DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP
We hesitated at viewing Dark Shadows, the remake of the old cheesy television soap opera. The original was of its time: a daily TV potboiler every afternoon in Gothic-styled fantasy, featuring vampires, werewolves, witches, and sordid lives over multi-generations.
There was no way it could be anything but low budget and mindless fun. It was never True Blood, but it wasn’t this horror of filmmaking, directed by Tim Burton.
Jonathan Frid became a sensation as Barnabas Collins and Grayson Hall won eternal immortality as his amanuensis and sidekick Dr. Julia Hoffman in the original TV series. They had dignity in presenting their bad scripts daily.
When Johnny Depp signed on to play the vampire Collins, we cringed, though we could see him playing opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Hoffman.
What emerged here is a bizarre mixture of camp silliness, cheap horror effects, and an out-of-place satire of the 1970s. Even that is misplaced. The original show was a 1960s phenomenon that tried to rise above its station.
This 2012 movie sinks into a low-brow puerile miasma.
With tunes out of the 1970s era and send-ups of hippies, Vietnam War, etc., the unhistorical film mixes up two decades, two genres, and loses audience purists from genre fans of vampire tales, 1970s spoofs, and good acting. This film insults all.
A scene about Dr. Hoffman giving Barnabas fellatio seems offputting. If it’s your métier, this film may tickle you. It seems more disparaging to the original stars than one would expect from homage.
We like to steer clear of big budget fiascos and any film that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp make a partnership nowadays. Forget their past glory. They clearly have.