Dark Shadows: Wrong and Loathing It (Repost Since the Original is Lost~!)

 

I originally wrote this when I first saw the movie upon its release. Thank God I didn’t by the freaking ticket. I’d have demanded a refund. To all the die-hard Deppers and Burtonites–sorry if it offends you…I am simply being honest here. That script totally sucked!

Alright people…I actually broke down and went to see this movie.  I will say this, Mr. Ebert was being kind when he gave it 2.5 stars.  Now I am going to write about what is WRONG with this film, and it shouldn’t matter whether or not the viewer saw either the original or the Revival Series prior to viewing it, but before I do, I will say this: I think that it is truly sad that while Johnny Depp is probably one of the greatest actors alive, he is wasting his talent on steering clear of a mainstream audience.  It is fine to be a rebel of sorts in Hollywood, as long as you know whatever the hell your cause is and if it is a cause worth standing ground for.

However I cannot fault Depp for his Barnabas portrayal here. In fact, aside from the clown make up which he’s been using in his past few films, he actually did attempt to give the character of Barnabas Collins a depth of sincerity but was derailed by the horrible script writing of Seth Grahame-Smith.

Each actor was given an interesting part, but due to the lack of integrity in the script, there was little to no character development with the other characters involved. It seemed that the movie was somewhat rushed after the back story about Josette, Barnabas and Angelique was given in the first 20 minutes or so.  I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that those who loved both series (the original and the Revival) will be very disappointed, if not pissed off.  Here are a few reasons why:

It is one thing to take dramatic license and add to a script. It is another thing to bastardize the entire story line just because one has bought the rights to do it.  According to the REAL story, Angelique curses Barnabas prior to Josette’s demise. The part about her bewitching Jeremiah and Josette so that THEY married was completely omitted–not to mention the fact that Barnabas’ parents were NOT killed but remained part of the story line throughout both the original series and the Revival series. He never delved into black magic himself either. Hence that is the beginning of the bastardization of the character.

PLEASE don’t try to tell me they had to rewrite it to make it pleasing to a new generation. That is such bullshit.  They could add some humor without doing the above. It ruined the credibility of the film with fans who know how the story actually went. Also I have a problem with a “witch” leading a mob to bury a vampire alive.  Angelique didn’t try to go too far out on a limb. Besides that Barnabas had killed her and she cursed him with her dying breath. Again…Credibility shot to hell. Victoria not knowing her own damned name on the train didn’t help either. THAT was stupid. Not campy.

Then after 48 minutes into the picture, I was asking myself, “Where in the bloody hell (no pun intended) is this movie going?  I mean, vampires supposedly SLEEP by day…This version of Barnabas was all over the place. I don’t want to hear anyone bitching about the Dark Shadows Revival Series day for night shots when there are plenty of them in this damned flick.  An HOUR into it, I was still wondering where the hell the story was going. The oral sex w/Julia…The sex w/Angelique…Give me a break! The latter was reminiscent of “War of the Roses“…The finale–as another reviewer stated–was reminiscent of “Death Becomes Her”…I didn’t find Eva Green‘s performance or Ms. Heathcote’s as really standing out either.

With only 40 minutes left, total disappointment…NOT in Depp’s acting–although Ben Cross beats his ass down when it comes to the part of Barnabas…Not in Ms.Pfieffer’s acting. AS I said the writing itself, the entire changed story line sucked balls. However there are some aspects of it that did appeal to me. The write-in of Victoria’s childhood did appeal to me–no spoiler. Let’s just say that psychologically, I can see how she feels connected to Collinsport–and why she likes being there–probably because that came out of some of the best fan fiction that I have ever read.  If you don’t believe that, start reading some of it…The apologetic serial killer crap doesn’t appeal to me either–again, it’s bullshit. Barnabas tried not to bring attention to himself.

I also felt a connection with David’s character–having been abandoned emotionally in more ways than one. No  spoiler there either. Only in the last 24 minutes does it seem to pick up to some sort of climactic action…Let’s just say if that first is last and the last is first, there will be no sequel…This Barnabas issue of fans wanting an ending got it…Watch it to the end and you will know why–but this was more of a spin off…Not  a spoof, despite its comedic moments.

