Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vampire Trends and Remakes

I went to see the movie, Dark Shadows, based on the original series in 1970 - a Dan Curtis production.  Great thing about the old series was that it was cheesy beyond belief, and production values were non-existent.  In some episodes, you can see the production assistant shadows and the boom coming into frame.  Hokey, but forgivable.  The acting, too, was borderline dreadful, certainly ludicrous.

Tim Burton's lush remake of that series suffers none of the original show's appalling gaffs.  It is a piece of visual perfection, augmented greatly by a grand score, courtesy of Danny Elfman.  Johnny Depp is predictably unassailable as Barnabus Collins, the titular head of the Collins family that dates back generationally more than 200 years.  He is, of course, a vampire, cursed to the rank of undead status by the beautiful bitch-kitty witch, Angelique, who both wants to fornicate him to death (real death) and destroy him simultaneously.  Add to this the element of an amusing dysfunctional family - the Collins clan of 1972 - and you have a film which is both fun to view, and fun to contemplate, in terms of 'what the hell happened to this bloody family to make them so fucked up.'

Answer of course, is the family curse.  Ghosts, werewolves and vampires are de rigeuer for the Collins familia, and such things are accepted in due course.  After being  forced to watch so many television vampires of late - all of whom appear vaguely sexually detached or ambivalent - yet all telegenically perfect, it's nice to see a vampire movie that doesn't take itself so seriously, and even embraces its own loopiness.  Barnabus Collins, though clearly a genius unto his own right, nevertheless awakens to the year 1972 and muddles through with a kind of pleasant gormlessness that makes you love him even as he slaughters innocents by the dozen to slake his ubiquitous hunger for human hemoglobin.  All other performances are equally laudable.

As I reintroduced my own vampire novel, Monster Vice, back to Amazon, with our old friend, Dracula, I applauded Dark Shadows for what it was:  sloppy fang pleasure, guilty to the extreme.

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