This is a shot (via) of Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins on the set of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, scheduled for a 2012 release. Seriously? Depp looks like Michael Jackson playing the Joker in an exceptionally terrible Joel Schumacher Batman movie.
Okay. Burton and Depp made the remarkable Edward Scissorhands and the amazing and totally under appreciated Ed Wood. But that was back in the 90's when Burton was still a wunderkind and Depp was just known as a "quirky" actor. Then came 1999's Sleepy Hollow. Not awful, but not nearly as good as their prior collaborations. In 2005 I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, mostly because it followed the original Raold Dahl book more closely than the Gene Wilder version. Most critics hated it. Corpse Bride that same year was fun, but it was a simple voice-over job for Depp.
Then came the travesty that was 2007's Sweeney Todd. Seeing Stephen Sondheim's brilliant black comedy operetta turned into a musical horror movie was actually painful, especially given Depp's reedy tenor in a role written for a powerful baritone. In full disclosure, I played Sweeney in a rather amazing and particularly dark 1998 production, so I may be a bit biased. Still, for those who know and love the original show, the movie was abysmal. Most recently was Burton's most craptacular movie to date, Alice in Wonderland. An inexplicable box-office hit, Burton's 3D version of Lewis Carroll's nonsense classic is, quite simply, a fiasco. I could hear the Right Reverend Dodgson spinning in his grave from across the Atlantic as I watched this bastardized piece of Jabberwock poo. And again, in full disclosure (and as many readers know), I am an 'Alice' fanatic, having written several papers in college on both of the Alice novels and much of Carroll's poetry.
So now comes the above image from Burton's and Depp's latest collaboration and all I have to to say to them is: "Put the bong down, stop chomping on the 'shrooms and leave my childhood the hell alone!"
Below is a picture of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas in the Gothic daytime soap opera that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971:
Now does that look anything like the foppish clown in the photo above? Survey says: "Buzzzzzz!"
"Dark Shadows," with its cheap special effects and preposterous story line (which included vampires; werewolves; witches; ghosts; time travel and even an alternate universe 40+ years before "Fringe") has deservedly developed a cult following since it first aired. To see the groundbreaking supernatural show sullied in such a way is not only an insult to its fans, but a slap in the face to the original cast.
Granted, this is only the first image we've seen. It may well be a deliberately campy shot in an otherwise brilliant take on the series. But given Burton and Depp's most recent track record, I think not.
Are/were you a "Dark Shadows" fan? Are you a Depp/Burton fan? Am I overreacting? Look at that picture again. Just as a reminder, here's a 1967 clip from the original show:
Dig that swinging 60's soundtrack! Frid may not have had Depp's admittedly sexual attractiveness, but he was at least believable as a vampire. So again, I implore you all, someone please stop them!