The original Dark Shadows daily soap opera ran from 1966 to 1971; 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for a total of 1,225 episodes. Its popularity spawned a couple of feature films and a second short-lived series in primetime in early 1991. There are also novels, comic books, a board game, coloring books, at least one jigsaw puzzle, and a 3-D View-Master reel, all featuring the same blood-sucking evil creatures. The original TV series ran daily against As the World Turns, which always trounced it in the ratings.
The newest revival is the Tim Burton film with self-admitted Dark Shadows fanatic Johnny Depp living out his dream to be Barnabas Collins, lead blood-sucker. The film opened one week after the blockbuster The Avengers and its producers are going to end up knowing exactly how the original TV series’ producers felt when faced with As the World Turns. The film sports a terrific cast. Besides Depp, they have Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Chloe Moretz and special appearances by Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper – who Barnabas Collins proclaims to be the ugliest woman he has ever seen.
So what did they do with all this talent? They managed to find the worst script in the last 25 years. The film doesn’t know if it wants to be a TV remake, a comedy, a monster movie or a spoof. It tries to do it all and ends up accomplishing 113 minutes of boredom. While the story takes place on the eastern seaboard of the USA, it was filmed entirely in England, except for the use of a single building in Canada. Tim Burton directs the film as if he was in a daze and still trying to figure out what went wrong with his Planet of the Apes remake. The answer is: everything. And, in Dark Shadows he repeats all the same mistakes and added a bunch of new ones. Maybe if they had combined the two bad scripts they might have come up with something worth watching.
Barnabas Collins is a 200-year-old vampire suffering the curse of eternal life and misery. See Dark Shadows and join him. You would be better off to find a copy of the old board game. It would be a lot more entertaining.
Rated 1.0 out of 4.0 reasons they should have made a big screen version of As the World Turns.