DARK SHADOWS: HAUNTING MEMORIES

PrintE-mail Written by James Evans

When Dark Shadows, which began 50 years ago in 1966, was failing in its first year and creator Dan Curtis decided to go full tilt with the supernatural themes he had been flirting with, he didn’t know how much of a success it would become.  He almost certainly had no expectation that this choice would lead to a mini-industry all centred on the fictional town of Collinsport and its inhabitants.  While resurrections on screen have struggled (most recently Tim Burton’s woefully misguided film) Dark Shadows has thrived in other areas. 

Haunting Memories is part of the Big Finish special series that have brought back the stars of the much-loved original to continue the tales of the characters.  Here it’s four audio pieces that fit in at various points of the series’ twisting timelines.

Kicking off with Hell Wind by Marcy Robin, and read by Kathryn Leigh Scott, it finds the young Josette Du Pres and her nanny hiding from a violent hurricane on the island of Martinique. In the shelter Josette will meet the young Angelique for the first time.  But tragedy follows the hurricane for the young Du Pres.

Communion (by Adam Usden) follows preacher Elias Trask and his son Gregory during the civil war in America.  On the run from men hunting for them, Trask must make fateful dark deals to survive.  The Ghost Ship (by series star Lara Parker) focuses on Angelique, witch-turned-vampire made to serve the warlock Nicholas Blair and still struggling with her obsessional love for Barnabas Collins.  Finally A Face From the Past (by Kay Stonham) puts Elizabeth Collins Stoddard centre stage as she returns to Collinsport and encounters a lost love from her past.

By this stage Big Finish know Dark Shadows extremely well.  Musical cues (that replicate the structure of episodes), the embellishing sound effects and pacing are spot on.  The likes of Kathryn Leigh Scott, Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker and Marie Wallace are actors who have spent in some cases most of their professional lives inhabiting this world and it shows.  Scott brings breathy, moving empathy to her reading as one of the worst days in Josette’s mortal life plays out.  Lacy always embodied that fire and brimstone element needed for each deluded Trask and his reading feels more like sermon or prayer as a result.

Parker knows Angelique inside and out and as ever, this close connection with her character brings you quickly into the story.  Wallace is a fine conduit for giving us another layer to the Collins matriarch Elizabeth. Each story is well written and packs vivid drama into the running time.  Familiar in the best way, for fans it’s very much recommended.

DARK SHADOWS: HAUNTING MEMORIES / AUTHORS: MARCY ROBIN, ADAM USDEN, LARA PARKER, KAY STONHAM / DIRECTOR: DARREN GROSS / STARRING: KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT, JERRY LACY, LARA PARKER, KAY STONHAM / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VIA BIG FINISH), JANUARY 31ST (GENERAL RELEASE)
 


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