‘Dark Shadows’ Trailer: Five Key Scenes

Tim Burton opts for gonzo comedy that should please many but may rile fans of the original soap opera.
By John Mitchell

Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"
Photo: Warner Bros

The wait is over! With less than two months to go before the May 11 release of "Dark Shadows," we finally have a trailer, and it's a doozy.

We're going to come right out and say it: We love the trailer. It's Tim Burton doing what Tim Burton does best. The look is dark and Gothic, but the feel is certifiably gonzo with a heaping side of camp and comedy. Based on its soapy source material, Burton could have taken "Shadows" one of two ways: He could have stripped it of the over-the-top camp and played it as a straight romantic drama where the protagonist was a conflicted vampire, which is what the creators of the early-'90s TV remake did, or he could turn the volume all the way up and have a little fun, flipping the super serious vibe of the original soap opera upside down and making a blood-splattered comedy. He clearly chose the latter, and that's just fine with us.

"Shadows" stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a rich and powerful playboy who is turned into a vampire and buried alive by the jealous witch Angelique (Eva Green). Two centuries later, in 1972, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb by thief Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) and finds the world quite changed and his once great estate, Collinwood Manor, in disrepair. His descendants, including reclusive family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), her drunken, snobby brother Roger Collins (Johnny Lee Miller) and bratty teenage daughter Carolyn (Chloe Moretz), haven't fared much better. In the present, not only does he have to again face Angelique, but he has to contend with nosy psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter, who has more than a few secrets of her own.

Here are our five key scenes from the "Dark Shadows" trailer:

First Glimpse of Barnabus as a Vampire
After a fleeting look at a pre-vamp Depp in his 18th-century prime (and seriously, can we talk about how this guy never ages?), we see Angelique working her evil magic and casting her spell. Cut to Depp's Barnabas taking in his monstrous new self from the crashing waves at the bottom of Widows' Hill, the cliff where his love, Josette duPres (Bella Heathcote), took her own life. "What have you done?" he yells up at her.

The aesthetic created for Widows' Hill is pure vintage Burton. The dark, rocky facade builds up to a point that looks like something from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" brought to life. Which means it's pretty awesome.

Meet the Collins Family
Sitting around the dinner table to welcome their long lost relative, we get introduced to all the key players in the film. "Who the hell is this?" Bonham Carter's straightforward Hoffman asks."I'm a vampire, Madame," Barnabas responds.

The whole gang — Miller, Moretz, Pfeiffer, Bonham Carter and Gulliver McGrath (David Collins) — is there, and boy are they curious about this pale-faced creeper in some very vintage wares, but Barnabas is ready to hit the road to take care of business. "How soon can the horses be ready?" he asks. "We don't have horses; we have a Chevy," Pfeiffer admits.

"What Sorcery is This?"
Barnabas just can't seem to grasp the technological innovations that happened while he was chained up in that casket for a few hundred years. Of particular concern is the television, which he seems certain is nothing more than witchcraft.

"Reveal yourself, tiny songstress," he demands before tearing into the back of the set. It's a pretty random scene, but it perfectly sums up the tone of the humor the film seems after. Things are so weird nowadays, you guys, and the old dead guy just can't wrap his head around it. Depp's delivery is spot-on though, and we can see why test audience reaction to this scene was so warmly received.

Angelique Rides Back Into Town
Burton has taken many liberties with his film, but the most interesting of them might be his characterization of Angelique as a sassy fox with a mean-girl streak and plenty of attitude. When she returns from the late-1700s, she isn't wearing her old corsets and talking about the old days; she pulls up to Collinwood in a cherry red convertible wearing modern clothes.

"You cursed me to be this hideous creator," Barnabas cries. "You may strategically place your wonderful lips upon my posterior and kiss it repeatedly."

Barnabas and Angelique's Freaky, House-Trashing Makeout
Even though she, you know, cursed him to eternal damnation because he just wasn't that into her, we can certainly see why Barnabas can't keep his claws off Green's sexy witch. At the end of the clip, Depp and Green engage in some very rough foreplay. The magical pair throw each other from wall to wall before ending on the floor, where Angelique gives Barnabas one last lick with her very long tongue.

"That was a regrettable turn of events," Barnabus says, taking in the destruction left in the wake.

So "Dark Shadows" fans, are you loving the fun and campy way Burton decided to tackle the sudsy soap? Or do you think he should have gone a different direction? Let us know in the comments below and hit me up on Twitter @JohnMitchell83 with your thoughts and suggestions on all things "Shadows."

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

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