I am not a fan of remakes. I do understand that they sometimes work. The Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon is far superior to the previous incantations of the story, but for the most part, I feel remakes are the direct result of a lack of imagination.
Film adaptations of television shows I am still on the fence about. I enjoy them when they continue and expand the show (X-Files), but I feel it is usually a waste of time when the film makers are just trying to cash in on nostalgia (The A-Team). Although sometimes even those can work well (Scooby Doo). When the Dark Shadows film was originally announced I was skeptical. Although I am a fan of Tim Burton’s work (as well as Johnny Depp), This film still seemed to exploitative to be any good. As a result, I skipped seeing it upon its initial release.
Dark Shadows of the $5 bin
I recently came across the Dark Shadows film in the $5 bin and decided to give it a shot. Johnny Depp plays the role of Barnabas Collins, a 200 year old vampire that has been imprisoned in a coffin since the late 1700’s and is released by a construction crew in 1972 (the year after the original Dark Shadows Television show went off the air). Collins was imprisoned and his family cursed after he had an affair with a servant girl (and witch) named Angelique Bouchard (played by Eva Green) whose furious jealousy set the events of our story in motion.
After centuries of living with Angeliques curse, the Collins family is in dire circumstances while Angelique has taken over the town of Collinsport and continues to exact vengeance on the Collins’s.
Barnabas uses his vampiric skills, and a hidden treasure room in the house, to bring back the families fortune. This pisses off Angelique and mayhem ensues.
Depp does a great job with the characters nuances and the “fish out of water” theme of a 200 year old vampire thrust into 1972 brings some nice humor to the film. The melodrama of the original series is treated with subtle jabs and pokes. Danny Elfman’s score is brilliantly supplemented with period well chosen period music (including a cameo by Alice Cooper that Barnabas comments is a very ugly woman). All of the elements meld together wonderfully in this film and really make it more enjoyable then I would have expected.
If you are a huge fan of the original series you may not enjoy this, but it is worth a viewing none the less. If you have never heard of Dark Shadows the TV show… give this film a try.