Four more tales from the Dark Shadows universe arrive from Big Finish in this release. Love Lives On focuses on some more minor characters - there’s no Quentin or Barnabas et el. It’s one of the great things about the range in so far as taking characters who briefly appeared in the original series and then giving us the opportunity to spend a little more time with them. That kicks off here with the psychic medium Janet Findley, played briefly but vividly by Cavada Humphrey in the series. How she came to meet Professor Stokes is explained in Cody Schell’s Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Velvet Room by Antonio Rastelli follows Gerard Stiles and Hallie Stokes in New Orleans for a gothic horror tale. Behind Closed Doors by Paul Phipps lets us in on the sad history of Jessica Griffin. Finally in this collection The Suitcase by Alan Flanagan tells of a guest that checks in at the Collinsport Inn to cause more than a little problem for Cyrus and Sabrina Longsworth.
The first story is a relatively short blast of unusual fun for the range. It’s a kind of oddball buddy-cop origin story meeting the usual supernatural mystery of Dark Shadows and works well. Matthew Waterhouse does a great job with the reading and it’s a pleasingly light intro. Velvet is a story of sinister deals set in its New Orleans location and features a classic horror dilemma. Gerard wants a body, to be something recognisably human again, and the room he finds in the city that offers the heart’s desire seems like it’s probably too good to be true. It is of course, and events play out in an old school tale reminiscent of many a classic of earlier horror cinema that is brought to life in exciting fashion by first-time series reader James Storm.
Behind Closed Doors is a similarly classic-referencing version of the stories in which a should-be-gone-for-good dark presence from the past seems to be determined to not let those still here have a shot at new happiness. It’s well done and Marie Wallace gives it a sense of the urgency Jessica feels. The last story of the truth behind a suitcase that has murderous intent for those around it is not as silly as that sounds, though arguably it’s the weakest in the set despite Lisa Richards giving it her best. Overall however, these four tales are atmospheric and entertaining and it’s the best of these Dark Shadows sets for some time now, and therefore for fans of the range comes warmly recommended.
DARK SHADOWS: LOVE LIVES ON / DIRECTORS: DARREN GROSS, JOSEPH LIDSTER, JIM PIERSON / WRITERS: CODY SCHELL, ANTONI RASTELLI, PAUL PHIPPS, ALAN FLANAGAN / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW