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Kingdom Of The Dead Box Set

1/04/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Dark Shadows - Kingdom Of The Dead Box Set in the USA - or Buy Dark Shadows - Kingdom Of The Dead Box Set in the UK

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Dark Shadows - Kingdom Of The Dead Box Set by Stuart Manning and Eric Wallace. pub: Big Finish. 4 CDs 240 minutes. Price: CD: GBP 35.00 (UK). Download: GBP 25.00. ISBN: 978-1-84435-516-7) cast: David Selby, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, John Karlen, Jerry Lacy, Andrew Collins, David Warner, Ursula Burton, Jamison Selby, Lysette Anthony, Alec Newman, James Storm, Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, Lizzie Hopley, Richard Halpern and Eric Wallace.

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At the end of 'The Rage Beneath', the good ship Lorelei sinks, taking the Collins brothers, Barnabas and Quentin with it. Are they dead? They are certainly in a strange place. Quentin is sitting in the Blue Whale Inn drinking coffee and he can’t seem to leave. It’s good coffee but not that good. Meanwhile, Barnabas is stuck in some limbo while having peculiar conversations with a mysterious stranger.

This full-cast dramatisation is a follow on from previous Big Finish audios which reunites much of the cast from the original TV series. It is difficult to know where to begin with ‘Dark Shadows’. Certainly not with the back catalogue not even available in the UK, but it also runs to several volumes. My experience is limited to the audio adventures and getting up to speed by reading the pages dedicated to the series on the Internet. Thanks to all the dedicated fans, there are plenty of opportunities to do this.
First, we have the house called Collinwood where the family play out their drama. It is set slightly away from the delightful fishing village of Collinsport, Maine where the supporting characters are to be found.

The most well-known characters are the male leads, Barnabas Collins, (here played by Andrew Collins), the vampire and his brother the cursed immortal werewolf, Quentin (David Selby- as seen recently in ‘The Social Network’). Add to this Angelique (Lara Parker), the witch, who loves and will do anything to save Barnabas and the mortal villager, Maggie (Kathryn Leigh Scott), who is torn between the aristocratic but perverse Collins’ and the down-to-earth labourer Willie Lomas (John Karlen who was Lacey’s husband in ‘Cagney & Lacey’).

Both Quentin and Barnabus are imprisoned by a creature who names himself Seraph (David Warner) and claims to rule the Kingdom of the Dead. He wants to go into the human world but first he needs some help. Meanwhile, Maggie seeks sanctuary in the church and then an asylum but the horrors are going to find her there. Just who is Dr. Rankin (Lysette Anthony) and where are all the patients?

‘Dark Shadows’ is never short of plot and this is no exception with the over-the-top action and plenty of posturing. We have more than one villain, unexpected alliances and the re-emergence of key characters. There is plenty to enjoy here from the haunting opening strings of the familiar music and effects to the exceptional acting talent. Having the original actors means a lovely range of some beautiful authentic American voices. It’s an atmospheric production which manages to convey the suspense and mystery of the show.

This audio follows directly on from the previous full audio plays previously produced by Big Finish and it would benefit from a ‘what you’ve missed’ summary for those of us jumping in at this point. Obviously I would settle for a summary of the previous audios not the 40-50 years of history. Also lacking is the usual Big Finish extras which could shed some light on the story development and the actors take on the parts. I think this is because most of the production is done away from the Big Finish studios. Still, it would be nice to add in a few words from the writer, director and the UK based actors’ insights.

If you are planning to watch the ‘Dark Shadows’ movie when it finally arrives then there is no harm in absorbing these audio adventures. They are absolutely thrilling and fun with all the actors going for it full on. It reminds me of the good old American ‘daytime dramas’ that don’t let reality get in the way of a good story. So much more fun than the so called really ‘real’ shows that have replaced them. The original actors and the additional ones put in sterling performances and listening to this on headphones is a special treat. I am hopeful that Johnny Depp will be in the must see film of the year and ‘The Kingdom Of The Dead’ is already on trend letting us in to the spooky world of ‘Dark Shadows’.

Sue Davies

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