‘Dark Shadows’ UK Trailer, New Images, & Early Reactions

2 years ago by  

There’s been a distinct split in reactions to early footage from Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows adaptation. While the majority of film geeks seem excited to check out the director’s latest serving of morbid kookiness featuring Johnny Depp, the smaller-but-loyal faction of people who remain fans of the original 1960s cult supernatural soap opera have been quite willing to express their disdain for Burton’s approach to the property.

Today, we’ve rounded up a recently-released UK trailer (with additional footage to boot) and several new images from Dark Shadows, along with some preliminary reactions from those who have seen the actual movie – and weighed in with their thoughts on whether or not the film’s comical promos are indeed representative of the final product.

Dark Shadows tells the tale of Barnabas Collins (Depp), a wealthy 18th-century gentlemen who unwisely breaks the heart of a powerful witch (Eva Green), resulting in his being cursed as a vampire and buried alive for some two centuries. Barnabas awakens to the strange world of 1972 and sets out to restore honor to the Collins family name – having to overcome such obstacles as his own monstrous nature, his dysfunctional descendants (Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz) and the continued “affections” of the still-living sorceress he wronged so many years before.

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As this trailer illustrates, Dark Shadows features many trademark elements of Burton cinema (the deathly-pale protagonist, darkly stylish production design) – mixed together in what appears to be an off-kilter blend of Gothic monster horror and absurdist comedy that most strongly harkens back to his work on Beetlejuice. According to the folk over at Hollywood Elsewhere, a little mouse told them – or, rather, a fellow they know who has actually seen the majority of Dark Shadows says – that impression is only partially correct.

“While it has ‘Beetlejuice’ elements, this is not a broad comedy. It’s a gothic romance with strong farcical elements, but the trailer makes it seem like ‘Love at First Bite’ and it definitely is not. Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins has a bit of a Chauncey Gardner quality as a fish out of water, and there are even elements of H.G. Wells from ‘Time After Time’ as far as a cultured character trying to fit into a drastically changed society. The anachronism-based humor does work quite well. The film is funny, but it also has full-bodied horror elements. Barnabas does kill people in this and when he engages on a full-out war against Angelique (Eva Green), the evil witch who cursed him, they’re playing for keeps and it’s a bloody battle.

“In short there’s more of the Burton ‘Sweeney Todd’ than the trailer implies. This is not Burton’s ‘Addams Family’, but a successful amalgamation of his comedic and gothic horror styles.”

Similarly, EW writer Anthony Brezican has offered his own description of what Burton’s PG-13 Rated Dark Shadows flick is like (from his Twitter account):

I’ve seen final cut of Dark Shadows. Tone similar to Burton and Depp’s Sleepy Hollow – lots of humor, but with menacing, atmospheric edge… In Dark Shadows, there’s an absurdist bent to the monster element. The creatures of the night are adrift in the self-obsessed world of 1970s… In typical Burton fashion, humans are scarier than the fiends. If u want Interview w the Vampire, that movie exists. This is a more wry take

Also, if you dig screenwriter [Seth Grahame-Smith's] style w Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter & ['Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'] then Dark Shadows will be to your liking, too.

Obviously these are just the impressions of two people (and non-professional critics at that). Still, their comments should provide a good deal of food for thought – especially for all the moviegoers out there who are still debating whether or not Dark Shadows looks to be something they will want to check out.

For yet another look at the character and world design of Dark Shadows, check out the image gallery below:

Dark Shadows opens in theaters around the U.S. on May 11th, 2012.

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Source: Warner Bros. [via Comic Book Movie], Hollywood Elsewhere [via Rope of Silicon]

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  1. No, it didn’t alleviate my concerns over this movie. Why would Burton release a trailer that portrays the film as a comedy if that isnt what the film actually is? Dark Shadows isn’t a comedy. The source material took itself seriously. If Burron and Depp, who are allegedly big Dark Shadows fans, wanted to make another one of their hack films- why not just make their own film instead of using the DS license? I don’t understand how fans of the show are suppose to embrace and appreciate this “stylish” and “kooky” monstrosity. Why bother offending the original fan base to appeal to modern audiences? If they wanted to make a dark comedy why not just cast Depp in a new Bettlejuice film? Or Addams Family. Why did it have to be Dark Shadows?

    • It’s my understanding that the director and headlining star have very little to do with what actually gets released to the viewing public in terms of commercials or previews. They very well might be unhappy with what has been shown so far. The studio’s marketing department seems to have the true authority on such matters. It’s similar, I think, to the back cover of a novel…the author doesn’t write that.

      • Still though. It’s apparently been Burtons and Depps dream to make this project for several years…and they made this film? This is what we get after so many years of anticipation? Ugh. You do have a point though, Archaeon. I suppose my counter to that would be that Burton, Depps, and Graham, the screenwriter, all have previous work experience together. It wasn’t an accident that Graham, who’s famous for writing horror comedy novels, was brought on board for this project. I’m very disappointed. Maybe Warner Bros waited so long to debut the trailer to DS for so long bc they didn’t know how to market it ? Lol pure speculation, but still. Not digging the comedy.

        • Actually, not-so-surprisingly, Helena Bonham Carter actually anticipated that Dark Shadows was going to be a tricky film for WB to market:

          http://www.deadline.com/2011/12/helena-bonham-carter-on-dark-shadows-its-going-to-be-impossible-to-sell/

          • Huh, well. I guess I was right? Lol. According to Carter, the film is “original” and “uncategorized” as a genre film. We shall see. Thank you for the link, sir. Is it wrong of me to hope that Avengers annihilates this film at the box office? (Doesn’t DS open the weekend after Avengers?)

