For those who were disconcerted about the funny in the Dark Shadows trailer, I’d like to draw your memories back to Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.
When I saw this film in the theater in 1999, I enjoyed it on a purely visual level. Christina Ricci is still one of the best alien-eyed Burton Blondes, Christopher Walken as the Hessian was casting genius, Miranda Richardson’s evil alpha beauty was used to its full fruition. With the help of Francis Ford Coppola as a producer, Tim Burton was able to take this American myth and make it his own. He fleshed out the tale, gave it a backstory, three dimensional characters and a world to live in that felt real. My one complaint about the film at first viewing was the some of the dialogue. Thanks to the infamous “I hate sand” scene in The Phantom Menance, I was very sticky when it came to love scenes with any kind of cliche dialogue. In the years that have passed, and upon viewing other of Burton’s movies, I’ve come to realize that the scene that bothered me so much - “You have bewitched me” - wasn’t cliche, it was in character.
This brings me to my point. Some people seem to be thrown off by how funny the Dark Shadows trailer is, mainly because the Dark Shadows tv show wasn’t a comedy. I don’t have a problem with it because I love Tim Burton’s sense of humour. Bohemea and I laughed so much and so loudly during Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that the children and parents around us in the theater were annoyed. What I want to remind everyone about is the character of Ichabod is Sleepy Hollow. Johnny Depp played great moments of comedy, horror and heroism all in one character. Tim Burton is able to do this with his main characters because he loves the hero’s journey, and uses it in almost every one of his films. This story structure allows a main character to be funny, brave, sad, scared, all of the most intense of emotions. So yes, Barnabas had his funny moments in the trailer but he also had moments of tragedy, horror, sadness, and bravery, like Ichabod Crane, like Sweeney Todd, like Edward Scissorhands.