The Burton-Depp Goth Project or When Whimsy Went Wrong

“This town needs an enema!” – Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman

If you’re a film geek it’s sometimes tough to sit and watch the machine of moviemaking in Hollywood burp out one lousy film after another. It’s not that we want to complain, but it just begins to slowly disturb you and bring up bad feelings. If you’re on Twitter you may rant and rave, make snarky jokes about the troubles you see in these productions. Whether it’s Michael Bay and his upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, James Cameron‘s blue alien fantasy 3D wank-offs or Peter Jackson’s CGI hobbits and elve epics, being honest about these topics is just what we do. As much as it might seem sort of immature alot of times, I do think it actually comes from a place of genuinely caring about the state of cinema and it’s also a reality check when we see these guys going off the deep end into artistic bankruptcy.

Dark Shadows

One goblet of integrity please.

Recently I got caught up in the discussion about Tim Burton’s latest project: Dark Shadows a re-imagining/homage to the popular 60s/70s TV series about an ancient vampire who lives in a small town estate in New England. I haven’t seen the movie yet and I don’t think I will for awhile (out of respect for myself). Even though I don’t know what the film is like firsthand, I’ve read many reviews and just gauged the general reaction to it both from Burton fanatics and average moviegoers. Most of the time I don’t listen to critics when there’s something I really want to see, I just go to the movie. With other films, I’ll wait and watch what the fans think, Dark Shadows is one of these. I actually had my own reservations about the movie since first hearing about it. Knowing it would be yet another Burton-Depp gothic-horror collaboration, I was immediately skeptical.

For many years now I’ve had troubles with Tim Burton’s oddball ouvre. I think my real interest in his work changed after Ed Wood (1994) his second team up with his muse/pal Johnny Depp. I really love that film (you can read my review here). I think Burton’s earlier work was unique and very entertaining (even Pee Wee’s Big Adventure still rules), but something happened. With each new film he did, the goth aesthetic became overwhelming. It’s like one dark, stormy night Tim made a pact with the imaginary ghost of Uncle Fester (while blasting The Cure and drinking absinthe) and swore to only create movies for pale misunderstood goths from a certain point on. Now I don’t have anything against goths, they seem cool enough (great ‘tudes/hair/clothes), but this theme he and Depp have continuously overindulged in for the past 15 or so years has really begun to wear thin. I understand that he’s obsessed with the outsiders and weirdos (hey, we all are), but his partnership with Depp (which started out as something special) has slowly deteriorated into what seems to be an ongoing personal in-joke between the two, only its clearly not funny anymore, especially to movie audiences. Burton and Depp’s morbidly goofy adventure has clearly run its cinematic course now. We finally understand they are one entity when working together. Burton is channeling his whimsical, eccentric inner child through Depp’s acting genius. Hooray. With all sincerity and because I do think both guys are very talented, I really hope that they can find some way to continue making films, just not these kind.

Depp and Burton

Have you seen our childhood?

NOTE: I just remembered his next projects are Frankenweenie (ooch!), Beetlejuice 2 (ouch!) and a dark version of Pinnochio? (yikes!). Sorry.



Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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