Friday, April 20, 2012

Dork Shadows

The Late Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins

When I first heard that Tim Burton was making a Dark Shadows movie, I hoped he would remain true to the campy soap's themes - dark, grim and unintentionally funny. Sadly, he seems to have gone in the opposite direction by casting his go-to actor Johnny Depp in a deliberately comedic version of the story.

Like many folks my age, I would rush home from school to catch the decidedly weird soap about the cursed Collins clan (told you I love alliteration) and the patriarchal vampire Barnabas.

The ABC soap (which ran from 1966 to 1971) was populated with vampires, werewolves and witches before Stephanie Meyer was even born. It featured an alternate universe long before "Lost" or "Fringe" and held true to the Gothic atmosphere created by Hammer in the late 60's. It was literally groundbreaking for daytime soap-operas, which had been until then populated with torrid romances and hospital dramas. It's like wouldn't be seen again until NBC's "Passions" which ran from 1999 to 2007.

Today, it was announced that Canadian actor Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabas) passed away at the ripe old age of 87.  Frid has a cameo in Burton's film. I can't help but wonder if seeing the trailer for Burton's film was the final nail in his coffin. See the travesty for yourselves, if you already haven't:

Ugh! Like many fans of the original series, I will not be seeing this film. It seems to me that Burton and Depp have spent far too much time in Wonderland and the Chocolate Factory. Call me when someone makes a serious "Dark Shadows" film. 

More, anon.


Sean said...

I remember watching DS with my mom but I couldn't tell you a thing about it - I was 7 when it ended and then Mom and I would watch All My Children.

I think for myself and most people, this will just be a film unlike The Adams Family that lived on in reruns. Burton could have just as easily used different names and achieved the same affect.

I would have been more interested in seeing a really dark and creepy DS.

Prospero said...

Yes, but the Addams funny has always been funny, even when they were unnamed characters in Chazz Addams' New Yorker cartoons.

"Dark Shadows" was never (intentionally) funny and a big screen adaptation shouldn't be, either.

David said...

It's been acknowledged by cast members making cameos in the film, including Frid, that they knew the movie was going to be different from the TV series. That 45 years later, that old format would not work for today's audience.

I'm optimistic, but Depp and Burton were huge fans of the show and I'm guessing they'll try to appease us fans as well as people who think the world of vampires began and ended with Stephanie Meyers.

Though without DS, there would be no Ann Rice series or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. All of them borrowed themes from DS.

Prospero said...

Forgive me if I remain dubious, David. And I really didn't mean that the material should be as hokey, cheaply produced and often very badly acted as the original was, just that I think they've blown the chance to make an effective supernatural thriller, than a silly 70's comedy. Burton is no longer surprising as a director and Depp has simply out-eccentricked (yup - made up a a word again) himself one too many times. Enough, already. We get it. This is simply the closest the two of are willing to go to make love to one another.