Date Published: 13 May 2012 – Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: Dark Shadows (2012)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
American Correspondent for Classic Rock Radio (UK)
I went to a nearby movie theater and saw the new theatrical film based on a Tv soap opera, Dark Shadows. I was okay with it. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I first heard the news about the making of this film. The end product is in the same vein as what BIG Hollywood did with The Brady Bunch Tv program back in the mid-1990s when it was turned into a movie. The familiarity was there, yet it was radically different in many respects.
For Your Information
Dark Shadows was a popular and successful soap opera that ran back in the late 1960s, and early 1970s. Do you remember Charlie Angel’s actress, Kate Jackson? She was in this, playing the character, Daphne Harridge, for 71 episodes. So I’m old enough to remember it being on television, during its original run. My female teenage babysitter loved it. Back then, I was a youngin’ in my single digits. She ran home from school, just to see the program, and of course, take care of me till my mom or dad came home.
To clarify, saying something was okay, does not mean it sucked. In parts it did (a vampire movie — get it). Frankly, I would have rather they made this a scary horror movie, and then sequels from that (which would have been possible if they played it closer to the original show), as compared to what I just saw; fantasy/dark comedy. Which makes me wonder. I’m not sure if Dan Curtis would have cared for this new production or not. We’ll never find out. Curtis receives a writing credit here. The man died in 2006.
Visually the film was at times, a real treat. I would love to be able to visit the fictitious Collins Mansion. Mostly a computer effect, but still.
Johnny Depp looked cool as the main character; Barnabas Collins. Because it is a comedy, the one-liners roll off his tongue. Played like his character just didn’t have a clue. Different time periods in the film can account for this. As an example, near the beginning of the flick, a teenager character by the name of Carolyn Stoddard, asks her cousin Barnabas if he was stoned. His reply made the audience laugh out loud.
Oh, on a side note, cannabis is mentioned more than once. The time this mostly all took place was decades ago, in 1972. Marijuana was in the air. Get busted and go to jail. So Dark Shadows can technically be labeled, a period piece.
The actors did well with what they had to work with. I’ll say more about Johnny Depp. His performance was one he could sink his teeth into.
I would have liked Willie Loomis portrayed to be more in tune with the television character.
In rock n’ roll news, shock rocker Alice Cooper plays himself in a minor role. In 1972, Alice Cooper wasn’t just this weird big-nose guy whose real first name was Vincent. That thing in the middle of his face is big enough to be a two-car garage. Kidding aside, Alice Cooper was a band, consisting of five people, back then. He took the name and went solo in 1975; Welcome To My Nightmare. So Vince is in the movie, while the rest of the surviving members of the Alice Cooper group, were not. Made seeing Alice, kind of weird. I can understand keeping Michael Bruce out of it. That dude’s a trip! Dennis Dunaway (bass player) and Neal Smith (drummer), would have worked out, I’m sure. Throughout the motion picture; a vampire, some ghosts, a werewolf, and a 1970’s rock and roll icon…oh my.
As I said, the Tim Burton film was; okay. I say that because, in my mind, it just could have been better. Having seen other films made by Tim Burton, I come to expect excellence. I enjoyed Ed Wood, way more than I did here.
Music-wise, I missed hearing the creepy theme song. It’s embedded in my 51-year-old brain. The unimaginable score in this film acts like something to fill the holes in the script with. Failed to grab me at all. Listening to Danny Elfman’s past works, I felt like he was capable of doing FAR better than what I heard out of the cinema’s speakers.
This part is too cool, for school. Don’t blink! There are cameos of some of the original players from the old daytime soap. Pay attention to the party scene. Mister Badass himself, Jonathan Frid, himself walks (dude’s old…he’s assisted) by Depp. Blink at the wrong time, and you’ll miss it. As I got older, I managed to get into the original program, and just like everyone else, was in awe of Frid’s character. So nice seeing him on the big scene, even if it was only for a moment. Dark Shadows, the 2012 movie, is very respectful of the show’s past, and its players, but in its running time of 1 hour and 53 minutes, several liberties are also taken.
“Uncle G” RATES…Dark Shadows (2012)
Using the one to the five-star system, I’d give it a solid; 3.5 stars. Could have been worse. I strongly feel that this theatrical version of the television soap opera could have been better. A missed opportunity that could have been something far greater than it turned out to be.
No urgent need to see this in the theater, unless just bored and want to get out of the house. It does almost kill two hours. I recommend just waiting for the DVD. Maybe as bonus material, at least one solid documentary about the show that made watching soap opera’s in the afternoon, decades ago, a hip thing to do. I would certainly dig that.
Honorable Mention: Dark Shadows also has a cameo by motion picture scene legend, Christopher Lee. He played vampires before; Dracula.
Others who appear in this 2012 movie version of Dark Shadows are; Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, and Chloë Grace Moretz.
Bonus – Official Trailer – Dark Shadows (2012 Warner Bros. Pictures)