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Horror and the Soap Opera


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I thought this an appropriate topic for this weekend, as I curl up with a bunch of scary movies and a beer. Before I begin, let me preface my remarks by saying no, I don't really feel the DAYS possession story was done terribly well - I thought the lead-up was brilliant, but Jim Reilly's repetitious, for-the-children style of writing got in the way of character and believability. I thought some of PC's supernatural stuff sporadically worked, but ultimately it ate the show; 75% of the cast were vampires and werewolves, and hung out at a blood bar. It was in no way recognizably Port Charles by the end. I know Dark Shadows inside and out, like the back of my hand, but that wasn't really a soap.

That being said - the Possession supercharged DAYS' writing and molded the show for years to come. But has any other soap had much success at all with supernatural storylines? Can they be done? As an ardent soap fan and a rabid horror buff, I'd like to believe so. I just have seen precious few examples.

I think the time is ripe to try again, by couching things in reality and presenting them within a framework the longtime audience can accept as happening alongside other intelligent, more down-to-earth storylines. There's a reason the Paranormal Activity films, which, whatever your opinion of them, and I do think they're overrated, have made megabucks one after another. Part of that is their realistic approach to the unearthly. Could a soap get away with a Paranormal Activity-style haunting of one of its core characters or families? I say yes. I think you could do it with any show, certainly with my show, with OLTL, with Viki and her family, where Llanfair and the Lords have been the source of gothic fear for years. But how could you do it? With any show, with any family? How could you balance it? And has any other show succeeded at this? I know Loving attempted some sort of bizarre mess in the '80s but I don't know the details.

Oh, and Happy Halloween.

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I was thinking more overt horror, i.e. ghosts, the supernatural, vampires, whatever. Soaps are no stranger to slashers.

I thought the re-introduction of Mitch Laurence this time last year was excellent, but of course that completely fell apart.

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Did you ever watch Strange Paradise?

I think most soaps struggle to go the last hurdle with horror stuff, which is to make it genuinely scary. They usually just try for lukewarm seances or spirits in the dark.

The P&G soaps both had that type of stuff around the same time, with Duncan's haunted castle and Cass and Nicole in a haunted house in early/mid 1988.

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Knots Landing, of course tried it with "The Three Sisters".. but most feel it was one of the worst episodes of the whole series.

Apparently those people didn't see the last 3-4 seasons, or that Jean Hackney season where the high point was Ben putting Lillimae in a headlock.

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Apparently those people didn't see the last 3-4 seasons, or that Jean Hackney season where the high point was Ben putting Lillimae in a headlock.

I don't know, Carl... "The Three Sisters", and "Land Of the Free" are the two worst of the whole series IMO. Seasons 12 and 13 could get pretty tedious, and not too much excitement, but I didn't roll my eyes and feel my face get hot just watching it. And Knots is the one show where I watched EVERY episode from beginning to end. I'm not sure if there was anything they could have done to save it. I just don't think that episode suited Knots.

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The original storyline with the Cortlandts on AMC was very gothic, and of course how could we forget the gothic story with Quint/Mrs Reinfeld/Nola story on Guiding Light penned by Doug Marland?

On ATWT, Mr Big's castle with Tom and Margo was like campy horror with all the different riddles and rooms(spinning room! life size chess board! the black room!) they had to go through to escape his castle.

Dark Shadows was probably the most sucessful soap in the horror/scifi genre.

EON had a few stories that had gothic/horror elements. There was a story about the supposed haunted Whitney mansion and things like Miles dead wife haunting him and Nola Patterson and the mansion of the damned etc.

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I don't know, Carl... "The Three Sisters", and "Land Of the Free" are the two worst of the whole series IMO. Seasons 12 and 13 could get pretty tedious, and not too much excitement, but I didn't roll my eyes and feel my face get hot just watching it. And Knots is the one show where I watched EVERY episode from beginning to end. I'm not sure if there was anything they could have done to save it. I just don't think that episode suited Knots.

I like the theme episodes -- I thought Three Sisters had a good eerie atmosphere and used some of the show's stronger characters. If Land of the Free is the bikers episode that is too hilarious to ever dislike.

I have more issues with the later seasons and the arcs that go nowhere, and have endless repetition of DIRTY COP!!! and TIDAL ENERGY!! and so on, and Pa and Ma Joad berating Karen for killing their son in a paintball vendetta gone wrong.

Falcon Crest had an episode I remember liking, it wasn't horror, but was set during a storm and blackout.

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