Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Someone PLEASE Stop Them!

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!

More, anon.


Anonymous said...

Most people I've interviewed, myself included, loved Sweeny Todd...actually most books do not translate to screen well (does "ADAPTATION mean anything to you)as is evidenced by Steven Kings works...unfortunately you are taking one "still" frame out of tens of thousands...wow...By-the-way...Tim Burton's works are displayed in MUSEUMS...and what do you do that's fantastic? Huh? Waiting...I didn't think so...

Prospero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prospero said...

I do plenty of fantastic things, Anonymous.

Just because something is an adaptation, doesn't mean it's good or worth seeing. And most people I know who saw "Sweeney Todd" despised it as much or even more than I did.

And just so you know, I actually own several pieces of the work that Burton had on display in museums. You seem to have misread my criticism of Burton's decline as a filmmaker as a criticism of his entire body of work.

I suggest you actually read a post thoroughly next time, before making comments in a blind rage.

Have a better day.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Depp's makeup isn't complete and he was just changing locations? or maybe it's the base for some CGI effects?

Prospero said...

I somehow doubt that's the case, but hope I'm wrong...