Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 53

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

“There’ve been terrible rumors around the court,” Ambris told Mara and Kat later that night after they’d returned to the Palace. Dafythe had gone to his bedchamber; the rest of the courtiers had likewise retired. The halls of the Manor were dark and silent and the only lighted candles were in Mara’s room, where the three now sat in private conference. Ambris was obviously embarrassed to speak of the matter, but after the incident at the theatre, he felt it necessary that his sister and cousin know all. “It’s rumored that Father …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Dark Shadows: Who’s Got the Hand?

Quentin under the pendulum

After one last, unexpected night as a werewolf, courtesy of the Hand of Count Petofi, Quentin Collins awakes to find that his face has been restored to normal… but he’s in no position to be happy about it. While he was running around in werewolf form, the highly suspect Victor Fenn-Gibbon and his accomplice Aristede captured him. They want the Hand for themselves and intend to use Quentin as a hostage to force the person who currently has it to give it to them–that would be Angelique. The evening before, she told Fenn-Gibbon that she and Quentin were engaged, so …read more

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DVD Review: The Lost Skeleton Returns Again

Flying to South America They fly to South America, as shown on the map.

At a warehouse belonging to Draile Import Export, Handscombe Draile himself meets with a cheap hood named Carl Traeger (Kevin Quinn). After very slooowly checking Carl’s identification, Draile tells him that he’s sending an expedition to the Amazon to find the source of Jerranium 90, and Carl is to join it.

Peter flies to South America with the Skull. Carl also flies to South America. Different flights, same passengers boarding.

After searching identical-looking villages for Paul Armstrong, Betty and Reet begin to lose heart. They step into a bar that’s little more than a shed to order something to drink. “We’re looking for an American Man of Science,” Betty mumbles disspiritedly. “You haven’t seen him, that’s okay.”

“Si, Senora,” the bartender answers. “We call him ‘the Man in the Corner’.”

Cut to a table in a shadowy but dramatically lit corner, where sits a bitter, drunken, unshaven man. “Betty,” he says in a gravelly voice. Yep, it’s Paul (Larry Blamire), but he tells his wife that he’s not the same Man of Science he once was.

“I’ve seen too much now, Betty. I’m not the Paul you knew. The Paul you knew is still out there, looking for stupid little rocks, rocks that used to be so special. That was before I knew about drinking, and life… All that’s left now is the vague memory of a man in a white shirt with a ticking box and a loyal wife.”

Betty very sweetly assures him that he still does have a loyal wife–although she broke the atmospherium detector by trying to keep some bacon warm. Paul agrees to accompany Reet on his mission into the jungle, since Reet knows nothing about rocks. “But I’m still really bitter, okay?” He also tells Reet and Betty that he’s probably more familiar with Jerranium 90 than they know.

Reet assembles the rest of his expedition team. He’s hired the best guide available–Jungle Brad (Dan Conroy), twin brother to the late Ranger Brad. Jungle Brad is suspicious about his brother’s death and finds it hard to believe Ranger Brad was horribly mutilated by a bear. Paul and Betty are in a position to reveal the truth to him about the mutant, but they don’t.

The final member of their party is a volunteer, Peter Fleming. The Armstrongs are astonished to recognize him as Rudolph Yaber, even though he doesn’t have a beard and they saw “Rudolph Yaber” die at the bony hands of the Skeleton. But Peter explains:

You’re referring to my brother, Roger Fleming, who sometimes went by that name. I’m Peter Fleming, the good twin.

Peter Fleming & Skull

The sequel to 2001’s The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra didn’t appear until 2009. One of the producers describes it as “The same people who made the first movie have a little more money.”

This second film follows the first as a tribute to the scifi movies of late 1950s and early ’60s, but it adds on a jungle adventure. The production values have also taken a couple of steps up with the addition of a new production manager, Tony Tremblay. While his props retain a certain goofy period charm, they don’t have the same found-objects look as the …read more

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Dark Shadows: Hand with a Mind of Its Own

The Hand haunts Collinwood!

When Quentin Collins first sees his old friend Evan Hanley hideously disfigured by an encounter with the Hand of Count Petofi, he doesn’t recognize him.

And when Barnabas and Magda tell him that they want to use the Hand to cure him, he’s even more reluctant to go near it than he was when they initially suggested that he allow that grisly object to touch him. What if the Hand does the same thing to him?