What makes it tragic to me, is that if the writer Seth Grahame Smith had taken the FIRST movie to devote to the mystery of Vicky and tie it in that way with Angelique stalking and her connection to Josette, the rest could have come together in part 2 and kicked total ass. By the way, I did like Alice Cooper‘s appearance–even though he wasn’t famous until ’73 or ’74…

Despite the brief cameo of the original cast, this movie does not have the bite it should have had for it being part of the franchise. The entire story–minus the Josette thing at the beginning could have been dealt with in an hour on a TV production rather than this 113 minutes of wasted celluloid.  There is no excuse for the dragging ass pacing of this film for the first 89 minutes.  More could have been told and less time wasted–with more time given to character development.  It boils down to this, stellar cast…Interesting idea…Yet it was wasted on a script that was totally wrong…Hence the title of my review…Dark Shadows: Wrong and Loathing It.

Now that Jonathan Frid is gone, Cross owns the role in my book. I’ll never go to any sequel of the 2012 version, that’s for sure…

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Addendum:  I am clearing something up here by request.  Johnny Depp, while even though he was a producer of this film and bears much of  the responsibility for the fact that it tanked here, needed to learn a lesson here.  There are some parts which even the greatest actor on this planet does not have the range for and should not undertake.  This clearly was one of those roles for Johnny Depp.  If you do some checking, you will find that he did want to play Barnabas in the 1990’s to which Dan Curtis gave a resounding “NO!”  Curtis was right.   The only way to fix this now is to totally change up the story to where Angelique set this whole thing up–including the meeting between Josette and Barnabas in Martinique.

Why do I say that? Because it is the only way to save the franchise and stay true to the characters at this point in time.  Fans want a resolution to this storyline–not drag it out for another 40 years.  Frid is gone.  Cross is older now.   However, this can be redone utilizing some of the original cast members in speaking  roles–even if short ones, and some from the Revival cast.  THAT would have worked and the fans of both versions would have been much happier.  Unfortunately, the Burton-Depp camp didn’t consider the fans when making this version. This was about egos and what they thought would sell the picture: The Depp name.  What does this prove?  It proves Tom Laughlin’s point (You might remember him from the Billy Jack trilogy) that there are times that even superstar power will not sell a picture if it doesn’t meet certain expectations.

If you want to know more, read this book!  http://www.billyjack.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=BK9S&Category_Code=BOOKS&Store_Code=BERSERK

For any writer, this book is right on the money!

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Dark Shadows: The Revival…Getting “Revived” via fans?

Some will think this is crazy but it is true! The 12 episodes of the Revival series are getting more attention since the Depp/Burton trailer has been released.  Hulu.com is getting more traffic for that version now.  Why? Fans are wanting to see what the fuss is all about and the Revival series offers a true Dan Curtis version in only 12 episodes. The curiosity is aroused once again. Curtis retained creative control over all of his productions until his death.

Ben Cross now owns the role according to his fans and he's gaining new ones! He is getting some well-deserved and long overdue respect as is the rest of the Revival series cast. Perhaps Hollywood should take note of this when making films...

Now my question is, why not release to 2004 pilot so fans can compare differences?  I do know this much–the new fans of the Revival series that are coming on board are saying that Ben Cross now owns the Barnabas role since the trailer’s release. Some of these new fans prefer the original but now appreciate the portrayal of Barnabas by Mr. Cross more now than they did in 1991.  Like it or not, Cross stayed more true to the basic instincts of such a character than most.  He tempered that battle between beast and man and is somewhat different from Frid in his approach to it.

I always say that Jonathan Frid made him more human to me as a small child, but Ben Cross made him a real “being” to me a few years back.   That being said, I am glad that finally the cast of the Dark Shadows Revival series is getting some long overdue positive recognition for their attempt to breathe fresh life into the show.  The late Jean Simmons was phenomenal as Elizabeth…RIP…Adrian Paul–outstanding…So was the rest of the cast–especially the duo of Ben Cross and Joanna Going.

I’ve heard the complaints about Ben’s mullet….I’ve heard the complaints about the Day for Night shots, but I’ll take that over a comedic farce any day of the week and that is what the new version will end up being–this time around.  If you are fans of the Revival series, there is a page for it on FB here:  https://www.facebook.com/DarkShadows.Revival .  For fans of Ben Cross, his page is here and he’d love to hear from you:  https://www.facebook.com/actorbencross …I’m sure Adrian Paul wouldn’t mind either…Here’s the link to his page–and he’s a phenomenal human being!  Look at the things he supports!  https://www.facebook.com/adrianpaulofficial  If you ever watched “Highlander’ you know who Adrian Paul is, kiddies.

