Dark Shadows: Review: Big Finish Audio 12: The Night Whispers

Starring Jonathan Frid with John Karlen and Barbara Steele

Written by Stuart Manning, Directed by Darren Gross and Jim Pierson

In which Barnabas Collins (Frid), now an aged human, is haunted by Celeste (Steele), a restless spirit whose cries for vengeance (stemming from an unfortunate incident long ago in Barnabas’s youth) will be heard…

Quite possibly the most eagerly anticipated Dark Shadows audio from Big Finish, The Night Whispers brings Jonathan Frid back to the role of Barnabas for the first time since 1971 – is it worth the wait and does it live up to expectations? By and large, yes.

The premise isn’t exactly original – a haunting, followed by possession, during a dark and stormy night – but it’s so old-school that it works on sheer nostalgia. Jonathan Frid, 86 at the time of recording this story, barely sounds like the reluctant vampire of old, but his cracked and rheumy voice now makes Barnabas wholly believable as a man with over two centuries of existence. And the chemistry between him and Karlen is palpable – despite the two being thousands of kilometers apart (Frid inCanada, Karlen in Los Angeles) at the time of recording!

As with many of these Dark Shadows dramatic readings, The Night Whispers ends up as an effective character study – in this case, of Barnabas, whom Celeste tries to shame into acknowledging his true nature (or at least her perception thereof). But he’s already all too aware of who and what he is (and was) – and has, if not made peace with this, then has come to accept himself and whatever fate has in store for him.

VERDICT: Jonathan Frid may be a bit long in the fang – er, tooth! – but more visitations from him would be welcome. It’s just too bad that this audio rather squanders Barbara Steele’s talents in a glorified cameo.  8/10

Click here to order The Night Whispers from Big Finish

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