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Dark Shadows/ Open Lines

Date: 05-04-12
Host: George Noory
Guests: Frank Borzellieri, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Open Lines

In the first half, author Frank Borzellieri and actress Kathryn Leigh Scott discussed the continued popularity of Dark Shadows after more than 40 years. Scott, who famously portrayed the character of Maggie Collins on the program, attributed the series' enduring popularity to the writing, which borrowed from classic literature, as well as the fact that it aired at 4 PM in the afternoon, when many children had arrived home from school. "It gave them a half an hour of fantasy and escape," Scott mused, "they were in the Dark Shadows universe." On why the series ended in 1971, Scott blamed budget woes, since the gothic nature of the series required expensive costumes and sets, while alternative programming, like game shows, required significantly less money.

Scott and Borzellieri strongly dismissed the modern media's portrayal of Dark Shadows as a campy program with poor production values that attracted a cult audience. "In its heyday, we attracted 20 million viewers," Scott said, declaring that "we were hardly a 'cult among outsiders.' We were mainstream." Additionally, she noted that the program featured original orchestral music as well as well-designed sets and costumes. "These were not cheap production values," she said, "not by a long shot." While the effects may look archaic today, Borzellieri said, "it's ridiculous to call Dark Shadows poorly done and to call it 'camp.'" Citing the program's enduring legacy, he mused that "it has stood the test of time," thanks, in large part, to the "brilliant acting and writing."

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Open Lines followed for the remainder of the program and featured a special line for callers who worked the night shift and had experienced high strangeness. James in Georgia shared his tale of two bizarre experiences that happened on the same evening. While working security at a country club, he was alerted to a stranded motorist at the entrance. Upon arriving at the scene, the woman at the car looked at him, her eyes turned black, and she swore at him with a guttural voice. Later in the evening, he was turning into a culdesac and spotted a different woman, dressed all in white, who appeared to be talking to someone. After passing her, he looked in the rear view mirror and she had disappeared. Despite turning his car around and even searching the nearby woods, James never found the mysterious woman dressed in white.

Brian in Fort Collins, Colorado recalled an odd experience from his time as an overnight security guard at a hotel. While riding an elevator down from the 23rd floor, he said, it "stopped abruptly and jerked up and down several times." Brian was sure that it was a mechanical error that would likely result in his death. However, after about 30 seconds, the motion stopped and he heard a little girl giggling from the top of the elevator. The terrifying ride continued as the elevator stopped at the 14th floor, which Brian noted was really the 13th floor labeled as such for superstitious reasons, but the doors did not open. The elevator then continued onward safely to the ground. "I'll never forget that," he said, "it was really, really freaky and strange."

News segment guets: Jim Berkland & Catherine Austin Fitts

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