‘Dark Shadows’ set-visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

March 23, 2012 | 12:14 p.m.
darkshadows1 crop Dark Shadows set visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

Tim Burton, left, and Johnny Depp are making their eighth movie together. Their May release, "Dark Shadows," is the most recent in their ongoing collaborations. Here's a look at all of them. (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

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Dianne Wiest and Johnny Depp in "Edward Scissorhands," the 1990 film that began the Burton-Depp collaborations. (Zade Rosenthal/20th Century Fox)

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Johnny Depp says his favorite Tim Burton film may be 1994's "Ed Wood." Depp, left, played the eccentric title role, and Martin Landau channeled Bela Lugosi. (Suzanne Tenner/Touchstone Pictures)

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Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci in Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" (1999) -- a movie with 18 decapitations. (Clive Coote/Paramount Pictures)

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"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005): Johnny Depp says his Willie Wonka was based in part on Howard Hughes. (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

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Johnny Depp had never been a voice actor for an animated feature film before Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" in 2005. (Warner Bros.)

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"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (2007) teamed Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. One or both have been in every Burton film since 1996. (Leah Gallo/DreamWorks Pictures)

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"Alice in Wonderland" (2010) is the first Tim Burton film to break the billion-dollar mark in worldwide box office. (Disney Enterprises)

darkshadows Dark Shadows set visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer were passionate fans of the "Dark Shadows" television series. (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

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The cast of "Dark Shadows": Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, Gulliver McGrath as David Collins, Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters, Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson, Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. (Leah Gallo/Warner Bros.)

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"There's an elegance to this guy that's kind of fun; Barnabas is a good one," says Johnny Depp of his character in "Dark Shadows." (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

Reporting from London — There’s a night and day difference between the soundstages of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows” and his previous movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” and, no surprise, this is a filmmaker far more comfortable in the darkness.

The digital ambitions of “Wonderland” required numbing weeks of work in a green-screen chamber, and by the end of it Burton was desperate to get back to his roots — building a cinematic house and then haunting it with his unique brand of cemetery cabaret. For “Dark Shadows,” an eccentric vampire romance starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green, he’s staged a minor one-man rebellion against CG imagery; the story has some digital effects, but where the script called for a Maine fishing town’s waterfront, circa 1972, Burton persuaded Warner Bros. and the film’s producers to build it on the back lot of England’s storied Pinewood Studios instead of on a computer screen.

“It’s so nice to come to work here — not everything is green,” Burton said last summer as he roamed the gothic, crushed-velvet trappings of the mansion that is home to Depp’s aristocratic bloodsucker, Barnabas Collins. “It’s a soap opera — or started as one — and that really means working with the actors. And the sets help everyone. And it’s just more fun.”

“Dark Shadows,” which doesn’t arrive until May 11, is a curious creature and an ongoing mystery. A trailer recently premiered to mixed reactions; its winking tone possibly suggested that the film is an elaborate goof on the overwrought “Twilight” movies, but actually, like so many Burton projects, this one is a fractured valentine to the pop-culture obsessions of his youth.

In the film, Depp plays Collins, the 18th century playboy of Maine’s high society whose lothario ways earn the wrath of Angelique Bouchard, a witch portrayed by Green. She transforms him into a vampire and dispatches him to an underground crypt where he is imprisoned until 1972. That’s when an unlucky construction crew sets him free, and in a world of lava lamps, glam rock and Richard M. Nixon, he finds purpose in the new era. The ensemble cast features a number of Burton’s regular players — in addition to Depp and Pfeiffer, there’s the director’s romantic partner, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz and English horror legend Christopher Lee.

timburton Dark Shadows set visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

Tim Burton (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

The setup and characters are taken from the truly weird TV series also called “Dark Shadows,” an ABC soap opera that logged 1,225 episodes before it went off the air in 1971. Created by Dan Curtis, who later did the landmark “The Winds of War” miniseries, the show starred Jonathan Frid as tortured Barnabas and brought ghosts and ghouls to the afternoon hours that usually belonged to handsome surgeons and conniving heiresses.

Unlike “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters,” this monster-mash of a show was a fringe taste, which is why it attracted the young outsiders who would be called goths today. Three of them were Burton, Depp and Pfeiffer, and they have nearly identical memories about racing home from school to catch the same strange transmission.

“It was a real thing for me, I had to watch it, and it was tough because you’d miss the beginning — it started at like 3 p.m., but that’s when we got out of school,” said Depp, who grew up in the sunbaked suburb of Miramar, Fla. “And then it moved later because all the kids wrote in letters. When you met someone who knew the show and loved it, there was an instant connection.”

That connection doesn’t exist with young moviegoers today, however, and the producers of the new movie aren’t going to encourage anyone to check out the originals because, well, it wasn’t, technically speaking, a great show. “I think,” Burton said evenly, “you could say it was actually awful.”

So what exactly was its appeal? The London-based filmmaker searched for the right words.

