It's been four years since Tim Burton and Johnny Depp gave us their campy remake of the classic 1960's gothic soap-opera, Dark Shadows, and in that time, the film has seemingly failed to catch on in the typical Burton fashion. However, I'm here to present the case as to why I think this film deserves a second chance to join the likes of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas in cult classic status.
The film, starring an incredible ensemble cast including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley and Michelle Pfeiffer, only managed to scare up 245.5 million on a exceedingly graceful budget of 150 million. On top of that disappointing display, the film was torn to pieces by critics and scored a mere 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch.
However, I believe some key items may have been overlooked in initial viewings of this severely misunderstood Burton gothic-comedy. And they read thusly:
Danny Elfman's Score was Brilliant!
Elfman has arranged the score for nearly every Tim Burton film since 1988's Beetlejuice. This has included a wide variety of hits such as Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Eyes, and Alice in Wonderland. It's also led to some not so smash hit titles like Planet of The Apes and the more recent Dark Shadows. But one has never been not fond of Elfman's scores, may I remind you. Some even consider Elfman's score to be the best part about the 2012 remake/reboot. Giving it a second listen, it certainly has the ability to enthrall a listener's attention while sending shivers down your spine. In a good way!
The Soundtrack was also Kinda Awesome
The introductory scene of Bella Heathcote's Victoria Winters masterfully put to screen The Moody Blues's "Nights in White Satin". The rest of the soundtrack, piecing together some iconic hits from the 1960's-1970's such as "On Top of The World" by The Carpenters, "Season of The Witch" by Donovan, "Get It On" by T.Rex, and two classic Alice Cooper numbers performed by the legendary rocker himself.
The Film Just Happened to Give us Sassy Michelle Pfeiffer
Now, I don't know about everyone else, but I shined out quite the grin, from ear to ear, during the awkward introductory scene between Pfeiffer's Elizabeth Stoddard and Eva Green's Angelique Bouchard. Pfeiffer has rarely displayed her understated skill at comedic timing, often stating she's afraid to do comedy because it doesn't come as naturally to her as it does for people like Jim Carrey or Eddie Murphy. I disagree. And I don't know how this picture hadn't been turned into a meme yet so I took the liberty of crafting one myself. Pretty accurate, right?
Which Reminds Me, It Also Gave us Eva Green
This film set up a (hopefully) long enduring series of collaborations between the infamous director and the Penny Dreadful star. He opted to cast her once again when he took on the challenge of bringing the bestselling novel, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, to the silver screen. In Dark Shadows, Green took new meaning to the term "badass" and gave an award-worthy performance as the sociopathic love-scorned witch.
Critics Initially Said the Same About Another of Burton's Films...
Tim Burton, following the reports of Dark Shadows apparent commercial and critical failure at the box office, that similar things were said about Beetlejuice when it was first released in 1988. And now it's regarded as one of the best films he's ever made! Looking back on it now, the film is awfully similar to Dark Shadows in terms of theme, mood, camp, and scene-stealing performances.
There were Some Pretty Cool Cameos in there, too
A few stars of the original series that ran from 1966-1970, such as the original Barnabus Collins himself, Jonathan Frid (RIP). It also featured Lara Parker (Angelique Bouchard), David Selby (Quentin Collins), and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans/Josette) as Collinsport townsfolk in attendance to the Collins Family Happening.
The Ending Had that Obvious Set up for a Sequel
Nostalgia eventually comes to bite everyone in the but sometime down the line. Whether it's ten years, twenty years, or even thirty-five, beloved films are occasionally called upon, in renewed interest, for a second chance at life. People yearn for continuations or proper endings that they feel they were cheated out of in the original film. While Tim Burton said that the ending was more about the soap-opera aspect of the film, he never ruled out wanting to explore more within this universe. Star Johnny Depp stated in an interview for the film,
I've never seen Tim (Burton) having as much fun on a movie set as he did with this film.
However, longtime screenwriter for Burton's films, John August, himself confirmed to me on Twitter that the plans for a sequel to the film were immediately scrapped following its less than stellar debut.
So, that's my two cents on the matter. What's yours? Let me know in the comments section below!
(And just one last DS inspired meme for the road)