Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Need to Talk About Dark Shadows



Cousin Barnabas here.

It’s not exactly a secret I didn’t much care for Tim Burton’s take on DARK SHADOWS. I’m not sure many people did, but my evidence for such a claim is anecdotal. If you take a look at Tumblr, you’ll see the movie certainly has its fans, even if the demographics have little in common with the older fanbase. There's a very clear schism between these two groups, a valley dug, in part, by older fans as an effort to keep younger audiences from usurping their beloved property and transforming the brand into a Hot Topic fashion accessory.

I’ve tried to rein in the bile on this site since the movie's release. My feelings about it have softened during the last few months, probably because I haven’t seen the film since May and tend to remember the parts of it that I liked. It had a tremendous sense of visual style (a Tim Burton hallmark) and a great cast, but the script was a trainwreck of Irwin Allen proportions (another Tim Burton trademark.)
But, it was still DARK SHADOWS. Johnny Depp clearly loved Jonathan Frid’s performance and has spoken often of the show over the years, so I refuse to interpret the movie’s shortcomings as a vendetta against the original program. It was misguided, sure, but Burton has proven repeatedly that he can’t tell a good script (Ed Wood) from a bad one (Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland, Batman, The Corpse Bride, etc.) If he were interested in intentionally damaging DARK SHADOWS he wouldn’t know where to begin.

So, with that in mind, I thought the DVD release of DARK SHADOWS was the perfect opportunity to revisit the film. Did we sell it short on its theatrical release? Were fans too angry about the final product, and would the fanbase have spewed bile over all things Depp/Burton no matter WHAT the final movie looked like? These things are worth talking about. And, because the cops usually get involved whenever I talk to myself in public, I decided to invite some friends to the discussion. Joining me in this group column are writers/raconteurs Phil Nobile Jr., Will McKinley and Plucky McFeatherton.

Now that you’ve had a chance to revisit DARK SHADOWS, what did you think?

WILL McKINLEY
I tried to give this movie the benefit of the doubt. I've seen it three times now, and each time I like it less. This last time, on Blu-ray, I found it infuriating. It's just a complete and utter failure.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
Same here. I was positively beside myself when I realized that Tim Burton and Seth Grahame-Smith had turned Dr. Julia into a doughy alcoholic. I know for a fact that Helena Bohnam Carter has a bangin' figure, so why they elected to have her don mu-mu's and down play her very Grayson Hall-esqu check bones is beyond me.

Also, did anyone else laugh out loud at "GO... WATCH... THE COOPER... WOMAN"? Easily the funniest line in the movie.


PHIL NOBILE JR.
I did like that line.

Here's the problem with adapting DARK SHADOWS: The story is the least original thing about it. Barnabas chasing a reincarnated Josette? Right out of Karloff's THE MUMMY. Yet each time they re-adapt the show, they just copy that same story, over and over. You get the sense that Smith was sent a highlights reel by Jim Pierson, or maybe watched two weeks of show, and was off to the races. What I'd hoped for, and which threatened to happen for about ten seconds in the film, was a love letter to the crazy tone of the show. Instead the movie was essentially tone-deaf, jumping from scene to scene, skimming the surface, with bits of interesting things always threatening to happen, but never taking shape. The film keeps flirting with themes of "family" but Barnabas never connects (in the 18th century or the 20th) with anyone in the family. Or his love interest. Or us.

COUSIN BARNABAS
I missed the "Cooper Woman" line during my first screening (it was probably drowned out by the sound of my breaking heart) but it was easily the best laugh of the film. It's worth pointing out that I passed up a chance to see LAWRENCE OF ARABIA on the big screen last night so that I could watch DARK SHADOWS again in preparation for this piece. Shouldn't that kind of decision cost me my right to vote or something?