“It’s a different animal,” Burton said. “If I go back and watch something like ‘Star Trek,’ it’s not that hard to analyze what the appeal was, and even if the show is dated you identify what it was that made it work. The ‘Dark Shadows’ appeal was a little more abstract. What I loved about it was the fact that it was a melodramatic soap opera, and, well, that flies in the face of any modern studio’s interests as far as moviemaking. But what we’ve gone for is a mixture, and that’s always what I’ve been interested in; I think most of my movies are mixtures of light and dark and serious things and things that have humor in them.”

darkshadows2 Dark Shadows set visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows." (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

On the set, during one scene last summer, Depp emerged from the shadows — in costume and full makeup — with a sort of gliding majesty. He couldn’t hear Bonham Carter’s playful whisper teasing him about a previous role as she watched from a nearby corner.

“Just look at him,” she said with a wink. “He only does parts if he can wear eyeliner. ‘The Tourist’? Should have had more makeup.”

Depp has one of the most famous faces in Hollywood, but in many of his roles he hides it. “I don’t think about it that way, I just go to the role that feels right,” said the 48-year-old star.

Between takes, he offered his hands to a visitor for inspection — each of his fingers was extended into talons with rubbery prosthetics, and one held the weight of an especially opulent ring.

“There’s an elegance to this guy that’s kind of fun; Barnabas is a good one,” Depp said as, over his shoulder, Burton chatted with Bonham Carter next to a laboratory vat of vampire blood. “And just look around — there’s nothing like working with Tim.”

The filmmaker and star clearly adore each other — this is their seventh live-action collaboration. “Sleepy Hollow” producer Scott Rudin memorably quipped that Depp is “basically playing Tim Burton in all of his movies,” which doesn’t really hold to scrutiny — but the actor does know he faces a greater challenge each time he steps into Burton’s universe to play yet another spooky soul.

“Have I been in this arena before? That’s the thing you have to watch,” said Depp, who joked that Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and Ichabod Crane would enjoy a tour of the Collins mansion.

The actor paints portraits of his characters as he dials into their minds and hearts, and to get their voices right he counts backward from 10 — he’s himself at the top but the accent and affectations gather with each digit until he is a vampire at zero.

Costar Jackie Earle Haley, who plays caretaker Willie Loomis, said whatever tricks Depp uses, they are good ones.

“He was using those long fingers in one scene where he has to hypnotize me,” the “Watchmen” star said. “So I’m watching them and his eyes and listening to his voice and it kind of started to work a little bit. I was like, ‘Wow, this guy could be the real thing.'”

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Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows." (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

“Dark Shadows” is built around the comedic timing of Depp and the immersive world of Burton, the Edward Gorey of Hollywood. Just as he’s assembled many of his usual team in front of the camera, he’s relying on previous collaborators behind the scenes, including costume designer Colleen Atwood and composer Danny Elfman. Production designer Rick Heinrichs, who won an Oscar for his work with Burton on “Sleepy Hollow,” may be in the running again with his “Dark Shadows” sets. Yes, those were real boats in the water of the fake Maine harbor that was built on an elevated platform and covered a wide plain of the Pinewood lot — it was cheaper and logistically more practical to construct a fake port than use one in Maine, and the counterpart fishing harbors in England are constructed differently.

“A few months ago there was just string here to show where the road would be and the canneries and the pier,” Heinrichs said as he strolled past. “It’ll be a little sad when we tear it all down. These buildings say a lot about the families. Once there was a competition, but now the Collins Cannery is derelict — as is much of the town — but the AngelBay Cannery is thriving, and you get the feeling it’s sucking the life out of the town.”

Heinrichs smiles when asked if he was part of the “Dark Shadows” cult during the original run.

“I was in school when ‘Dark Shadows’ was on, but I didn’t particularly run home to watch it every day, but I know a lot of girls did. It was the ‘Twilight’ of its time, really…. What Tim and Johnny like is that there’s a slightly overwrought soap-opera feel to the families and the town and this gothic horror story beneath it all. There’s the innate humor in it too, the layering and juxtaposition of putting the courtly, 200-year-old Barnabas in that decadent post-hippie, pre-disco era.”

darkshadows Dark Shadows set visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dark Shadows." (Peter Mountain/Warner Bros.)

Burton’s previous movie, “Alice,” made more than a billion dollars worldwide, but the quirks of “Dark Shadows” has Hollywood wondering if this will be an overly eccentric misfire like his 1996 sci-fi spoof, “Mars Attacks!” (which, interestingly, was the last Burton film without Depp, Bonham Carter or both in the cast). Of course, many also doubted 2005’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which made roughly $475 million.

All of Burton’s films since 2001 have been produced by Richard D. Zanuck, now 77. He has been making movies since the 1950s, but that understates his experience. As the son of Hollywood mogul Darryl Zanuck and silent-film beauty Virginia Fox, he grew up in the business and may be the only working producer today who can say he’s visited a movie set in nine decades.

“I’ve never seen a movie like this one; it’s like no other,” Zanuck said of the film, penned by Seth Grahame-Smith, a writer perhaps most famous for his literary mash-up novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” “It’s like five movies in one. It’s a comedy, it’s a romance, it’s got special effects, it’s got action, it’s got some horror elements of a kind. I think it’s got a lot of great things going for it. We just have to find a way to let people know what it is and what it offers.”

