Samantha’s Diary… ***Some DS Fan Fiction I’m playing with***

As a little girl, I remained in a Boston private school for girls, thanks to the generosity of Roger Collins and Elizabeth Stoddard.  They have been like surrogate parents to me in my absence from Collinsport for years. Roger always said that I wasn’t facing reality by avoiding going “home”.  But which place was or is home? Is it the house where my mother, Claudette tortured me for the first seven years of my existence, or Collinwood, which was my shelter from many of her storms?

Then there was that place in the mausoleum.  Willie doesn’t even know of it, I think.  I would sneak into there and dream I had a guardian angel watching over me there.  At least I knew my mother would never set foot in the cemetery.  I remember dreaming about that faceless dark angel with a calming voice.  He’d carry me through the woods, teaching me about the birds and trees and such and the sun always shone there. In short, this entity was the phantom father I created in my mind, I suppose.  At least the shrink says as much to me.   I’ve written many songs about filling that gaping hole in my memories as well as my chest.

I somehow learned to write with penmanship from a time gone by. I won awards for it and I still prefer my quill to a fountain pen. I mastered math in my head long before I had access to a calculator.  A large part of me wants to return, and another side of me totally dreads this.  I keep having dreams of a duel, people dying, voices calling my name, and for what purpose? The worst ones are of me drowning in another time and place when I was still quite young, a long dress weighing me down as if it were a ship’s anchor, and something cracking my skull and knocking me out after struggling to come back to the surface.  I always manage to wake up shaking and sweating after those. I fear water so much! Why me? Did my mother damage me so much that I cannot tell what is reality from fantasy any longer?  I’m wondering if the dreams are symbolic.  Whatever. It doesn’t matter at this point.

I know it is time to return to Collinsport.  Elizabeth and Maggie have begged me for months.  I suppose it is time to revisit the grave of the child I once was, and can never be again.  Sometimes an infected wound must be thoroughly drained and cleaned before it can heal.  Hopefully it will not leave a scar that is too noticeable.  At least it is what the one familiar male voice says to me in those damned dreams I have every night as of late.

Only now the dreams are getting stronger, and the voices more clear.  No matter how many psych meds the doctors put me on or how many gigs I do just so I can pass out and sleep after the ambien, they are there…They are waiting for me…It’s only the voice of that dark angel that doesn’t torment me.  All he says to me lately is, “Perhaps you should reconsider this endless journey you are on and come visit your family.  You are every bit a Collins now even if not by blood.” he says.   Funny how Roger and Elizabeth keep reminding me that they do  consider me thus.  There I go–talking like he does.  Dammit I am truly done for the night–until those dreams start-up again…

—S.R.T.  April 3, 1990

Will 2013 Be The Year Hollywood Finally “Gets It”?

As the year comes to a close, I thank god I didn’t stay in the theater for the bad movies that were released this year–with the exception of “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp–but that was to be polite since I didn’t buy the ticket.  To me that was the worst one of the year. Sorry to the Depp fans but I’m being honest. I got my money back on two of them. To me, the character of Barnabas Collins did not get nearly the dignity and depth he deserved–and much of that was due to Tim Burton‘s direction (or possibly the lack of it) and a horribly written script by Seth Grahame Smith.  Even though Depp was a producer on this project, I cannot fault him on the acting when it is the director that calls the shots on how a character is to be portrayed.

And here’s an article to back that statement up:

I didn’t even care for “John Carter”, “The Watch” or “That’s My Boy”…”A Thousand Words” was one I knew wasn’t going to do well from the previews too, but–WAIT!!! According to the die-hard “Deppers” on IMDB shouldn’t “judge a movie by the trailer”…

I could not resist that line.  I don’t support an actor or actress out of pure “fanship”…If I did, I’d spend too much money on flops like this. NOW for the best ones because I want to end on a good note.

I say “The Woman in Black” (which is a Hammer film that totally kicks ass!), “Men in Black III“, and the 3D version of “The Life of Pi“, “Argo” and “Flight” were the best of  the year.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t put “Skyfall” on here–it’s because I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m not big on James Bond flicks either.

That being said, I expect Hammer Films to have a big year for 2013.  I also feel that the short film “Posey” (directed by Billy DaMota), which stars Sally Kirkland and Christopher Pennock,  is going to get a lot of attention in the Indie markets because of the fact that it deals with Alzheimer’s and pays tribute to real victims of the disease by raising money for research,  and another film, “A Common Man” will get director Chandran Rutman a lot of attention–not to mention Sir Ben Kingsley, who stars in this with fellow veteran actor,  Ben Cross. I feel that “A Common Man” will definitely help the Sri Lankan film industry.  I can’t wait to see these two movies as well as any Hammer film that will hopefully get released next year!