I also suggest Mr. Depp do one thing for his next film…Skip the White Face make up. It will not  help with the Lone Ranger remake he is in either. Barnabas looks like a cross between Beetlejuice and a Vulcan. Here are both pics…Once you look at them go back and think about Beetlejuice (which starred Michael Keaton wearing the same make-up), Sweeney Todd, Edward Scissorhands, Etc…All are relatives in Depp’s character genealogy.  Enough with it already!

As talented as Mr. Depp is as an actor, I am beginning to wonder what other shows I loved as a  child will get laid to waste? People on Facebook and other sites are asking this also. Hopefully he will start paying attention.  He is one of the best actors there is, and I will never understand why he and Burton seem to be putting more of the shows in their cross hairs.  It is said that he’ll make “The Night Stalker” into a movie also. God forbid! Even the ABC ran version based on the original was not good!

What Dark Shadows (The Original) and Dark Shadows (The Revival) Have in Common…And What they Don’t…

NOTE: My apologies in advance for the alignment of the pics with the text between further down. I tried my best to correct this but the text would keep showing up between the pictures of Lara Parker and Lysette Anthony

Earlier I wrote a post in which I described how certain people are telling me how I should not judge an entire movie by a two-minute trailer.  That is a statement made in ignorance (at best) because the trailers are the most important vehicle to make a viewer want to watch a film or decide to save their money.  I am going to describe what the two shows above have in common…I am also going to leave you with a question at the end to ponder.

Many people who know me personally know I ran home from school EVERY DAY so that I would see if “Barnabas was well yet”…I wanted him to be cured and that bully “Angelique” to get the royal ass kicking she deserved.  I have done a lot of reading and such and studying for the past few months.  This is what I PERSONALLY look for in any movie or show I watch, and if I don’t see it, I don’t view it again.  If the trailer sucks, it will result in more monetary loss than gain in the long run because those who came up with it failed to do their homework before filming the project.  Translated that means: THEY DIDN’T DO ANY MARKET RESEARCH FIRST.  If they had, they would have KNOWN that this was not a good thing they were trying to accomplish.

First off, what did Barnabas ever do to deserve being cursed and having his entire family tormented?  Bottom line, he screwed around with the WRONG woman…In today’s time, since he wasn’t married yet, it wouldn’t matter.  The man had a flaw and it got him in hot water–period.  Was this “hot water” truly deserved? No…It was not and that is what made us as children (especially if we got bullied) empathize with the Barnabas character…This was also played out in the Revival Series VERY well.

Then there is this element of “mystery”–which really was not a mystery to us in the 90’s when the Revival series came out, but while fans of the original series were looking for a “Jonathan Frid” many were not disappointed with Ben Cross‘s rendition of that character.  Dan Curtis‘s method of casting and directing ensured that BOTH actors were able to evoke and keep our attention.  The difference lies in that Frid’s rendition came across as more “human” than beast.  Cross’s rendition made him more menacing and flawed, but like Frid’s character,  he was still a good man with a good heart.  And in Cross’s rendition, the strong emotions his Barnabas experienced were portrayed very, very well.

The Two Best Men to Ever Play Barnabas Collins.  Sorry Johnny, but Mr. Cross raised the bar too high.  After the 2012 movie is released, I believe Mr. Cross will finally be more appreciated for his rendition of the role--and rightly so!

My apologies to Mr. Depp here, but after seeing that performance in the trailer, it proves that Mr. Cross raised the bar too high. No other actor since him has portrayed him as well.  It would be great if the original cast invited cast members from the Revival to take part in the fests also.  They are still part of that legacy–and are more recognizable now than they were then.  The Revival Series will probably now get the respect it so richly deserved. The Gulf War is what led to the show’s fate–not the writers, cast or crew.  They totally rocked and so did the direction of Dan Curtis in both series.  The formula Mr. Curtis had was not broken. Market research would have proven that had Mr. Burton or Depp done it and/or paid any attention to it. I find it no coincidence that Mr. Curtis tended to use actors with Shakespearean backgrounds in theater as well.  Look at Frid and Cross…Both carried the character very well.

In BOTH shows, our curiosity was aroused and our intellect was challenged enough that we responded!  Boy did we!

Now who is the visible villain in BOTH shows?  “Angelique” DUH! Really?!   Both had intense eyes.  For each time period–both were realistic–meaning that Lara Parker kicked ass at this part in the ’60’s but Lysette Anthony did in the Revival Series.  Ms. Anthony succeeded in doing an excellent portrayal of a voodoo witch with the correct (French) accent too since that character  came from Martinique.