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The cast of "Dark Shadows." (Leah Gallo/Warner Bros.)

There have been dark shadows under Burton’s eyes every day of 2012 and with good reason. In addition to the exhuming of Barnabas Collins, he’s got two other films that reach theaters this year (he’s the director of October’s “Frankenweenie” and producer of June’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) and long-range projects (such as the just-announced “Alice in Wonderland” Broadway musical) always nibble at the corners of his mind and the edges of his schedule.

In late February, his exhaustion was clear even across international phone lines. “I forget how hard it is at the end, just to get the movie done, but that’s probably a good thing,” the 53-year-old said. The filmmaker knows that soon he will have to put his strange creation in front of the world and hope that it survives the searing judgments and bottom-line numbers.

“I can’t think about all that right now,” Burton said. “The thing with this one was trying to get it done right. And I think we have but, well, that’s what I think.”

— Geoff Boucher


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77 Responses to ‘Dark Shadows’ set-visit exclusive: Johnny Depp, Tim Burton back in black

  1. AFk says:

    I thought this film was going to be pants and I wasn't going to bother seeing it but it actually looks like it will be really good. Damn. I will have to spend money going to see it now.

  2. rachel says:

    I want to see it right now!!..Johnny looks awesome and so hot here,,,yummy!!

  3. Kimo Therapy says:

    Depp, Burton and Barnabas Collins…what a combination…bring it on…lol!!!

  4. Billie B says:

    "He was using those long fingers in one scene where he has to hypnotize me,” the “Watchmen” star said. “So I’m watching them and his eyes and listening to his voice and it kind of started to work a little bit. I was like, ‘Wow, this guy could be the real thing.’” This is a wonderful statement he sure has me hypnotized. WOW

  5. Elizabeth Stoddard says:

    So the original series was "awful" according to Mr Burton. Funny, as that is how I find the trailer to this movie. I will be saving my money and going to see something else that weekend. I had high hopes that this movie would be great. Obviously I wanted too much in that regard.

    • John says:

      Already counted it out before you seen it? Before any reviews? Just because the director said it was awful? And, by the way, Burton said it was "technically…awful." Which it was, but that doesn't mean the show itself was awful. Do you really think he'd pay homage to a film that was based on something he thought was awful? Come on, Liz, lighten up — you know you'll see it. You wouldn't be here (inaccurately) reading the article AND commenting if you weren't excited about it.

      • Ellen Stokes says:

        Part of this is just correcting you about saying that Tim Burton said the show was "technically…awful", John. Read the portion of the article below:

        Copied and pasted directly from the article: (That connection doesn’t exist with young moviegoers today, however, and the producers of the new movie aren’t going to encourage anyone to check out the originals because, well, it wasn’t, technically speaking, a great show. “I think,” Burton said evenly, “you could say it was actually awful.”)

        The "technically speaking" part of the above was not said by Burton. Burton said… quoting the article again… "I think," Burton said evenly, "you could say it was actually awful."

        The rest of this isn't directed at you, John, but just at what Burton said about the original show Dark Shadows (1966 – 1971) that many of us loved from the ages of 6 to 11 and now when we're in our 50s… being awful…

        All I can say is, if it was so awful, why are there Dark Shadows Festivals on both coasts (East Coast one year, West Coast next year) each year for many years now? Why have many people bought or rented the television seris 1, 225 episodes on video cassette and now on dvd ever since they became available? Why are there websites devoted to the show and it's actors and characters? There are a lot of people, online and off that really enjoyed the show, the revival series in 1991, the 2 movies based on Dark Shadows made in the 1970s and were hoping the show that had a failed pilot on (The CW or The WB or whatever it was at the time in 2004) would succeed and turn into a new Dark Shadows television program we could all enjoy, even with it's differences, but that was not to be… I look forward to the movie and from what I have read of Depp and several others on the cast and crew, there was love in their creation of this gothic world that many of us grew up with and are growing old with, so I hope we enjoy it for what it has become.

      • Russ Williams says:

        That shows what you know. We fans of the original want to read everything that is said about it. As for me, I will only watch this much later, purchased second hand so as to not contribute a dime to those who make a beloved show into a parody and a farce.

    • karojen says:

      Yeah, go see Will Farrel or somebody, I for one will be there at Dark Shadows front and center and watch a master craftsman do his thing. Johnny will knock this show out of the park and whether anyone gives it a chance or not, eventually it will be recognized as a fantastic movie.

      • Dark Shadows1966 says:

        L.O.L. The new movie is gonna be so far beneath the Original Masterpiece, Both Curtis Movies and his own 1991 remake of The Great Dark Shadows, I'd rather even see the 2nd pilot tv series that wasn't picked up than this disrespectful junk.

    • Victoria Winters says:

      I'm disappointed with the trailer, too, but I'm still going to see the movie! You can't know if you like or dislike a movie you haven't even seen. And if you're a fan of the original series, as I am, how can you not be at least a little bit curious? Wait until it's on DVD if you want, but don't NEVER watch it.

