The 60s vampire soap-opera Dark Shadows is being resurrected by filmmaker Tim Burton with his favorite Johnny Depp in the lead. Depp, who plays Barnabas Collins, was interviewed for Total Film magazine and he shared his thoughts on vampires.
Depp told the magazine, “Over the years all these vampire movies have come out and nobody looks like a vampire anymore. I adored Dracula, from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee, Max Shreck in Nosferatu – all these wonderful horror films. So this was an opportunity for me to sort of go into what doesn’t really exist so much anymore – that classic monster make-up.”
So Depp’s portrayal of Collins is comical, camp and an obvious throw-back to the classic series he loved. It also was the hyper-realistic tone we come to expect from Depp and Burton, from Edward Scissorhands to Alice in Wonderland. Even from the trailer it’s hard to gauge whether this is a dark-comedy or a true horror film, however the original was hardly terrify and is now seen as a camp classic.
Depp shared that he feels the portrayal of vampires on screen in recent years has changed drastically from the golden era of the 1940s and 1950s, which was one of the reasons he was thrilled to go for a classic look for his vampire character in Dark Shadows.
“I remember sprinting home from school to see it. I loved it, this soap opera with gothic vampires. Jonathan Frid, who originally played Barnabas, was such a striking presence – there’s a sliver of him in there.” said Depp.
I fully understand loving classic movies. But I’m more a fan of the modern vampires, from Lost Boys to Underworld and Blade. Hollywood created the classic vampire look (or two if we include the lesser Nosferatu) with Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. The white-faced corpse like vampire worked in the early days of black and white film, but times have changed, as well as the quality of films. Those early vampires were monsters but not hideous or grotesque as we’ve seen in films such as From Dusk to Dawn, Vamp or the original Fright Night.
Dark Shadows first appeared on tv screens in the mid-60s, first as a regular soup-opera before being retooled to include more of the supernatural. When vampire Barnabas Collins appeared in the series a year into its’ run, which helped keep the series on for five years. As a daily soup, 1,225 episodes were made during the show’s short run. It also spawned two movies, The House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows. There have been two attempts to bring Dark Shadows back to screens, first the short-lived 1991 remake on the US network NBC, followed by a continuation on the WB in 2004 which saw the pilot filmed, but never aired. Depp, a huge fan of the original series began collaborating with Burton on the film adaptation which will hit theaters May 11 this year.
What are your thoughts of Depp’s comments? Do you prefer modern vampires or classic vampires?