The people of Collinsport are haunted by their past, quite literally, in the latest entry to the ‘Dark Shadows’ series.

In four stories, the gothic horror series continues with tales of forgotten lives and evil thought long vanquished. Big Finish have been bringing their mastery of horror audio to the ‘Dark Shadows’ franchise since 2006. They’ve fought of demons, ghouls and even that dreadful Johnny Depp movie. So what’s new in Collinsport? Only ‘Dreams of Long Ago’ can tell us.

The Reflected Man by Alan Ronald

“The past came knocking in the spring of 1971”

Life has not been kind to Sabrina Jennings, former resident of Collinsport. She has a crummy job, a tiny apartment, a dead love life and a phantom in her mirror. The first in this collection is a disarmingly sweet tale that merges horror with a love story. The narration and music really sells the psychological elements early on and you feel Sabrina’s dread. It’s only let down by the lack of similar musical cues during the second half, which would enhance the touching scenes.

Old Acquaintance by Matthew Waterhouse

“In the long flight of years since, he dreaded seeing it again”

When a New Year’s celebration in the Blue Whale uncovers a relic of Quentin Collins’ past, an ancient evil awakens. Matthew Waterhouse – who ‘Doctor Who’ fans will recognise as Adric – delivers a poetic script that blends seamlessly with the villain of the piece. David Selby delivers a frantic narration that perfectly renders Collins’ panic and bolsters the pace of the story. An excellent, engaging second part of the release.

Devil’s Rock by Kate Webster

“I’d be born and raised…and died and raised again…in Collinsport”

Barnabas Collins and Willie Loomis are on a journey to find Dr. Julia Hoffman. But the discovery of a dead body and an eerie village sets their quest in a new direction. Both Barnabas and Willie are major recurring characters in the TV series and Big Finish run. So they have a lot of history together! But Kate Webster has cleverly wrapped all the backstory into a compelling reason to listen back over the series. She achieves all this without getting in the way of the plot, which is all the more entertaining for the hints at a dark past. That said, the resolution is a little too quick and easy for my liking.

Cobwebs by Aaron Lamont

It’s not a dream…it’s something…more…

When you realise the final story takes place in a deserted sanitarium, you know you’re in for a scary time. Aaron Lamont closes out the release with the tale of psychic Sebastian Shaw meeting a spider and a burning man. Christopher Pennock, who played the character in the original series, narrates the story and performs Shaw’s slowly-encroaching madness with precision. A large chunk of the script is monologue, so raving would have been hard to listen to. Instead, Pennock keeps Shaw’s madness just as the edges of his voice to show him struggling to maintain his composure. It’s a mind-bending story but an excellent way to end the box-set with a tale for the listener to mull over.

Overall

With no prior knowledge of the ‘Dark Shadows’ series, I didn’t know what to expect. But I can happily report that ‘Dreams of Long Ago’ has made a fan of me! The stories have the feel of a gothic ‘Black Mirror’ with mostly self-contained story and a punchy 30-40 minute runtime. The talented team of writers has crafted excellent tales and that quality is honoured by the superb actors performing them. An absolute joy to listen to and well worth checking out even if you’ve never heard of it.

Blogtor Rating – 9/10

Dark Shadows: Dreams of Long Ago is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.

Synopsis

This title was released in May 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until June 30th 2017, and on general sale after this date.

Four tales of horror, romance and intrigue…

The Reflected Man by Alan Ronald

Sabrina Jennings is broken. Her husband is dead and her life means nothing. Alone in the city of New York she believes that her life can’t get any worse. But she is about to discover that there’s always something darker… hiding in the darkness…

Old Acquaintance by Matthew Waterhouse

New Years Eve, 1971 and Quentin Collins is celebrating in the Blue Whale. But something is coming for him… Something he first met in a Welsh village in 1914. Will the people of Collinsport survive to see 1972?

Devil’s Rock by Kate Webster

Barnabas Collins and Willie Loomis are beginning a journey. A journey that they hope will lead them to their old friend, Julia Hoffman. But, on this night, they are about to discover that Collinsport isn’t the only town in Maine to have a dark, terrible secret.

Cobwebs by Aaron Lamont

Something is very wrong at Windcliff Sanitarium. Sebastian Shaw wakes from a nightmare, alone. There are no doctors… no nurses… just a tiny little spider weaving its web on his wall. And outside, in the hospital corridors, the Burned Man is calling for him again.

Written By: Matthew Waterhouse, Kate Webster, Alan Ronald, Aaron Lamont

Directed By: David Darlington, Jim Pierson

Cast

Lisa Richards, David Selby, Andrew Collins, Christopher Pennock and Brendan O’Rourke

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