    • tgarnett25 says:

      The photos were enough for me. This Barnabas is too freakish. The thing that made Barnabas so dangerous–and complex–was the fact that he appeared mortal. He blended in with everyone else, and it took time to notice that there were many things about him that were not quite normal. But at the same time, Barnabas retained some semblance of humanity. You could relate to him. Eventually, feel for him. This movie is going to suck.

    • LynMovieCritic says:

      obviously u forget movies are about imagination and there is plenty here.. oh so it's not the same as the old show who cares whats the point in remaking something if u don't actually remake it.. Better at that not boring bull crap but something to entertain u thats what movies are for .. give it a rest, Don't knock it until u know Better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Johnny Has a wayt of changing anyone's mind:)

    • Christine says:

      Some people just don't get it and they never will…too bad for them, it's their loss.

  6. Sandra says:

    Maybe this film should carry a warning to people like Elizabeth. Something along the lines of "You had to be there." I remember rushing home from school to see the original and looking back, yes it was awful. However, there was something wonderful about how different it was from anything else on tv. It was gothic and it was filled with over the top characters that were mezmerizing in their wilted grandeur. I hope they were able to capture some of the cheesy fun of the original. To those of us who remember the pull of the original, it would be a pleasure to see what Burton and Depp have been able to come up with.

    • Sherri says:

      I couldn't agree more! I loved the original shows and rushedhome from school to watch also. I even had a dark Shadows board game!!

  7. @danbullock says:

    I, like most, seem to be changing my mind on this one.

    I really wasn't convinced initially but I love the fact Burton has gone back to Pinewood for this, in reaction to his despondency to green screen for one. Plus, the heart of the people involved. With Frankenweenie on its way, I'm really hoping this is the year Tim Burton wins back some of the critics. I've been one as well, I didn't like Alice at all so hopeful!!

  8. karojen says:

    Younger people may not "get it" at all. We who watched Dark Shadows [the original] remember how campy it was, how poor the make up was and how Shakespearean the lines were. It was not a slick production at all. The sets were cheap and the music cracked me up. It still was entertaining and unique and I believe that Depp and cast will capture that essense of the original and add their own weirdness to the show and make it one of the best remakes there is. I think the under 45+ group are expect Twilight part 300+ and that is not Dark Shadows.

    Now don't ask me about 21 Jump Street. I'm offended and can't believe they took a slick production like the original, with excellent actors and great episodes with drama and some comedy and made it slap stick. I won't be seeing that movie, even with Depp and Deluise in it.

    • Sarah says:

      I am 23 years old and have seen some of the original Dark Shadows myself, and I completely understand what you're saying. I look forward to this film and can't stand Twilight. Relating this film to Twilight would be an insult to Tim Burton's work.

    • Meredith says:

      I used to watch reruns of Dark Shadows when I was a kid.Barnabus Collins was soooo corny and I loved every second of it!I completely agree with you…I pretty much love everything Burton and Depp have done together and I LOVED Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.Burton just has that snarky, British sense of humor that you either get it or you don't get it.I for one can't wait until it comes out and my mom is as equally excited! I also completely agree about your comment on 21 Jump Street.Yah Channing Tatum is man candy but I'm not a 15 year old boy,the slap stick lost it's appeal to me.

  9. Ellen Stokes says:

    The only parts of this article that has me worried are Burton’s comment about the original Dark Shadows (1966 – 1971) being awful. If all other soaps of that day were made in the same way and had been preserved to have been seen for the last nearly 46 years in syndication, on video cassette and now on dvd, besides having 2 theatrical movies made of it in the 70s, a revival series in 1991 and another attempted pilot to a series made in 2004, I haven’t heard of it. I doubt the other soaps of that day’s production values were any better back then than those of Dark Shadows, which had to shoot everything as if they were a live show, unable to take out bloopers, for the camera time they were allotted. I’m hoping to like the movie and I am a big fan of Depp’s, but I will have to wait till I see it before I can say one way or another how I feel about it. I have heard that the trailer is very misleading. I hope the comedy is much less of a part of the movie than it is of the trailer. All the dark, gothic scenes in the trailer look very much like what I wished the whole movie would turn out to be.

    • Victoria Winters says:

      I'm also hoping the trailer is misleading. I LOVE the original series, bloopers and all. I hope the darkness is captured as well as the light, and that the entire movie isn't spent on Barnabas trying to fit in to the world of the 1970s.

  10. Jane says:

    Too much make up……over done. It becomes cartoonish……….

    • Sandy says:

      Dear younger person. It WAS cartoonish. That's the point. The trailer we see here could easily have been Dark Shadows, but for the fact that the soap was much more serious about it's importance.

    • allens says:

      Umm thats because its a tim burton movie duh

  11. Jane says:

    Too much make up. Makes it look cartoonish instead of having some sex appeal. Tonto is even worse. The bird on his head is going too far and is just plain silly looking. We want to see that handsome face !

  12. Rebjam says:

    All looking forward to it. to learn about the original show and cast read Barnbas and Company!

