Not long after the premiere of Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS, we shared the insights of Dr. Destruction (a life long fan of the show) which you can revisit HERE. Destruction wasn’t the only one eager to share his two cents as horror hostess, Penny Dreadful, also posted her own blog on the subject (see HERE). I suddenly found myself wishing I could sit down with the two of them (metaphorically speaking) and have them answer a few questions regarding their immense fandom of the show. And here’s what happened…
DAVE: Aside from Barnabas Collins, who was your favorite character on the TV show DARK SHADOWS?
PENNY DREADFUL: It’s a tie between Angelique and Quentin.
DR. DESTRUCTION: Julia Hoffman was always tormenting Barnabas and skeeming. She’s my pick and a great actress! She’s also the voice of Disney’s “Thrilling Sounds of a Haunted House” vinyl record!
DAVE: ...your favorite guest or supporting character?
PENNY DREADFUL: The evil, yet charming, Count Petrofi. Thayer David was wonderful in the role! Its hard to pick because there were so many wonderful characters – Nicholas Blair, Laura Collins, Carl Collins, Pansy Faye, Mrs. Johnson, and so on…
DR. DESTRUCTION: Willie Loomis, hands down! He does a great job of tormenting Barnabas as well.
DAVE: Which was your favorite “Dark Shadows” storyline?
PENNY DREADFUL: I’d have to say the classic Barnabas storyline when he’s first freed from his coffin by Willie and tries to turn Maggie Evans into his Josette. This storyline is eerie, scary, and tragic. It had a massive impact on my psyche when I was a young sorceress. Its beautifully written and Jonathan Frid is riveting.
DR. DESTRUCTION: The “Back in Time” origin of Barnabas. With their budget, taking the show on a costumed venture was a bold move. Going back in time on TV can push you over the top. I know this from taking my own travels via The Crimson Theatre.
DAVE: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best) what would you rate the recent film adaptation?
PENNY DREADFUL: 2.5 Stars!
DR. DESTRUCTION: A dismal 3.
DAVE: What is the best thing you can say about the movie?
PENNY DREADFUL: Danny Elfman’s music was fantastic, many of the visuals were stunning, and they kept Barnabas’ basic look the same – spiky bangs and all. Some of the scenes, particularly at the beginning, rang true and they even worked in a few lines from the show. Oh…and the original cast members show up for like three seconds.
DR. DESTRUCTION: Michelle Pfeiffer!
DAVE: How about the worst?
PENNY DREADFUL: The film was a mess! It didn’t know whether it wanted to be a drama, a horror film, a sex comedy, a dark comedy, a “fish out of water” comedy, a suspense picture, etc. I deeply loathe the fact that the film employed so much comedy. I feel it was irresponsible of Burton and Depp to do that. They are huge players in the industry and fans of the show. They should have remained true to the tone and feel of “Dark Shadows.” Its obvious they are either out of touch with what the show is about or they got scared and tried to appeal to every demographic. I do think Depp and Burton love the show, but decided to put their little in-jokes about Barnabas seeing lava lamps and troll dolls up on the big screen. This is irresponsible because it has the potential to re-write what “Dark Shadows” is in the public mind. I don’t like that at all! So, yes, the comedy was terrible and undermined any sense of dread in the film. It seems not many are going out to see the film, so I guess my curse worked after all. Heh. Barnabas did always have trouble with witches, didn’t he?
DR. DESTRUCTION: Having “Carpenters” music in the film was bad but the LOWEST point was Angelique puking on Barnabas! It was really a let-down on so many levels. A horrible “Dark Shadows” remake, terrible Tim Burton movie, and one of Johnny Depp’s worst roles! Apparently Hollywood is in such a rush to crank out product, they forgo quality. Oh well, I see “1 Star” films all the time but Burton should have known this one was going to be a turd. Maybe a “Director’s Cut” will be released and it will be better…then again maybe they shouldn’t even waste the discs.
DAVE: Favorite “Dark Shadows” TV plot twist?
PENNY DREADFUL: There were so many good ones. The return of wicked warlock, Nicholas Blair during the Lovecraft-inspired “Leviathan” storyline was a fun and unexpected twist. A lot of people dislike that storyline but there was some great stuff going on there.
DR. DESTRUCTION: I have not seen them all recently to remember which was my favorite.
DAVE: With many established daytime soaps facing cancellation in favor of more “reality” based programming, do you think now might be a good time to bring back a supernatural daily serial like “Dark Shadows?”
PENNY DREADFUL: I honestly don’t think you can catch lightning in a bottle twice. Our culture is currently too obsessed with “realism,” as evidenced by all these horrid reality shows. Something as entirely escapist as “Dark Shadows” wouldn’t fare well. I just think they’d try and make it appeal to a modern audience and they’d ruin it, so I’d rather they just not do it. There was a certain something about the original and I think it would be impossible to recreate it today. It was Gothic fantasy/horror/romance performed “Live” on tape by grand theater actors in the 1960’s and 1970’s. There was a very theatrical feeling about it. Despite some incorrect assertions I’ve heard that “Dark Shadows” was intentionally camp, it was not. All of the actors, writers, directors, and Dan Curtis himself were very clear that they were presenting the material in a serious and genuine way. All of the bloopers in the show were there only because of the budget and time constraints. We might find this charming now as fans, but those mistakes were not intentional. In the original show, there was an understanding of Gothic conventions as well as a sense that Collinsport was in a realm unto itself. The 91′ iteration was good (I had some problems with it, but liked it overall), but there was still some magic element missing there. If “Dark Shadows” was done again on TV, you’d probably see young hunks and babes with no acting chops delivering tongue in cheek, “pseudo-cool” dialogue in over-rehearsed and over-polished “realistic” scenes. Maybe I’m just jaded because of the Burton film, I but I seriously doubt they could do it nowadays.
DR. DESTRUCTION: Audiences now have a taste for Sh*t! Even if they did it right, I’d doubt they’d have the attention span to follow it.
DAVE: If Tim Burton would have cast YOU in the movie, what part would you have liked to play and why?
PENNY DREADFUL: I wouldn’t have wanted a part if I’d read the script and saw that there was going to be so much silly humor. In general, I think I’d play Magda the Gypsy or Mad Jenny Collins. I’d have a blast with either of those roles.
DR. DESTRUCTION: Well Barnabas, of course! Unlike Depp, I’m about the same age as Frid when he played it. Unfortunately, Depp seems to come with his own super-elastic, bubble make-up that he can whip out for any Tim Burton role he’s asked to play. I’d have played the part and said every line with my true face visible, thereby giving a fuller range of emotions as Frid displayed. He could go from happy to mad to evil in 5 seconds whereas Depp was static….and I don’t think giving him Frid’s hair was a good idea either!
DAVE: If “Dark Shadows” was a flavor of ice-cream, what would you have the ingredients be?
PENNY DREADFUL: Blood and brandy!
DR. DESTRUCTION: Licorice!
Special thanks to Horror Hosts, Penny Dreadful and Dr. Destruction for participating in this interview! Be sure to catch our weekly, Friday Horror Host to catch up on their activities and show information!