Two of our intrepid hosts went to see Dark Shadows, and (of course) had opposing views of the movie. We’re putting up both reviews and readers can decide for themselves who has the most convincing argument.
I start this by saying I have seen EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of the original “Dark Shadows” television show – all 1,228 of them. Many of them I have seen at least twice, because after spending a big part of my VERY early childhood running home from school to watch this ABC soap opera (and it probably started my love of the vampire genre), Illustrator X and I watched them all in order on SyFy when they brought it back a few years ago. So I heard the news of a “Dark Shadows” movie (aside from “House of Dark Shadows” and “Night of Dark Shadows”) and approached it with trepidation. But, I thought, it’s Tim Burton, I’m a fan of Tim Burton (most of the time); it’s Johnny Depp, I love Johnny Depp (in anything), maybe it will be good! Unfortunately, Dome and I recently saw Mr. Burton’s remake and…well, keep reading.
I like the soundtrack. As we’ve mentioned on the show, the only host older than me is Dome (thanks Kriana) and this was music I could get into. I also greatly appreciated the scraps from the original series that Mr. Burton threw at us fans – Widow’s Peak and the Atlantic crashing against the rocks are shots that seem to be taken right from either the show or the movies; the haunting original theme bleeds periodically through Danny Elfman’s score; and the Blue Whale bar makes and appearance. And thank you Mr. Burton, from the fans, for letting us get our last glimpse of the original Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid (attending “a happening” at Collinswood) after his very recent death, along with the original Victoria Winters, Quentin Collins, and Angelique.
I actually thought Helena Bonham Carter did a great send up of Grayson Hall’s Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Alice Cooper kicked ass (but then, I always think Alice Cooper kicks ass). I thought the special effects were good and yes, I spotted the perfunctory Burton showing of a Sandworm.Yes, I want to live in Collinswood. I did then, and I want to now – more than ever.
This script needed a re-write. Plain and simple. It seems Mr. Burton couldn’t decide if he wanted this to be a comedy or homage. If it’s a comedy, it wasn’t funny enough. If it’s an homage, it didn’t give us enough of the original soap opera angst. Johnny was not Barnabas. He was an amalgamation of Max Schrek’s Nosferatu and the greasier parts of Bela Lugosi. While I thought Michelle Pfeiffer was passable as Elizabeth Stoddard, she was WAY too accepting of new “cousin” Barnabas. Jackie Earl Haley was completely wasted in this film. And I really did not like Chloe Grace Moretz’s Carolyn Stoddard.
Did they have to mesh Maggie Evans and Victoria Winters? Because it didn’t work. Where was Quentin Collins? Where were the perfunctory séance scenes? Why was David Collins nice? (Sorry, I’m really writing for the fans with that one) Johnny Lee Miller was a HORRIBLE Roger Collins – he didn’t drink NEARLY enough (Editor’s Note: Don’t drink and drive, kids!). And Angelique – in the original, one thing fans loved was hearing the ABSOLUTELY EVIL laugh of Lara Parker’s Angelique the Witch. When Angelique laughed, you knew you were in for some great scene munching in the next few minutes. Eva Green’s Angelique DIDN’T LAUGH ONCE! How difficult is it to come up with a crazy, evil laugh??? And did we really need the Buffy/Spike lust fest reenactment between Angelique and Barnabas? It wasn’t funny, in fact, it was rather awkward.
Overall, at the end, the Dark Shadows remake just left the Dead Redhead feeling…blah. If it was going to be a comedy, then make it over the top! I know Mr. Burton used to able to do that–look at Beetlejuice! Look at Ed Wood! If it’s an homage, MAKE IT OVER THE TOP, much like the original show! That’s one of the reasons I loved the original! Instead, it’s more of a mediocre send up with lots of pretty props and a few scraps thrown to the hardcore fans. Sorry Messrs. Burton and Depp, I’ll pass until your next venture.