Dark Shadows as a Comedy? Maybe Tim Burton and Johnny Depp Will Prove Me Wrong

Johnny Depp looks hungrily at Michelle Pfeiffer in Dark Shadows | Warner Bros.
Johnny Depp looks hungrily at Michelle Pfeiffer in Dark Shadows | Warner Bros.

When I first heard about Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton film based on the [amazon_link id=”B006Z7Z3KY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]1960s TV series[/amazon_link], my initial thought was the same as everyone else: Way cool.

And when I learned that Johnny Depp would be playing Barnabas Collins, again I thought, way cool. But my hopes dimmed after seeing the trailer below and realizing that they’re turning the soapy cult classic into a comedy. I’m just not sure that’s the right way to go.

Here’s the story: In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England, to start a new life in America and escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Depp) is living in the town of Collinsport, Maine.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows | Warner Bros.
Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows | Warner Bros.

The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy … until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Wrong move. She turns out to be a witch who dooms him to a fate worse than death. She turns him into a vampire and buries him alive.

Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.

Dark Shadows Cast | Warner Bros.
Dark Shadows Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote, Gulliver McGrath, Ray Shirley | Warner Bros.

Maybe my fears are unfounded. Maybe Dark Shadows, which creeps into theaters on May 11, 2012 (not yet rated), will be a great movie and a slam-dunk at the box office. After all, this is Tim’s Burton‘s eighth collaboration with Johnny Depp, his seventh collaboration with Helena Bonham Carter, and his fifth collaboration with Christopher Lee, who plays Bill Malloy. These people all know each other and have a good track record of working together.

I certainly can’t argue with Depp as Barnabas Collins, and modernizing the story by dropping him into 1972 with lava lamps and VW buses does look pretty funny. The movie also has that creepy Tim Burton feel to it. Another bonus is that they’re bringing some of the original players back for cameos: Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins), Lara Parker (Angelique), David Selby (Quentin Collins) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans) will appear in the ball at Collinwood.

Watch the trailer and see what you think. Are you psyched for Dark Shadows? Did you watch the original TV series? And do you think Tim Burton and Johnny Depp will do justice to the story?


  1. AizzaMarie Avatar

    Thanks for the trailer! I’m sure a lot of people will love this movie.

  2. Sheryl Avatar

    This should be fun! I faithfully watched Dark Shadows as a kid, and always loved it. And anything that Johnny Depp touches can’t be too shabby…

  3. Brette Sember Avatar

    Never heard of this! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Alexandra Avatar

    I will see this. I really liked the trailer.

  5. Michael Berick Avatar
    Michael Berick

    I wasn’t that interested in the film but saw the trailer recently and it changed my thinking on it. Maybe it will be a cool, kicky version of the story. Although I am still not going to rush out to see it opening night.

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      Yeah, now that I’ve thought about it a little more, maybe a humorous take is the way to go. The original TV series was so campy that if Tim Burton tried turning it into a creepy drama, it might end up coming off funny anyway.

  6. Kerry Dexter Avatar

    I’ll probably pass on the movie, though I do remember liking the original show, both because of the historical stuff and because I was a fan of Kate Jackson, who was in it for a while. I think you’re right, Jane, that any remake could come off as funny anyway, so maybe this is the best way to go. Like the idea that some of the original players turn up in it.

  7. Living Large Avatar

    My mom loved the television series and was disappointed when it was cancelled. My reaction is the same as yours, but I do like both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, so I will give it a see! Thanks for your insightful post!

  8. ruth pennebaker Avatar

    I’m fascinated by it — and will go, assuming the reviews are good.

  9. Heather Avatar

    Occasionally I watched the series and I’m really disappointed that they are turning it into a comedy.

  10. The Writer's [Inner] Journey Avatar

    A comedy? Whoa. I can still hear the voice through the TV…”buried alive in an unmarked grave.” Yikes, still makes me nervous!

  11. MyKidsEatSquid Avatar

    Stumped on this one. I loved the Dark Shadows remake in what, the 1990s with the guy who was in Chariots of Fire (can’t recall his name obviously) but a comedy version? With all of the vampires invading the small and big screen right now, I don’t know this just doesn’t appeal to me. Are we almost done with the whole vampire phase? Plz

  12. Donna Hull Avatar

    I remember watching Dark Shadows during my teenage years. However, I cannot picture it as a comedy. Guess we’ll soon be finding out.

  13. Kris Avatar

    Why is Dark Shadows not familiar to me?? Doesn’t look like my thing, but Johnny Depp might get me into the theater.

  14. Joe Donatelli Avatar

    So glad to see these two finally getting together and making a movie. Ahem.

  15. alicewonderland Avatar

    Turning the series into a comedy… interesting…

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      A very DARK comedy.

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