Thursday, March 15, 2012

Burton's DARK SHADOWS Trailer

Ever since my first glimpses of Tim Burton's take on Dark Shadows, I must confess I have been anything but hopeful. Having been so steeped in the franchise since my youngest days, both as a fan and an active contributor—via the HarperCollins novel series and the Big Finish audio dramas—to me, it is an intensely personal thing; a fictional world that I embraced long ago and have held in more than high esteem ever since.

While I am firmly of the view that there is nothing beyond lampooning, I am, to say the least, disheartened to see what Burton is doing to Dark Shadows. Now, the movie may end up being a hoot, à la The Brady Bunch movies (which, in spirit, it appears to most closely resemble). More likely, I fear, it will only spoil the franchise's integrity for those whose introduction to it is this thing. After Burton's take on the story—which will no doubt reach masses of viewers that make Dan Curtis's original audience pale—will a newcomer be able to visit the original series, enjoy the worthy 1991 revival show, read the novels, listen to the wonderful audio dramas, and feel the intensity of the world the Curtis and his associates labored long and hard for so many years to create and perpetuate? I have my doubts.

Whether Burton's Dark Shadows is a successful movie (who knows, I may even enjoy it as a parody), this trailer suggests...very strongly...that that Burton holds little or no respect for the creators and the series' longtime diehard fans. It's all about the lowest common denominator.


Trailers can be deceptive. So, we shall just see. He said...without enthusiasm.

A quick note to Mr. Burton: Barry White's "You're the First, My Last, My Everything" was from 1974, not 1972.


w. h. pugmire, esq. said...

I have as much an emotional connection to DARK SHADOWS as I do to HPL. In high school, I actually wrote my own scripts based on the show and performed them with my fellow drama class. I was always Barnabas. I had such hopes that this would be a new serious Gothic masterpiece, as it well could have been. I am sickened and saddened.

HemlockMan said...

That thing looks absolutely HIDEOUS! There is no way I will go to see that film. Even as comedy it fails to stir anything but contempt.

Barnalust said...

As a viewer of both the original and the revival series, I am disappointed to see the approach taken by Burton and Depp. Some humor, of the understated, biting kind found within the dialogue of prior versions of "Dark Shadows" was completely welcomed. This, however, goes beyond juvenile. I fault the inclusion of a new screenwriter, famous for his "mash-ups", into this production as the key source of this mischief. Having, perhaps, a vague notion of "Dark Shadows", or invested with a scant few episodes with which to garner an inkling, the rewrite must have seemed daunting. Burton and Depp--with their keen memories and eyes for detail--to the rescue! What might have been a classy, darkly Gothic retelling is now no more. The dispensation, too, of the eerie Cobert theme song and background music for Danny Elfman's typical choirboy elevator music will be problematical at best. It was Cobert's mood pieces which set the tone, fully complimenting the stunning architectural genius of Sy Tomashoff, and the almost surreal lighting. To saturate the scenery with the lilting refrains of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and these dreadful disco ditties is to tempt fate. We can hope the latter remains within the trailer; the former will serve as sight and sound gag, no doubt, at the costume ball. So much for the Claret Cup and the Minuet... A seance, anyone?

Had Burton stayed within the tested and certain confines of the 18th century romantic storyline, and boosted the tale of Barnabas' tragic demise and resurrection, then briefly visited the 20th century--without all the cliched silliness--this might have been a satisfying translation worthy of future sequels. While the 18th century imagery of Burton's view is lush and inviting, it is the garishness of the 20th that appears tawdry. Perhaps, that is Burton's point as seen through the eyes of Barnabas, and it is commendable--in small doses. Where this escalates into high camp is with Barnabas, himself, in that his unnatural, cartoonish appearance via Depp's clawing Nosferatu homage and his pronouncement that he is, indeed, a vampire--right off the proverbial bat--removes any vestige of subtlety that was the hallmark of this once tragic figure. Although there is a slight wink to Mr. Frid's elegant physicality as Barnabas, there is little in Depp's comportment, or vocalization that lends credence to the supposition that he had either admired or studied Mr. Frid's masterful interpretation.

It is my fear that this whimsy, however successful or not, will be the connotation future generations will have of and expect from "Dark Shadows". A shame it is that Burton, Depp, et al., have squandered their immense talents by projecting onto a known and serious-minded past production this vapid tomfoolery.

Armand Vaquer said...

My take on it:

groovymom99 said...

Thank you - thought I was the only one who noticed the 1974 Barry White song for a 1972 was driving me crazy. Also, "Top of the World" by the Carpenters was played in the trailer as well. While that song was recorded in 1972, it was not released until late 1973. I remember hearing it for the first time in 1974.
It is really unfortunate that someone did not do the basic resarch to realize how off these dates are!