Being an adept is one step above being a slave but adepts are taught that they are artists that perform in the name of the Indian goddess Kali.

As an adept Cedric has to give up his real name and take on the name Shardul. He lives with the other adepts and servants and gets trained by a female vampire named Sandhya. Though Sandhya is rough on Cedric a relationship starts to blossom between the two. Sandhya has taught adepts for over 100 years and she has a dark past just like the other vampires trained to serve. Adepts are held in high regard but they have very hard lives. If they can survive their initial training they are then subject to torture by some of the elder vampires and get used for sex in order to advance their master’s political interests. If things weren’t bad enough for the serving class there is also a revolution going on.

Some vampires have formed an alliance and are swearing allegiance to a leader named Loki who was named after the Norse god of mischief that was destined to destroy the other gods. Cedric at first wanted nothing more then to live with his master Raj but as an adept he starts to see things in a different way. He starts having visions of a violent destiny and has to decide to join the revolution or continue to serve his master.

My Fearful Symmetry is actually the third book in The Immortyl Revolution series of novels. Books one and two are set in a different location and about different characters in the revolution. Book three introduces a new cast and is set in a different part of the world but by the end of the book you get to see one of the main characters of the first book. You don’t have to read the first two books Cara Mia and Twilight Of The Gods to enjoy My Fearful Symmetry.

My Fearful Symmetry is more of a dark fantasy then a horror novel but it has a good story, lots of action, good sex scenes, a love story and there are some ghoulish scenes to keep horror fans happy. I loved the character of Cedric and I liked watching him change throughout the story. This is kind of like a coming of age book. You see a young teenager turned into a vampire who at first is an immature, self centered, single minded kid but by the end he is an adult who tries to protect those around him.

One of my favorite scenes was where Cedric has to go through a purification ritual and is forced to sit in a dark space for one cycle of the moon. He is able to drink only blood mixed with a herb that brings on hallucinations. I also enjoyed the sword fights in the book and finding out about the adepts training.  Another item in the book that was interesting was seeing how Religion means nothing to the vampire leaders but they use it to get what they want and to keep the adepts in line. In one scene towards the end an adept spills a food tray on an elder vampire. The elder vampire insists that the adept’s master Kalidasa must kill him but Kalidasa says he can’t kill him because the adept is in the service of the goddess Kalli. Earlier in the book Kallidasa allows an adept to be sexually abused but when he fears loosing a servant he uses religion to save him. My Fearful Symmetry is a good urban fantasy that shows us a vampire society that mirrors are own. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

The next book I  want to talk about is from Journalstone books and is called Women Scorned by Angela Alsaleem. The story follows a woman named Camilla who was just murdered,  now an ancient spirit possesses her, using her as a tool of vengeance. Tortured by visions of murdered women, she is thrust into a world of terror as she seeks a way to rid herself of the nightmare she has become.

Camilla is still trapped in her body but has no control. In order to live she feeds off of a substance that is on the breath of criminals. This is the least of Camilla’s problems though, because there is a cult stalking the spirit that inhabits Camilla and they plan on using it to release a horde of demons on earth.

I have to warn you on this book you shouldn’t read it if you have a weak stomach because there is a lot of gore here but there is some great characters and its a well written story. Mainly Women Scorned is a tale about revenge and asks the question can you really move on after you punish your enemies. This is a hard core bloody horror novel that will make you squirm in your chair, if you like a lot of violence then pick this one up.

Meet Kristin Battestella & Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse

Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse – A Fast and Easy Delight

By Kristin Battestella

My husband has given me a few Dark Shadows sets as gifts.  However, it was my mother, a Barnabas Collins fan herself, who gave me Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse last Christmas.  This exclusively Barnabas DVD is the perfect length for vampy fans looking for that sixties kitschy fix this October.

After an ill-fated fling with Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) in Martinique, jealous and vengeful maid Angelique Bouchard (Lara Parker) plots to ruin the wedding of Barnabas and Josette Du Pres (Kathryn Leigh Scott).  Angelique, a witch and voodoo practitioner, makes Josette and Barnabas’ uncle Jeremiah (Anthony George) fall in love with each other and the spellbound couple eventually elopes. Patriarch Joshua Collins (Louis Edmunds) is powerless to stop his brother and son as they duel for Josette’s affection as Angelique blackmails Barnabas into matrimony via his little sister Sarah’s (Sharon Smyth) welfare and sets up time traveling governess Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) for a witch trial.  Scorned once more by Barnabas’ continued love for Josette, the undaunted Angelique finally curses him to an eternal vampire torment.