There is one problem and that is the total lack of a hero or heroine.  That was not clear in either series really but Barnabas did show heroic tendencies at times.  The character of Barnabas Collins is also the first vampire to come across as romantic, despite the fact that a lot of women do not like the idea of a permanent hickey on their neck–oops! Sorry! Barnabas would say it’s just a “love bite”, I’m sure.  I am grinning here.

The reason this is an unknown is that the original series was intended to be a long running show and it was.  But what do fans want here?  I think they want a RESOLUTION to the dilemma.  Either cure Barnabas’s curse or put a stake in him and kill of Angelique so the rest of the family can live in whatever after may be–OR some enterprising writer needs to come up with new characters to cure him of his curse and make the story line so realistic that fans would accept any new characters brought in.  It won’t happen for this movie though. They are already talking about sequels–AGAIN–lack of true market research…They would have known this had they done that task. If they would resolve the Barnabas issue and move on to Quentin it might have fighting chance in hell of long-term success–but ONLY if they didn’t deviate too far from fans expectations.  It was never meant to have comedic schlock in it. That would work for the “Fearless Vampire Killers” but NOT for this one.

Why?  This is simple.  This show had been established for decades.  The comedic schlock only lowered the plausibility of it at this point. It also put a mar on the credibility of the franchise and it isn’t even out yet. Fans of the original and the Revival are in an uproar.  The humor that came about came naturally when it occurred in the original series and in the 1700’s flashbacks of the Revival.  That is how it was meant to be written.  Dan Curtis did show that Barnabas did have a “life”.  To add the type of humor in the new film shatters the audience expectations  of a show they love–and this all from a 2 minute trailer.  Never tell a viewer not to judge a movie by a trailer. That is what trailers are DESIGNED to do–enable a viewer to make a decision.

One great thing about BOTH shows is that either Barnabas and/or some other character is always in danger…There was that element that it wasn’t only Barnabas that could be destroyed in a given moment if found out–but Angelique had a pendulum swinging over the heads of his entire family.  One didn’t really know where that was going at times.

Then you have that “love story” aspect…It is there. It is tragic.  However if it had been kept in the spirit of the original–even with a surprise twist by adding a new hero or heroine to resolve it, it could have worked whether or not Josette Dupres remained part of the equation.  There were clashes of wills between the vampire Barnabas and Josette when she became frightened and jumped from the cliff. Clashing of wills was present throughout the original. In the Revival it was there also–even between Barnabas and Willie at the point where Willie had tried to dissuade Victoria from coming there and tried to get her to leave the old house before it got dark.  This was the result:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_zoTfRmm9o

In the original series, Victoria left Collinsport for good.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to bring in a character or two to resolve the issue.  Had that been done, I think the viewers would have been left with a sense of closure by the end of the series.  If it were me writing it, I would want the audience to feel closure at the end–whether it’s tragic or the “fairy tale” ending the women would LOVE…In the original series, Barnabas declaring his “love” for Angelique is not credible.  It was–for lack of a better word–bullshit.

Angelique would destroy anyone or anything to have control over Barnabas. That is obsession–not love. After all she had done to his family, I seriously doubt that he could “love” her.  To continue with that unrealistic expectation would be insulting to the fans as well and they are not going to buy into it.  At best, Angelique COULD be considered mentally off-balance.  AT worst, a psychopath OR a sociopath depending on which version one watches.

Just from the trailer, the things I mention do not appear to be present.  The new movie looks more like a Beetlejuice type of film.   I think those who watched that movie or “The Vampire’s Assistant” and liked them will love this movie.  Those who know what was meant to be in both the original and the Revival series will probably hate it–despite the names of Depp/Burton being attached to it. Big names do not always equal box office success either.  We will know soon, won’t we?  I’ll wait for the dvd myself.

There is one thing that the original Dark Shadows does not have in common with the Revival series and that is longevity.  Had it not been for the Gulf War, I’m sure the Revival series would have picked up and taken off eventually.  NBC really screwed up by not giving it a second shot…Those who watch it now tend to agree with that assessment.

I Am Told Not to Judge a Movie by the Trailer…

The title is self-explanatory.  Yet a movie trailer is what is meant to lure the viewer in to see the film.   I was going to go see the new Dark Shadows movie that was made by that all familiar duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, despite the fact that I didn’t care for a lot of the earlier films they did together.  Johnny Depp is a great actor. Do not get me wrong there, but I am not what is called in some fan circles as a “Die Hard Depper”.

