Friday, March 16, 2012

A few thoughts on the Dark Shadows trailer





I don't know if there's ever been a disconnect as great as what I expected from a Dark Shadows movie and what was promised to me in the trailer that debuted last night on iTunes. We've been hearing for months that it was a comedy, warnings often laced with assurances -- from the writer, director, cast, etc. -- that this was not the case.

If you've watched the trailer you already know that somebody's been lying. And it wasn't a small lie, either. The new Dark Shadows movie might be a great many things but it looks to be a comedy above all else. This isn't a concept that particularly offends me. If Dark Shadows is a comedy and it's actually funny, then it's done its job.

What I find repellant is the lack of understanding of the subject matter, and the utter disregard for the television show's former fanbase. The story looks to deviate so far from the original storyline that I don't know if there's a reason to even call it Dark Shadows. Had I watched the trailer cold -- without titles or character references -- I'd never have guessed it had anything to do with the original Dan Curtis television show. It actually made me a little queasy to watch. It's not enough that Tim Burton doesn't want us at the cool kids' party, but he's got to ridicule us, as well.

What makes the many, many changes to the television show's characters and situations even more baffling is Johnny Depp's dedication to looking and sounding like Jonathan Frid. Depp obviously spent a lot of time working on a playful homage to the Frid, and I have trouble believing he'd ask members members of the original cast to make cameos in the film if his goal was to embarrass them. But that trailer has an unmistakable Brady Bunch Movie cynicism that makes me uncomfortable. If it's not laughing at Dark Shadows it's at least laughing in its general direction.

And I wasn't alone in these sentiments. Facebook and Twitter almost caught fire as fan outrage reached toxic, Jar Jar Binks levels last night. I was trying not to contribute to another angry, negative Internet flame war, but I didn't feel compelled to try especially hard.

Those of us who love the original television show have no real reason to watch this movie, outside of morbid curiosity or a misguided sense of masochism. We might be a minority among ticket buyers, but I don't see what the upside is to alienating us, either. I'm sure the Warner Bros. marketing department isn't doing cartwheels over the prospect of trying to sell an unfamiliar concept to whoever else might want to see this movie.

But I'm willing to give Burton the benefit of the doubt. I was one of his defenders when he cast Michael Keaton as Batman, and that controversy died a quick death once audiences saw the final product. The trailer might even be the terrified, desperate work of a marketing department that ran some Dark Shadows footage through the Austin Powers Trailer Generator. Anything's possible at this point.

21 comments:

Frank Jay Gruber said...

Well said, although I fear it's overly-optimistic to hope a toothbrush brushing invisible fangs, the "stoned","kiss my butt", "Chevy" and "magical tiny songstress" dialogue lines, etc., could be the work of the zany trailer editors.

Anonymous said...

When I first heard that Burton and Depp were moving forward with the Dark Shadows movie I cringed. I expected bad and definitely got worse. This movie is basically a slap in the face to the fans of the original and reival Dark Shadows. How can Depp, at this point, claim to be a huge fan of the series?

Connie said...

I wanted to keep an open mind as well, and I didn't expect the original. I asked my hubby, did Tim Burton make Batman? Was it a comedy? I don't remember it being one. Dark Shadows always took itself seriously. I enjoyed the first part of the trailer, before the disco music starts. That is why the rest was so disappointing. It's like 2 movies mashed together, and Burton thinks DS fans will pay to attend his party and be the butt of jokes.

George Caltsoudas said...

I loved it! It's almost what I had in my head, but I think tonally my take would be slightly more on the weird ethereal, dream-like side (with obnoxious flies and bugs everywhere). I love the whole cannery plot and Angelique's "Angelbay Seafood" logo. Her obsession with red is also a cute idea. The breakfast scenes are definitely the best part. That's EXACTLY what I had in my head.

My only complaints are that I don't like Carolyn's bland 90's grunge look (but Chloe's casting is great) and I want MORE JULIA!

George Caltsoudas said...

P.S. I don't like the poster. Very ugly. Like something out of the early nineties.

Anonymous said...

I was not turned off by the trailer. In fact, I'm more excited about the film now, and going to LA to see it!

Anne with an E said...

I liked the trailer!! Can't wait to see the movie!! Depp/Burton very seldom disappoint; no reason to expect they will let us down. If all you wanted was a remake of House of Dark Shadows, then, yes, you will be disappointed. I am prepared to add this movie as the next chapter in the Dark Shadows phenomenon! Shame on you for deciding not to see the movie based on a 30 second trailer!!

Anne with an E said...

Go George!! I loved the trailer and can not wait to see the movie!! I hope there is alot more Julia in the movie!! And I love Angelique's red! All those people complaining that Depp/Burton are lampooning Dark Shadows are so totally wrong!! Kathryn (Leigh Scott) read the script and told me she LIKED it!! I am quite ready to add this movie as the next chapter of the Dark Shadows phenomenon! I guess the people unhappy with the trailer (and who bases their opinion of an entire movie on a 30 second trailer, anyway?) wanted a rehash of the TV show's best episodes and story arcs, or maybe they just wanted a remake of House of Dark Shadows....I say, bring on the new Dark Shadows movie!! I WILL BE THERE AT THE VERY FIRST FEATURE!!!!

Anne with an E said...