Hopefully, Hollywood will finally market to more than the niche markets they’ve pandered too also.  The baby boomers are the ones buying tickets–and they’re buying for the teens and ‘tweens also.  Until they put out better films that meet the expectations of that generation, I expect a lot more Indie films to get a lot more attention than the major releases.  One can only hope that Hollywood will finally “get it”…


What Dark Shadows (The Original) and Dark Shadows (The Revival) Have in Common…And What they Don’t…

NOTE: My apologies in advance for the alignment of the pics with the text between further down. I tried my best to correct this but the text would keep showing up between the pictures of Lara Parker and Lysette Anthony

Earlier I wrote a post in which I described how certain people are telling me how I should not judge an entire movie by a two-minute trailer.  That is a statement made in ignorance (at best) because the trailers are the most important vehicle to make a viewer want to watch a film or decide to save their money.  I am going to describe what the two shows above have in common…I am also going to leave you with a question at the end to ponder.

Many people who know me personally know I ran home from school EVERY DAY so that I would see if “Barnabas was well yet”…I wanted him to be cured and that bully “Angelique” to get the royal ass kicking she deserved.  I have done a lot of reading and such and studying for the past few months.  This is what I PERSONALLY look for in any movie or show I watch, and if I don’t see it, I don’t view it again.  If the trailer sucks, it will result in more monetary loss than gain in the long run because those who came up with it failed to do their homework before filming the project.  Translated that means: THEY DIDN’T DO ANY MARKET RESEARCH FIRST.  If they had, they would have KNOWN that this was not a good thing they were trying to accomplish.

First off, what did Barnabas ever do to deserve being cursed and having his entire family tormented?  Bottom line, he screwed around with the WRONG woman…In today’s time, since he wasn’t married yet, it wouldn’t matter.  The man had a flaw and it got him in hot water–period.  Was this “hot water” truly deserved? No…It was not and that is what made us as children (especially if we got bullied) empathize with the Barnabas character…This was also played out in the Revival Series VERY well.

Then there is this element of “mystery”–which really was not a mystery to us in the 90’s when the Revival series came out, but while fans of the original series were looking for a “Jonathan Frid” many were not disappointed with Ben Cross‘s rendition of that character.  Dan Curtis‘s method of casting and directing ensured that BOTH actors were able to evoke and keep our attention.  The difference lies in that Frid’s rendition came across as more “human” than beast.  Cross’s rendition made him more menacing and flawed, but like Frid’s character,  he was still a good man with a good heart.  And in Cross’s rendition, the strong emotions his Barnabas experienced were portrayed very, very well.

The Two Best Men to Ever Play Barnabas Collins.  Sorry Johnny, but Mr. Cross raised the bar too high.  After the 2012 movie is released, I believe Mr. Cross will finally be more appreciated for his rendition of the role--and rightly so!

My apologies to Mr. Depp here, but after seeing that performance in the trailer, it proves that Mr. Cross raised the bar too high. No other actor since him has portrayed him as well.  It would be great if the original cast invited cast members from the Revival to take part in the fests also.  They are still part of that legacy–and are more recognizable now than they were then.  The Revival Series will probably now get the respect it so richly deserved. The Gulf War is what led to the show’s fate–not the writers, cast or crew.  They totally rocked and so did the direction of Dan Curtis in both series.  The formula Mr. Curtis had was not broken. Market research would have proven that had Mr. Burton or Depp done it and/or paid any attention to it. I find it no coincidence that Mr. Curtis tended to use actors with Shakespearean backgrounds in theater as well.  Look at Frid and Cross…Both carried the character very well.

In BOTH shows, our curiosity was aroused and our intellect was challenged enough that we responded!  Boy did we!

Now who is the visible villain in BOTH shows?  “Angelique” DUH! Really?!   Both had intense eyes.  For each time period–both were realistic–meaning that Lara Parker kicked ass at this part in the ’60’s but Lysette Anthony did in the Revival Series.  Ms. Anthony succeeded in doing an excellent portrayal of a voodoo witch with the correct (French) accent too since that character  came from Martinique.

