Dream Cast: The Dark Shadows movie
The original Dark Shadows series was a huge fad in the 1960s.
I’ve been watching it on streaming Netflix through my Roku. The way they titled it threw me a bit, because it was called a “Collection”. Well, I realized why…each title has 40 episodes! They couldn’t do a whole “season” in one title (which usually an online version of a DVD release), because it ran like a soap opera (five days a week). There were well over 1200 (!) episodes…compare that to the original Star Trek (79 episodes) or even the super-long-running The Simpsons (which has shown about 475 episodes).
As you can imagine, there were lots of storylines in that amount of episodes.
When Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp in the 2012 movie version, it’s hard to guess which characters might appear…outside of Barnabas Collins. The script is being written by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
While they could pick and choose and even do an entirely new story line, I’m hoping they build it around the events that start with the appearance of Barnabas Collins.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, I’m going to warn you that when I describe the characters, there may be some mild spoilers. I won’t talk so much about events that happen, but in describing a character, you might find out information about broad themes.
MILD SPOILER WARNING
Barnabas Collins (originally played by Jonathan Frid)…already cast with Johnny Depp. Barnabas is a vampire who shows up at his family’s old estate, claiming to be a descendant of his. People do notice his resemblance to a portrait of the “old” Barnabas, but welcome him as an unknown member of the European branch. He sets in motion a number of events that form the basis of the story. He is urbane and charismatic with most people, but can be really violent and evil.
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (originally played by Joan Bennett): she is the matriarch of the Collins family when Barnabas arrives. She is haughty and sophisticated, but not without her own secrets. If Barnabas had not arrived, the drama would have probably focused around her. I think Helen Mirren would be great in this part. Other possibilities might be Holland Taylor or Susan Sullivan.
Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett) is Elizabeth’s blond, elegant daughter…who rebels and starts hanging out with a biker. Since we know Helena Bonham Carter is likely to show up in a Tim Burton movie…she could play this. I’d cast Jackson Rathbone as her boyfriend, Buzz…since he was one of our top ten Box Office MVPs for 2010. 😉
Roger Collins is Elizabeth’s brother, so he gets called “Uncle Roger”. He’s upper class, and indignant with Jason’s activities. This would be a good part for Kelsey Grammer…or maybe Hugh Laurie.
Victoria Winters (played by Alexandra Isles) is the live-in tutor/governess. She is strong-willed and intelligent. There’s more to her than her tutor role…there’s more to everyone in Collinswood. 😉 Anne Hathaway would bring the right wide-eyed, yet indefatigable feeling to it.
Jason McGuire (Dennis Patrick) is the smarmy schemer. He is manipulative and evil…bold and ambitious. He is arguably the true antagonist, in a different way than Barnabas (who stands a bit outside of everything). Robert Downey Jr. would be great in this part…and who wouldn’t love to see Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. in a battle of wills?
Willie Loomis (John Karlen) is a petty thief (originally working with Jason McGuire) who becomes Barnabas’ assistant…against his will. He is haunted by what is happening, and seen as undesirable by the town…despite this, he tries to do some good. Steve Buscemi could bring that oppressed anguish. Crispin Glover would be another possibility.
Maggie Evans is a waitress in town who becomes a victim…and her experience mentally unhinges her. We are scared for her, but root for her. Kirsten Dunst would bring the pathos, and be able to play the range necessary for Maggie’s experiences.
Sam Evans (Mark Allen) is Maggie’s father, and an artist who is painting Barnabas’ portrait. He seemed a bit…intense to me, and honestly, a little in your face. I’d cast Jack Black for this one.
Dr. Woodard (who was played by several actors) is the town doctor. He’s the frustrated one who is first following Maggie’s odd case….Lewis Black could be an interesting choice. He later conflicts with a specialist, Dr. Hoffman…who could be played brilliantly by Jean Smart.
There are a lot of other smaller parts…Kristen Schaal could play Miss Johnson, the housekeeper; John Carroll Lynch could play Sheriff Patterson (Dana Elcar); Jon Hamm could play Burke Devlin (Mitch Ryan), Vickie’s wealthy boyfriend…and there are a couple of good kid’s parts.
All of that I haven’t even gotten to where Quentin Collins (David Selby), the werewolf, shows up! I might save that for a sequel.
Now, I know I’m just dreaming with this cast…it’s awfully high-powered, and likely to be expensive (at least in some cases). Kirsten Van Wagner, a relative unknown, has already been cast as Victoria Winters. What do you think? If you know the original series, who would you cast? Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.