If you thought that the vampire craze sweeping silver screens recently was at its end, you thought wrong. Dark Shadows is cult director Tim Burton quirky remake of the late 1960s American gothic soap opera. The film follows Barnabus Collins, a rich and carefree twenty-something in Maine in 1770, who is transformed into a vampire by a love-spurned witch and buried alive for 200 years. He wakes in 1972 to find his fortune and estate ruined, “a stranger in an even stranger time” as the movie’s website claims. We follow Collins as he attempts to regain his former glory. For the eighth time, Burton relies on his number one man, Johnny Depp, to fill the leading role of Collins. As ever with Burton, his partner Helena Bonham-Carter isn’t far away, leading a cast of recognizable faces such as Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer and Alice Cooper. The film will be released worldwide on Friday 11 May. With just a few days until release, the Burton/Depp fanboy excitement is reaching fever pitch.
Keeping the original alive
Some critics have praised the director’s skill in keeping the charm of the original. Entertainment Weekly said the the styling of the central character borrows “heavily from the aged-little boy look of original Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid.” The Movies described Dark Shadows as “a pet project of the actor’s for decades,” and Entertainment Weekly reported that Depp “fought for years to make this movie.” Depp serves as producer as well as star. MTV wasn’t convinced and suggested that the remake might “rile fans of the original” by “flipping the super serious vibe of the original soap opera upside down and making a blood-splattered comedy.”
Change of tack for Burton
In comparison with some of Burton’s recent releases, such as the gory tragedy of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or the rather more sober and psychological Alice in Wonderland, MTV said that the film is “certifiably gonzo with a heaping side of camp and comedy.” The Movies concluded that the film is not settled in one genre, “flip-flopping between comedy and gothic melodrama,” but that this “doesn’t detract from the fact that the film is a good chunk of nonsense fun.”
Dark Shadows signals the eighth collaboration between Depp and Burton. Cinema Blend argued that this may be one too many: “How many times can we see Depp in roles like this with Timmy B? It feels very ‘been there, done that … it looks like Depp playing Depp and Burton doing Burton.” They predicted that Rotten Tomatoes rating will be 45%, compared with an average of 78% for the other Depp/Burton films.