  13. Quentinsmommy2006 says:

    I'm not quite sure how to take the trailer to be honest, I watched the original in syndication on the Sci-Fi channel..my mom got me into it..YES, looking back it was cheesy, but beautiful in its own way..Dan Curtis was ahead of the times, my intial thought to the trailer was, oh dear god what the hell have they done!?!? granted I was expecting by the photo stills more of a doomy, eerie movie, not a slapstick comedy..(thinking more along the lines of the '91 remake) into which I wish they continued…BUT who knows, maybe Tim will suprise us and have it be more like Sleepy Hollow.. I'm so hoping the trailer is a spoof…maybe time will tell, in the end wether its good, bad or indifferent, one thing remains the same…that is Dark Shadows will live on thoughout its many incarnations like Barnabas will be immortal to an extent..

  14. Mary Beth says:

    It doesn’t matter what anyone says. If it has Johnny Depp in it and Burton creates it, it has to be fantastic. I was a fan of the old series, like everyone else I used to run from the bus to get to the TV to watch it. Can’t wait to see it…..

  15. Letty says:

    The first part of the trailer looked hopeful, and truer to the Gothic sensibilities of the original 1795 story arc. While I wish that the production had kept a more serious tone, I realize that this is a Burton project, and that, sadly, David Lean is no longer with us. Nevertheless, there is some Gothic atmosphere within the ornate sets and the pre-Regency costuming for Barnabas and others.

    I am certain that if the original “Dark Shadows” had the benefit of Warner’s 60 million dollars, or NBC’s 20 million (1991 series), if would pass the Tim Burton/Helena Bonham Carter smug test. As it happened, the series–as did all soaps of that era–had minimal budgets. The show often shared a camera with ABC news–and these were expensive behemoths, then. It was a “live-to-tape” video process which meant that video editing was almost non-existent. Listen to executive producer Dan Curtis discuss the splicing technique done virtually with a razor; there were no push-button editing devices or CGI effects, then. For all of what some view today as primitive and “awful” techniques, they got the job done of conveying the story. The actors soldiered on without today’s luxury of repeating/re-filming when mistakes were made, line-wise, or because of difficulties with equipment, props, or back-stage interruptions. Most of the actors were stage-trained which speaks volumes about their ability to stay in character when these mishaps occurred. Overall, it was a good show which holds up better than most of that era. For the producers to say that they would not encourage a new generation to view the old series is obviously self-serving: they want this “Dark Shadows” out there front and foremost, with neither comparison nor competition from the prior Dan Curtis series. Most people will naturally want to see the source material if something of a derivative nature is presented them. It’s akin to viewing a movie made from a novel, then wanting to read the novel itself to see if the story is anything at all like what was shown.

    The notion that the sets on the original series were either cheap or flimsy is not a true one. Sy Tomashoff, the set designer,and his crew, studied and configured each architectural detail to exacting standards; in fact, many of those same “Dark Shadows” sets were incorporated into later soap operas. To understand his process, one should listen to him speak in an interview which is included on one of the DVD discs for the series. “Dark Shadows” had some of the most beautiful, well-appointed sets for that time (or now) which used real architectural elements.

    Robert Cobert’s orchestrated and eerily haunting musical scores helped establish the moody and romantic atmosphere of each scene. Some music was actually written for the characters and was used to announce their presence.

    The costuming, particularly in the time-travel sequences, was well-done, and gave a feeling for the era depicted.

    Lastly, to take a mostly comedic approach to something that should be presented as serious and dramatic is a cop-out. Perhaps time was getting away from them; they couldn’t or wouldn’t find that “tone” they were searching for (all they had to do was watch more of the series–it was in front of their noses!), and decided to take the easy way out. Changing horses mid-stream by dispensing with the first, more traditional script for something farcical by a writer of mash-ups has resulted in this thing which the studio finds difficult to categorize. Amongst the fans, it has succeeded in confusing some and alienating others; yet, despite all of that, it looks like a well-made picture. No doubt it will fill the coffers, if not coffins, with plenty of “treasure”. It is my hope that one day, another Willie Loomis will come in search of “the family jewels” and he won’t find a pop-up clown residing in the mausoleum.

  16. NewLiz says:

    I have watched the trailer 3 times already. I have GOT to see this movie. Let's not forget DS was a little campy, but that was what made it wonderful. As a die hard fan of the original series (I actually met the cast outside the studio in the 60's) Ithink this may be different but that doeasn't mean it won't be good.

  17. Terry R says:

    I was one of several guys who rushed home to watch this after school (and often missed, stupid long bus ride). We weren't Goths or anything similar, not that that means a great deal, but we liked the strong hero with a darker side. Vampires and other supernatural creatures have always held the possibility of great drama which can lead to great storytelling. I would defend vigorously that wonderful storytelling is what Mr. Burton excels at. And much like our's, Mr. Burton's vampires don't sparkle in the sunshine (sheesh!).

  18. Susan Butler says:

    As one of the group running home to watch "Dark Shadows" after school, I can't begin to say how excited I am about this film! I definitely share his passion for this genre, nearly to a "T" (or maybe I should say "V") and this work appears to be Tim Burton at his truest and best. Can't wait!

  19. CHRIS KITSON says:


  20. tim says:

    This remake looks atrocious on every level . I wish Burton would stop making these empty remakes , and pursue more artistic endeavors. Tim has become unbelievably soulless.