There is one problem and that is the total lack of a hero or heroine.  That was not clear in either series really but Barnabas did show heroic tendencies at times.  The character of Barnabas Collins is also the first vampire to come across as romantic, despite the fact that a lot of women do not like the idea of a permanent hickey on their neck–oops! Sorry! Barnabas would say it’s just a “love bite”, I’m sure.  I am grinning here.

The reason this is an unknown is that the original series was intended to be a long running show and it was.  But what do fans want here?  I think they want a RESOLUTION to the dilemma.  Either cure Barnabas’s curse or put a stake in him and kill of Angelique so the rest of the family can live in whatever after may be–OR some enterprising writer needs to come up with new characters to cure him of his curse and make the story line so realistic that fans would accept any new characters brought in.  It won’t happen for this movie though. They are already talking about sequels–AGAIN–lack of true market research…They would have known this had they done that task. If they would resolve the Barnabas issue and move on to Quentin it might have fighting chance in hell of long-term success–but ONLY if they didn’t deviate too far from fans expectations.  It was never meant to have comedic schlock in it. That would work for the “Fearless Vampire Killers” but NOT for this one.

Why?  This is simple.  This show had been established for decades.  The comedic schlock only lowered the plausibility of it at this point. It also put a mar on the credibility of the franchise and it isn’t even out yet. Fans of the original and the Revival are in an uproar.  The humor that came about came naturally when it occurred in the original series and in the 1700’s flashbacks of the Revival.  That is how it was meant to be written.  Dan Curtis did show that Barnabas did have a “life”.  To add the type of humor in the new film shatters the audience expectations  of a show they love–and this all from a 2 minute trailer.  Never tell a viewer not to judge a movie by a trailer. That is what trailers are DESIGNED to do–enable a viewer to make a decision.

One great thing about BOTH shows is that either Barnabas and/or some other character is always in danger…There was that element that it wasn’t only Barnabas that could be destroyed in a given moment if found out–but Angelique had a pendulum swinging over the heads of his entire family.  One didn’t really know where that was going at times.

Then you have that “love story” aspect…It is there. It is tragic.  However if it had been kept in the spirit of the original–even with a surprise twist by adding a new hero or heroine to resolve it, it could have worked whether or not Josette Dupres remained part of the equation.  There were clashes of wills between the vampire Barnabas and Josette when she became frightened and jumped from the cliff. Clashing of wills was present throughout the original. In the Revival it was there also–even between Barnabas and Willie at the point where Willie had tried to dissuade Victoria from coming there and tried to get her to leave the old house before it got dark.  This was the result:

In the original series, Victoria left Collinsport for good.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to bring in a character or two to resolve the issue.  Had that been done, I think the viewers would have been left with a sense of closure by the end of the series.  If it were me writing it, I would want the audience to feel closure at the end–whether it’s tragic or the “fairy tale” ending the women would LOVE…In the original series, Barnabas declaring his “love” for Angelique is not credible.  It was–for lack of a better word–bullshit.

Angelique would destroy anyone or anything to have control over Barnabas. That is obsession–not love. After all she had done to his family, I seriously doubt that he could “love” her.  To continue with that unrealistic expectation would be insulting to the fans as well and they are not going to buy into it.  At best, Angelique COULD be considered mentally off-balance.  AT worst, a psychopath OR a sociopath depending on which version one watches.

Just from the trailer, the things I mention do not appear to be present.  The new movie looks more like a Beetlejuice type of film.   I think those who watched that movie or “The Vampire’s Assistant” and liked them will love this movie.  Those who know what was meant to be in both the original and the Revival series will probably hate it–despite the names of Depp/Burton being attached to it. Big names do not always equal box office success either.  We will know soon, won’t we?  I’ll wait for the dvd myself.

There is one thing that the original Dark Shadows does not have in common with the Revival series and that is longevity.  Had it not been for the Gulf War, I’m sure the Revival series would have picked up and taken off eventually.  NBC really screwed up by not giving it a second shot…Those who watch it now tend to agree with that assessment.

I Am Told Not to Judge a Movie by the Trailer…

The title is self-explanatory.  Yet a movie trailer is what is meant to lure the viewer in to see the film.   I was going to go see the new Dark Shadows movie that was made by that all familiar duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, despite the fact that I didn’t care for a lot of the earlier films they did together.  Johnny Depp is a great actor. Do not get me wrong there, but I am not what is called in some fan circles as a “Die Hard Depper”.

