Johnny Depp resurrects classic horror

Johnny Depp was recently dubbed the biggest movie star in Hollywood with two blockbusters which grossed a billion each back to back: Pirates 4 and Alice in Wonderland.

This is why you can probably feel some relief that he’s headlining the big screen version of Dark Shadows, the ‘60’s vampire soap opera that aired on ABC. Depp will also be bringing bringing back Kolchak, the short lived, but much beloved horror series of the ‘70’s.


Dark Shadows is now being made for Warner Brothers with Tim Burton directing, and Depp starting as Barnabas Collins, a two hundred year old vampire. The first shots that hit the ‘Net of Depp in his vampire make-up initially weren’t promising, but the current photo posted on Empire looks much more like the Barnabas Collins of yore, combined with Burton’s trademark gothic sensibilities.

The film will also feature Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, gothic horror legend Christopher Lee, and Alice Cooper. The film’s screenplay was written by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.


Both Dark Shadows and Kolchak were created by Dan Curtis, who later did the mini-series The Winds of War. Kolchak had Darren McGavin playing a reporter who is constantly running into the supernatural, and his newspaper editor doesn’t believe his stories.

At one point, the Se7en team of David Fincher and screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker were going to do a big screen Kolchak for DreamWorks, which would have been perfect, but now Depp is spearheading the latest effort to make a Kolchak movie. As Deadline reports, this incarnation of Kolchak is set up at Disney.


I’m not sure how much of a built-in audience there will be for a Dark Shadows movie today, but many who grew up in the ‘60’s certainly remember it fondly. As Suzidoll posted on MovieMorlocks, “I remember racing home from school each day to catach tht show at 4:00 pm, sandwiched between the traditional soap opera General Hospital and Dick Clark’s daily rock ‘n’ roll show, Where the Action Is…The appeal of Dark Shadows was the gothic atmosphere that reeked of Romanticism with a capital ‘R.’ Foggy exteriors, gloomy mansions, creepy portraits of revered ancestors – created a mood that lured viewers…”


As far as Kolchak, there’s definitely a lot of strong memories and enjoyment among us geek elite. For example, I have the entire show on DVD, as well as the TV movies that launched the series, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler.

Although I obviously don’t have the power to speak on behalf of the geeks of the world who would love to see the series return in the right spirit, I don’t think I’d be speaking out of turn to saying the geeks would definitely welcome a new Kolchak with open arms.