Rather than jumping around in time with séances and flashbacks from the soap opera’s original 1960s establishment, The Vampire Curse opens with Dark Shadows’ 1795 storyline- which originally aired as a flashback departure in 1967 and 68.  This three-hour compilation focuses on the events leading up to how Barnabas Collins became a vampire, and it’s a fine introduction for the newly crowned vampire fan.  Some die-hard fans may not like this linear style or quick catch up approach- it is after all unusual for this series, which famously uses time travel and lengthy, historical sequences to rotate the cast and change storylines. However, instead of wading through hours and episodes worrying about all the other storylines- witchcraft, Frankenstein motifs, and that dreaded dream curse for example- The Vampire Curse offers everything you need to get your Barnabas fix.

Perhaps there are modern actors who can pull of the complex vampire motif ala the tormented Barnabas Collins, but Jonathan Frid (also Barnabas in the feature House of Dark Shadows) will always be one of the essentials, right up there with Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee.  The Canadian actor-trained at both RADA and Yale- captures the upper class, Shakespearean, Old World vibes of a colonial aristocrat and blends the society charm wonderfully with reckless love and utter heartache.  Frid’s vamped out portrayal is over the top in the style of the time, yet his bloodlust restraint is subtle, latent, repressed.  The secrets, deception, and vampy hunger are kinky, twisted, and dynamite to watch. Goodness yes, Frid is one of the most notorious cast members when it comes to flubbing up his lines or needing a not so subtle glance at the cue cards.  However, his recovering stutters, cover up shifting, and sharp smile in a way help the Barnabas portrayal.  This vampire is always ready to burst for love or blood, isn’t he? Despite his slick frock, fancy cape, or smooth suit, Barnabas is always ready to pursue his love incarnate or grab a working girl on the Collingsport docks.

It’s called Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse, but this story is just as much about the women in Barnabas’ life: the witchy, possessive Angelique and the innocent French lady Josette.  Jonathan Frid wouldn’t have had much to go on without the young and alluring Lara Parker (Save the Tiger, Race with the Devil).  Her meddling presence sets the entire twisted tale in motion.  The audience can’t deny she is damn sexy, but her affection comes at very deadly price.  Likewise, Katherine Leigh Scott’s (Dallas) Josette mirrors Angelique with innocent beauty.  Both are stunning and exotic; but Scott is the naïve, upscale antithesis to Parker’s jealous servant.  The love triangle is essential here and causes ripples for the entire series.  We want to see Barnabas with his beloved Josette-what’s not to love about her? However, we absolutely love and love to hate Angelique.  You don’t need glittery effects and outlandish tangents when you have meaty talent and emotional story like this.

I dare say this set is even kinkier on the romance and innuendo than I remembered last. It’s been several years since I’ve seen this segment of the show, and Barnabas just crosses into too many affairs with the wrong women!  This colonial vampire storyline is actually both my parents’ favorite part of Dark Shadows, and the origins of the tormented Barnabas Collins catapulted the soap and the vampire himself into cult fame.  All that old glory is captured here- from the wonderful score by Robert Cobert (War and Remembrance) and the moody direction from Lela Swift (Ryan’s Hope) under show runner Dan Curtis (War and Remembrance, The Winds of War) to the tragic storyline and fine performances.   Though Dark Shadows regulars Thayer David as Ben Stokes and Grayson Hall as the Countess Natalie Du Pres are in great form, in this streamlined set, we don’t see them or the lovely Joan Bennett (We’re No Angels, Little Women) as much as I might have liked.  Alexandra Moltke and Louis Edmunds also have reduced time here, and the disjointed appearance by some of the cast hints that something (like the rest of the show!) is missing.  Several staple cast members including David Henesy and Nancy Barrett are absent entirely.  Anthony George and Sharon Smyth are also fairly wooden and leave a little something to be desired.  Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a stage like acting company have the freedom to hone the story at hand with only basic, even rudimentary effects.

