After mentioning his under-appreciated work in another post earlier in the week, I’ll conclude with the film’s opening titles. Just for the Hell of it. Tim Burton’s horror-comedy Dark Shadows (2012) shared a similar journeyed commencement for its credits sequence as that of his less denigrated Sleepy Hollow some thirteen (my favorite) years earlier.
Traipsing another New Yorker headed north into a path fraught with mystery and death by way of the filmmaker’s mix of gothic and quirk.
The movie’s titles only show up following the brief backstory of the family Collins, as traced from Liverpool to the haunted shores of Maine Stephen King made famous. The troubled Maggie Evans (Bella Heathcote), who fetches a striking resemblance to the love interest of the accursed son Barnabas Collins (Burton’s preferred, Johnny Depp) two centuries prior, prepares herself on the train.
Adopting the name Victoria Winters as her prime deception while crossing the eerie New England expanse.
The initial interior shot of the ethereal-faced character flows into Bruno Delbonnel’s superb overhead aerial cinematography before easing back into Victoria‘s scheming for the governess position up in Collinsport. Always heading ever northward, the entirety of the clip establishing her deceit. Even if the carefree (and soon to be short-lived) hippies who’ve picked up our beguiling hitch-hiker along the way don’t exactly believe her.
The credits dropped in sedately throughout the evocatively wistful Richard Morrison and Dean Wares-designed sequence.
The jaunt from New York to the steps of the now decrepit Collingwood manor, overlooking the seaport township bearing its name, forlornly intoned by a certain contemporary hit single as its musical accompaniment. Likely, the most famous song by England’s The Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin complemented the movie distillation of the original 60’s TV program lyrically.
Band member Justin Hayward’s autobiographic verse offered the corresponding emotionality befitting a soap opera.
Beauty I'd always missed With these eyes before, Just what the truth is I can't say anymore.
Since the film’s soundtrack was laced with needle-dropped numbers of the ’60s and ’70s, the singer’s outpouring of consciousness — one of the more distinct of the period describing the end of one love affair and the start of another — was pitch-perfect. What better a ballad to ring in its 1972 setting. The yearning of it all came through like the hormone-soaked nineteen-year-old who wrote the tune.
Not only did it heightened the overall mood of the opening titles sequence, Dark Shadows‘ theatrical preamble as a whole set a passionate tenor for what Burton had waiting.