The last time I saw the movie was at the midnight showing during the film's theatrical release. I've been bombarded with photos and memes via Tumblr during the last few months and was starting to think the film's flaws were my imagination. But the movie was actually worse than I remembered it. The script lacks anything resembling a narrative focus, plot, etc. Ideas are constantly thrown at the screen and immediately forgotten, but the entire project is crippled by Tim Burton's lack of interest in the movie's romance. Victoria Winters disappears during the last 45 minutes of the film, and then brought back in an "Oh shit, we totally forgot about her!" moment. It's like the entire movie was a protracted last-minute reshoot.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
You passed up digitally remastered Lawrence of Arabia for "boldly re-imagined in the hackneyed Tim Burton style that is neither bold nor re-imagined" Dark Shadows? I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU RIGHT NOW.

Tim Burton put more effort into the totally gross monster-sex between Barnabas and fork-tongued uber-bitch Angelique than he did the budding (and also kind of gross in its own way) romance between Barnabas and Vicky (who is actually Maggie, which is a problem that will never actually be addressed in the film so why even bother?)

Also, Julia fellating Barnabas: WHO YOU FINNA TRY MR. BURTON?


WILL McKINLEY
Honestly, I don't care what the funniest line in the movie is. I don't watch DARK SHADOWS for funny lines.

And that storyline with Julia felt like it was conceived on a 10-minute conference call. "Instead of her trying to cure him, why not make it that she's trying to cure herself of aging. Because, you know, women hate aging."

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
"Women hate aging". Nah Mr. Burton and company. Women hate being told what they hate.

COUSIN BARNABAS
I watched this with my fiancee last night, who's had to suffer through the movie twice without any prior devotion to the original television show. She highlighted a dozen different ideas in the film that were worth exploring as films, and said she'd love to see a sequel about a love triangle between Barnabas, Victoria and Julia because they all came upon their curse in different ways. Barnabas was cursed (though you'd never know it was a curse by watching this movie,) Victoria was made a vampire to save her life, while Julia actively SOUGHT IT OUT. There's a story there, but I don't trust these idiots to find it.

PHIL NOBILE JR.
"Women hate aging", and this movie HATES women! Russ Fischer at Slashfilm has an interesting take: this is Tim Burton's movie about his breakup with Lisa Marie. I hate to think that Burton spent $200 million slamming a woman who now charges $20 an autograph at horror conventions, but there's definitely a big, uncomfortable, half-baked "bitches be crazy" subtext running through this whole movie.

I have a friend who's never seen the show, and in twenty seconds he came up with a more interesting take for the film:

"It COULD have been a pretty good Burton-movie if it had been about Barnabas slowly discovering (with his comedy sidekick Willie) his family members' secrets, gaining their trust, slowly becoming their friend, leading up to the big fight at the end where everyone uses their powers in sync and OMG THEY'RE A REAL FAMILY NOW.

"The boy and his ghost mother? Barnabas should have IMMEDIATELY bought into that and gone to investigate. Chloe-wolf? Have Pfeiffer say she's going through changes and Barnabas IMMEDIATELY assumes it's lycanthropy because his mind is in 1780s mode.

"There'd be MOMENTUM! How unheard of!

"Instead nope everybody just walks around being miserable and then CGI fight scene the end."


WILL McKINLEY
For you guys who saw it in the movie theater (all of us?), did you have any walk-outs? When I saw it on opening night at midnight, there were too few people to walk out. If anyone had walked out it would have left me alone in a 200-seat theater. But when I went the next night, there were at least three couples who left. Now, I understand people do that in multiplexes, because they can just walk into another film. But I can't remember the last movie I thought was bad enough to walk out on.

PHIL NOBILE JR.
I was at a press screening; a walkout would have been hilarious. For this conversation I watched it again and nodded off after 20 minutes, if that counts.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
No walk-outs, just a very nearly empty movie theater. Me and a bunch of teenage girls. I think the tragedy of Dark Shadows as a Tim Burton fustercluck was lost on them.

COUSIN BARNABAS
I didn't see any walkouts, either. I was at a midnight screening, and the kind of people who show up to a movie at midnight on Thursday are pretty much committed to the experience, good or bad.
Then again, I didn't see any walkouts during BATMAN AND ROBIN, either, and that movie is still my personal gold standard for bad movie experiences.

