Dark Shadows Updates

Come May of this year, Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the cult classic “Dark Shadows” will arrive at theater screens. Along the way of course we finally get to see Johnny Depp play a vampire (now if only Angelina Jolie would sport some fangs).

Post production is well underway, while the publicity machine for a major motion picture is grinding up to full operation. At present we get snippets like a few new photos. They clearly show Depp as Barnabas Collins echoing the look used by Jonathan Frid, pointy bangs and all. Hardly surprising since Burton said many times he wanted to capture the tone and feel of the series. The overall look for Barnabas makes him appear quite exotic, eerie without being at all ugly, and some might point out a slight resemblance to the appearance of vampires in the “Twilight” films. Which seems fair if incomplete. He just as easily could be said to resemble vampires as described by Anne Rice (who, like Michelle Pfeiffer, was also a fan of the show). Like the series, this vampire’s flesh looks gray as opposed to pink. Presumably, also like the series, people simply don’t notice.

Danny Elfman noted in one interview that they may use the theme song from the original show as a basis for at least some of the music. Burton hadn’t made a decision at the time of the interview.

Meanwhile several actors causes DS fans to go into a variety of tizzies based on their comments. Many still fume over the use of the word “funny” in relation to the film, some assuming the whole thing to be a slapstick comedy. Others point to the IMDB page and express disappointment over the lack of a major character named Maggie Evans (for the record, there are many characters from the program missing–Joe Haskell, Jason McGuire, Professor Stokes, Nicholas Blair, Quentin Collins to name a very few). Keep in mind “Dark Shadows” was a daily soap opera with over a thousand episodes stretched over five years, while this is a film certainly clocking in somewhere in the vicinity of two hours.

Without a doubt, Helena Bonham Carter’s disparaging (but somewhat fond) comments about the original show caused the most furor so far. Along the way the spoiler has emerged (quite possibly true) that her character–Dr. Julia Hoffman–ends up dead by the end of the film. That is what happened as well in the previous movie based on this series, “House of Dark Shadows” with the original cast. In that one, not only Julia but Roger and Carolyn as well as Stokes, Willie and Barnabas himself all perished.

Chloe Grace Moretz (who plays Carolyn Stoddard) talked openly about the film and her role in several places, giving hints but no real spoilers. She described the film as a most similar to “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands” and “Sleepy Hollow” while hinting her character has some kind of big secret that is “new.” Eva Green (Angelique) said she found her character unusual and fascinating.

Probably the most intriguing detail to have emerged so far is a photograph from filming, showing a young woman in period clothes being filmed what seems to be underwater. She resembles Bella Heathcote who portrays Victoria Winters in the film. If so, this reminds one of a pivotal part of the backstory of Barnabas. In the original series, Barnabas made much of how the young woman he truly loved–Josette–fled from him rather than be turned into a vampire. On a storm-tossed evening, he told the story to Carolyn and Victoria, of how Josette leapt from Widow’s Hill into the sea and rocks below. While in the original series there was no hint anyone in modern Collinwood (the family estate) was Josette reborn, both of the subsequent revivals (in 1991 and again in 2004) used the premise that Josette had been reborn as Victoria Winters.

Every year there is a Dark Shadows Festival for fans of the series, alternating between the east and west coasts. Given the circumstances, this year the plan is for a simultaneous events to coincide with the movie!

By david

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation of Carmilla.


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