After seeing the trailer for the new Dark Shadows movie, I got totally turned off of the idea despite the fact that I loved the original series and I loved the Revival series of the 1990’s too.  However, I cannot look at the trailer from the link below and see anything that I can remotely identify with from my childhood, or the Revival version–both of which were the vision of the late Dan Curtis.

Many criticized the original in recent years for the bloopers and low-budget adjustments that had to be made by cast and crew–but to an entire generation of children, these characters seemed real. I would have kicked Lara Parker in the shins and ran for my life when I was a five-year old girl.   Barnabas, played by Jonathan Frid, was bullied by her in my young mind and I wanted to see him “get well”.  I viewed him as “ill and unable to help it”…I’m sure I am not the only little child who empathized with Frid’s rendition of the character in this way.

Then the show was gone.  My parents divorced.  Over the years my life changed and such…Then I went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was in my room at the officer’s  quarters that I got very bored one night and began playing around on  It was there I watched episode after episode of the “Dark Shadows Revival” series.  I was hooked by the portrayal Ben Cross gave…It was here I discovered Ben Cross the actor as well and found his Facebook page.

I was still able to empathize with his Barnabas, even though at the time he beat Willie, I felt that Barnabas was WAY out of line.  Yet, Mr. Cross tempered that character enough to show a realistic point–it would be hell for someone in that character’s predicament to temper that battle within between the beast he could turn into and the man he once was.  He was a good man–and his flaw was messing around with the WRONG woman.

Oh well…Cest Le Vie…Now we have this new one coming out and from the trailer, I can already tell that I cannot empathize with Depp’s rendition.  He looks more alien than human–as if he’s a combination of Nosferatu and Beetlejuice.  Barnabas should NEVER look like this…I can also tell by Burton’s direction that this is going to be more of a farce that will make the Barnabas I grew up on and adored to look more like a buffoon.  The scene in the trailer between him and Angelique made me think more of “War of the Roses” than Dark Shadows. Sorry.

I also cannot picture a vampire, while trying to adapt to the time period he’s in, making boob remarks and telling a 15-year-old relative that is not married about how her “child-bearing hips” aren’t in use…Barnabas was a gentleman and in past movies and the two series I mentioned, Shakespearean actors were tapped to play him. I believe Dan Curtis had very good reason for casting his production in such a way and having those characters portrayed as they were.

One more thing I will point out is that I KNOW my history here. While a lot of upper class colonists did wait until later to marry, there were some who did marry younger.  That is the only reason why the writers will get away with that remark about those “child-bearing hips”.

I only have one more thing to add here…The voice…I heard and saw more of a cleaned up version of  “Jack Sparrow” than I did any Barnabas Collins that was ever portrayed. For what it is worth though, the schlock I saw in the trailer would have been perfect for a remaking of  “The Fearless Vampire Killers“.  Here’s a clip:

I apologize to the die-hard “DarkShadows” fans and to all the loyal Depp fans out there, but I cannot justify going to see this particular film. It is sad to me that an actor as great as Johnny Depp has chosen to portray the character a lot of us loved growing up in the fashion that this trailer makes him out to be.

One thing Hollywood critics need to get through their heads is that people are not going to pay attention to what they write for the most part–only the academy will.  The ones who will flock to see this are the ones who are die-hard Depp fans no matter what he does, and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Unless one of my family members or friends buys the ticket, I’ll wait for the over-priced dvd.

Other than Frid’s performance,  this is how Barnabas should be portrayed:

I don’t care how many people criticize the make up, Mr. Cross’s mullet and such.  He raised the bar too high for anyone to follow suit, and the trailer from the new movie only makes this viewer appreciate his rendition of the character even more.

On the other hand I heartily recommend this movie because the whole family can watch it!  It has a taste of “Remember the Titans”, “Bad News Bears”, “The Mighty Ducks”–and any other good sports movie that was meant for a young and old audience alike!  This one will be one of the best of 2012 and will be in theaters on May 18th~! At least this trailer has a good feel about it!  The name of the movie is “Crooked Arrows” and is about a Native American Lacrosse team! It will be worth spending the money for the ticket on. Check out the likes on its Facebook page already!

