Friday, 18 May 2012

Criticism of the Dark Shadows Movie

Beware that the voice of the critic should drown out the poet’s.

Here’s a quote from Laurence Sterne:

“Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting.”
                                  Tristram Shanty, vol. 3 chapt 12.

There have been a lot of reviews of the Burton/Depp movie, some bad, some so-so, some good. Irate fans have felt compelled to post everything negative they can find in a furious effort to vent their frustration after watching a movie that was different from the show.

But . . .

Critics are self-indulgent wordsmiths, and what they write is “writing” just like any other. They want to turn a phrase. They want to be witty and clever, and they want to show the world how perceptive and articulate they are. There are many more negative words in their vocabulary than positive ones.

I love this definition:

“A critic is a person who goes out on the battlefield after the battle is over and shoots the wounded.”

It is appalling to me that someone who has never created a work of art can sit for half an hour in front of his computer and verbally demolish a year of another creative person’s life while blithely dismissing all the toil that went into it.

A critic is someone who can't make art, but who loves to show the world he would have been wonderful at it—if only he could!

Both the New York Times and The New Yorker praised the film and Burton’s magical touch. Those are the only two reviews I care about because they are the smartest critics out there.

Those fans who are disappointed should remember that the show they loved inspired a major motion picture with first class talents. Because of the movie, Dark Shadows will live another day, another year, another decade. Because of all the renewed interest, the DVDs have been reissued, the two films will be reissued, my books were reissued, Kathryn has written another book that is selling extremely well along with all her others, and Dark Shadows will not fade away. The legacy has been resurrected one more time.

This movie is another brilliant chapter in the history of our show. It does not replace it or erase it. It enhances it and celebrates it.

Those who feel the movie dishonored, denigrated or disrespected the TV show should keep in mind that the greater success the film enjoys, the longer the legacy will last. To excoriate the film is a bad move, no matter how you feel. If you want to see Dark Shadows remain on the cutting edge of pop culture, you should come from love and find things to praise, and there are many.

I suggest we begin a list of the things we liked, or loved, instead of concentrating on the elements we felt were unnecessary or unsuccessful.

Here’s mine:

Please add to it!

Things I liked in the movie:

The entire opening sequence with the sailing schooner in the mist.

The two children looking at one another.

Johnny Depp’s precise diction, and his deep melodious voice.

Barnabas standing in front of the Great House at Collinwood, hand on hip.

The entire town of Collinsport rebuilt, including the harbor. Wow!

“Nights in White Satin” over the titles.

“He’s coming!”

The grand foyer of Collinwood with the giant staircase, the carved mermaids and the chandelier.

Johnny Depp’s long (Edward Scissorhands) fingernails and his Nosferatu make-up, a tongue-in-cheek film reference and a reincarnation of the earliest film vampire.

Eva Green’s red dress!!! Her red fingernails, her red Barracuda, her red panties, and her red lips!

Johnny Depp sitting up straight and proper on a bean bag chair talking to Carolyn.

Chloe Moretz dancing stoned to Season of the Witch.

Johnny Depp’s tender, touching, bewildered, romantic performance as Barnabas.

Alice Cooper rocking out as only he can. The line, “The ugliest woman I have even seen.”

The “fab four” appearing at the door.

Johnny Depp hanging from the light fixture and sleeping in the linen closet.

Michelle Pfeiffer’s pale matriarch, glimmering with heartbreak.

Helena Bonham Carter’s American (!) accent. Gully McGrath’s soulful boy child.

Angelique’s and Barnabas’s gravity-defying sex scene.

Angelique’s face cracking like an eggshell.

Elizabeth with her shotgun.

Johnny Depp’s elegant, dead-pan delivery.

The statue coming to life and grabbing Barnabas.

Julia waking up as a . . . wait a minute. Wasn’t that in THE SALEM BRANCH?


  1. I really do have to finish reading The Salem Branch, don't I? :p This is no criticism to your work or me enjoying the book (heck, I started reading the Hobbit in the 90s and I still haven't finished it and want to!) This is what comes from having an attention span that can go all over the place whenever it feels like it,which gets worse the older I get. Plus add to that that this past year I've been discovering all these new wonderful writers from small publishing houses and such. I'd rather have too many books to read than not enough, but it can get overwhelming. I do want to get the Salem Branch done before Wolf Moon Rising comes out because I'm so excited about it.

    My favorite quote about critics (I don't know the source), but basically it says that a critic is like a eunuch. They know about it and watched how it's done, but can't do it themselves. ;)

    I know about everything that happens in the film, though I have yet to see it. Don't like spoilers but in this case I thought a little preparation wouldn't hurt and it turned into a lot. :p Anyway I think I will write up a list like yours once I've seen the movie and experienced its full affects.

  2. Well said, Lara

    While watching the movie, all I kept thinking was "wow. Depp and Burton are clearly big fans of the TV Show." I didn't love everything about it, but overall I was proud of what they'd accomplished (if one can be proud of something one had nothing to do with it.)