WILL McKINLEY
DARK SHADOWS makes BATMAN AND ROBIN look like CITIZEN KANE.




COUSIN BARNABAS
I don't know about that ... I still suffer from PTSD from BATMAN AND ROBIN. Ice-related puns send me into convulsions and I often wake up screaming from nightmares about that fucking Batman credit card.

But I digress.

The Barnabas/Angelique sex scene is pretty much the apex of the movie's problem: Neither character has defined powers. Barnabas is 21st Century vampire, which pretty much makes him Superman, while Angelique can do anything she wants, whenever she wants. She needs a forked tongue for the sake of a joke? Done. She's survived 200 years without explanation? Fine. She can bring furniture to life with the flick of her wrist? Whatever.

She's a walking "deus ex machina" character, which goes a long way toward explaining the movie's deus ex machina ending ... it was the only thing that could stop an unstoppable character.

Also, was there some kind of relationship between Angelique and Collinwood? She seemed to get injured whenever the property took damage, but it was never addressed.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
There was definitely something about the way the film was edited that gave it an unfinished feel, as if the original script (and I guess the movie as it was originally filmed) was much more complex, more dynamic, and maybe didn't move at a breakneck pace.

I've always gotten the sense that Tim Burton likes to coat Johnny Depp in layers and layers of makeup to somehow compensate for the fact that he essentially plays the same character in every film in the Tim Burton universe. The facial expressions and mannerisms will always be the same, and only the look of the character changes. I didn't get a sense go Jonathan Frid at all from Johnny Depp's Barnabas. It made me miss the REAL Barnabas Collins.

PHIL NOBILE JR
Over and over I keep coming back to the script as the culprit. I love the series but I didn't expect reverence.  I would have LOVED a comedic take that was actually funny. But the humor was just lazy, and kept relying on obvious montages of Rip Van Winkle jokes. Three montages? Four? That got old fast. The approach didn't bother me, the changes didn't bother me, but goddamn it, Smith's ability to mix horror and humor apparently ends at title mash-ups.


COUSIN BARNABAS
That's the downside to playing an homage: You're constantly reminding the audience of the OTHER guy. I didn't much like the new STAR TREK movie (though I didn't hate it) and one of the smart decisions they made was to avoid having Chris Pine do a William Shatner impersonation. The most flattering thing I could say about ST is that it was a deft piece of commercial cinema, which is a meager accomplishment that DARK SHADOWS didn't manage.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
I can go with you on this one. It would have been unsettling to see Johnny Depp channeling Jonathan Frid. Unfortunately his only other option was to combine Edward Scissorhands and Jack Sparrow.

WILL McKINLEY
Johnny Depp IS channeling Jonathan Frid. Everything about his performance is based upon Frid, including inflection and the way he moves his head when he speaks. His Barnabas is a DIRECT homage, which is why it's so disconcerting to see him in the middle of this dreck.

COUSIN BARNABAS
I think Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer are the two saving graces of this film, even though they aren’t given much to do. My favorite bit of acting in the entire movie is by Depp, just as Dr. Hoffman is preparing to hypnotize him. In that moment he feels like a real character and not just a collection of quirks. Depp certainly meant well, but his trust in Burton was misguided.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
Johnny Depp SAYS he's channeling Frid, but I don't see it. Granted, it could be that I'm looking for something else familiar from Frid's Barnabas, something that I noticed personally that I'm not seeing in Depp's performance that's throwing me off, but I just can't go with you on this one.
Maybe I can't see it because on the whole, the movie is so far divorced from Dark Shadows as we know it that it's hard to place a familiar Barnabas in an unfamiliar Burton-tacular landscape.


PHIL NOBILE JR
That was the biggest misstep in tone. The series lives in this hermetically sealed bubble; I'm pretty sure I never even saw a TV on the show. But for easy jokes Burton has immersed Collinsport in pop culture - books, music, television. It takes away from what made the show unique and adds virtually nothing.