It is a tough choice. Which is worse: the risk of possibly permanent horrible physical disfigurement and mental damage, or going all wolfy 2 …read more

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Dark Shadows: Vampire Troubles

The Hand

In my last Dark Shadows review, I wrote that Barnabas’s impulsive, bitey solutions to his problems only gets him to deeper difficulties. As the story line for 1897 progresses, these problems only get worse, but Barnabas does bring most of it on himself.

It starts when Barnabas bites and inadvertently makes Dirk, the Collinwood groundskeeper, into Dirk the Vampire (no relation to Tom the Vampire or Tom’s twin brother, Chris the Werewolf). On his first night out, Dirk attacks Carl Collins’s fiancee Pansy, then goes into hiding in the cellar of the same abandoned building where Tim Shaw has been …read more

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Dark Shadows: First Werewolves, then Vampires

David's birthday party

Once the gypsy Magda learns that the werewolf curse she placed on Quentin Collins also encompasses his infant son–her own nephew–she is anxious to revoke it. But such curses can’t be removed easily.

Barnabas gets involved with all this when he bites Beth and makes her tell him everything she knows about Quentin’s werewolf problem (which he already strongly suspects) and about the twin children (which he didn’t). Beth is sent to have a silver pentagram made to protect the little boy from the curse; the silversmith is a teenaged boy, who will become the aged Abe-Vigoda character we saw in …read more

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Dark Shadows: A Game of Solitaire

An ominous figure appears at the window.

Well, Laura Collins is gone, but Quentin still has his werewolf problem to resolve. Since he’s already tried to summon up ancient gods when he and Angelique were battling Laura, I suppose it’s only natural that he again turns to higher supernatural powers for aid. Quentin goes to his friend and co-occultist, the shady lawyer Evan Hanley. The two perform a ceremony to try and call up Satan, but things don’t go as they hoped.

An ominous, dark figure does appear at the window in a flash of lightning. Quentin, who’s already pretty drunk, faints away in terror. But when …read more

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Dark Shadows: Revenge of the Phoenix

Quentin the Werewolf

Or Revenge against the Phoenix. There’s a whole lot of Character X does something to Character Y, and Y retaliates by… in the resolution of this plot.

Barnabas has suspicions that the present Laura Collins is the same woman who, as Laura Stockbridge, married his uncle Jeremiah more than 100 years ago. She is, but his prying into her past has roused Laura’s ire.

Laura and Edward Collins’s son Jameson runs away from his new school at the house that will later be occupied by Dr. Lang and Nicholas Blair in turn. The boy goes to his mother, who tells him that …read more

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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 50

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

She didn’t wait long; her father summoned her to his private apartments that same afternoon. “Mara,” said the Duke, “it has come to my ears that you continue to think of your campaign to Santiago.”

“Has it?” Kat must have gone straight to Dafythe with the news. Only two other persons were privileged with any part of her secrets: Bel, who wanted another chance at the Spanish so badly that she would never dare breathe a word against Mara even if she could doubt her purpose or think of committing an act of …read more

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DVD Review: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Paul and Betty Armstrong

After I reviewed Trail of the Screaming Forehead a few weeks ago and spoke highly of the other films of Larry Blamire, I started rewatching them all and decided to say something more about them. The Lost Skeleton first.

This film was made in 2001 as a parody and tribute to the low-budget, black-and-white scifi films of the 1950s. I always think that parodies work best when the people creating them are knowledgeable about their subject, have an affection for it, and most important of all, understand the appeal of it. We have a good example here. The Lost Skeleton …read more

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DVD Review: X the Unknown

Soldiers search for radioactive material... and find more than they expected.

When I was watching the first episode of Nigel Kneale’s second Quatermass series for the BBC, I had the feeling I’d seen something like it before although the rest of the story didn’t progress the way I thought it would. What I remembered involved an indestructible blob monster coming up out of the ground.

This was the movie I was thinking of. It does look like a sequel to Hammer’s version of The Quatermass Experiment–but it’s not. It’s more a sort of Quatermass wannabe. Hammer originally intended it to be another tale in the continuing adventures of Professor Bernard …read more

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Dark Shadows: First Zombies, then Werewolves

Egyptian Urn

Collinwood. The year is 1897

While Barnabas explores the connection between Edward Collins’s wife Laura and the Laura Stockbridge who married his own uncle more than 100 years before, Laura also has another enemy working for her destruction–her former lover, Quentin. Whatever happened between the two after they ran away together, it seems they’ve completely soured on each other now they’ve both returned to Collinwood.