Yes, a surviving soap opera from 1967 isn’t without its faults.  There are significant camera imperfections against our trained HD eyes, bemusing appearances by microphones and sound booms, set mistakes, visible crewmen, and fumbled dialogue all here to the Dark Shadows fans’ delight.  Of course, we’ve seen better-stylized and modern interpretations of 18th century America, but the colonial look here gets the mood across just fine.  There’s something so wonderfully simplistic about capes, ruffled gowns, and lots of smoke to set the atmosphere for the stage like gothic drama.  Some of the sound transfer is iffy but again understandable due to the technology of the time.  Again, the editing of The Vampire Curse also leaves something to be desired in a few spots. The DVD team is editing numerous episodes together and trying to pack what took months of television into a very short timeframe.  Some of the pace drags on, and occasionally it’s even tough to discern why the segment one is watching is significant until more puzzle pieces are presented.  We see Victoria Winters twice for goodness sake, and her time traveling to the past is how we got there in the first place! There are a few wonderful things missing when you have to cut out concurrent storylines, but the point of The Vampire Curse is to make folks check out the rest of the Dark Shadows DVDs, isn’t it? Thankfully, the crew got most of the presentation correct, and the juicy gist of Barnabas Collins is here quick and tasty.

Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse packs a lot into its 3 hour long episode, and there’s no chapter break choices or scene selection options.  The first half sets up the background, and a middle point before the last vampy hour would have been a nice place to break for two super sized episodes.  I’ll take an hour and half mini movie compared to the 22-minute episodes (or the 18-minute chopped up edition that used to run on the Sci Fi Channel). Only the concluding moments return the audience to the contemporary 1967 resurrection.  It’s a little ironic that we spend most of The Vampire Curse with a color origin story and then end in black and white when the Barnabas character was actually introduced on the show.  The black and white Episode 221 is included as a special feature as well.  It’s a nice treat for those who haven’t seen what an actual episode looks like, but I’m not really sure why this particular episode was chosen before others that continue The Vampire Curse’s tale. The short interview with star Jonathan Frid is also fun.  The usual promos for other Dark Shadows books and DVDs are here as well, but alas, we have no subtitles.  Understandable, obviously, but it might have been fun to see those dialogue mistakes in print onscreen!

Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse can be loved by fans of the original series and newcomers alike.  Traditional fans may simply prefer the DVD sets; but for those who don’t have the time or money to invest in a 1,200 plus episode show, The Vampire Curse fits the bill for an October itch or viewing anytime of year.  Younger audiences or those who might laugh at the stock production of the time should give this set a chance as well.  This is as quick and cleaned up as Dark Shadows gets, and those Twilight folks can get educated on what a real vampire is meant to be like.  If Johnny Depp and Tim Burton ever get their feature film adaptation going (and I hope they get it right, not weird!), modern audiences will probably eat up this classic material.  Get a head start on the original gothic soap with Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse.

I suppose you can call me KBatz!

In high school, you know back in the dark ages of the 20th century, they bemusingly called me ‘Mistress of Darkness’.  Though I’m not sure I truly live up to the name- there’s still too much Susie Homemaker in me- I am most definitely this side of spooky.  Fortunately, that demented, er, vein, makes its presence known in my horror fiction, quirky essays, and paranormal reviews.

Vamps, scares, weres- you name it freaky or macabre and I am there, irregardless of how you pronounce macabre. When other kids were playing with dolls and teddy bears, I was watching Price, Lee, Hitchcock, Dark Shadows, Alien, anything I could get my hands on in analysis of what was scary and why.  It’s seems I’ve spent most of my adult life either writing bent paranormals or reviewing horror film, television, and literature in answer to that question.  If I don’t get results soon, I may just go insane.

The Vampire Family Now in Paperback! Find us on Amazon or at!


Make your choice….Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family

Ebook and Kindle On Sale Now with Muse It Up Publishing!

Fiction, Non Fiction, Reviews
by Kristin Battestella

Guest Blog: Kristin Battestella

Dark Shadows Revival, Not That Bad.

By Kristin Battestella

I grew up watching reruns of the classic goth soap opera Dark Shadows. Oft syndicated and poorly imitated, in 1991 Dan Curtis re-launched his beloved spooky series in the aptly named, but unfortunately short lived Dark Shadows: The Revival.

Victoria Winters (Joanna Going) arrives in the sleepy Maine town of Collinsport to become the governess to young and troubled David Collins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). At the creepy and massive mansion Collinwood, matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Jean Simmons) is kind to Victoria, but David’s father Roger (Roy Thinnes) is harsh to Victoria and handyman Willie Loomis (Jim Fyre). Searching for the family jewels so he can leave Collinsport, Willie breaks into the secret room in the family mausoleum, inadvertently releasing the 200 year old vampire Barnabas Collins (Ben Cross) from his chained coffin. Barnabas claims to be a cousin from England and insinuates himself at the estate’s Old House. Unfortunately, Collinswood is soon gripped with blood, sorcery, and terror.