COUSIN BARNABAS
The reason Barnabas was able to survive on the original show was because he had a profound lack of curiosity about the outside world. He lived like a ghost, haunting the "old house" and rarely ventured out beyond Collinwood. He didn't care about telephones, pop culture, television, etc. He had about as much use for that stuff as my grandfather has for Twitter, which is none at all. On the original show, it was still a BAD THING to be a vampire.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
Yeah guys, I'm coming with you on this one. Just watched Johnny Depp's Barnabas back to back with Jonathan Frid's on Ye Olde YouTube. He just looks like Johnny Depp playing Johnny Depp to me.

COUSIN BARNABAS
I know people are getting tired of Johnny Depp, but I still like the guy. I think there's more going on with his characters than "just" playing chalk-faced weirdos, and I'm not holding a grudge for SHADOWS. It's just one more well-intended misfire from Burton, who is an amazing production designer that's paid tons of cash to be a storyteller. If I paid the David Bowie to fix my plumbing, I'd only have myself to blame when he fucked it up.

Has anyone seen any new fans sign up because of this film? I think the anticipation of the film generated a lot of new SHADOWS fans, but the actual film hasn't done much for the brand. I don't know if you noticed, but the back of the DVD/Blu makes no reference to the TV show.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
I tried enticing my little sisters (12 & 14) but it's hard to get anyone under 25 to sit still not just for Dark Shadows, but for anything that doesn't offer constant action. Granted, the series gets less creeping in its pace as it moves forward (and, y'know, backwards) but initially winced every time my siblings deferred to their smartphones for entertainment during their introduction to Dark Shadows.  


WILL McKINLEY
One more thing. What pushed me over the edge, I think, were the "special features" on the Blu-ray. There are NINE little behind-the-scenes packages that were shot and edited specifically for this release. NOT ONE of them is about the original series. NOT ONE of them is a tribute to Jonathan Frid, without whom none of this would be happening. 

When Frid died so close to the movie's release, my first thought was, "Well, it's too late to dedicate the film to him. But I'm sure they'll do something on the DVD." Nothing. His face appears for ONE SECOND in one of the special features, along with a shot of the logo and Lara Parker. They don't even reference him by name. And here are the soundbites from the special feature that the images are meant to support:

Derek Frey, Associate Producer: "The television show was trying to pull off things that maybe it didn't have the budget or the means to."

Johnny Depp: "'Dark Shadows' the series did it well within whatever restrictions they had. But it was time to take it to another level."

Derek Frey, Associate Producer: "Were able to tell the DS story with a much grander scope, on a bigger scale."

So, they only reference the source material to point out how flawed it is, to damn it with faint praise?
These people did not come up with "Dark Shadows." Art Wallace, Gordon Russell, Ron Sproat, Sam Hall and Dan Curtis did. Burton and Seth Grahame-Smith just remixed it. And they did a shitty job. And there are no acknowledgements to the people that created this, other than Dan Curtis. This is unforgivable.

COUSIN BARNABAS
Uh, yeah ... I don't think it's a good idea for me to watch those features. It might prompt some kind of Hulk-related incident here in South Carolina.

WILL McKINLEY
FUCK ALL THOSE BITCHES.

PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON
As a Dark Shadows fan, I really only had one humble wish in the months leading up to the premier of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie: Just don't fuck it up. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the donkey, just don't fuck it up. Unfortunately Tim Burton and Seth Grahame-Won't-Be-Working-Year-From-Now remained loyal to the source material only in the sense that they didn't change the name to Technicolor 1970's Vampire Romance (But Not Really, You Guys) Extravaganza!

Dark Shadows was terrible. It was terrible in a laughable, MST3K-worthy way and it was terrible in a way that elicited a collective groan from a deeply emotionally invested fan base who was genuinely hoping for a DS movie that wouldn't fall squarely with in the realm of Things That Are Craptacular That We Wish We Could Forget.

