The Tarrytown Diaries of Professor Stokes



Upon returning to the hotel, I headed for the grand ballroom to see if there were any activities immediately lined up and was astonished to find that the room had been rearranged and now rows of desks had taken the place of the rows of chairs. I learned from a couple of fans gathered in the lobby that the evening’s activities had been moved to the Sunnyside ballroom (where the haunted room had been,) and that the movie screening of Night of DS wasn’t going to be for a couple of hours yet.

Elizabeth, Teresa, VAM & ProfStokes

Elizabeth, Teresa, VAM & ProfStokes

At a quarter to seven, I went down to the ballroom. Not too many people were present yet, but the actresses were there. Terry was walking around, playing with some of the attendees’ babies. She and Lara made an announcement expressing how much they had enjoyed the weekend and wishing us well before leaving. While Ed and his associates worked out technical difficulties with the VCR, I had the good fortune to meet elizabeth from the dsforums. We talked for a bit before the movie began. Even though I prefer Night to House, I hadn’t planned to stay and watch the entire film, but I did anyway (there were flowers on the trees—Lara was right,) and it was a good thing, I did because afterward the Cheep Productions videos, which had been advertised all weekend (and postponed) were finally played.



Haunted Mansion

These videos, made by JVjr, his brother Darryl, and their friends, are hilarious full-length episodes (20-30 mins.) in the tradition of DS. We were treated to three episodes: "Save Our Cemetery," (my favorite) "Barnabas vs. the Bed," and "Heifer Hi jinx." "Cemetery" even featured a guest appearance by Sharon Smyth, reprising her role as the ghost of Barnabas’s little sister Sarah. The plot of that episode involved an evil developer who was planning to bulldoze the cemetery while Barnabas and Julia tried valiantly to stop the destruction by protesting, hypnotizing, and finally calling upon Collinsport’s dearly departed, Jeremiah Collins, Dr. Woodard, and Sam "Pop" Evans for aid. Cured of his vampirism in "Barnabas vs. the Bed," Barnabas struggled to adapt to a mattress instead of a coffin. "Heifer Hi jinx" was set earlier in the series when Barnabas was still feeding on cattle and used actual clips from the show to set up a scenario where Julia disguised herself as a cow in order to get Barnabas to bite her. For a so-called ‘cheap production,’ these videos were very sophisticated and well-done. Daryl played the dual roles of Julia and Barnabas to perfection. If I closed my eyes, he sounded exactly like the real actors, not only by the sound of the voice but by the delivery of the lines. The last syllables of Barnabas’s words were drawn out just as Frid always spoke, and Julia’s hysterical sobbing was spot-on. The costumes were impressive too. During some of the close-ups, I almost believed that I was really looking at Jonathan Frid as Barnabas. In "Save Our Cemetery," the actors portraying the ghosts were dead ringers for Sam Evans and Dr. Woodard III right down to Woodard’s glasses and Sam’s white cane. The sets for the episodes could have passed for those from the show. I understand that Eagle Hill Cemetery was completely fabricated, yet it looked real enough to me, and the Old House was arranged just as Barnabas himself would have wanted it. Even classic bloopers were reconstructed, (an ABC TV camera stealing a scene, falling tombstones, line flubs, etc.) and some of the actual bloopers that occurred during Cheep Production’s filming added even more authenticity to the films. I was in awe of the attention to every detail and the effort and creativity that went into these videos. I understand that this was the last time that those tapes will be shown at a Halloween event, and while I’m thrilled that I was able to catch them, I do wish there was a way they could be shown at future Halloween parties or Festivals. I honestly feel that these are quality productions, and I know the fans would love to see them.

Cat & Pumpkin

Following the last video, I said good-bye to a few of the people I had befriended who remained in the ballroom, then went upstairs to the bar to meet some friends. When the bar closed, we moved our party to the hotel lobby.  Walter loaded his photos into his laptop and showed us the images he’s captured from the weekend. He also provided a wonderful little concert for us by playing his guitar and taking special requests. My evening wrapped up at about 2:30 a.m. because of a morning flight home.  I would have liked to stay longer.

I truly enjoyed the weekend in Tarrytown. It was somewhat different from what I had expected, but I have a feeling I’ll be coming back next year and for years after that. The scheduling changes and postponed events were offset by the wonderful new friends I made and the existing friends I was able to get to know better.  I am very grateful to everybody who helped to make my time in Tarrytown memorable! : )