  21. John G. Hill says:

    Next logical project for the Burton/Depp team; "Macbeth" by W. Shakespeare. Interesting twist to casting; Depp as Lady Macbeth.

  22. I would just like to say that you all cannot stereotype the younger audiences as twilight fans because some, like me hate twilight and actually have seen every episode of the original dark shadows (also me), it's just a pet peeve of mine. I personally am a huge fan of Burton, Depp, and Bonham Carter (especially HBC <3) and i am so excited to see this, regardless of a few skeptics because if you actually comprehended the original dark shadows you would know that it's a pretty melodramatic show and it was funny in the sense that the situations were so dramatic, therefor Burton's more comic approach to the show is actually very fitting. :)

  23. Kelly says:

    Growing up, my mom wouldn't let me watch dark shadows so I had to sneak to see it. I saw the trailer of this movie in the theater today and laughed till I cried. My daughters thought I'd lost my mind. After the movie I had to explain what dark shadows was. I cannot wait to see this fim.

  24. Joey Donovan says:

    A whole generation of Baby Boomers used to "run home from school" to watch… Fringe taste? Goth outsiders? If you count Joanne Woodward, Jean Simmons (the actress who did the 1991 reboot) and Tricia Nixon, then okay.

  25. Elaine says:

    I WAS one of those kids who ran home from school every day to watch the show (from about 1968 until 1971). I always LOVED horror movies and vampires/Dracula in particular. One day I was home from school – I think it must have been Easter vacation – and I turned on the t.v. in time to see this meanacing man wearing a dark caped-coat walking down a hall …. he opened a door and was SHOT by a cross-bow arrow!! OMG!!! Then he pulls the arrow out of his chest while snarling 'YOU DIDN'T HIT MY HEART!' ….. (to be continued!) I was hooked on the show from that day on.

  26. Jerilynn says:

    I was eight years old when I discovered Dark Shadows in 1969 … a little young to be a fringe goth. However, the show was very influential in forming some of my lifelong interests: history, antiques, time travel, and Gothic literature, just to name a few. The "special effects" might seem dated today, but the show itself has stood the test of time — how many other soap operas have been released in their entirety on VHS and now DVD? How many other soap operas which have been off the air for four decades can boast the fan following of Dark Shadows? Since I've invested in all the DVD's and I'm rediscovering the show, I'm also rediscovering just how terrific it really was/is. I'm tuning out a lot of what passes for "entertainment" these days in favor of my daily trip back to the world of Dark Shadows.

  27. GABRIELLE says:

    Maybe I'm too young, but I just KNOW there's something I'm missing here. Maybe there was some original before this because I'm not understanding the objective of this movie. It doesn't seem that funny, it actually looks kind of corny. Maybe I'll wait to see how it does after the first week or so after the release, but this DOES NOT look like one of Burton's best projects. However, Johnny did say he had no problem doing different kinds of movies, no matter how ridiculous. After all, it is, what he calls, "stupid money."

  28. DawnLee says:

    I would prefer to remember the Dark Shadows of yesteryear (70's) and leave it at that. Why do we have to watch another which makes the 3rd "Dark Shadows." Now days so many shows are being redone and it isn't the same. Even if that is the point, watching something that is a replica of an old version will only make a person expect something from the old version.

  29. Erica says:

    "Fringe taste"? "Goths"? The original is "awful"? Ugh.

    What's awful is saying you're going to pay respectful homage to something, and then ridicule it instead.

  30. DS original fan says:

    Many millions of us loved the original show and still do. There was nothing like it on television before or since — the 1991 tv revival came close, and I love it, too. Even though I'm a tiny bit sad Burton and co. are leaning toward comedy (and I should think it would be impossible to cover the sheer scope — and layer upon layer of storyline(s) from 1,700+ episodes — in a single film, in any case), I have heard the argument that the producers/director felt they had to go away from a serious view of a vampire story because Twilight had already done "serious vampire." But they should have trusted that Johnny Depp alone, who has huge appeal across all demographics, would have been enough to bring in gazillions of viewers… but it's OK. I'm going to go and enjoy it, and not compare it to the original. The GOOD thing about this is that it will probably spark huge interest in the one and only, original, "Dark Shadows" — I have a feeling we are going to be in for a DS tidal wave, and, for me, that is great! So happy that we have some of the original cast members doing cameos!! Hurrah!!

  31. The high priced Burton/Depp bromance needs to come to an end. They continually creatively urinate on tried and true source material for their own personal amusement.

  32. Tmiller says:

    I was interested in this film, but then I watched the trailer — this movie looks awful.

  33. mria1964 says:

    Dark Shadows has had MILLIONS of mainstream folks as fans. I'd hardly call that "fringe".

  34. anita says:

    talk about welcome to the black parade

  35. Kerri D says:

    I would like to say, I find this article written by Geoff Boucher to be extremely offensive. I was a baby in diapers when the original Dark Shadows came out, but enjoyed watching it on DVD as an adult. I qualify as neither "Goth" nor "fringe" of society, thank you. I wonder, if given the budget that the classic DS show was restricted to, if Mr. Boucher feels that he or anyone else could have done a finer job, tecnhically? The sets were fantastic, and the story lines very creative: did Mr. Boucher even take the time to watch an episode or two before voicing his opinions, and insulting an entire generation of DS fans, not to mention the cast and crew of the original series who worked so hard to bring this show to TV? I think Mr. Boucher owes an apology to the cast and crew and fans of the classic DS series. How incredibly rude his article is.