It was clear before Dark Shadows was released that with the notable exceptions of Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp, no ones heart was in the right place going in to this film and that's super unfortunate, because what ended up in theaters was a movie where the director, producer, and writer were clearly in on the joke and the two principle players, the ones old enough to remember getting REALLY TEEN-ANGSTY EXCITED about Dark Shadows back when vampires were still Bela Legosi in a cape, weren't in on it at all.

And that just sucks.

Sometimes being a DS fan is like watching your teddy bear (or applicable favorite childhood plush) get repeatedly run over by a pick up truck in slow motion while Tim Burton films it with a steady cam.

PHIL NOBILE JR.
Making Barnabas just a visibly obvious vampire really killed the other great subtext of the series - of the lonely "bachelor" living with a secret, and honestly just about every decision they made confirmed to me that I was right way back when: http://badassdigest.com/2010/12/14/terror-tuesday-how-burtons-dark-shadows-could-be-great-but-wont-be/


ABOUT THE AUTHORS: I'm not going to try to summarize the credits of the contributing writers for this piece because I'll leave out something important. But, if you want to read more from these folks, here are some good places to start:

 PHIL NOBILE JR.
Twitter
Badass Digest





WILL McKINLEY
Twitter





PLUCKY MCFEATHERTON







25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I bought the blu ray yesterday and watched it with my 8 year old daughter, with whom I saw it in the theater. I became disappointed when the trailer came out and I had hoped that it would not be as the trailer depicted it, a campy comedy version, which I think, is what we got. The music was terrible, although, I did like Nights in White Satin at the beginning. I was hoping for gothic horror but was disappointed. I have been a fan of the series for the past 21 years and have seen every episode along with the revival and the other theatrical movies and loved all of them. I was actually saddened by the fact that the movie did not pay actual homage to the show. But I do like Johnny Depp and his love for the show and Jonathan Frid were it saving grace for me.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christian LeBlanc said...

Too angry by all the feelings stirred up by remembering the movie to say much of value, but I at least wanted to say how much I enjoyed this article :) As well as Phil's link at the end...that WOULD have made for an amazing film. Per some of the comments there, has anyone tried working on a comic based on this idea?

Thanks for writing this piece. It just confirms many things that made me uncomfortable about the film, reassuring me that it just wasn't my own preconceptions or prickly attitude that kept me from enjoying it.

Cousin Barnabas said...

The opening credits are gorgeous and set a tone I wish the rest of the movie maintained.

Hell, a movie about a young woman who escapes a mental institution to find herself in a mansion full of (possibly delusional) ghosts and vampires is a movie I'd LOVE to see.

I think Depp is seriously uncomfortable with his status as sex symbol, and has been since his days on 21 Jump Street. He favors roles that fly against that nonsense, which sometimes requires him to hide under makeup like a latter-day Lon Chaney.

It would have been better for everybody had Burton just made that DRACULA movie he's obviously wanted to do since BATMAN in 1989.

Mark Rainey said...

This is a pretty good little tete-a-tete. The movie had its moments, but overall, I disliked it the first time around, and more so the second time. I won't buy the DVD, I don't imagine. It has nothing to do with it not being the DS of old; it has to do with the script being a mess and its excessive reliance on cheap humor. No nudge-nudge-wink-wink, more a sledgehammer of inanity. The mix of humor and faux seriousness is schizophrenic at best. The franchise has so much potential for a decent reboot, it's a shame we were served this mess.

Tim said...

As a fan of DS since the age of 10 and now 55, I really tried to like this film. It started out well, but just got worse as it went on. It had some good ideas that sadly never went anywhere. So overall it left me disappointed and let down. But then, why should I be surprised, any recent attempts at bring this show back to life seem to fail. There are so many good stories in the DS World that could / should be told, but they always rehash the same one. The exception to this are the Big Finish Audio Dramas. I did like most of the 1991 version, never got to see DS 2004? Alas, any updated Dark Shadows, always seems to shoot itself in the foot.

willmckinley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
willmckinley said...

