How the hell did I enter the realm of "out of the loopdom" on this? Tim Burton is doing a film remake of "Dark Shadows"? Starring Johnny Depp? What the...!
The Gothic series "Dark Shadows" originally aired from 1966 to 1971. I think I would be safe in saying that it is truly the only Gothic horror of soap opera format to air to this day. Brilliant it was. I looked forward to seeing it after school. Now, mind you (I'm about to date myself) I was 2 when it first hit television screens. I got into it later in it's run (when I was old enough), and I did catch it when it re-ran. I'm not sure how many times it has been re-run, but to fans of the show I would say it's probably not enough. As a fan myself, I found it as one of the streaming TV shows on Netflix. I've watched the first few, and plan to watch the rest. (Insomnia is something I suffer from on a pretty regular basis, so the exploits of Barnabas will be my sleepless viewing for awhile.)
When I first learned about this new Burton production, casting was the first thing I wanted to check out. Since I had heard Depp would be starring, I knew he would have to be playing Barnabas. Depp is a great actor. He is very versatile, and is willing to stretch himself with a role which I really appreciate. But the man is very good looking. Pretty even. Jonathan Frid and Ben Cross. The two other actors to have slid the ring on their finger. Both fine actors, but both rather odd looking. Frid especially. There is that old saying that "looks aren't everything", but the fact that Frid was not a looker made Barnabas a stronger character. How can I properly articulate what I mean here...it made the vampire in him more...vampy. It made his vampire 'powers' more apparent. This is just my opinion, but if Frid had walked into Collinwood as a regular guy and not a vampire, I seriously doubt the young lovelies living there would have given him a second look. After all, vampires don't have to be glittery...their vampire senses and powers of 'persuasion' can get them close to whomever they want. Back to Depp...he's uber-talented (one of my favorite actors, actually) so I know he will give a great performance. But will it 'feel right'? He was fantastic in "Sweeney Todd" but his good looks even pierced through that make-up job. I'll only be able to give a final analysis when I see it.
One actor I'm looking forward to seeing in the film is the adorable, quirky, and edgy Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman. I know being the significant other of the director can help one get role's, but Carter is one actress who delivers. I can't think of one disappointing performance.
The rest of the cast is...interesting. I must admit that it's going to be difficult to give any of these actors a break as I am programmed to the original cast. I know who about half of the actors are, but the rest are unknown to me. Here is the list as it has been released (via IMDB):
- Johnny Depp................BARNABAS COLLINS
- Helena Bonham
- Carter...........................DR. JULIA HOFFMAN
- Cloe Moretz..................CAROLYN STODDARD
- Eva Green.....................ANGELIQUE BOUCHARD
- Michelle Pfeiffer...........ELIZABETH COLLINS STODDARD
- Jackie Earle Haley.......WILLIE LOOMIS
- Jonny Lee Miller..........ROGER COLLINS
- Thomas McDonnell.....YOUNG BARNABAS
- Bella Heathcote.............VICTORIA WINTERS
- Gulliver McGrath.........DAVID COLLINS
(Left: Helena Bonham Carter; Right: Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman)
For the most part, I think remakes are a bad idea. Especially when the original piece was successful and has a huge fan base, in this case "Dark Shadows". Rarely do they go over well. Don't remake something successful...remake something that stinks and make it better.
I am a Tim Burton fan. I think he is a very talented director and I appreciate his artistic sensibilities. He is quite creative. But...Tim said he was going to remake "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" and make it better...do the book justice. The version with Gene Wilder, "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", is a classic (I seem to remember that it was changed from 'Charlie' because 'Charlie' has the slang meaning of 'cocaine' in England). It should not have been touched in terms of someone trying to improve on it. Burton's film was really bad. Depp gave a decent albeit disturbing performance as Wonka, but it was not what Burton promised. Big disappointment. I am hoping that he doesn't do the same thing to "Dark Shadows". The man is going to have a huge contingent of hardcore DS fans critiquing his work here. They will not be easy to impress. The remake in TV form that starred Ben Cross as Barnabas didn't make it. Things are not looking good. I do hope I'm wrong.
The scheduled release of the "Dark Shadows" film is May 11, 2012. They are currently shooting it in England.