This was the final episode of Cliffhangers! shown in
the U.S. even though it leaves all but The Curse of Dracula
serial unfinished. However, Episode 11 did air in Europe and that
study follows this one on PopApostle.
"PLEAS OF THE DAMNED"
Written by Myla Lichtman
Directed by Richard Milton
This is the concluding chapter of The Curse of Dracula.
With all the special effects that accompany vampire
destruction in modern television and film, it's kind of
refreshing to see here that a stake through the heart looks as
simple, and therefore, horrifying, as killing a human being.
With all the disintegration or flame effects that currently
accompany a vampire's death it's too easy for the characters and
viewers to see that they've merely ended the existence of an
undead evil. The deaths of Amanda and Dracula presented here are
more horrifying, poignant, and sad because it looks and feels
like a human death.
After Mary turns against him, Dracula decides it is time to
leave San Francisco and orders Antoinette and Christina to
arrange for the transport of his coffins and native soil and to
pack his papers under the travelling name of Matthew Dimitriov.
I am unaware of any literary or other significance to this name.
How did Mary and Kurt gain entrance to Dracula's estate to
search for his hidden journal? Shouldn't Antoinette and
Christina have been on guard for such an incursion? Not to
mention Dracula's dogs Desdemona and Othello!
Mary discovers Dracula's journal which has his name and the date
of 1467 engraved on the cover. It looks too new to be that old;
Dracula must have taken excellent care of it over the centuries!
When attacked by Christina, Mary and Kurt manage to overpower
her and lock her in one of Dracula's coffins. Kurt comments that
she will have to go through the same cleansing by holy water
that Mary did to rid her of vampirism.
As they go throughout San Francisco destroying the coffin
sanctuaries in all of Dracula's hideouts, Mary and Kurt finally
find the one in which he is sleeping the daytime away in an old
storage warehouse of museum mannequins garbed in historical
outfits. Antoinette is also there and attacks them with a sword.
As Kurt ducks under her swing, she, ironically, cuts the head
off a mannequin dressed as a medieval executioner, head-chopping
axe in hand!
Apparently electricity can be a weapon against a vampire...or,
at least, a half-vampire such as Antoinette. She accidentally
raises her sword into a light fixture and electrocutes herself,
though it only knocks her senseless momentarily.
Besides costumed mannequins, the warehouse also apparently
stores genuine artifacts, including a working crossbow loaded
with a wooden quarrel which Kurt ultimately uses to finish off
Dracula when he rises from his coffin.
As the serial ends with Dracula's seeming death, we are left
with no explanation of how the count survived his original death
at the hands of Kurt's grandfather Abraham Van Helsing as told
in Bram Stoker's original novel.
As Kurt pulls Mary out of the burning warehouse, she calls out
for Antoinette. But Antoinette stays put, her eyes fixed on
Dracula's coffin, sobbing, "The flames will bind us forever!"
I am struck that as the final scene fades to black and the
serial ends, we never see Dracula's body actually burning in the
flaming warehouse. The fire is all around his open coffin, but
not on it. If his body survived the flames, could he return? One
of the old tenets of vampire tales is that if a vampire is
killed by a wooden stake to the heart, pulling the stake out
again can bring it back to life.
While Mary and Kurt watch the warehouse burn from a safe
distance, we hear Dracula's own voice from
Episode 1 (The
Curse of Dracula Chapter 6, "LIFEBLOOD"), as his epitaph:
curse was first placed upon my shoulders,
I thought I would go insane.
But gradually I grew resigned to my destiny.
The most potent addiction is the addiction to life.
To be alive.
However lonely it may be."
I cannot so easily strike you from my heart.wav
Written by Nona G. Tyson
Directed by Alan Crosland
During the narrator's review of previous events at the beginning
of the chapter, Demeter is referred to as Prince Demeter. But
isn't he the former ruler of Chimera? So shouldn't he be
referred to as King or at least something more than Prince?
It appears that the Shadow Guards use a different type of weapon
(the neutronic guns, as described in the
Episode 9 study) than the Phantom Riders. The Shadow Guards'
guns fire a visible beam with a high-pitched sound, while the
Phantom Riders guns have a
pulse and sound effect.
At 28:55 in the episode, one of the technicians in the
paratronic depot asks another if he saw "that game on the
visilink?" The visilink must be the Chimeran equivalent of
television. The second technician responds that it was one of
the worst quartzball (or courtsball?) games he has ever seen and
that one of the officials of the game in particular ought to be
sent to the compression tube. The compression tube is the tube
with the compacting ceiling in which Emperor Thorval almost
killed young Billy in a previous chapter.
To create a diversion, Demeter makes an announcement over the
public address system that an accident has occurred at one of
the plants and that all manna synthesizers must be mobilized
immediately. Manna is the name given to the divine food which
miraculously appeared to the Israelites for 40 years during
their exile in the desert as described in the Biblical Book
of Exodus. Some proponents of the Ancient Astronaut Theory
(the theory that human-extraterrestrial contact occurred in the
distant past and was influential in the development of human
culture) contend that some ancient writings seem to describe
"manna machines" that produced food from an algal-like substance
growing within. Perhaps the writers of The Secret Empire
wanted to imply that the Chimerans had been on Earth for a long,
long time (or had, at least, visited) and had interacted with
human culture in the past?
Actor Geoffrey Scott as Jim Donner, does a great running
head-over-heels flip over an onrushing Shadow Guard at 32:45 in
the episode. It appears to actually be Scott and not a double
performing the stunt.
The cliffhanger ending this week: Donner is hurled off of a
catwalk into sparking and exploding electrical equipment!
Don't miss Chapter 13: PARTISANS UNCHAINED
One of Anthony Korf's newly revealed co-conspirators is played
by Fred Ward, who will go on to be known for such movie roles as
Remo Williams in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,
Earl Bassett in Tremors, and Henry Miller in Henry &
The revelation of Susan's long-suffering editor Bob Richards as
the mysterious trenchcoated figure who's been trying to kill her (and who
killed her brother) is a nice one. The casting of Ray Walston in
the role, long known for his role as the kindly Uncle Martin in
the 1963-1966 TV series My Favorite Martian, makes the
revelation a surprise.
The cliffhanger ending this week: Susan, Jack, and Nicolai are
trapped in an explosion in a mine shaft!
Don't miss Chapter Twelve: CRYPT OF DISASTER