Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hang the Vampire?

Board games based on tv shows rule. They may not be the best games in the world, but you usually get some cool cover art. I love Dark Shadows. It's a cool, trashy soap opera that has a vampire, werewolf, ghosts, witches, and all sorts of supernatural goings on. I remember being scared of Barnabas as a child. After seeing the show as an adult, it seems ridiculous to have been afraid of a forty year old actor who often flubbed his lines.

The idea of a Dark Shadows game is better than the reality. There is no board, which is the first sign that something is amiss. It's more like a game of hangman, but with a spinner instead of guessing letters. The object of the game is to be the first one to assemble a skeleton on a scaffold. The "scaffolds" are the stack of brown items on the lower right. They are supposed to look like they are made of wood. Bend in the sides to make it stand, and hang your skeleton from it. Unfortunately they aren't very sturdy and often the duration of the game is spent trying to keep the scaffold from tipping over.

Perhaps the coolest part of the game is that the bones and stakes come in a coffin! The instructions say it is a "beautiful antique coffin" but it's really just a cardboard bottom with a plastic lid.

The manufacturer spared no expense to make sure everyone knew whose coffin it was, as the lid reads "Barnabas Collins Coffin".

What I want to know if why Barnbas is storing bones and stakes in his coffin. It doesn't seem like a good idea. Not only will he not be able to fit into it when the sun comes up, but if he desperately attempts to wedge himself inside, he could pierce his own heart with a stake. Either he's drunk on blood or he's a complete imbecile. And just where the heck is he getting all these skeletons? Vampires drain blood, not pick bones clean.

Actually the coolest part of the game is that the bones glow in the dark. But it's really kind of pointless as if you're watching the bones glow, it's too dark to see the spinner.

The cover proudly proclaims there are bonus Barnabas fangs inside! These turn out to be your garden variety novelty fangs. The disappointing thing is that they couldn't even figure out a way to work them into the game. The instructions inform us that they are to be used by the person who plays the role of Barnabas Collins - which is also NOT part of the game. I'll bet kids fought over who was going to play Barnabas, even though it didn't make any difference in the game. The only thing wearing those teeth is going to make you do is drool.


Mark said...

Cool! I've always wondered about this game, but have never seen more than a cover scan. Thanks for "lifting the lid" and exposing the horrors within!

The idea of one pair of Barnabus fangs that are used and re-used by multiple players over time is pretty gross, isn't it?

Chris Jart said...

The idea of those fangs is absolutely disgusting. However I'll bet most kids wouldn't think twice about putting them in their mouth - unless they were worn by someone you hated or had cooties or both.

Matt Bradshaw said...

This is so cool. We had this game when I was a kid. I had never seen the Dark Shadows TV show, I was only familiar with the comic book from Gold Key Comics. Thanks for the nostalgia.

Jimmy said...

I wasn't allowed to watch this show as a kid, so this great moment in pop culture passed me by.

That game looks like a lot of fun, though.

Chris Jart said...

I actually wasn't allowed to watch this show either. However I made up for it as an adult, getting hooked on the whole supernatural/monster storyline. Plus so many mistakes were broadcast that you never know if you're going to see a stage hand standing in the backround!