    I loved the score and the touches from Cobert that popped up throughout.

    I loved that Depp speaks some of the exact same lines that Jonathan Frid had.

    Just using "Season of the Witch" by Donovan was great!

    The silly Hippie scene was very funny too!

    Those are really the only ones I can add to your list and I agree with many of yours as well....who knew Helena Bonham Carter could speak American so well?

    I'd also love to comment on the 91 series and the 04 pilot, which have also been unfairly dismissed by many. Neither is perfect, but both had great things about them. I think many fans forget the original series wasn't perfect either. Perfect is so boring anyway :D

    1. Yes I do believe Depp and Burton loved the original show.

  3. Dear Lara
    When the movie finished and Please Go All The Way
    was playing through the list of credits was that Johnny Depp's voice singing the words ?I thought I read that he had his own band at one time.
    I wanted to stay and see if it would show at the end of the credit list but somehow I missed it
    I loved the cinematographery (hope I spelled it right)
    the ocean spray and waves crashing againts the rocks and the scene where Barnabus and Victoria are walking on the shore with the waves smashing againts the rocks behind them.I photograph the lake where I live Oneida Lake ,this past year the Observer Dispatch accepted a photo of mine in their 2012 Calendar
    I tell you Lara it was such a great feeling when that happened
    Oneida lake in the town of Sylvan Beach has some of the most beautiful sunsets around new york state
    well I gona try to post this now hope it I do it right this time .

  4. I am excited to see the new Dark Shadows movie, and have been a fan of DS for a long time. I loved what you wrote, Lara, and I am happy to see how you have moved forward in your life; plus how you have continued the 'legend'.

  5. I loved it as well. Especially "Nights in White Satin" playing as Vicki rides the train. In fact,all the 70s song choices were amazing.

    The film's solution to the Vicki/Josette versus Maggie/Josette debate? Brilliant.

    I'm up for Vampire Julia. Especially if she's going to be facing Werewolf Quentin.

  6. Hi Lara,

    I ended up liking Tim Burton's Dark Shadows better than I thought I would. I thought, judging by the trailer, that the movie would be some slapstick comedy, but I was pleasantly surprised that the movie had a more serious tone, also.

    I agree with the list of things you liked about the film, and I just wanted to add mine.

    What I liked:

    Victoria Winters turning out to be Maggie Evans, which is revealed at the beginning.

    The family living in the same old Collinwood Manor (instead of a newer one) where Barnabas once lived, and Barnabas having the old Manor restored.

    Barnabas showing Elizabeth the secret room that is full of treasures.

    And one of my favorite scenes:

    Barnabas smoking a joint with the hippies, just before he, politely, tells them that he has to kill them.

    After seeing this film, I hope there will be a sequel, because the movie left it wide open for one.

    Take care,


  7. Yes, yes! The absolute BEST waves crashing against a rocky shore!

  8. I too loved how they portrayed "Collinsport," it was very true to the original. If there's a sequel I hope they will include scenes in the Blue Whale.

  9. I was thrilled it had a happy ending. At least I felt it did, where they would both be together.
    The music was great, makes me feel old, though I was just a child.
    I also loved Mrs. Johnson, she was so funny, though never spoke a word!

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and with each movie he does, I seem to appreciate Johnny Depp and his acting gift more and more. Turning a dark storyline into a comedy was a strike of genious, as has been done with other gothic shows in the past. The changed aspects of the original TV show's storyline was a bit hard to get used to, but when has a movie ever followed exactly the book or show that it was based on? The acting talent choices were excellent, but it would have been better if the cameo roles had been expanded. We like to see familiar faces. If the movie contiues to do well at the box office, I would think that sequels would continue. Johnny Depp doesn't seem to mind reprising his character rolls. As with the TV series, different characters can come back from the dead, so it wouldn't be surprising if Angelique shows up again. This would be a must! Note to Tim Burton: let's have more Lara Parker in the next movie.

    1. Thanks. We would like to have done more. But at least we were there!

  11. I was so surprised! I was really disappointed when I saw the trailer, but David Selby Tweeted that it was not going to be that light of a comedy in so many words. I thought well lets give it a chance. and he was right. The movie was better then the trailer. So many strong points to keep the legend going on and place Barnabas Collins as one of the vampire legends right next to Bill of True Blood, Lestat and others. Every Vampire story always look to who was the first Vampire. Barnabas should be in the blood line as the maker of the Vampires in Vampires stories we now know of in movies and TV. Sounds like I am repeating my self as I struggle to make that point.

  12. I thought the movie had it's good moments. The opening was great! I loved seeing you Lara, Katherine, Jonathan, and David. I just wish you all had more of a role. There were many non-consequential roles by other actors not associated with the 40+ year success of Dark Shadows. Shame they didn't put that together. Either way...if it helps perpetuate renewed interest in the true "Dark Shadows", here, here!!!

