I almost missed the news that Jonathan Frid, who starred as vampire Baranabas Collins in the original Dark Shadows, died April 13 (Friday the 13th). It’s tempting to say that he died after seeing the trailer for the Tim Burton version.
I have extremely vague memories of watching the original when I was very young (including one scene where characters were trapped in a web and menaced by a giant spider that, even to my 5-year old self, looked incredibly fake), but I was never a devoted fan of the original series. Even so, it was obviously a very interesting pop culture artifact, a failing soap opera that desperately threw in a stage actor playing a vampire that turned it into a sudden cult hit.
Even so, I have to wonder why Tim Burton decided to camp it up like the movie version of The Brady Bunch. They few elements it shares with the original are so attenuated that he could have made the same “18th century vampire out of water” movie and changed a few names without calling it Dark Shadows, and since it stars the always-watchable Depp it would still have made money.
I can only imagine how real fans of the series must feel.
It’s sort of ironic that in the late 1960s, Batman was camp and Dark Shadows was melodrama, and now in 2012, Dark Shadows is camp, and The Dark Knight Rises is drama. And we all get ready for the next turn of the wheel…