  36. Guest says:

    I look forward to the new film. But it won't surpass the original.

  37. Cathy Robbins says:

    I was a teenager running home from high school to watch Dark Shadows with my mother who loved it too. My mother was a homemaker mother of three. My cousins who I grew up with and their mother watched it . None of us became goths. I became a nurse anesthetist. My one cousin became vice president of his company and the other a highly successful attorney who does his own commercials. In my art class we had Dark Shadows Discussion Group everyday. We were just regular kids. Two of these kids had interesting connections. One was a member of the Marriott family. The other was a direct descendent of the Wright brothers. All of us were avid Dark Shadows fans. We are the kids who watched Dark Shadows. Highly successful people in the main stream of professional careers.

  38. p misiaszk says:

    They have made a mockery of the original TV soap series. They have made it a comedy. It was not a comedy! The original TV series concept had the potential for a beautiful gothic fantasy and instead we get this crap. With all the vampire and werewolf shows out today; it would be a good time to come back with the original series story line, on TV. Daily, weekly, or seasonal would be great!
    I am a huge fan of Dark Shadows. I use to run home from school just to watch this soap. I was so sad when it went off the air.

  39. Andrew Bayuk says:

    Whether or not you enjoyed the trailer or the posters, you will love Barnabas Collins – the song! It really captures the original flavor of the character of Barnabas. Let me know if you agree.

  40. Debrey Baldwin says:

    I am just so disapointed. I have been dogging the internet for years ever since I heard that Depp was going to make a Dark Shadows movie. I read where he said he was going to keep it close to how Jonathan played Barnabas… Then what is this crap in the trailer? If they were going to do a spoof then say so. Dont lead us on. I know all of the younger generation doesnt give a crap & they may like it, but for the ones that was there, that loved it all! It should be gothic romance. And let me tell you something… Angelique needs to be beautiful, big grey eyes… this chick did not capture her at all. And if you think all of us DS fans are just bitchin' and dont have a clue.. then why has Dark Shadows lasted all these years & is still loved?? It is just like Elvis fans.. we love it and dont MESS with it!! I will probably go see it though.. I will not miss a chance to see the real deals, Katheryn, Lara, David & Jonathan.. But Depp & Burton can kiss my AZZ

  41. A. Fan says:

    I've been looking forward to this film for a very long time. Unfortunately, I'm too young to recount memories of racing home from school to watch the original Dark Shadows. I wasn't even born then. In fact, those were memories shared with me by my mother (about as far from goth as one can get, btw), who did race home from school to watch everyday and, in addition to sharing those memories with me, introduced me to the show. Thanks to first PBS and then the Sci-Fi Network, I was able to enjoy Dark Shadows, too. And now that my mother has passed, the show holds a very special link to her for me. I imagine her being very excited at the very idea of the upcoming movie. Instead, I share the enthusiasm for both of us. And I'm sure that no matter how much Johnny Depp makes me laugh (and he will), I will shed a tear or two when I go to see the movie in May, wishing she was beside me the entire time. To call the original show "awful" is a terrible discredit, I think. Was it quite up to the standards of CGI 2012? Dear God, no! But it still managed to lay down a lot of precedence that is still being borrowed today. The same actors playing different characters? Last I heard, that's what American Horror Story purports to be doing next season under the guise of being innovative. Sorry, AHS…As much as I adore you, Dark Shadows did it first. Vampires, witches, werewolves, and fairies sound like a romping good True Blood summer Sunday night? I agree. I'm a "Truebie" as much as the next person (thanks at least in part to an early fascination with Dark Shadows). But, again, Dark Shadows did it first. In fact, regardless of production quality, or lack thereof, what Dark Shadows managed to create is much more important than special effects…it created memorable characters who still, nearly 40+ years after the fact, inspire passion amongst followers. Whether you are Team Barnabas or Team Angelique, the fact is that in 2012, there are still sufficient Team Barnabas and Team Angelique followers to generate enough buzz to create a potential blockbuster. How many other television shows can make such a claim?

  42. J.R. says:

    I think everyone should just wait until the movie comes out before giving their opinion…or does that make too much sense?

  43. Deborah Smith says:

    After watching the trailer, it appears that the movie will be a comic. The original Dark Shadows, for the time it played, was a serious drama; the fx was quite good and imaginative for what they had to work with at the time. The fans at the time got wrapped up in the lives of the characters. The story lines were fascinating. I'm disappointed in the trailer, but being a DS fan, I will go see the movie. I just wish it was portrayed as a serious gothic novel, instead of turning it into a parody. I know Depp is capable as a serious actor as he was in Secret Window, but the treatment of DS as a Pirate movie is a travesty!

  44. luanne says:

    Angelique was my favorite–but she could be so scary! : )

  45. LauraLu says:

    Yes! I loved DS as a child and ran home each day to watch! Yes, I was in love with Barnabas and Quentin (somehow?!?) And Angelique! Oh, that hair!!

