'Dark Shadows' screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith on trailer reaction: 'We wanted to have fun with it'

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Image Credit: Peter Mountain

The next three months are going to be a whirlwind for writer Seth Grahame-Smith. On April 10, the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author’s next foray into genre-tweaked revisionist fiction, Unholy Night — about the Three Kings of the Nativity — arrives in bookstores. On May 11, his big screen version of the beloved horror soap opera Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton, hits theaters. And on June 22, Grahame-Smith’s adaptation of his hit novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov, will open.

“It’s going to be a very interesting, crazy spring and summer,” he tells EW with a laugh, minutes before stepping onto the stage at WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif. for the big panel on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Grahame-Smith is especially aware of what’s in store for him at the multiplex, with two dark, gothic debuting within six weeks of each other. “The good news is that they’re extremely different,” he says. “One is much more of an entertainment, much more overtly funny. And one is a kick-ass period action movie.”

The bad news? Reaction to the Dark Shadows trailer has been, in Grahame-Smith’s words, “mixed,” with many fans of the TV show crying foul over the trailer’s jokey, winky tone. It’s a reaction that Grahame-Smith says he understands, although it took him a bit by surprise. Check out our interview about it below:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you surprised by the reaction to the Dark Shadows trailer?
SETH GRAHAME-SMITH: I think so. Because it’s late in the game and people have been wondering what the movie is for a while, the name Dark Shadows and some of the leaked photos evoke a very straightforward, dour, gothic feeling. Which the movie does have in places. However, it’s also a very entertaining, very funny movie. We wanted to have fun with it. We wanted it to be something that paid homage to the actual series, which was campy in its own right and very sincere. But we also wanted to make something that people would have fun seeing. We didn’t want to have people sit through the organ music of a two hour chamber piece. You need to entertain and you need to have fun with the premise. And I think when people see the movie, they’ll realize we struck a good balance between respectful and updated.

That seems to be the divide: People who aren’t familiar with the show think, “Oh, this looks like fun,” whereas deep dish fans are feeling like it’s straying a little far.
I understand that, too. The reality of it is I want to please the fans, obviously. We all do. But if we made a movie that was strictly just for the hard core fans, I worry that it would exclude other people who might not want to then experience Dark Shadows from a complete fresh standpoint. So what we tried to have those elements in the movie that would really pay respect to the original series, to the origin stories, to the characters, their motives, to the idea of this as a real family story, and a gothic story, and something that would make Dan Curtis proud. And yet we wanted to open it up, because we wanted people to not be frightened of it. We want people to come and enjoy it as something completely new.

Read more:
‘Dark Shadows’ trailer: Johnny Depp/Tim Burton vampire soap opera plays for laughs
WonderCon: ‘Prometheus’ debuts new trailer, ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ new footage — VIDEO
Johnny Depp on ‘Dark Shadows’: Can a vampire get corn stuck in his fangs?

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