After months of having to sustain ourselves with still frames from the Dark Shadows movie, we’ve finally gotten to see some actual footage from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s mix of Gothic drama and camp. While most people who are unfamiliar with the original 1960s TV series seemed to enjoy the film’s overly jokey trailer, longtime Dark Shadows fans were (by and large) quite vocal about their displeasure with Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith’s approach to adapting the original show.
What appears to be a new TV promo for Dark Shadows (one identical to the first trailer, save for a new coda featuring Heavy Metal icon Alice Cooper) has since made its way online. Meanwhile, Smith has offered his thoughts on the mixed reaction to the film’s official trailer.
Dark Shadows revolves around Barnabas Collins (Depp), an 18th century playboy-turned vampire who awakens after two centuries of slumber to discover his once magnificent estate and family have succumbed to disarray and dysfunction. His subsequent attempts to restore the Collins clan’s honor are continually foiled by the witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) – a scorned ex-lover and the very sorceress who cursed Barnabas to become a creature of the night.
First, have a look at the new Dark Shadows preview below:
If you take a quick look around the internet, you’ll notice a sharp divide between people who like the zany tone and colorful look of the Dark Shadows footage revealed so far – and others who are crying foul, pointing out that the original TV series is a much more somber and serious supernatural soap opera, where the “camp” is mostly the result of limited production values (and not an intentional artistic choice).
EW caught up with Smith at the 2012 WonderCon this past weekend, where the screenwriter and author of such titles as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter admitted to being somewhat surprised by the response to the trailer. He went on to say that the Dark Shadows movie actually has “a very straightforward, dour, gothic feeling” at times, but is overall meant to be more of a whimsical viewing experience.
Smith also offered the following, with regards to why he and Burton chose to approach the Dark Shadows mythos the way they have:
“… [If] we made a movie that was strictly just for the hard core fans, I worry that it would exclude other people who might not want to then experience ‘Dark Shadows’ from a complete fresh standpoint. So what we tried to have those elements in the movie that would really pay respect to the original series, to the origin stories, to the characters, their motives, to the idea of this as a real family story, and a gothic story, and something that would make Dan Curtis proud. And yet we wanted to open it up, because we wanted people to not be frightened of it. We want people to come and enjoy it as something completely new.”
The way Smith is describing the Dark Shadows movie makes it sound like a horror-comedy more along the lines of Beetlejuice, where the overall mood could be best described as “absurdist” (a term Smith has used before) rather than only funny and/or scary, depending on the scene. Considering that’s the sort of Burton flick fans tend to love the most, that bodes well for anyone who doesn’t really have a strong attachment to the original Dark Shadows TV show – and, let’s be honest, that’s probably going to be the majority of folk who end up seeing this movie.
Dark Shadows hits theaters around the U.S. on May 11th, 2012.