    I met Jonathan Frid in Philadelphia several years ago and he was extremely gracious and kind. Glad I stumbled upon this site and conversation!

  46. Sue says:

    I'am not ashamed to see I have the whole collection fro the early 70 to 80's… Love Dark Shadows :-)

  47. kathynygard says:

    I thought I was the only one who ran home from school to watch DARK SHADOWS! Now, I realize the whole BABY BOOMER CLAN was running home just as fast as I was! HOW AWESOME IS THAT? I always wondered WHEN, a movie would come out based on the TV SHOW….DARK SHADOWS…WAY TO GO…TIM BURTON!!!

  48. Kathy Nygard says:

    Also…what to Go Johnny Depp too!

  49. Jane says:

    I was a huge DS fan, and I was an adult at the time. My best memory of not being willing to miss an episode? The day my son was born! I got an irate call from my Dr. at 4:14 that afternoon, I was in labor and the Dr. beat me to the hospital, because I wouldn't leave the house until the show was over. No DVRs back then : )

  50. Pamela says:

    I was one of those girls that ran home from school everyday to watch "Dark Shadows". I was in Junior high, extremely addicted to the horror genre, the macabe, believed in aliens (don't think we're alone in the universe), was fascinated with Star Trek (yes, folks, I'm a Trekkie) and was true fan of the magic of movie making. Even today I watch the "Special Features" of a DVD before the movie.
    When I first saw on my Facebook page that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were at it again, doing, of all things, and old 60's soap, I did get a little excited. Dark Shadows was the first one of it's kind, and my hat off to the producers and the tv station that stuck their necks out to bring it to the 10 inch screen.
    I know now that I've seen the trailers, that it isn't going to remake the soap. I don't think that's possible. Joan Bennett is no longer with us. I look forward to seeing this film knowing that Tim Burton remains true to himself as a filmmaker/storyteller.
    Way to go!

  51. Pamela Malecke says:

    I was one of those girls that ran home from school everyday to watch "Dark Shadows". I was in Junior high, extremely addicted to the horror genre, the macabe, believed in aliens (don't think we're alone in the universe), was fascinated with Star Trek (yes, folks, I'm a Trekkie) and was true fan of the magic of movie making. Even today I watch the "Special Features" of a DVD before the movie.
    Dark Shadows was the first of it's kind and my hat is off to the studio and the producers for having the guts to put a genre that was, at that time, exclusively in the theaters
    When I first learned about this film on my Facebook page, I was a little worried. There's no recreating the soap. (after all Joan Bennett is no longer with us) But after seeing the trailers, I am excited about seeing this film. Tim Burton has created his own version, and, by the way, I'm a fan of all his work. Teamed with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Burton can't go wrong. WAY TO GO!!!!

  52. Syanah says:

    Where is Quentin– Played by David Selby??? he was my favorite!

  53. Robert Gartner says:

    Elaine, I remember that episode, back when Victoria Winters had been condemned to die, because LT Forbes lied during Victoria Winters witchcraft trial, and Barnabas wreaked havoc, and when no-one in Collinwood wood lift a finger to help him escape, he grabbed the crossbow, That was the longest FRIDAY cliffhanger, let me tell you, I ran home on Monday to see Barnabas tell FORBES, "THE HEART, YOU DIDN"T HIT MY HEART", there is nobody that will ever be able to convince me that the original series was "AWFUL", even if it was campy, I can certainly say, the story was totally convincing, when the sets might shake or the actors might flub a line, I might have lost track for a moment, but, the actors always had trhe amazing talent to pick up the beat, and stay right on Que, and keep in character… I was ALREADY hooked, actually, from the moment Dan Curtis productions decided to introduce the charater of BARNABAS COLLINS!!!@!!

  54. Rick says:

    I don't understand the "Dark Shadows" fans who are slamming this film before they have even seen it. I have been a fan of that show since it originally aired and I am looking forward to it. I found the humorous clips in the trailer entertaining (they seemed to be aimed at people familiar with the original show). Even if it was an all-out parody I would still be interested in seeing it; the fact that I really love James Whale's original Frankenstein does not prevent me from enjoying the hell out of "Young Frankenstein".

  55. LARRY says:


  56. 4Ever Nerd says:

    "Unlike “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters,” this monster-mash of a show was a fringe taste, which is why it attracted the young outsiders who would be called goths today." No, no, no. It attracted the young outsiders who would be called "NERDS" today. I ought to know; I was one of them.

  57. KElly says:

    There is nothing that Johnny Depp could do that would not be perfect. His magical way of becoming his parts and being the whole relm of the person and taking it to a better level than the orginal person in the first place, is a gift all his own. He has proven to be a true artist and he well be a legend in the end.

  58. Tina says:

    I think I dropped out of school so I wouldn't miss the first 15 mins of the TV show. Okay I paid later but at the time HS was so much less intriguing than Dark Shadows!

  59. Donna says:

    Just because you can afford to buy a classic soap opera franchise and do anything you want to to it… doesn't mean you should.

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