Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dark Shadows: the Movie

It's not a comedy or a spoof...
 ...though it does have a lot of humor!
We're doing a slightly-different entry this week.
No comic book story, instead, a spoiler-free review of the new Dark Shadows film by Tim Burton.
I watched the original series during it's 1980s late-night re-run on NBC and enjoyed it tremendously.
And while I liked House of Dark Shadows (1970), I  didn't care for the Barnabas-less Night of Dark Shadows (1971).
I liked the 1991 prime-time reboot and the way it condensed the original series' plotline up to the first time-travel sequence into it's too-short 1/2 season run.
And I haven't seen the 2004 WB unsold pilot, so I can't comment on it.
I went to a screening on Monday, and was pleasantly-surprised to see how close they did hew to the original show's concepts.
Consider Burton's new flick in the same vein (pun intended) as the recent Star Trek reboot by JJ Abrams.
It takes a helluva lot of plot elements from the original soap (and first feature film), tweaks them a bit, and plays up the fish-out-of water aspect of Barnabas' adjusting to a world almost two hundred years after his own time that they never really dealt with on the soap*.
But, the core story is still the Angelique-Barnabas-Josette/Maggie romantic triangle.
(There's a kool reason you haven't seen a Maggie Evans poster among the individual character posters all over billboards and the Net, but she is in the movie...)
Besides Barnabas the vampire and Angelique the witch, there's a Collins family werewolf (but not who you think) and a Collins family ghost!
In terms of performances, Johnny Depp as Barnabas and Helena Bonham Carter as Dr Hoffman manage to evoke Jonathan Frid and Grayson Hall without being mere imitations of the originals.
The rest of the cast are good as new incarnations of the characters, and there's a cool cameo scene featuring Frid, David Selby, Lara Parker, and Kathryn Leigh Scott with Depp.

If you liked the original show, approach this with an open mind and you'll probably enjoy it.
I did.
*Right before Dark Shadows debuted on ABC, there was a BBC series called Adam Adamant Lives! about an Edwardian-era crimefighter frozen by his nemesis in 1902 and thawed out in the late 1960s.
The show featured lots of culture-shock involving the repressed Adamant adjusting to the Swinging '60s.
While it's still unavailable on American VHS or DVD/Blu-Ray, there are British releases you can get on Amazon and play if you have a region-free DVD player (like me).

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