Bill Malloy it turns out represented different things to various folks around Collinsport. Despite his unrequited feelings for Mrs. Elizabeth Stoddard, Bill Malloy was nevertheless during her long hermitage in Collinwood a trusted friend and business associate let alone her one regular weekly contact with the outside world, not counting the woman she hired from town to clean once a week; after which the woman’s young son, Joe Haskell, would drive up the hill to pick her up while finding a few minutes here and there to chat with the employer’s daughter Carolyn. Her father having walked out six months before she was born, Bill Malloy had become to Carolyn through the reliable presence of his weekly business meetings something of a surrogate father, even dubbing her “Princess” out of affection. Today we learn that Bill Malloy was also a surrogate husband of a sort – to his housekeeper.
Thus far we have only heard of a “Mrs. Johnson” who Sheriff Patterson says told him about a phone call Mr. Malloy received the night he was killed, first mentioned with Dana Elcar’s introduction in episode 54. With today’s episode we get to know the housekeeper’s first name through the Dark Shadows screen debut of Clarice Blackburn, here making her second Dark Shadows “appearance”; yes, it’s true – the screen debut of Clarice Blackburn on Dark Shadows was in fact her second episode working on the show. You’ve heard of parallel time; this is a case of parallel casting.
In the previous episode while encountering local artist Sam Evans at the Collinsport Inn, Victoria Winters was told by Mr. Evans, “Go back to your house on the hill, Miss Winters, go back to your ghosts and your goblins…”
In this episode, it seems that ghosts and goblins are precisely what she is returning to. In the great house of Collinwood during the post-midnight hours, the young governess will be drawn from her room on the second floor by the ghostly sound of a woman sobbing somewhere down below. Following the sound in the hope of tracing its origin, she will be led down to the basement and before a musty old wooden door sealed with a padlock. A moment later, she will come face to face with a real-life goblin.
In a subsequent post, we’ll explore the origins of what made Dark Shadows what it was; the deep shades of atmospheric gloom that lend Collinwood its haunting mystique, the family legends of ghosts that seemingly cannot rest, the disturbing disembodied sound of a woman sobbing in the night – even the way people close the double doors of a drawing room when they wish to speak with others in private.
As envisioned by Dan Curtis in a dream that woke him one night in 1965 with the spark of an idea for a TV show, the story of Victoria Winters recalls more the age of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, with the sidebar story of Burke Devlin echoing shades of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo; however, the full backstory that fills out Dark Shadows as realized by story creator Art Wallace is more reminiscent of the rise of the haunted house genre from American motion pictures in the mid-1940s, with two in particular, The Uninvited (1944) and The Unseen (1945), both co-starring Gail Russell, serving as the main influences for the gothic romance that came to television in 1966 as Dark Shadows. Following the post for episode 37, there will be a special edition post of Dark Shadows from the Beginning which will examine these earlier motion pictures in depth and point out how they can be described as the origins of Dark Shadows.
For now, let’s visit with the ghosts and goblins of Collinwood as faced by Victoria Winters on this, her third night as governess in the big house on the hill…
A door slams in the night, and newly arrived governess Victoria Winters, sitting up in bed reading a book, is understandably alarmed as she turns her head with wide-eyed concern to place the sound. She has journeyed hundreds of miles up the coast from the orphanage where she was raised, having accepted a job that she hoped might lead her to find out about herself, the true identity of her origins. But instead all she has found in the three hours or so since her arrival are the strange and unpredictable turns in temperament that come from those who hold within themselves hidden fears, deep despair, or desperation. Not to mention closed doors that seem to open by themselves.