  13. I saw the movie yesterday afternoon,I agree with the things Lara Parker had said.The first half of the movie explained a bit to the viewers who are not aware of the Angelique and Barnabas torrid love affair.Even tho it was not how the original storyline.. I feel the second half of the movie could have been much better.Even so,I am happy someone took the time to honor our beloved show.Hopefully,SCFI channel will put Dark Shadows back on again as they once did.Ok so they are witches and vampires and warlocks and Doctors but one thing Dark Shadows is truly original and no one can ever hold a candle to our beloved show..No way..

  14. I realize that this is off topic, but I've been trying to find a site for John Karlen to tell him just how amazing he was as Willie Loomis. I'm watching Dark Shadows for the second time (since 2009!), and in collection 1, when he becomes Barnabas's slave, I'm telling you... that performance ranks up there with some of the best of all time. Sirs Richard Burton or Anthony Hopkins could not have done better!

    I'm usually commenting here to give you my utmost admiration, but I just had to voice (in writing) my thoughts on Mr. Karlen's gifts.

    As for my thoughts on the film, I have to agree with many of your remarks about critiques, and how often they are narrow, stingy, short-sighted and indulgent. Any issues I have with the film, and I do have them, do not take away from my admiration of Mr. Depp and Mr. Burton. I also did not go into the theatre with pre-conceived notions about what mood the film should take or what plotlines it should encompass.

    My issues with the film have more to do with the current marketing and economic limitations placed on filmmaking, and those strictures are much more destructive than any Monday-Morning critiquing that the film's viewers and critics may place on the film. This film should have been a part one of a two-part film. There was no time to do justices to the background of Barnabas's story. And there also was no need for a hectic over the top ending to the film. But because of how many films are produced now, non-creative people impose their wills upon the vision and genius of creative minds. Would that it were different.

    I enjoyed many parts of the film and I liked reading your list of favorite aspects. I laughed out loud many times and gazed in awe at the art.

    Now, back to reading Angelique's Descent.

    1. So sorry. I don't know how to contact Johnny. He doen't do email.

  15. my thoughts exactly lara on the fact that it keeps dark shadows alive. although i was disappointed in the comedy aspects a lot of people will see it for that reason that wouldnt otherwise.

  16. I'd like to add to the list.

    Julia's reaction to Barnabas' compliment. Especially the gobsmacked expression on her face.

    That zinger Carolyn aimed at her mom at the start of "Ballad of Dwight Frye."

    Angelique's face as she said "If I cannot have you my love..." The pain in her face then!

    Every single thing about Bella Heathcote's performance--and the re-imagining of her character!

    Carolyn's reactions to everything Barnabas says or does.

    Barnabas quoting lyrics from "The Joker"

    When Victoria opened her eyes.

    That over-the-top secret passage under the fireplace. Made no sense at all but I frelling LOVED it!

    Barnabas turning into a vampire.

    All those painting of Angelique.

    Mrs. Johnson. My hero! Frail but undaunted by pretty much anything, doing her job no matter what.

    Jonny Lee Miller's performance.

    The interplay between Liz and Carolyn, most especially at the end ("Lets not make a big deal about this, okay?").

    Barnabas stroking Angelique's cheek at the end--still remembering the girl he grew up with, whom he desired but to whom he refused to lie and even when he hated her asked her forgiveness for not loving her.

  17. Dear Ms. Parker -- this may be deleted, but I feel compelled to state it anyway.

    There seems to be a hostile backlash against the DS fans who did NOT like the movie. We are called everything from haters to narrow-minded to stuck in the past to nerds and geeks. Why? Is it so important for us to like this film?

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and everyone involved in the original DS. It is out of that respect and love that I find the Tim Burton film so offensive to Dark Shadows's legacy. I was there at the Vista Theater on May 10. You signed my book. When I left the theater, I burst into tears. That's how profoundly disturbed I was by the new film.

    A lot of critics didn't like this film. It's not just about some disgruntled fans.

    Instead of scolding us for not liking the film, I wish you and others could appreciate our loyalty and how we wish the film had been more true to what you and your colleagues produced, which we still love to this day.

    Respectfully, Erica Scott

    1. Yes it was very different in tone. But it does not replace or erase the old show.

  18. LOL, Lara concerning critics. I like things that inform, not condemn. My take is from the musician view. We sure have some cynical ones locally, ripping off cliches from Rolling Stone, etc... Rumor is one could not cut it playing in a punk rock band......

  19. We went to see the movie with my son and his girlfriend. It was her first exposure to DS in any form, and while she said it "weirded her out" in certain ways, the rest, she liked. My son's comment was. you don't have to know the series to enjoy the movie, but knowing the series did enhance it.

    What I liked:

    -- Spot-on performance by Johnny. He had his dream role and played it to the hilt.

    -- Getting to yell when the original cast showed up. This started many conversations after the movie, as I seemed to be the only one in the theater familiar with the original series, besides those who were with me.

    -- Nobody's said anything about Jackie Earle Haley as Willie. I think he did things John Karlen would have given his arm and leg to do on the show.

    -- I'll never look at getting the munchies the same way again after the hippie scene.

