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.
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.