Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dark Shadows (2012) Review

Dark Shadows was a daily soap opera written in the tradition of a Gothic novel that ran from 1966 to 1971 starring Jonathan Frid as Barnabus Collins. There were over 1200 episodes and the motion picture, House of Dark Shadows, was released in 1970. There was an attempt to revive the series in prime time during the 90s but it only lasted for 12 episodes before the Gulf War pre-empted it.
The Superstar Duo, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, team up yet again in the newest version of Dark shadows, this time adding the look and style of Tim Burton to the Dark Shadows world. Johnny Depp stars as Barnabus Collins along side Michelle Pfieffer, Eva Green, and Helena Bonham Carter. Dark Shadows is wonderfully Gothic and stylish with lush sets and beautiful scenery.

The movie starts off with telling the back story of Barnabus Collins and how he came to be a vampire. He moved with his parents to the new world to establish a shipping business which made the family very wealthy. Barnabus had a brief affair with Angelique, the chamber maid, when he was young. He ended the affair when he found his true love, Josette Dupres.  They were very happy together and were planning to be married. Angelique was secretly a witch, however, and cast a spell on Josette, promptly sending her toppling over the cliff to her death. Barnabus was so heartbroken that he followed her over the Cliff but instead of dying, he turned into a vampire. Angelique had cursed him to live all eternity as a vampire as payback for breaking her heart. Angelique then convinced the village that he was a monster and they trapped him in a coffin wrapped in chains and buried him deep in the woods.  He lay there undiscovered for 196 years, until a construction crew accidentally uncovered him.  He is set free and returns to the Collins family home only to discover it is now 1972, and Barnabus has to catch up on the last 200 years.

Dark Shadows is the typical Tim Burton movie filled with Gothic sets, lush costumes, and fantastic character actors.  I really enjoyed the movie up until about halfway through, then it seems to lose its way. It's as if there are too many characters to introduce and not enough time to do it.  Basically it is all style and no substance with too much comedy.  That being said, there are some real highlights in the movie, also.  There is one scene with Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee, and Jackie Earle Haley all sitting at a table together.  The Horror Geek in me started having a nerdgasm.  I was thinking,  ok so....Dracula, Edward Scissorhands, and Freddy Krueger all walk into a bar together...   The other part of the film I really enjoyed, besides Johnny Depp's performance, was the music from the 70s.  There was music from The Moody Blues, Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop, Donovan, and even a performance by Alice Cooper.

So, if you want to see a fun, light-hearted version of Dark Shadows, you will enjoy the new movie.   But, I highly recommend checking out the the 1970 movie version, House of Dark Shadows, featuring Jonathan Frid as Barnabus Collins, if you haven't seen it.  Also, the 90s TV version is available on Netflix instant stream right now and features Scream Queen, Barbara Steele as Dr. Julia Hoffman.

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