    -- Danny's score was simple but eloquent, and appropriate to the movie. No More Mr. Nice Guy is my all-time favorite Alice Cooper track, so I loved that he performed it for this movie, and (thank you Jim Pierson) having my all-time favorite singer, Karen Carpenter, featured so prominently!

    -- The look on Johnny's face after Julia asked him about "doctor/patient confidentiality" was priceless!

    -- So many moments where I felt they had nailed the spirit of the series without it being a copy.

    -- I go along with Lara on that KILLER red dress!

    Okay, I'll stop there. It was fun, and a treat to be able to talk original series to people who had never heard of it before. Long live DS!

  20. “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” Even Oscar Wilde, the author of the quote, would have been hard pressed to answer exactly how the artists of the DS2012 film educated the critics. There are many, many questions that would need to be answered. For instance, why amalgamate the characters of Victoria Winters and Maggie Evans? Why is Dr. Julia Hoffman now an alcoholic? Why is Barnabas Collins now a variant of Edward Scissorhands instead of a regular human being? Why is Carolyn a werewolf with a toss-off line in explanation because there had not been any set up for that story line? But the 300 lb. question in the room is why the injection of SNL-like one-note comic skits when the pre-premiere interviews from Depp and Burton were speaking of an homage to the original series? Without answers to just these few questions, critics are hard put to "educate the public."

    Speaking of the The New Yorker's Anthony Lane review, it was laudatory towards Burton calling him "an alchemist of childish fancies, bent over his creations like Edward Lear, and muttering to himself with secret glee," and towards Eva Green. Mr. Lane was as dismissive as yourself in regards to the fans of the original series referring to them as "a huddle of fans who will now be chewing their cuticles with dread, lest the movie veer an inch from the original show." And it is upon this very point that both yourself and Mr. Lane misunderstand the attitude of the fans of the original series when exercising their free speech even if in a negative vein towards those artistic laborers reaping in grosses of $130 million when last I checked. An homage was promised so it is not far-fetched to think that perhaps story lines and characters from the original series would be used. I'm sure that you, the late Mr. Frid, Mr. Selby, and Miss Scott were not expected to reprise your roles but your characters were expected to be similar since you are the avatars, the words made flesh. I viewed every trailer of DS2012 I could find and was quite disheartened that it would be a comedy instead of an homage as was promised by Depp and Burton. I was further appalled at the lack of lines for your cameos, the speed of them, and the blocking of the late Mr. Frid by Miss Pfeifer in the second cameo scene. We were promised a steak and received hash.

    I find DS2012 impossible to praise aside from Danny Elfman's music and the use of Robert Cobert's strains from the original series.

    If the poet drowns from the wash of the critic's words, then it's from the weight of the millstone, the poet's artistic work, dragging the poet under.

    1. Yours is an interesting argument. Yes, everyone has a right to their own opinion.

      Mr. Frid was not blocked by Michelle Pheifer. He was not even in the scene. See my tribute to Jonathan in this blog.

  21. Criticism can be a negative and nasty thing, but I think there is another sort that says, "you are capable of MORE, and I know it" Educators must employ this sort; poor work in a stunning penmanship may be admirable, but it still doesn't deserve an excellent mark. There are too many other options in our age, with the limitless things to explore online. Why settle for just ok, when energies could be better spent elsewhere? I hope this sounds as I intend, which is the expression of one who has no claims, financial or social-wise, in the DS experience-- only one person that remembers the thrill of the best of the original show, and knows the tools are there in this story for sheer magic.

  22. I love how it really took us back to '72, preserving the era of the original series. Quite a unique Burton-Elfman-Depp film !

  23. Sorry Lara, but we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Criticism is healthy. It forces those who create things to improve their work instead of letting it become stale or stagnant. There is no law that says Dark Shadows fans have to like Burton's version. I decided to spend my money on the new Dark Shadows comic book series from Dynamite instead of on the movie. Guess what? Dan Curtis' Estate still gets a percentage of that money; same if I spent it on the film, so why should you be concerned with how I spend my money on Dark Shadows? Your likeness is used as Angelique in that comic, so I'm sure you're getting royalties from it as well, right? Honestly I rather support you in that fashion than to pay to see barely one second of you in a cameo in the new film. That's my opinion and I'm entitled to post and talk about it wherever I want.