So am I the only person who thinks a $250 million international gross makes a sequel (or something else, like a new TV series) a DISTINCT possibility?

Phil Nobile said...

I hope you are...

Anonymous said...

Yup Will, you are self deluded. If Jim Pierson had written the script instead of Seth Grahame Smith, and Zanucker had directed instead of Burton, made it 4 hours worth, serious vs. Saturday Night Live. It would have made billions alone in the US.

Cousin Barnabas said...

Either way, I vote for Joel McHale as Quentin Collins.

BTW: Thanks to some weird glitch in Blogger, I've been getting duplicate comments. That "comment deleted" post by Will above wasn't something obscene ... it was the same post as the one below it.

willmckinley said...

If I didn't get bleeped for "FUCK ALL THOSE BITCHES" in the article, how obscene would I have to be to get deleted in the comments??

Zahir Blue said...

I am an original fan of DS, having started watching during the dream curse. And personally, I'm sick to death of the whining. Really. Especially the nasty remarks about the cast, the crew, etc. I see a few problems with the film (which I enjoyed very much and I know for a fact was hardly a unique experience) but reading this was the same old tired complaints that popped up before the film even opened. It is a Tim Burton film, and if you don't like Tim Burton you're not going to like this. The hatred-of-women thing is, I'm sorry, absurd. Liz, Carolyn and Vicky are all very positive characters, even heroes. For that matter so is Mrs. Johnson in her quirky way. You didn't like the film, fine. So let it go already! There are nine other DS versions out there! Go enjoy those! Meanwhile, I'll simply note you didn't think a discussion of this movie warranted the inclusion of anyone who liked it. Frankly that would have been a lot more interesting than this, which begins by putting down any DS fan who isn't middle aged at least. This post was a grave disappointment in what is usually a very good blog.

Phil Nobile Jr said...

I do like Tim Burton. This isn't even a success as a Tim Burton film.

As for the women - Hoffman is made into a joke, a useless, self-serving and vain person until she's dispatched, and Vicky - the female lead- is OBLITERATED so that Josette can possess her body. We're shown that Josette is her ghost pal throughout her life, and at the end she takes over Vicky so that Barnabas can be reunited with Josette, despite the sort-of burgeoning romance between him and Vicky.

MissSpottyJane said...

I felt like the film got so caught up in shoehorning in every character from the show, that they lost sight of the overall final product. From the poster marketing, it seemed like they wanted every character to represent his or her own distinctive brand, but then nobody in the movie really got fleshed out that far. Roger could have left after that first dinner scene, and it wouldn't have impacted the overall story in any way. I loved Bella Heathcote in it, and wish she'd been given more screen time.

The best comparison I can think of is if Beetlejuice had had 30 minutes of content removed, in favor of showing Otho's sex life, the nosy lady gossiping around town, and the mother blueprinting her renovations with an architect. Having said all that, I do feel that the bad press DS2012 got may have partially been from audience burnout more than the film itself. Like the Sgt. Peppers movie, it tried to cash in on whimsy, modern fads and nostalgia, but came out after the fads were passé. I think Peak Teenage Vampire Romance was reached several years ago.

Anonymous said...

Zahir... This is a forum of the Original Show and the reality is you are in the minority of most fans in our age group. It is not whining to express our expectations that it be a treatment closer to the original series as opposed to being a typical Tim Burton treatment of source material. If you don't like the "whining" then you need to get over it. Like with the comic-based movies over the past 20+ years, die-hard fans have a hope or an expectation that the product doesn't deviate too far from the source material. Tim made a comedy of something that was quite serious for most of us back in the day. It was a HUGE disappointment and we will likely continue to vent our displeasure. Since you already know how most of the posts will likely be regarding this film especially in this forum, I suggest then that you don't read, listen, or watch any reviews.

Melissa said...

I agree. Since the Elizabeth character served the purpose Julia did in the original story, the Julia character was an extraneous distraction and should have been cut, even if it meant Helena had to sit one movie out.

Cousin Barnabas said...

