“I’ve been arrested. This is my one phone call, please come quickly.”
“What did they arrest you for, flying your broom above the speed limit?”
Dark Shadows moves straight into Forever Knight territory…or perhaps She Wolf of London by way of Buffy, when Cassandra Collins summons erstwhile attorney cum private investigator Anthony Peterson to her aid once more. But this time, there’s no cigarette lighter involved…in fact, there’s no magic at all…
“Why would a witch need a lawyer? Can’t you just zap your way out of this mess?”
“So you won’t help me? After all the things we’ve been through together?”
“Look, that should be reason enough!”
Apparently playing courier for a somewhat illicit trade in rare occult artifacts, Cassandra finds herself implicated in the murder of one of the parties involved…and hunted by not only the authorities and a criminally oriented third party, but the intended recipient as well. And the latter proves far worse man to cross than either of the former…
“I’ve been in New Orleans less than two hours, and I’ve already been attacked by the living dead and staged a jailbreak. You know, every time we meet, you bring trouble.”
“Are you finished?”
Since we’re on the subject of zombies, it seems as good a time as any to address this point. There’s a fella named Michael Salami essaying the part of voodoo houngan Mr. Jericho, and I can’t decide whether he’s perfect for the part or completely miscast. The reason? I’m fairly positive that’s a Jamaican accent, not a Haitian one…and hell, either way, it’s certainly not N’Awleans Cajun!
Even so, it’s broadly speaking the right idea, and offers a measure of sinister authenticity to the proceedings, which I for one appreciated (the issue of the veracity of same being vaguely in question or no).
“You want to get out of this mess? You’re going to have to do some work too. Vamp him a little, work a little of your feminine wiles. You haven’t lost that power, have you?”
“I got you to come to New Orleans, didn’t I?”
This is a far busier, more action oriented installment than The Death Mask. Working more of the cop show by way of horror motif and suffused in a particularly modern and urban atmosphere, The Voodoo Amulet positively screams nighttime in the city, with wet echoing streets, busy subway and bus stations and noisy juke joints.
With gangster film tropes intermingling with the policier alongside a blaxploitationesque voodoo-related storyline, it’s like comparing apples to oranges, the tone and setting has changed so radically. And yet…nothing has changed at core.
“So…who was that who took my call when I phoned your office?”
“Rita, my secretary.”
“She seemed awfully familiar for an employee…”
“I don’t discuss my personal life with clients…”
“ah. So she’s part of your personal life…”
“Cassandra…let’s stick to business.”
“If you insist…”
With the same Bogart meets Bacall, Nick and Nora Charles-style sophisticated 1930’s/early 40’s banter and romantically skewed interplay being matched by a far more hard boiled, Dashiell Hammett by way of Mickey Spillane film noir setting and approach, Mark Thomas Passmore outdoes himself once again, demonstrating forcibly that he’s more than just a one trick pony, deftly melding and crossing genres both within and between each successive installment of the ongoing if all too brief story of Cassandra and Tony, “occult detectives” and adventurers.
“Still, if anyone could pull it off, it was the two of us. As much as I hated to admit it, we worked well together. We made a good team.”
Giving more script and focus to Tony Peterson this time around, Passmore similarly offers a more credible, less comic sidekick take on the character, allowing Lacy to work all the best hard luck gumshoe cliches of the noir detective novel or film.
Neither is Parker any slouch for the portions of the script she’s given, which even tap into the entire Sky Rumson storyline of the 1969 iteration of the original teleseries (hence perhaps explaining her loss of powers…or does it?) While understandably a far less composed, more obviously stressed Cassandra this go around, she still manages to imbue her performance with sufficient coy flirtatiousness, wry bemusement and general likeability to show exactly why the much put upon Tony Peterson keeps coming back for more.
Further, she’s able to elicit a measure of pathos to the discussion of her short marriage to Rumson, which as with all the Big Finish takes on Dark Shadows, manages to almost entirely sidestep the often overwrought, rather campy stridency of their earlier Ramse Mostoller/Lela Swift-driven televised performances to offer a more realistic and believable take on characterization, regardless of the intrinsic outreness of the supernatural series focus.
“You brought me back…with that kiss.”
“uh…well…don’t think that I enjoyed it, it’s…just part of the job. Really…truly, nothing personal.”
“Be still, my foolish heart.”
Even ending on some cliche pulp detective-film style jazz, The Voodoo Amulet is yet another unexpectedly amusing, deftly scripted, well acted and wholly enjoyable installment in the Dark Shadows line, and the ongoing adventures of Cassandra Collins and Tony Peterson.