Preview: Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’

Think of it as “Downton Abbey” with a touch of the supernatural — the gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows,” which featured vampires, ghosts, zombies and werewolves, gained a cult following after it aired on ABC in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The show followed the wealthy Collins family of Collinsport, Maine, who were troubled by strange and unfortunate events.

One of the show’s main characters was Barnabas Collins, whose tragic history formed one of the most well-known plot lines of the show. After he rejected the love of the witch Angelique Bouchard, she killed him, and he subsequently was resurrected as a vampire.

Although the series ended more about 40 years ago, the show now is being turned into a feature film by Tim Burton. The film stars Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins; Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard; Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the family matriarch; Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins, Elizabeth’s brother; and Chloë Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, Elizabeth’s teenage daughter. Helena Bonham Carter and Christopher Lee also will be making appearances in the film, and several members of the cast from the original TV show reportedly will have cameos.

According to the Internet Movie Database, the new movie picks up after Angelique buries Barnabas alive, and he is inadvertently freed from his tomb two centuries later, plunged into the shock of emerging — unprepared — in 1972. He returns to his family’s once magnificent manor, only to find the estate has fallen into ruin.

Although I haven’t seen any episodes of the original TV show, I initially was pretty excited about the film’s concept. However, after seeing the first trailer, I was admittedly a little less so.

The original TV show was fairly serious in tone, and I was hoping the film would be somewhat similar: a quirky, gothic drama with a touch of witty humor (I was envisioning Michelle Pfeiffer’s family matriarch as the supernatural counterpart of Downton Abbey’s “Dowager Countess,” a character played by Maggie Smith).

The preview had a lot more campy humor than I was anticipating, and the goofy 70s music was a little bit of a turn-off. Still, I’m definitely not giving up on the movie yet. A trailer is not always an indicator of how good a film will be. For example, the trailer for “Hugo” didn’t immediately grab my attention, but when I actually sat down to watch the movie, I was blown away by how magical and enchanting the film was.

“Dark Shadows” has a strong cast; Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, and I think Jonny Lee Miller (who played Mr. Knightley in the recent BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma”) and Eva Green (who appeared in “Casino Royale” opposite Daniel Craig) will perform nicely in their roles. One of the film’s screenwriters also is Seth Grahame-Smith, who penned the popular books “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.”

According to the website Screen Rant, Smith said “the Dark Shadows movie actually has ‘a very straightforward, dour, gothic feeling’ at times, but is overall meant to be more of a whimsical viewing experience.” He said film makers wanted to create a movie that captured the essence of the original show but also appealed to a wide, mainstream movie audience.

The film is slated for release on May 11. For more information about the movie and to view the trailer, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1077368.

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