The blah blah blah of Writing…Characterization and random thoughts…

Have you ever reached a point to where you just want to kill off every character you put in your own story, much like they did in the “Black Adder” series once?  Well I have…I have heard it all this week…”Send the character over the cataract or make them a bloody messiah!”, “Give your main character a tragic flaw”, etc…etc…etc…

When breathing life into or smothering my characters to death, I do not see the logic in having   “A” tragic flaw rather than several.  I also see no logic for NOT having at least one sardonic bitch in my story be it male or female. I have met men who make better bitches than some of the other females that I encounter anyway.  I also like putting dark wit wherever possible.  Also my “villain”  might be someone people can actually empathize with–much to my mentor’s dismay…She likes villains to be pure a-holes–clearly defined as EVIL.  Why?  In reality you can say Charles Manson is an ultimate villain of sorts. But in reality, was Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton or even Obama?  OR is it a matter of perception only?  It’s just a thought I felt that I should toss about because anyone who has ever been pissed at a politician of either side of the coin can relate to it.  Better yet, are WE our own worst enemies in labeling people as such?  Hmmm…What a question to pose given the political climate of the past 35 years or so…The “villains” I had most empathy for in my lifetime were Barnabas Collins of  “Dark Shadows” (the 1992 version with Ben Cross–it seemed more plausible and realistic) and  Bruce Dern‘s portrayal of  astronaut Freeman Lowell in “Silent Running” (1972).   Quite frankly, I’d really LOVE  to see Mr. Cross and Mr. Dern work together…I know it probably will not happen, but they are both freaking brilliant in their portrayals of any character thrown at them.

I also had a tremendous empathy for Jonathan Frid‘s version of Barnabas…I felt that he was “bullied” by Angelique.  If I had met Lara Parker as a child, I am 100% certain that I would have kicked her in the shins and ran for my dear life! I was a kindergartener that ran home every day to watch the original version!

For those who have never seen “Silent Running” I strongly urge you to watch it.  Here is a damned good clip with Mr. Dern here:

And for those of you who really admire how Ben Cross played Barnabas, here is a clip–which he played pretty damned well, I might add…I used a clip showing the bad side of him too–and after watching it, I certainly wouldn’t want to be on that actor’s shit list! Not that he’d be like this, but that voice alone would definitely command some freaking respect, don’t you think? :

Anyway there are times I write purely for my amusement and my version of Dark Shadows is one of those projects…One can tell when they read it, it is much inspired not just by my love of the show, but from movies such as “Spirit of the Beehive”, “Frankenstein”, “Paperhouse”, which is a strange movie but deals with the perspective of child emotions rather well, and I also deal with the perspective of a severely abused child–my main character, who thinks that while Barnabas guided her from his crypt, was only an imaginary friend. Barnabas, however, was meant to guide her in the present time.  Much of their encounters took place prior to her departure from Collinsport at age 8 to attend private school in Boston, per Elizabeth and Roger after they get guardianship of her.

In my version, the child is going to grow up to be the catalyst for resolving all things past and present.  I was really pissed off that Barnabas “declared” his love for Angelique in the end of the ’72 series when in fact, any psychotic bitch that did to a man what she did to him would never have been loved, but rather LOATHED.  To me that was unrealistic and done in haste.

While I am not giving my whole story away, I am going to point out there that I only wrote it because I get pissed off at all the crap that people toss  about with regard to characterization.  To resolve it and answer questions as to HOW Barnabas  knows about certain aspects of technology and historical information in the present, an outside character really has to be used for this. The characters of Willy, Maggie and others are “boxed” in due to the original adaptations of it, so I dug my own “good little girl” in the form of my character from the deepest recesses of the pit of my imagination.  Believe me, given what she has endured at the hands of her crazy bitch mother, the fact that she is actually “good” is amazing–but there are flaws she has…She trusts nobody-really…She keeps to herself even as a celebrity, and she feels that all she experienced was in her imagination.  She fears things that she remembers from time to time.  Her best friend up until she returns to Collinsport (outside of her band) is her dog…Can you fans of the ’92 series guess what I named him?    😀

I will reveal one thing…If anyone plays the part of the ghost of my new character’s dad someday (if I ever get this out there), I hope to hell it’s  Matthew McConaughey because he’d be perfect for that part.  As for the part of younger Barnabas there would have to be two younger people playing him as a boy and a young man, and then an older man to play him at age 50-55 (the namesake) in the present time.  Don’t ask…I won’t tell how that works, but it’s in there 🙂 !  I dug deeper than hell to explain things in a logical light…That time-space continuum that my character has to fix is a bitch to deal with but I finally worked it out…

Now for the big decision…Do I make my characters “messianic” and admirable, make them grey or send them all over the bloody cataract?  Stay tuned…Same bat time! Same bat channel!