Focusing on one spooky storyline at a time, The Revival begins where the original series first took its gothic turn: the tragic story of brooding vampire Barnabas Collins. What takes hundreds of episodes and months of viewing from the original series is tidied up here in thirteen shows. Each episode builds naturally to the finale, which unfortunately ends rather abruptly due to the revived series’ cancellation. From Willy’s freeing Barnabas of his coffin to Victoria’s witchcraft trial in 1790, The Revival plays like a condensed miniseries homage to the original series. The series premiered to rave ratings and reviews, but a wishy washy schedule from NBC doomed Dark Shadows: The Revival.

My mother disowned this series because of her love for original Barnabas actor Jonathan Frid, but I think the cast of The Revival is a-okay. Jean Simmons (Elmer Gantry, The Big Country) gives a classic element as matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. She has the spirit of original series star Joan Bennett, but we don’t see enough of her. Barbara Blackburn (Ryan’s Hope) is just the right touch of hoochie as Carolyn Stoddard; she seems to enjoy the vampire make outs at least. It’s unusual to see Ely Pouget’s (ER) psychic Maggie Evans having an affair with Roy Thinnes’(Falcon Crest) jerky Roger Collins, and both characters are somewhat wasted by the briefness of the series. We’ve got that young and sexy, sure, but The Revival is a little older and more old fashioned then say the more recent Buffy or Underworld. The supporting Dr. Woodward/Joshua Collins (Stefan Gierasch) , Mrs. Johnson/Abigail Collins (Julianna McCarthy), and Sheriff Patterson/Andre Du Pres (Michael Cavanaugh) give The Revival that good old spooky movie feeling. Their turns in the past-along with Roy Thinnes’ divinely creepy Reverend Trask- add talent and appeal for mature fans.

I must confess I’m not sure what to make of Barbara Steele (War and Remembrance, The Winds of War) as Julia Hoffman. Her voice looks dubbed, and her harsh style seems to try too hard. At the same time, however, this fits her scientific nature and strong support in curing Barnabas. But oh my those huge glasses have to go! Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire, First Knight, Star Trek) may also be a toe over dramatic as Barnabas, but its as if we are supposed to enjoy his torment and acts for the rest of the Collins family. Joanna Going (Inventing The Abbotts) has that old fashioned look and beauty, and her romantic air is the perfect compliment to Cross’ brooding Barnabas.

Michael T. Weiss, later of Pretender fame, is unfortunately very clunky as Joe Haskell and Peter Bradford. Guest star Adrian Paul, later of Highlander: The Series, is far more worthy as Jeremiah Collins. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock From The Sun, Stop-Loss) is a real brat as David Collins, but Veronica Lauren (Days of Our Lives) is cute as the ghostly Sara Collins. The cast shifts to their past selves just as the original series did and we conclude The Revival largely in the past. Lysette Anthony (Dracula: Dead and Loving It, The Bill) is vile and sexy as Angelique, but she comes into the series rather late. Again a character who could have been something greater had the series continued.

Original series creator Dan Curtis wears many hats for this production. In addition to producing, the late Curtis wrote and directed the two hour pilot and the following three episodes. The sweeping zooms and overhead camera angles are a bit much, as are the way too close close ups. Establishing shots of people just walking around take too long, and the Collingswood sets seem somehow too full of obstacles. Its layout, surrounding gardens, support buildings, and the Old House all look the same. It’s also amusing that we always seem to see Barnabas snooping about at 4 a.m., where there’s a lot of fog and too much daylight for the vampire. Although the subtle changes in Cross’ appearance as a vampire are a fine touch. The eyes, teeth, and pale makeup look just different enough from his aristocratic cousin from England self. Big hair and satin nightgowns-the still eighties looking hair and clothes do give The Revival a sub par Dynasty feeling. Although in Dynasty you would never see deputies carrying silver crosses and staking vampires.

