Dark Shadows

11/5/12 Tim Burton – Dark Shadows

Dark shadows is a recent production by Tim Burton, which combines a dark, gothic narrative with humour and astounding visual effects. The film features Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a vampire who attempts to restore the family business after spending a few hundred years buried underground by a sinister and conniving witch known as Angelique.

Right from the very beginning of the film, each sequence is enriched with colour and texture, which emphasises the small trickles of blood oozing from Barnabas’s mouth or Angelique’s bright sequinned dress.

Monohla Dargis notes that Burton’s film is a remake of a 1970’s horror film known as The House of Dark Shadows. One could argue that the character’s within Burton’s film feature similar attributes to the original Dark Shadows directed by Dan Curtis.

For example, the dark mansion illuminates Dr Hoffman’s bright orange coat and her hair, which is very similar to Burton’s interpretation of the character.

Dan Curtis – House of Dark Shadows 1970 

One may argue that the use of special effects may detract the darkness from the film, which directs the viewer’s attention to the character’s glamorous appearance. In comparison the original horror film by Dan Curtis features a perspective from Barnabus Collins, which may allow the spectator to see from the eyes of the vampire as he gradually approaches the dark mansion.

The strong use of light also illuminates the ‘dark shadows’, which are intensified through the sharp, disturbing noises that may provide a frightening or unsettling effect.

It is interesting to identify the comparisons between the original and the remake, although one could argue that Burton incorporates his own style into the film. The strong composition between colour and texture exaggerates the character’s physical appearance, which is another technique that Burton applies to his work.

Dan Curtis – Dark Shadows 1966- 1971

John Kenneth Muir also claims that the original house of dark shadows is influenced by a Television show that was produced during the 1960’s – 70’s by the same director. Muir also criticises the horror film for its weak narrative and poor acting, which cannot justify the original television series.

“Dark Shadows” also features a voice over, which constructs the narrative and the main characters.Muir also claims that Barnabus’s identity is unraveled over time throughout the series, which is impossible to reproduce in one film.

From a personal perspective the acting within the television show is very effective and the narrative also features a very distinctive style. The horror film is quite different and the director also provides different styles and techniques, which modify the visual effects.

It appears that Tim Burton has referenced the horror film and the television series, although have the character been reproduced to the stage where they lose their purpose or context?

Dargis also suggests that Burton’s production features a reference to Dracula, which is directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I would agree with this particular comment and the visual effects are very similar to Coppola’s film. One could also argue that the use of makeup and the use of light also creates a similar shape to a skull, especially the dark eye shadow and the pale skin.

Dargis, Manohla. “A Vampire Thirst and Bewildered.” New York Times, 2012 http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/movies/johnny-depp-stars-in-tim-burtons-dark-shadows.html. (Accessed 11/5/12)

Muir, John Kenneth. Horror Films of the 1970’s. Volume 1.  North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers, 2002 p.61 -61 

Magliozzi, Ron He, Jenny & Warren, Kate. “Tim Burton: The Exhibition “. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Moving Image, 2010.

Dark Shadows, “Dark Shadows Official Website.”  http://darkshadowsmovie.warnerbros.com/index.html.

Image Citations

Youtube Videos

House of Dark Shadows, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhk61jmY3lI&feature=related 


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