Dark Shadows Then and Now

We went to see the new Dark Shadows movie on Mother’s Day weekend.  It was a special favor to me because my daughter and my hubby knew how much of a fan I was of the original TV series.  Yes, I was one of those kids that ran home each afternoon so that I could plop down in front of the TV to watch Barnabas Collins scare the bejesus out of me.  I REALLY liked Barnabas, long before vampires were considered “cool.”

So I was a little worried when I saw the movie previews featuring Johnny Depp starring as Barnabas.  I also saw that the movie version was going to be directed by Tim Burton, a director well-known for producing bizarre, off-beat movies.  The previews also gave me the impression that they had turned the original show into a farce.  Oh, no!

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can say that it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.  Faint praise, I know.  It had funny moments.  It had a great soundtrack.  The character playing Willie Loomis was great and  even Helena Bonham Carter was spot-on with her portrayal of Julia, the psychologist.  Johnny wasn’t bad as Barnabas.  The character, Angelique had the familiar push-pull hate/love thing going just like in the original series.  But we were missing some of my favorites, like David Selby’s character….sexy Quentin Collins. I thought that  the character of Victoria Winters was just not as developed in the movie as it was in the series.  I mean, Barnabas was SO obsessed with Victoria in the series and she fought the attraction for a long time, not understanding what was going on.  The movie Victoria was rather “blah.”  David Collins wasn’t creepy or disturbed enough.  I think he needed his little ghost friend that he had in the original series.  

The main difference between the movie version and the TV series was that the series never played for laughs.  It took itself very seriously.  Oh, if you look at it today, you’ll see funny parts as when the actors forget their lines and look off into the distance and obviously read off of a prompt card or parts where a mike boom wanders into the frame of the action, etc. I think this all adds to the charm.  It might not have been sophisticated television but still, it was able to get us to “suspend our disbelief” and to thoroughly lose ourselves in the action.

Dark Shadows the movie was a nice diversion for an afternoon.  Johnny Depp was fun to watch.  He didn’t play it over the top.  The mansion was a great set.  It just didn’t fully satisfy this original DS fan.  I watched the show faithfully in high school and through college.  When I graduated and joined the Army, a good friend and fellow fan continued to write episodes of the show for me (after the actual show was cancelled) and would mail them overseas to me so that I wouldn’t be without my Dark Shadows “fix.”  Maybe I just need to put the original series in my Netflix queue and take a shivery trip back to Collinswood.

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