While the opening credits remain true to the original series with its shots of Collingswood and crashing coastal waves, they are at the same time absolutely hokey. The moving pictures of the actors should have just been simple stills. Some of the cast’s inclusion in the opening credits compared to his or her little screen time also seems amiss. Thankfully, the classic musical themes we know so well are all here. (I have the Quentin’s Theme 45, that’s all I’m saying!) Sometimes they seemed corny on the original show, but here, the music from Bob Cobert adds an extra gothic flare. Josette’s Theme has its fair share once we switch to 1790; and the past’s production, locations, and costumes are superior to the original Dark Shadows.

The Dark Shadows: The Revival DVD set contains all thirteen hours over three discs. The menus aren’t anything fancy, but they are easy to navigate. Not all the episodes have a voiceover introduction from Victoria Winters, so I don’t know if this is part of each particular episode or a technical mistake. Allegedly there are also cropping errors and missing scenes from the original airings and VHS releases. There are no subtitles or features, but I’m just pleased this series has even seen the DVD light of day. After waiting for the price to come down, I found a used set for a very affordable price. Though not as complex or lengthy as the original series, Dark Shadows: The Revival has better production values.

For younger folks who can’t appreciate the cheese of the original, The Revival is a fine substitution. For gothic aficionados who don’t have the time for the original or horror fans uninitiated with the classic series, The Revival is a great place to begin. For vampire fans who like a little sex appeal and brooding mixed with a good bit of darkness and fear, you can enjoy Dark Shadows: The Revival without having to skip around some of the weaker storylines from the original series. (The Dream Curse, The Leviathans, and that stupid shadow that chased Christopher Pennock!)

Dark Shadows: The Revival is short, affordable, and risk free for any fan of the original series to chance. Horror fans young and old will enjoy its timeless tale.

HorrorAddictsCon: May Favorite Things – Emz TV Series

My Favorite Things

By Emerian Rich

The Others

College student Marian Kitt is terrified to discover that she has the power to see into the “other side.” Word of Marian’s vision spreads to Professor Miles Ballard, a student of paranormal and psychic phenomena. He introduces Marian to “the others,” a group of individuals with the ability to vicariously experience the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others, and to help them understand paranormal phenomena. Famed medium Elmer Greentree is their spiritual leader and a mentor figure for Marian, whose potential to see “all of the light” is strong. With Marian now among them, they will help each other understand their abilities as they encounter otherworldly, often frightening, alternative dimensions. And all the while, a dark force looms over them –

No, this is not the movie with Nicole Kidman. This is the awesome (though short lived) series The Others about a group of people who can feel/see spirits. Awesome show. Cancelled. And UNBUYABLE!!! What a tragedy! All I have left is recorded VHS’s which when my VHS breaks… will be of no use to me.

Kindred: The Embraced

Series based on the White Wolf role-playing game, Vampire: the Masquerade. Julian Luna, the undead Prince of the City, leads the Vampire Clans as he falls in love with Caitlin, a human reporter. –

I’ve already talked so much on the show about how I love this series. Julian Luna is perfect as Prince of the City. Lily is super sexy, Sasha is hard core sex on wheels, and Cash is the bad wolf boy out for revenge. Love it!

Ghost Whisperer

 A newlywed with the ability to communicate with the earthbound spirits of the recently deceased overcomes skepticism and doubt to help send their important messages to the living and allow the dead to pass on to the other side.– 

This show is a bit tame for this crowd I suppose. A little touchy feely and yes, I’ve been known to cry whenever someone feels or senses their loved one and finally knows Melinda is not full of crap. However, I’ve enjoyed these shows for their spooky, witchy content.

Dark Shadows – 1991

Victoria Winters comes to Collinwood, an isolated mansion in coastal Maine, to work as a governess, but soon finds herself drawn into a strange, Gothic world of vampires, ghosts and a family curse that dates back centuries. –

This is not the old original, but I like this one better. It carries all the mysterious gloom with it, but the scripts seem to be tighter than the old version (probably because it’s not filmed as so much of a soap opera… but like a mini-series). Also, it can be watched in a weekend, unlike the 1966 version. If you’ve tried to watch the old version and just can’t get into it, this one might be a good alternative for you. I can’t wait for the 2012 release of Dark Shadows the movie with Johnny Depp. I hope they don’t mess it up.

Twin Peaks

An idiosyncratic FBI Agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks. –

Can this be called a horror series? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you’re like me and wake in a cold sweat from visions of BOB at the end of your bed, then yes… yes it is!

Now tell me about your favorites!