When she first came home, Laura kept an Egyptian urn with an eternal flame inside it that had something to do with the source of her powers. On the advice of Angelique, Quentin found and stole …read more

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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 48

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

senneten

Dafythe was credited as architect of the pax normania, but Dafythe himself knew that it was his brother’s doing. He’d only been a boy when he’d been introduced to Kharles’s plans. The red still swam before his eyes after he’d witnessed his first execution at Tyburn, when his elder brother had taken him by the shoulders and said softly: “I couldn’t tell you before this—you wouldn’t have understood what it was like until you’d seen for yourself.”

“But why?” The words had burst from him. “Why do such terrible things happen?”

Kharles had answered, …read more

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Dark Shadows: The Phoenix is back!

Not your usual prayer meeting

Zombie-Quentin’s soul is now lodged in Quentin’s young nephew Jameson. Making it return so that Quentin will live again is beyond Barnabas’s efforts, but another person is able to do it: The Reverend Trask. Not the witchfinder Trask who accused Victoria Winters of witchcraft a century previous and wound up being bricked up in Barnabas’s cellar. No–this is a descendant of his. Same actor, though.

Trask recognizes right away that the boy is possessed, so he shuts himself up with Jameson and Zombie Quentin in the drawing room and gets to work while the grown-up Collinses listen anxiously outside the closed …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 46

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

They met in the ladylike parlor that had once belonged to Mara’s mother. Warrior women with copper clasped braids and daggers strapped to their leather jerkins or thrust into the tops of their tall boots lounged on velvet cushioned chairs meant for more gentle females at less serious business. Ren served them wine and honey-cakes, then retreated to the windows, where she usually sat during the Prince’s conferences.

“The removal of our troops from the Redlands complicates matters,” Mara told her Shieldmaids. She knelt on the carpet, a map of the Northlands spread …read more

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Dark Shadows: Zombies come to Collinwood

Zombie Quentin

At Collinwood in 1897, governess Rachel Drummond is playing out her own version of Jane Eyre. There’s a madwoman shut up in the tower room, and when Rachel ventures up the stairs to unlock the door, she’s attacked by the black-dressed, tangled-haired woman imprisoned inside. Rachel is soon locked in herself, and the prisoner escapes to roam the house.

Our Bertha Mason stand-in is named Jenny. Now that I get a better look at her face, I can see that she’s played by Marie Wallace, who previously played Adam’s lab-made girlfriend Eve.

As Jenny wanders the darkened hallways of Collinwood, she spies …read more

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DVD Review: Trail of the Screaming Forehead

Sheila and the creeping forehead

Trail of the screaming forehead.
What can a body do?
‘Cause when your forehead’s screaming,
It isn’t really you…

First, a few words about the films of Larry Blamire.

I discovered The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra when I purchased the DVD second-hand a few years after its 2001 release and thought it was clever and cute. The film was made on a pocket-change budget in the style of the even more low-budget sci-fi films of the 1950s and early ’60s which it lovingly parodies. Much of it was filmed in Bronson Canyon and features that …read more

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Dark Shadows: Back to our Gothic Roots

The Victorian Collinses. I love that three-seat chair in the foreground!

When we last saw Barnabas Collins, he was back in 1796 and about to be staked in his coffin. I was just going to leave off there, but since I’m going on with a little more Dark Shadows after all, I’ll just say that he didn’t get staked and managed to return to 1969 safely. What a relief.

The old stories are all wound up. Aside from the Chris the Werewolf plot, which doesn’t interest me, the other new plotline begins with a retelling of Henry James’s classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw; the ghosts of two persons who …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands

      

Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 44

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

She held her destiny in her hands. All battles were hers. All dreams fulfilled. She saw herself becoming a warrior-maid of legendary proportions—the hero that so many already believed she was. But how was she meant to wield the power of this little gem? Did she control it at all? Could she use the magic to influence her father?

If the gemstone held any influence over Dafythe, it wasn’t immediately apparent. Nothing that took place in her first interview with her father had been unexpected: Dafythe hadn’t been angry with her. He …read more

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Sonnedragon Serialization, Part 43

Front pages: maps, illustrations, family trees, etc.

cinqueten

Mara sat at the window of her reception chamber, the gemstone dangling before her eyes. A pretty bauble: Though it appeared unimpressive in normal circumstances, it shone bright red when held up to the sunlight. The flaw, she saw now, was a single v-shaped streak of dark matter at its center. Held at a certain angle, it looked like a pair of outstretched wings.

She didn’t call this gem the Black Ruby any longer. This was Dragonseye, the talisman of her herald beast. Who knew it had once belonged to Denys? Miguel, who …read more

Source:: TheNorthlands