    Yes, there is a revival due to the movie, but I think a large part of that revival is from "old school" fans of the original series (and the 1991 revival, and HoDS/NoDS, the audio dramas, the new comic, etc.), like myself, who are recommending that people new to Dark Shadows check out the stuff that is more true to the spirit of the original than Burton's version is. Whether those people spend their money on the new movie, the older merchandise, or both, everyone involved with the Dark Shadows legacy wins right? You all get paid in the end, right? So what difference does it make whether the legacy is revived out of positive or negative reaction to Burton's movie? It doesn't matter how the revival started, just so much that it did. The critics, at least speaking for myself, are not writing these negative reviews to "turn a phrase" or be "clever and witty." We are writing it, to let Hollywood know that many of us would prefer if they would just listen to fan bases when doing "reinventions" or "remakes" and keep them closer to the original source material. We are letting Hollywood know what we, as paying customers would rather see on the screen in front of us. If we don't criticize, then we are doomed to always get "more of the same." Would it have so bad for Burton to do something in more of serious tone of a gothic romance drama like the original and 1991 series? I think not. Director Peter Jackson actually worked with the fan base on his Lord of the Rings films and played it straight and very close to the original source material, and he won many awards for it. Sometimes it is better to listen to the devoted fan base. And as I said before, whether we "die-hard purists" spend our money on the new movie or on merchandise that is more in spirit of the original (like your books for example), Dark Shadows still survives and makes revenue, so it's a win/win situation regardless.

    1. Sorry. We don't get paid for the comics or the merchandise. We were paid $1000 to be in the movie. That's it. No residuals. We have not been paid anything for the DVDs either. I make very little money on the books.

      That said, have you even SEEN the movie you dislike so much?

  24. Finally have seen it! On the whole I enjoyed myself. While many things could have been improved or done differently there was so much to love and just go "wow!" or "cool!" about.

    I think there was little if anything to find fault with for (well I don't know long it took but maybe the first half an hour). I loved the opening 18th century bit completely! Very atmospheric, and even though Angelique is a blonde, Eva Green definitely looks more fitting as a brunette. I liked Angelique with her cloaked mother before getting on the ship. Who was that. Eva? I enjoyed Depp's Barnabas, and I loved his 18th century costume. I want those boots. I would wear them! And the tailored Inverness cape. I'd wear that too, maybe. Don't have the figure I used to... I loved the exterior (obviously) and interior of Collinwood.I like the particular way it loomed above the town. Watching the old show I get such a similar but different picture in my mind. Boy, it's getting late I'll just try to list some of the other things really fast.

    Original cast cameos!

    The 70s rock sound track was pretty good (and just love Alice Cooper!) and I liked Danny Elfman's hints of Robert Cobert.

    I liked Julia lighting up first thing. So Grayson Hall! and of course her memorable hypnotic medallion.

    Josette's spirit being covered with all sorts of spectral sea life. Cool!

    The waves.

    Angelique's portraits throughout the centuries.

    Barnabas reciting the Joker. I never liked that song, but I enjoyed his poetic rendering (at least he skipped the peaches and the tree shaking :P) And his first words to Vicki, straight from the show!

    Michelle Pfeiffer's Joan Bennett mouth movements, I think she did that quite well. Loved the necklace she wore when she first met Barnabas, then i noticed the pearls or whatever they were looked like eyeballs and loved it even more :P Also Liz packing major heat at the end was cool.

    Gosh, Angelique's awesome car. How could I forget that!

    Christopher Lee.

    The werewolf still wearing clothes. Very original series :p

    The Josette/Barnabas reunion.

    There might well be more, I'm sure there are, but I'm just too tired to sort through anymore. Can't wait for the DVD!

    1. The film has so many choice gifts for the fans. Some went by so quickly, I missed them until the second time I saw the movie. I really believe it was a labor of love filtered though Tim Burton's weird imagination.

      I loved all the Mrs. Johnson bits!

    2. Hello Lara:

      Its too bad that you and your castmates have not received residuals for the reruns of Dark Shadows. I believe it is well deserved. That was a difficult show to do and there will never be anything like that again. It was like watching a play everyday. The Dark Shadows movie was cute. It seemed like a spoof of Dark Shadows and Johnny Depp did that well. I really like the scene in which Barnabus tells Angelique to kiss his derriere a thousand times. There is no way that Dark Shadows can be recreated exactly like the tv series. It was one of a kind. The only thing about the movie is the Dark Shadows theme I feel needed to be played at the beginning or at the end of the movie. Also, if someone did not watch the tv series, they would not understand the humor of it. Anyhow, I did enjoy the movie, I wished it would have captured the original cast masts a little bit more clearly than it did. You all worked very hard in that show and being older I can appreciate the hard work that went into it and I hope all of you are doing well. I am so sorry for your loss of Jonathan Frid he truly was underrated as an actor and I was sad when I read that he reconciled to the fact that he will always be the vampire. I wished we could of seen more of him in other roles in which he more than likely would have been excellent. I would like to purchase your books they look like good reads. Take care.

  25. I read Dark Shadows, The Salem Branch. It was thoroughly engrossing and wonderfully written. I read it in one day. I couldn't put it down. Thanks

  26. I didn't hate the movie but I didn't love it either.
    To be fair, I attended the movie with a younger audience who probably never saw the original TV series and they loved it. I liked some parts of the film and disliked others. I wish the "fab 4" had more screen time and maybe a line or two). I missed Robert Cobert's music. The changes in the basic storyline made no sense. Victoria Winters and Maggie Evans are the same person?. Barnabas is not found by Willie while looking for the Collin's family treasure? The sets, costumes, special effects and acting were all top notch. To me it was an enjoyable horror comedy but it wasn't the Dark Shadows that I remember. I hope that the movie may help viewers discover the original TV show. I have kept up with Dark Shadows over the years with Lara and Kathryn's books and the Big Finish audio books. I will tell people to go see the new Dark Shadows movie, its certainly better than any of the Twilight movies. At least Johnny Depp doesn't sparkle.