        • Voodoo,

          Hey, no offense, but AL: VH is not a comedy. I enjoyed how it presented a level of seriousness to the vampires and their push for slavery that contrasted Lincoln’s battles (mental, physical, and political) to unite the nation. I haven’t read P&P&Z, but I just started his new book, Unholy Night, and it doesn’t appear to be a comedy so far.

          • No no, no offense taken. Comedy was probably the bad word, but do you get what I’m saying? It’s almost like situational comedy, if that makes sense. I know Vampire Hunter takes itself seriously, but the basic premise is still loosely comedic. I know that I’m poorly explaining myself LOL, so take some mercy.
            His work is good but it has a level of absurd historical comedy applied to the BASIC plot. Even if the story takes itself seriously (which is what DS did as well), some of Graham’s work in my opinion warrants an initial giggle. Like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies :) I have a copy of it, but haven’t read it yet. Even if I misspoke on the nature of Graham’s work of fiction, which I admit I did, I still think my point is valid. Burton, Depp, and Graham seem to have made a conscious and concentrated effort to make Dark Shadows into what appears to be, because of the trailers, a situational comedy of sorts. Burton’s Dark Shadows is being compared, perhaps unfavorably, to Love at First Bite. Soooo does that make any sense lol?

            • I understand where you’re coming from. I agree with you about the comedic premise of the books and also the perception of the film based off the trailers. While I’ve never seen Dark Shadows, I do hope the film pleases the show’s fan base. Thanks for the explanation.

              And if you’re interested, check out AH:VH. It was a fun read! I can’t wait for the film and hope it doesn’t present itself as a hack-and-slash flick. There was so much more to the book.

              • AL:VH, not AH:VH! :(

    • I tend to agree with you, being a long time DS fan. I wanted more drama and less goofiness. I will still watch this most like, just out of curiosity. But Johnny Depp is no Janthan Frid. Oh well…

      • Oops Jonathan Frid that is. One thing I did find interesting is the fact they placed this in the time of the original series, the 70s, rather than now.

  2. I’ll catch it on DVD, at best. Using Burton was a mistake from the get-go – he’s simply unable to make a serious or frightening film. But DEPP?? The supposed big fan?? Loves Barnabas and Frid??? Why would he sign off on such a ridiculous take on this show?! People who think that the “campiness” of the original, or those who laugh at the many mistakes on that show are missing the point. THERE WAS NO HUMOR, INTENTIONAL OR OTHERWISE, ON THAT SHOW!! So, this is sacrilege! Dan Curtis is spinning over right now! I’ll stick with “House of Dark Shadows” for my D.S. cinema fix!!

  3. I’m a fan of the original Dark Shadows and this crap can get lost!

  4. Well having never seen the original series, my perspective on this film seems more positive. ..And that’s after being disappointed with pretty much everything Burton has come out with in the last 10 or so years.

    I actually think this looks great fun. Although very “Addams Family”-ish.

  5. I don’t understand the reveal that Barnabas is a vampire. The whole time in the series was very few people knew he was one. If anyone found, he would kill them, with exceptions like Dr Julie Hoffmen. Now everyone knows up front?

  6. I love the look of this movie.

  7. More like “Dork Shadows” or “Dark Shudders”! This one is gonna stink like few others! How dare they ruin the good memories of the old original series from the 60s/70s, which was a classic unequalled! I just bought the whole original series on DVD, have both movies (House of Dark Shadows/Night of Dark Shadows) on VHS, and the remake series with Ben Cross on DVD as well. I will not pay a cent for this Depp/Burton tripe, though, not in the theaters or on DVD. I wilol watch it–once only–on Netflix (for free, I might add), and then person ally write Depp and Burton and really lambast them for this hot steaming mess!

  8. The 1990 version and the original with Jonathan Frid were much better. Johnny Depp is not Barnabas Collins. He looks like a clown and his finger nails look like a drunk on the street. I hope this movie will die quickly in order to show us, the public, mercy. If you are going to move a Dark Shadows movie, use a serious actor such as the Englishman who played Mr. Knightly in the movie “Emma” with Blythe Danner’s daughter.

  9. not sure what to make of this but i’ll go see it, if it sucks i’ll talk mad s*** about it and if it doesn’t… well then hooray!!! Although i do hope it turns out extremely dark like Sweeney Todd.

  10. Why all those Negative Comments?! It is the way a Artist like Tim Burton would make a Movie, Why does it need to look like the old version? This is just a other version and not a remake of it :D The trailer doesn’t shows the movie, it only makes people wnna wach it… Sure they put the funny parts in the trailer!

  11. Everybody that is upset about this movie coming out, I can only say one thing:
    Deal with it!
    Just because Dark Shadows was your favorite movie as a kid or whatever, doesn’t mean that a remake under a different director is going to ruin it. If you’re really as die-hard a fan of DS as you all claim to be, then you can still remember the show as it was even after seeing the movie. And who said you had to? Nobody’s forcing you to watch this movie, so why are you wasting the time to rat it out? It’s not going to stop the fact that the movie is coming out anyway, so playing favorites is a complete waste of time. There are other people who actually want to see this, so don’t ruin it with your criticism on something you haven’t even seen yet.