Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows: About What You'd Expect

My thoughts on Dark Shadows:

Was it worth the $36 that the local AMC charged for a pair of seats? No. Not by a long shot. That said, was I expecting it to be? No, not really.

I remember growing up with reruns of the original Dark Shadows running on one of the (very few) local broadcast TV stations. Frankly, I never really thought it was all that good. I really couldn't get past the production value and the, frankly awful story lines and dialog. Plus, I'm not really a fan of "all things vampires." Don't get me wrong, there've been some excellent vampire movies made, but they would have been excellent movies had they centered around vampires or not. But, maybe I was too young to understand it. Dunno.

I get that the original Dark Shadows had camp value. I get that a lot of people like that. My feelings tend to be that I need more than just camp and nostalgia to enjoy something. Something can be enjoyable and still be awful. I'm a fan of a lot of crap TV shows and movies.

At any rate, the Tim Burton version of Dark Shadows loses the camp associated with the original's shoddy production values. It replaces those shoddy production values with the, now, eminently predictable Tim Burton treatment: pancake makeup; pointlessly-blonded actresses; the presence of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Danny Elfman's music; the "color" palette of muted pastels and greys and high-contrast, "never found in nature" colors. Don't get me wrong, I like that aesthetic, it's just "predictable", even if very well executed.

For better or worse - likely worse - they left the original's quality of dialog in place. They even opted to set it in the time-frame of the original serial. Dunno that I would have done that. If I'm gonna resurrect something, I think I'd do more than just update the visual production value and ape the rest (insert a shrug, here).

Oh well - I assume that my wife, Donna, liked it - and, to be honest, she's the only reason why I went to see it. She seems to love all things Burton. I just found it to be "meh". On a scale of Beatlejuice to Cabin Boy, I'd rate it somewhat lower than Alice in Wonderland: AIW was a decent pure-style work that's story/dialogue isn't quite clunky enough to be distracting; Dark Shadows is high on style, but the preservation of the original serial's clunky dialogue was distracting.

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