    1. I hope that the movie may help viewers discover the original TV show.


  27. I didn't hate the movie but I didn't love it either.
    To be fair, I attended the movie with a younger audience who probably never saw the original TV series and they loved it. I liked some parts of the film and disliked others. I wish the "fab 4" had more screen time and maybe a line or two). I missed Robert Cobert's music. The changes in the basic storyline made no sense. Victoria Winters and Maggie Evans are the same person?. Barnabas is not found by Willie while looking for the Collin's family treasure? The sets, costumes, special effects and acting were all top notch. To me it was an enjoyable horror comedy but it wasn't the Dark Shadows that I remember. I hope that the movie may help viewers discover the original TV show. I have kept up with Dark Shadows over the years with Lara and Kathryn's books and the Big Finish audio books. I will tell people to go see the new Dark Shadows movie, its certainly better than any of the Twilight movies. At least Johnny Depp doesn't sparkle.

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. I must say that I have to agree entirely with Erica. I was extremely disappointed in the campy way this so called "remake" of a much loved tv show was portrayed. I was much more impressed with the DS remake of the 90's starring Ben Cross! Now THAT was a faithful resurrection of the original DS and I felt that Ben Cross did an excellent job of portraying Barnabas.... My inly regret was that it was so short lived.
    The new movie actually leaves me repulsed by Depp's Barnabas and I waited with great anticipation for two years for it to be released only to leave the theater in disgust, with nothing but the film's music score to praise...

    1. You know Dan Curtis directed the 90's remake. So it WAS dark Shadows.

  31. I must say that I have to agree entirely with Erica. I was extremely disappointed in the campy way this so called "remake" of a much loved tv show was portrayed. I was much more impressed with the DS remake of the 90's starring Ben Cross! Now THAT was a faithful resurrection of the original DS and I felt that Ben Cross did an excellent job of portraying Barnabas.... My inly regret was that it was so short lived.
    The new movie actually leaves me repulsed by Depp's Barnabas and I waited with great anticipation for two years for it to be released only to leave the theater in disgust, with nothing but the film's music score to praise...

  32. Hi Lara!

    I completely agree with you on how this movie has brought the series to a younger generation! I'm a big time Tim and Johnny fan, so when I heard about the movie I had to watch the series! I'm completely obsessed with the series and the movie. I never would have been exposed to it all without its rejuvenation! I bought your books at the book store yesterday and I can't put them down!!! Totally loving how Julia and Barnabas kind of hook up in the Salem Witch trials. Just love it!!!!!

    1. Thanks so much.

      All these things contribute to the Dark Shadows legacy.

      Keep the flame burning!

  33. I well remember Dark Shadows because my two older sisters were devoted fans back in the day. I haven't seen the remake; I doubt that I will. Not that remakes can't be well done; I'm just from the 'no topping the original' school when it comes to classic TV.

    Having said that, I have no criticism to offer of the remake, since (a) I haven't seen it and (b) you are quite right about the nature of critics ;-)

  34. This was a bit harsh. Not all critics are talentless preachers of negativity. Some of them have value, some of them make the world more interesting.

    The biggest danger for the Chronic Critic, is the possibility of missing out on something that can enrich one's life. A personal pleasure, an appreciation of a work of art, a new angle on an old theme. A discovery that doesn't fit the old paradigms.

    The best gifts that life has to offer, come in the form of surprises. If we're too quick to limit our appreciation to the known & comfortable, we're pretty much programming ourselves to become immune to these unexpected pleasures.

  35. Wow... I actually really loved the movie . Perhaps my favorite scene was the stunning realization that Alice Cooper performed my favorite song of his called "The Ballad of Dwight Frye". During the performance (in his straight-jacket), Victoria explains she was actually born as "Maggie Evans" and was put away by her parents because she "saw dead people" (Lara Collins). She re-invented herself as "Victoria Winters" and Lara led her later to work for the Collins family. I wondered why at first and later realized that it was indeed because "Lara" knew "Maggie" was indeed the re-incarnation of "Josette DuPres". GREAT twist and very clever I thought. I am sure Depp came up with that scene since he is such a big ALICE fan. I saw ALICE front row center 6-8-12 and he tore up that stage like he had a nail in his boot ! LOVED the film ... lots of hidden stuff for the old fans. So glad it has brought attention to the original series etc.
    OH... and the look on Michelle Pfeiffer's face when "Caroline" grabbed Alice Coopers microphone and stared at her and began the 2nd song..."Mommy, where's daddy ? He's been gone for SO long. Do you think he'll EVER come home ?" ... (Priceless... and worth the price of admission for that scene alone!) PEACE

  36. I saw the film and I can say that, I have not been more entertained by a movie in a long time than I was the 2012 Dark Shadows. For me it was a blast.