I'm cool with Zahir's comments. I'd love to have included a defender of the film in our discussion, but wasn't able to locate one in the short amount of time we scheduled to create this piece. This isn't meant to sound snarky, but the movie just doesn't have that many fans, at least among those of us who write for fun and profit. Asking for people to commit to taking part on a specific day just narrowed down the pool of prospective writers even more.

I don't think the movie is just a bad Dark Shadows movie ... it's just a bad movie, period. It had a great cast and gorgeous production design. The team was ready to play ball, but the coach didn't show up.

Nancy Kersey said...

I didn't love the movie but I didn't hate it either. I am very disappointed and downright annoyed that the special features did not pay homage to those who put Dark Shadows on the bloody map to begin with, especially Jonathan Frid. I agree with Will - this is "unforgivable."

Anonymous said...

Huh. That wasn't the way I read the ending at all. I thought Maggie/Vicky was supposed to be Josette reincarnated, but incompletely, since she seemed to have some of her memories ("to see an old friend") and was the only one who could see her ghost. At the end, the fragments of her personality/spirit reunited in death - well, undeath.

Maybe I'm projecting my own wishful thinking onto the ending, but I prefer to see it that way.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I feel guilty now for not hating the film. I'm 51, so I'm an original series fan. My first crush was on Barnabas at the tender age of six. My parents wouldn't let me watch the show (they thought it was too scary) so I had to sneak over to a friend's house to watch it. I adored it.

I can certainly see why people DID hate the film. I think that my expectations were really low going in, as I'd seen production stills and vented my rage about Johnny Depp's makeup beforehand ("he looks like Nosferatu, not Barnabas Collins") - but the nostalgic soundtrack, some of the visuals, and the last screen appearance of Jonathan Frid left me unable to hate it completely.

I think of it as kind of a well-meant if misfired Tim Burton valentine to a show I adored rather than an actual adaptation of the show itself, I think.

retzev said...

Seeing a new DS movie in a movie theater was, for me, a fantastic experience. I knew what to expect going in, I looked for things to enjoy about the film and found plenty. Will this movie be in steady rotation around my house? No. Too many things wrong with it. But I'll buy it, watch It occasionally.

What I tink is at the root of most of the vitriol, and what I fear most, is the possibility that DS12 has seriously threatened our chances of seeing another DS
screen adaptation for ages to come.

I can live with a crappy DS comic book, a
mediocre novel, an exceptionally dull audio play now and then. But to blow an opportunity of such magnitude, to blow it on such a grand scale...

They had the money, the talent, the resources. These are not unintelligent, incompetent men. They could have created something so special, something enduring. That they didn't thoroughly think this through is maddening.

pluckychicken.net said...

I'm 25. Is that considered "middle aged" now? FAAAAACK!

Erica said...

How did I miss this?

I could revisit this movie until I die (which would be next week, because I'd shoot myself before I had to see it too many more times), and my view on it wouldn't soften. A lousy movie is a lousy movie. An insult is an insult.

I still maintain that Jonathan Frid's passing (may he RIP) shortly before this dreck's release was the ultimate statement: "Fuck you. I refuse to live to see this thing released."

Samantha said...

Reading this somehow made me dislike the movie even more than I did already, which I would have said was impossible at this point. Normally the more time that passes, the more benevolent I feel towards something. But I had just begun to watch the show when I saw the movie, so all I could say about the movie was, "Well, that was...weird," and as time went on, and I saw more of the show, I realized that the movie had failed in every single regard, when it came to the things I liked about the show.

I can say three good things about the movie:
1. Not everything about it was done terribly.
2. If the name "Dark Shadows" wasn't suddenly being flung around in anticipation of the movie, it might not have occurred to me to get the show for me and my mom to try out.
3. Johnny Depp's weird portrayal of Barnabas, and his tidy, rather lackluster romance with Maggie/Vicky, meant that I was totally unprepared for Barnabas's early villainy on the show. (Which is a good thing, because it just made me more horrified.)

But those three things are not enough to redeem it in my eyes.

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