‘Dark Shadows’ Sneak Peek Reveals Johnny Depp’s De-Fanging Plan

New featurette is dedicated to late star of original soap, Jonathan Frid.
By John Mitchell

Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"
Photo: Warner Bros

With just two weeks left until the big release of "Dark Shadows," Warner Bros. is stoking the coals of excitement with a new featurette that brings not only behind-the-scenes interviews and footage, but offers up an important new plot detail from the film.

"The legend of the vampire has been told for centuries, capturing the dark shadows of our imagination and inspiring filmmakers and actors to breathe new life into the undead," a voice-over reminds us at the top of the clip. "But there's never been a vampire like Barnabas Collins."

Depp said the idea to do the film came naturally to him and Burton, who have worked together on eight films. "I'd always been sort of attracted to horror films and things like that, even as a very young kid," Depp explains. "I said, 'Tim, we should do a vampire movie together.' "

And when Johnny Depp and Tim Burton decide to do something, it has a way of getting done.

A large part of the featurette focuses on the history of vampires in movies and reminds us that one of cinema's great vampires, Christopher Lee, is featured in "Shadows."

"One of my favorite moments I've ever been able to experience in a film was I got to hypnotize Dracula; I got to hypnotize Christopher Lee," Depp says. "He was, you know, the great Dracula."

To get into character as Barnabas Collins, Depp didn't stray far from the source material. "For Barnabas, everywhere I searched character-wise, I kept coming back to Jonathan Frid," the actor explains. "He really did something beautiful with that character on the 'Dark Shadows' series back in the '60s and early '70s."

Frid, who cameos in the film and is shown arriving at a party at Collinwood in the featurette, died earlier this month in his native Canada. The clip closes with an "In Memoriam" dedication to the classically trained actor, who maintained a close relationship with the show's fans by appearing at "Shadows" conventions and readings as recently as 2011, before his health began to decline.

The clip features some great new scenes from the film, including a fun bit where Depp's Barnabas seeks advice from Chloe Moretz's Carolyn Stoddard on "the art of courting a woman of this time," but importantly introduces a major plot twist that we wondered (all the way back in October!) whether Burton would include in his film: Barnabas' attempt to de-fang himself with the help of Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) and become mortal again to pursue a romantic relationship with Bella Heathcote's Victoria Winters.

"If a man can become a monster, then a monster can become a man," Barnabas says in a voice-over while Dr. Hoffman surveys large blood-filled beakers and Depp sits with IV lines running from him. It's a story line carried over directly from both the original soap and its short-lived '90s remake. (Indeed, this particular story line was the focus of NBC's revival starring Ben Cross and Joanna Going.)

"By tapping into vampires, witches, ghosts, the reason they're powerful is because we all kind of experience those feelings on some level," Burton says of the film. "It's something that remains in our popular culture because it's strangely part of our everyday lives."

Just two weeks to go, "Dark Shadows" fans! Are you excited for the flick? Let us know in the comments!

Check out everything we've got on "Dark Shadows."

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