...was supposed to lead to something, some grand new form of Hollywood Gothic, classic horror stories of vast ambition and bold artistry. What it led to instead was this:
Zoinks, indeed. Another of Coppola's big dreams down the toilet (technically, the petering out happened a bit more slowly, as Coppola would go on to produce Sleepy Hollow and a TV version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but Burton's film -- which I like -- is simply Burton doing what he does, and it's very much not any kind of reinvigoration of the classics, as the Stoker and Shelley films were meant to be). It's not as if the former was any kind of great shakes to begin with, but the latter really is massively alarming. And yet I keep returning to both, but particularly, at least in my head, the latter. I don't know what it is. It's true that when I was younger, I loved both films, but then I grew up, and even if plain old common sense and earned wisdom wasn't enough to turn me agape, in a bad way, at Branagh's massacre, reading Mary Shelley sure enough was. So really, I should simply recoil. But every five years or so, I go back to it.
I can only assume this is because of the potential it represents, or represented. Now it only represents folly, of a particularly shirtless variety, but at the time it was supposed to be the next step in a new wave of stylish, cerebral, big budget horror. Maybe it's just that I sometimes like to wallow in the ridiculous excess (I do, up to a point). But mainly I watch it with the thought that it would be very, very nice if the movie didn't suck so bad. The trouble is that I'm well past the point where I'm able to fantasize about the film growing on me, or revealing its genuine quality that the blinders of critical consensus had kept me from seeing. So the disc goes in the player with a weary sigh now. But even as a not-at-all-good version of what it was trying to be, I still like that it tried to be it.