Director: Tim Burton
Screenplay: Seth Grahame-Smith
Story: John August and Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on the TV series created by Dan Curtis
Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel
Film Editing: Chris Lebenzon
Design: Rick Heinricks
Barnabas Collins Johnny Depp
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard Michelle Pfeiffer
Dr. Julia Hoffman Helena Bonham Carter
Angelique Bouchard Eva Green
Willie Loomis Jackie Earle Haley
Roger Collins Jonny Lee Miller
Victoria/Josette Bella Heathcote
Carolyn Stoddard Chloe Grace Mortez
David Collins Gulliver McGrath
Ok, ok. I was talked into seeing “Dark Shadows” by a friend. I had not planned on seeing this one. Yes, I loved the series. I was one of those kids who rushed home from school to catch each episode. It was the coolest thing on TV at the time, certainly the best thing on daytime TV. The awful preview discouraged me from wanting to see the movie. It appeared to be a complete spoof with lots of dumb not-funny humor.
“Dark Shadows” started life on ABC as a gothic soap opera and ran from 1966 to 1971. In spite of the relatively brief run, the show produced more episodes (1,225) than almost any other fantasy/horror/scifi program due to having a daily rather than a weekly schedule. It was enormously popular and spawned a family tree of: two theatrical films, comics, books, plays, a short lived TV remake in 1991, as well as a long run for the original series in syndication. The actor who originated the role of Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid, even became something of a sex symbol in the late sixties. He said he received tons of fan mail from female viewers who just loved those fangs. And now we have a new spin on the story with Tim Burton’s film.
|Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins|
In the late 1700’s Barnabas Collins was cursed by the woman whose love he did not return. Unfortunately for him, she was not just a woman scorned, but a witch scorned. She turned him into a vampire and then had him buried alive. Two centuries later he is accidentally released from his grave and returns to Collinwood, the home his father had built when Barnabas was a boy.
The town of
has changed a lot in two hundred years. The family mansion and the family business
have both fallen into ruins. Barnabas has
to adjust to this new world and make a place for himself with his
descendants. He also meets his old
nemesis, Angelique, who still desires him and still holds a grudge. There is too much plot to go into here. The movie follows the original story up to a
point, and re-introduces most of the original characters. Collinsport
It took me some time to realize that all of the actors in this movie were doing something very tricky and delicate. They were acting “badly” very well. They sometimes go very close to “over the top”, within throwing distance you might say, but never quite arrive there.
|Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins|
MichellePfeiffer plays Elizabeth, the matriarch of the Collins clan. She is another actor who I sometimes take for granted and forget how versatile she is.
|Johnny Depp with Michelle Pfeiffer|
Jackie Earle Haley has the relatively small but entertaining role of Willie, the caretaker. I like this actor very much and am happy to see him working.
The music score is by
And come to think of it, it makes perfect sense that a vampire might be fascinated by a red lava lamp.
Some of the cast from the original series have cameo appearances in the movie. If you watch closely during the party scene you will catch Jonathan Frid entering the room. He looks a bit frail and is supported on either side by ladies. In spite of that it was wonderful to see him again. But if you blink you will miss him. The other original series’ actors playing party guests are: David Selby, Lara Parker, and Kathryn Leigh Scott. I guess I blinked, because I did not spot them. Maybe you will have better luck.
“Dark Shadows” the movie has a bit of an identity crisis. As my friend said so well, “It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Just like the series didn’t know what it wanted to be – a soap opera or a horror story.” It is uneven, it drags in many places, much of the humor is juvenile. It retains some of the horror of the story, which I am very happy about. Barnabas is not without his faults: He is a vampire, he kills people. He is however the hero. The original character in the soap started out as a villain and later became a Good Guy, sort of like the make-over that Godzilla was given. Depps’ Barnabas is also a sympathetic Good Guy/Bad Guy.
In sum, it’s….not bad, not great. Tim Burton sets us up for a sequel at the end with a very obvious gag which you will see coming a mile away. I’m not sure I am anxious for a sequel. It will have to be very ingenious to get me into the theater, and the preview will have to be damn good, not a stinker as this one was. I may not give the sequel the same chance I gave this movie.
|Good dental hygiene is important, but let's talk about those nails.|