    As a baby boomer, I saw the original as it was broadcast, and seeing it again fills me with memories and humor. It is that combination that makes it so enjoyable for those of us who have the ability to laugh at ourselves. Looking back, I remember the full range of emotions that Dark Shaodws produced in me, how seriously I took it, and how I was completely absorbed in the story line. However now, at the same time, I understand that there is also so much fun to be poked at that which I took seriously decades ago, that I thoroughly enjoyed the black comedy that was this movie.

    There is no way anyone can do that which was the pulse of Dark Shadows - the Barnabas/Angelique twisted saga, in a 2 hour movie. They didn't even try. Instead they gave a highly entertaining movie which both embraces the Gothic grandeur of the Original Series while poking fun at same time.

    I will be buying the DVD when it comes out. I hope they add some of the scenes that were cut from the theater version. The movie has piqued my interest in DS again, and I am going to order these Angelique novels.

  37. Ouch - I do not think I will be buying the Salem Book!! I never approved of the Barnabas/Hoffman relationship as anything than just friends. For me it lacks the possibility of passion, romance and drama that was so essential to the character of Barnabas (even if Hoffman had been younger and hotter). Face it, Barnabas's destiny is Angelique as is hers to him. I did however order the Angeliques Descent.

  38. But what was interesting about their relationship was the Julia was in love with Barnabas. That was obvious throughout the show. After she cured him and he became human again, he was dependent upon her for the formula she had invented.

    At the end of the Dark Shadows series, Sam Hall, one of the writers and Grayson Hall's husband, said that Barnabas and Julia would be getting married and that they would go to the Caribbean together to find a new cure.

    Of course Barnabas did not love Julia. He felt loyal to her, but he resented her. That's what made the relationship so interesting!

  39. Some very good add ons to what we loved about the movie! One thing that I realy loved was that they made sure to include the Origional cast for a cameo!Very AWESOME, but I would have loved to see more play on that! OMG!!Critisism has reared it's head again!!

  40. Thank You Lara, wonderful and insightful piece. Relevant to more than just DS!Thanks for this wonderful site!

  41. Hi Lara,

    Having watched Dark Shadows since I was 8 years old, I didn't think I would like a comedy version, but, was I ever wrong. It was fantastic. Having you, Johnathan, David, and Kathryn walk in as guests was just a stroke of genius, and it was good to see all four of you.

    The one part of the movie that made me smile and snicker is the way they portrayed Carolyn as stoned and then at the end as a werewolf. I imagined Nancy Barrett laughing herself silly over it, and did Nancy not have one of the most fun laughs? Of course no one had a more evil laugh than you did. I remember when you first appeared, your eyes were amazing, and still are. I do, as you do, hope there will be others that will tackle the resurrection circuit as time goes on to keep the life of Dark Shadows continuing. I have all 1245 episodes of Dark Shadows filling one notebook's memory, and I hope to pass them on to my grandchildren someday. I was sorry to hear of Johnathan's passing. It was so good to know that he got to cameo in Dark Shadows 2012. I am sure I speak for many that during the sixty's we never thought about if we would be living in the year 2012, but with Dark Shadows we can remember our lives during the 60's and early 70's with a smile.

    My favorite line in the entire movie was when Johnny repeated the year, nineteen seventy two. hahahahahaha

    Thank you Lara for you part of a great icon of American Television and movie history.

    Your biggest fan.

  42. Thank you Lara for your insight on the movie. I, like many others, rushed home from school to watch Dark Shadows back in the day. You were my favorite...feared yet respected. My favorite role you played was as a vampire. To have a woman back then, to have the power, control, and class that you had, all in one package, was quite unique for the time. I was sure, as a young boy who went to bed many nights, that a vampire would eventually seal my fate. I only hoped it was Angelique who would be the one, if it had to be! I read in one of the large DS journals that I had purchased, in the epilogue by you I believe, that you stated much fan mail came your way back then, even some humorous ones where young boys stated that Angelique 'stimulated' their hormones at that time. That being said, did you derive any humor from the scene in the movie, where Angelique, as sultry as you were, removes her red panties and places them over a chained Barnabas' face, to remember her thru the ages? Just curious. By the way, I've read two of your books...there were a great read. I heard your voice narrating in my head while I read! Keep up the good work and I truly hope all is well with you. Thanks again!

  43. Great points Lara! And also may I add that if it wasn't for this new movie, I would have never discovered the original series that has become so dear to me.

