Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Disembodied Head of Judah Zachary

It's a safe bet I watched a couple hundred episodes of Dark Shadows with my mother before my earliest memories even set in. I don't remember any of them. But I know it was on in the afternoon and she watched it. Since I was a toddler and didn't have a job yet I was most likely there watching right along with her. 

In 2000 I decided I had enough of working in the service industry and just wanted to start anew, so I ran up a lazer eye surgery on my credit card, withdrew all the cash I had in the bank, and drove to Evanston in an ice storm to live with two feminist professors at Northwestern who thought it would be a hoot to have a misanthropic poet living in the basement of their enormous 150 year old home.

I had a nice egg of a few thousand dollars saved up, and I naturally assumed by the time the money ran out I'd have figured out what I was going to do with my life on my thirties. All i figured out was I was going to get on the red line at the Dominicks at Chicago Avenue, get off in Wrigleyville, and drink like a fish. Also, I was going to eat almost nothing but oriental flavor Maruchan Won Ton soup and drink Tab Cola. To further complicate matters, the surgeon had botched my lazer surgery and I couldn't see a thing. In short, it was a blast and I wouldn't trade those few months for anything. During that time Dark Shadows was on Sci Fi Network, and I watched the story arc with Judah Zachary's disembodied head. 

The disembodied head of Judah Zachary could make people do things. Bad things. I really disliked the disembodied head of Judah Zachary because it seemed to be screwing around with Quention Collins, who I think I liked. Slowly I ran out of money. And the whole damn thing looked like an Impressionist painting. I wondered many times if my mother had seen these episodes. I wondered if I had. I really developed a taste for the show. But after I left I haven't picked it up again. I see some of the early seasons are on Netflix, but my understanding is these were stories done before the whole vampire/horror element was added. Eventually I will slog through every episode of Dark Shadows after Barnabus Collins appeared. I've seen the two motion pictures Dan Curtis made, House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. I read somewhere in all the seasons of Dark Shadows they never turned the camera off once. I find that amazing. I look forward to seeing the entire run. 

And to seeing the disembodied head of Judah Zachary vanquished.


  1. My mother used to love this show. Great blog.

  2. I have a similar experience. I remember bits and pieces of the early episodes of the show from somewhere deep in my subconscious. This was before Barnabas Collins ever appeared. The reason I know this is that the announcer would come on and say that the show "Where The Action Is" was next. I remember that, and liking that show. Later on, I remember watching the show during the last season it was on, from about the time Barnabas and Julia left Collinwood in 1995 when the two kids were possessed, on to the end. The thing that scared me the most was the disembodied head of Judah Zachary. I used to have nightmares about it. The prospect of beheading also terrified, and at the same time, tittilated me. I can't explain it. All I know is that I was drawn to the show. It's really weird to go back and watch a show you watched as a kid, but couldn't remember much about, isn't it?