After seeing the trailer for the new Dark Shadows movie, I got totally turned off of the idea despite the fact that I loved the original series and I loved the Revival series of the 1990’s too.  However, I cannot look at the trailer from the link below and see anything that I can remotely identify with from my childhood, or the Revival version–both of which were the vision of the late Dan Curtis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isjg9O7ifwM

Many criticized the original in recent years for the bloopers and low-budget adjustments that had to be made by cast and crew–but to an entire generation of children, these characters seemed real. I would have kicked Lara Parker in the shins and ran for my life when I was a five-year old girl.   Barnabas, played by Jonathan Frid, was bullied by her in my young mind and I wanted to see him “get well”.  I viewed him as “ill and unable to help it”…I’m sure I am not the only little child who empathized with Frid’s rendition of the character in this way.

Then the show was gone.  My parents divorced.  Over the years my life changed and such…Then I went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was in my room at the officer’s  quarters that I got very bored one night and began playing around on hulu.com.  It was there I watched episode after episode of the “Dark Shadows Revival” series.  I was hooked by the portrayal Ben Cross gave…It was here I discovered Ben Cross the actor as well and found his Facebook page.

I was still able to empathize with his Barnabas, even though at the time he beat Willie, I felt that Barnabas was WAY out of line.  Yet, Mr. Cross tempered that character enough to show a realistic point–it would be hell for someone in that character’s predicament to temper that battle within between the beast he could turn into and the man he once was.  He was a good man–and his flaw was messing around with the WRONG woman.

Oh well…Cest Le Vie…Now we have this new one coming out and from the trailer, I can already tell that I cannot empathize with Depp’s rendition.  He looks more alien than human–as if he’s a combination of Nosferatu and Beetlejuice.  Barnabas should NEVER look like this…I can also tell by Burton’s direction that this is going to be more of a farce that will make the Barnabas I grew up on and adored to look more like a buffoon.  The scene in the trailer between him and Angelique made me think more of “War of the Roses” than Dark Shadows. Sorry.

I also cannot picture a vampire, while trying to adapt to the time period he’s in, making boob remarks and telling a 15-year-old relative that is not married about how her “child-bearing hips” aren’t in use…Barnabas was a gentleman and in past movies and the two series I mentioned, Shakespearean actors were tapped to play him. I believe Dan Curtis had very good reason for casting his production in such a way and having those characters portrayed as they were.

One more thing I will point out is that I KNOW my history here. While a lot of upper class colonists did wait until later to marry, there were some who did marry younger.  That is the only reason why the writers will get away with that remark about those “child-bearing hips”.

I only have one more thing to add here…The voice…I heard and saw more of a cleaned up version of  “Jack Sparrow” than I did any Barnabas Collins that was ever portrayed. For what it is worth though, the schlock I saw in the trailer would have been perfect for a remaking of  “The Fearless Vampire Killers“.  Here’s a clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q-sukI-ZpU

I apologize to the die-hard “DarkShadows” fans and to all the loyal Depp fans out there, but I cannot justify going to see this particular film. It is sad to me that an actor as great as Johnny Depp has chosen to portray the character a lot of us loved growing up in the fashion that this trailer makes him out to be.

One thing Hollywood critics need to get through their heads is that people are not going to pay attention to what they write for the most part–only the academy will.  The ones who will flock to see this are the ones who are die-hard Depp fans no matter what he does, and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Unless one of my family members or friends buys the ticket, I’ll wait for the over-priced dvd.

Other than Frid’s performance,  this is how Barnabas should be portrayed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOL5DogfA2w

I don’t care how many people criticize the make up, Mr. Cross’s mullet and such.  He raised the bar too high for anyone to follow suit, and the trailer from the new movie only makes this viewer appreciate his rendition of the character even more.

On the other hand I heartily recommend this movie because the whole family can watch it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOqSi-_cXeE  It has a taste of “Remember the Titans”, “Bad News Bears”, “The Mighty Ducks”–and any other good sports movie that was meant for a young and old audience alike!  This one will be one of the best of 2012 and will be in theaters on May 18th~! At least this trailer has a good feel about it!  The name of the movie is “Crooked Arrows” and is about a Native American Lacrosse team! It will be worth spending the money for the ticket on. Check out the likes on its Facebook page already!