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
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)