VOD Spotlight: In the shadow of “Dark Shadows”

It’s always a dicey venture taking a bit of revered pop culture and turning it into a new, full-blown film. Not only do you risk alienating the cult audience that found the original work so endearing, but also you risk souring a new generation on the brand overall even before they may have heard of what you’re basing your film on. Director Tim Burton kept all of this in mind when working on his update of the ’60s vampire soap Dark Shadows. His take on the story — about a man who betrayed the love of a witch only to be turned into a vampire and who, after being buried for hundreds of years, finds himself in a vastly changed world — may have more humor in it, but Burton still was intent on staying faithful to the feel of the world on which it was based.

“It’s a hard thing to try to capture,” he says. “It’s not something you can remake exactly because there were more than 1,200 episodes and there was such an elusive tone to it, but it was always our inspiration.”

But hindsight being, as always, 20/20, Burton and his colleagues saw rich opportunities for wit in setting their Dark Shadows in the era of the early 1970s. “It sparked a whole series of ideas,” says Johnny Depp, who plays the lead role of Barnabas Collins. “The thought of this very elegant man of the 1700s, having been cursed and locked away for 200 years, coming back to 1972 — maybe the worst time, aesthetically, in human existence, where people accepted everything from macramé jewelry and resin grapes to lava lamps. We thought, what a great way to incorporate this vampire being the eyes that we never had back then, the eyes that can see the absurdity in those things.”

Burton succinctly sums up their intent for this new take on Dark Shadows: “I wanted to straddle the line between the old and the new to concoct something fun for both generations. Times have changed, but I think these characters are timeless.”

Dark Shadows is available starting Oct. 2 on Movies On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.

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Photo: © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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