I liked the trailer!! And now am even more excited to see the movie! The tongue-in-cheek humor helps recapture the "unintentional" humor in the original episodes that came about because they were basically doing live TV. I think they have captured (in a streamlined story) the essence of Dark Shadows, the humor (albeit unintentional), the bizarre, Gothic characters that populate Collinwood and the war between Barnabas and Angelique!! The clip when she turns him into a vampire and he screams "what have you done to me??!!" with blood running out of his eyes and his nails growing into claws have all the requisites for the classic vampire horror story!! The "party scene" may seem to not fit with the movie but we are seeing brief clips out of sequence. I WILL BE FIRST IN LINE TO SEE THIS MOVIE and I feel that it will take its place, rightly so, as the next chapter in the Dark Shadows phenomenon.

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

Yeah, Photoshop has MUCH to answer for :)

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

I'd be less offended by the idea of a Dark Shadows parody if EVERY classic TV-show-turned-movie didn't always take this tact. For every Miami Vice were get a dozen movies like Starsky and Hutch. It's hardly an original idea at this point.

But if I'm wrong about the new DS movie I'll be the first to admit it.

StokesOfDS said...

Sorry if this offends anyone and I may change my mind when I see the movie, but we shall see. I enjoyed the first part of the trailer, which was very dark, gothic, romantic and spooky, BUT...
I am very turned off by most of the trailer. Someone mentioned it being 30 seconds long... no, it was 2 minutes, 33 seconds long and I watched it several times yesterday on YouTube and each time I hated it more and more. I need to watch it again to see exactly when it switches from a gothic romance to disco duck, but it's probably less than 1/3 into the trailer, if I'm not mistaken. Why they used music that wasn't even in existance in 1972 (Barry White's "You're My First, My Last, My Everything" wasn't around till 1974, according to Wikipedia) and I'm not sure about the other music... I was too busy upchucking at the visuals of Barnabas hanging upside down under the canopy of the bed as Mrs. Johnson was making it... Barnabas brushing his fangs in front of the bathroom mirror, only the toothbrush and foam from the toothpaste showing... Barnabas sitting down to breakfast with the Collins clan, telling them that he was a vampire, asking about horses and being told they didn't have horses, they have a Chevy... all the disco crap (and Disco didn't really even come about in full till 1973), the wrestling around with Angelique and her nauseatingly ridiculous seduction scenes with him, including that gross demonic tongue! ARGH! I just do not know why Johnny Depp and Tim Burton made a movie like this when they both claim to be fans of the original show... Even Michelle Pfeiffer has said that she is a fan of the original show and did as many of us and "came running home from school" to watch it... The four members of the original cast that had cameos in the movie are probably not happy with what was seen in the trailer. I don't know how they could be, unless they just don't care anymore... "What have they done to MY Dark Shadows?!?"

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

I came up with the tagline for this site, "A Safe Haven for Dark Shadows Fans," on a whim. Mostly I just needed something to fill the dead space beneath the logo and decided the tag was harmless enough. It wasn't something meant to be taken seriously.

But OMG has the trailer for the new Dark Shadows movie stirred up a hornet's nest of ill will and rancor. Not everybody is denouncing the trailer for the insulting Zucker-brothers yuckfest (as I did yesterday.) A lot of people were genuinely delighted by what they saw. The fissure that's taking place in fandom isn't a product of differing opinions, it's that some people are just a$$holes (and that has nothing to do with Dark Shadows.)

If you take a look around Facebook you'll see people bitching at each other about keeping "open minds" and not "judging the film until you've seen it," which is all well and good (not to mention ironic, since the movie's defenders haven't seen the film, either.) But some administrators are beginning to politely tell their followers that badmouthing the new film might get them banned. It looks like some of the higher profile DS sites might even be weeding negative responses from their posts.

If you like what you saw in the new trailer, more power to you. You're welcome to get on here and spread the love. If you didn't like the trailer, that's good, too. The only crime here is NOT having an opinion.

Frank Jay Gruber said...

This might very well be an amusing vampire comedy and looks far superior to something like DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT -- but it's NOT Dark Shadows. It looks like some kind of Mad Magazine parody of Dark Shadows. Not only will it give newcomers the wrong idea about what the original show is, it will virtually eliminate the chance of anyone doing a serious new version faithful to the spirit of Dan Curtis + Art Wallace's original concept.

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

That's my biggest fear, Frank: will the new movie make the Dark Shadows brand toxic?

Michael Rowe said...

What an amazing site!

Connie said...

I've decided the problem is with the TITLE of the movie. We knew that "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" would be Tim Burton's own strange take on the original Willy Wonka. If he had altered the title somehow, we wouldn't have expected something closer in spirit to the original. He could have gone with "Angelique Bangs Barnabas".. or "The Vampire who Shagged me"....

Connie said...

Thank you for the open forum so we can share our feelings. It is nice to know I was not the only one feeling nauseous by the end. I am not judging a movie I have not seen, but I am judging the trailer itself, and I give it an F, just for sheer incoherence and too many one-liners.

Danny Sizzle said...

Thanks for letting people voice their opinion vs. Collinwood.net that is censoring all critics. I was very, very sad after viewing the trailer. Mainly for the reason that Depp and Burton lied to the fans and public about their intended representations. I also feel bad for Frid, Selby, Parker and Leigh-Scott that took the time to make the cameos. If I walked into a disco set I would have walked right back out. I would love to hear their HONEST opinions of the film when it comes out. To me, the trailer was a huge slap in the face. It shows me that Burton is a mental case and has no respect for anything he was a "fan" of. Same goes for Depp.

Erica said...

Thank you, Cousin Barnabas. I rather like you.

When I finally write my own blog rant about this, I may quote a couple of your lines. "It's not enough that Tim Burton doesn't want us at the cool kids' party, but he's got to ridicule us, as well." Brilliant!

Cousin Barnabas (The Creep) said...

Thanks!

Let me know when your piece is written. I'll be glad to share it.

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