  44. Thank you Lara for your opinion on the Dark Shadows movie. I, like many others, was one to race home from school to get together with friends to watch Dark Shadows every day. Angelique was my favorite character and you played the role rather superb. My favorite role actually, was Angelique as a vampire. The power and control she exhibited was unprecedented for a woman at that time. She would reduce a man from his normal, proud and confident person, to a hopeless submissive soul to Angelique's beckoning. Resisting her will was fruitless. Many a night as a kid, I went to bed with dreams of vampires and witches in my head, sure that one night a vampire would seal my fate. I only hoped that vampire would be the first woman vampire, Angelique! I read two of your books and I must say they were both excellent. I thought the movie would disappoint me, based upon the reviews but I was very entertained by it. It was certainly set up in a much different format than my beloved show, but it was very well done. Might I note that I also really enjoyed the 90's mini series remake with Ben Cross and wished that would had succeeded with more shows. However, no one I have ever seen has embodied the character of Angelique to the level that you had. I purchased and read two large paperback journals of the series, and I believe in one that you wrote an epilog or prelude. You had mentioned about receiving a lot of fan mail at the time of filming the series, in particular some from male fans viewing Angelique's character in a quasi 'sexual sense'. With that in mind, did you chuckle to yourself in relation to the unexpected scene in the movie when the Angelique character removed her red panties and placed them over the chained Barnabas' face to have something to think of her thru out his captivity? That scene just made me think of your article. Anyway, again, thank you for your blogs and your fine writings. I hope you are always well.

  45. Thank you Lara so much for not only playing the character Angelique so well and so believably, but for also so poignantly pointing out the pitfalls we find ourselves in sometimes when critic meets movie.

    I very thoroughly enjoyed Dark Shadows ( shameless plug for The Carpenters! <been massive loyal fan for decades), and wanted to share my own review with everyone if its ok ( yes a longtime fan and objective critic I think):

    It's been so many years since I thought of Dark Shadows, and kudos to all involved in this movie for bringing it to the big screen with such class, remembering its origins and to the entire original cast for its hard work and dedication to their craft ;)

  46. I'm currently not even a hundred pages into 'The Salem Branch' - and think that someone involved in the writing and story of the new DS movie owes you a very BIG "thank you." ... if they have not, please allow me - Thank you.

  47. I am absolutely thankful for the movie because the movie got me interested in the series. I knew little about the series, except for what my father told me. After I seen the movie, I decided to look into the series, and now I am obsessed. :)

  48. Thank you for writing this! I needed to hear it and coming from you it's even more meaningful to me as I might have deduced the film could have been an odd let-down for the original cast. I wish I'd found this post sooner!

    I see the main drawback of criticism is it becomes disguised or interpreted as refined aesthetic taste and right now, especially online, negativity is much easier to do, like the influx of "bathroom" humor that seems to have exploded in newer forms of entertainment.

    Worse still is those who like it won't say so from the displeasure of knowing ridicule will likely come of it. Much of the time critics, professional and armchair, will not only find ways of stereotyping fans in any way to invalidate their opinions and then, going even further, insulting them outright. I fail to see how such cross behavior is helpful to anyone.

    What I would like to see, and for all I know I coined this phrase, is constructive-praise. A compliment usually goes as far as simple nice word or two and I see it as due to the fact barely anyone has been able to put this into practice. It's important to notice strengths.

    So it's nice to see constructive-praise in practice right here. Thanks!

    As for what I liked that hasn't been listed? All the stimulating references to both the old show and the time period. It was one of the best "Easter Egg" hunts I've ever been on. I had to see it three times to make sure I got them all and I rarely go to movies. Stimulation like that gets a fan to come back for repeat visits.

    Looking forward to finding "Night of Dark Shadows" director's cut. I want to see the story that was meant to be seen, not the theater cut brought on by other constraints.

  49. Ms. Parker, I don't know if you still read this, but I just discovered it today from a posting on the Dark Shadows Fan Club on Facebook. I have only a few things bad to say about the Burton movie, so I won't say them at all. Overall I thought it was fine and I agree that any amount of attention is good for the original show. I would love to read your thoughts on Night of Dark Shadows and if there is any word on the director's cut ever being released. I have the blu-ray that was released and was very disappointed that your picture was not on the front cover. Plus the picture on the back cover was not even from the movie. How could they not put Angelique on the front cover? It was her story! Just like Frid was on the cover of House, Angelique should have been front and center. Thanks for your time. David Kahoun

  50. I have felt just kind of about the movie. I enjoyed it when I first saw it but,well, you know, comparisons. Still I knew it would different. The main thing I missed was Bob Cobert's score. But there was that opening touch of it over the Warner Brother's Buildings. The mixture of comedy through me at first but then there was comedy in the original series (sometimes on purpose).
    I have a digital copy of the movie. One good thing I can say about it. My brother formerly would never have anything to do with the original series because he thought it pushed Satanism. But when he saw this movie he got caught up in the romance story motif of it and the comedy situations added by Johnny Depp's team made him laugh and now he understands DS.

  51. Ms. Parker,

    My dad introduced me to Dark Shadows when the revival aired in 1991. Then Syfy Network started airing the original series and I was hooked. As a fan of the original show, the original films both House and Night, a fan of the revival, and your books, I was very pleased with Tim Burton's take on the story. It gave me great pleasure to show this film to my boyfriend and now he's dying for more! He's reading The Salem Branch and we're in the middle of the original show. Thank you so much for giving me something to share with him!