In the spirit of Hollywood’s obsession with reboots and re-imaginings, Warner Bros. will bring cult gothic soap opera Dark Shadows back to life. Unlike some dismal remakes, I don’t see how this one can fail. With Tim Burton directing, Johnny Depp to play iconic vampire aristocrat Baranabas Collins, and Eva Green (Casino Royale) just signing on to play intriguing witch Angelique, this reboot looks to pack some preternatural punch.
Word has it that Bella Heathcote is being courted for the role of Victoria Winters (the love-interest for Barnabas). Recently Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) has been attached to the project, potentially filling the role of Willie Loomis. Author of the unique horror/comedy novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” Seth Grahame-Smith, is writing the script. If his fiction is any indication, the new Dark Shadows should be full of witty dialogue and genre-bending themes.
In the late 1960s, Dan Curtis brought his vision for a gothic soap opera to life. The moody and atmospheric series ran for five years, and became a cult hit. Based in the tempestuous Maine town of Collinsport, the old and rich Collins family found themselves embroiled in strange occurrences and mysterious deaths. The TV series broke ground with the supernatural themes, showcasing vampires, werewolves, witches, ancient curses….you name it. Of course it was still daytime TV, and had a shoe-string budget, so a modern cinemaphile revisiting the series would think it ridiculous and provincial. Curtis tried a reboot in the early 90s with the short-lived Dark Shadows revival, starring Ben Cross. It had a sleeker, night-time soap opera feel, and kept true to the gothic themes and supernatural elements of the original.
Who better to stay true to the spirit of Dark Shadows then the master of the macabre, Tim Burton? His artistic vision (when it works, and even when it doesn’t work) is unique and has a dark, strange sensibility. Johnny Depp, in a refreshing change, will present a Barnabas Collins who is actually attractive, sexy and (no offense to the original Barnabas, Jonathan Frid) can act. And Depp is very excited about this role. According to Deadline, Depp loved the original series and has been obsessed with playing Barnabas. Given the numerous Burton/Depp collaborations, audiences can bet this film will be memorable, whether good or bad.
Filming starts in April, if not pushed back again. I, for one, am looking forward to this reboot. Not yet tired of vampires and the macabre in film, I look forward to seeing some great storylines live again Burton-style (without the cheesy dialogue, terrible acting, and numerous bloopers of the original TV series…eek).