DARK SHADOWS (director: Tim Burton; screenwriters: Seth Grahame-Smith/based on a story by John August and Mr. Grahame-Smith and the television series created by Dan Curtis; cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel; editor: Chris Lebenzon; music: Danny Elfman; cast: Johnny Depp (Barnabas Collins), Michelle Pfeiffer (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard), Helena Bonham Carter (Dr. Julia Hoffman), Eva Green (Angelique Bouchard), Jackie Earle Haley (Willie Loomis), Jonny Lee Miller (Roger Collins), Bella Heathcote (Victoria Winters /Josette DuPres), Chloë Grace Moretz (Carolyn Stoddard), Gully McGrath (David Collins), Ray Shirley (Mrs. Johnson), Christopher Lee (Clarney), Alice Cooper (Alice Cooper); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Richard D. Zanuck/Graham King/Johnny Depp/Christi Dembrowski/David Kennedy; Warner Bros.; 2012)
“Another kooky and over-baked visually spectacular film filled with lavish costumes and spooky goth style from director Tim Burton.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Another kooky and over-baked visually spectacular film filled with lavish costumes and spooky goth style from director Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland”/”Edward Scissorhands”/”Planet of the Apes”), that fails to overwhelm because the plot is a mess, the humor is mostly juvenile and the pointless hokum story never amounts to more than viewing a pile of TV junk. This is the eight collaboration betweenJohnny Depp and Burton, who obviously like working together. The directorand writer Seth Grahame-Smith adapt it from the 1,225 episodes of ABC’s 1966-71 TV vampire daytime soap created by Dan Curtis and from the story written byGrahame-Smith and John August. Depp is in his usual good form when playing weird outsider characters, and in this case is playfully in his elements as he plays a love-sick pasty-faced and pointy long-fingered vampire resurrected in 1972 after being entombed for 200 years. His name is Barnabas Collins, and in the prologue we saw how his wealthy family came to the seacoast of Maine in 1760 from Liverpool, England. They built in over two decades the town of Collinsport, Maine, named after them, as they prospered in the seafood business. But when Barnabas spurned his sexy household servant Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green, French actress) for good girl Josette (Bella Heathcote), little was the lad to know that Angelique is a witch who will put a curse on you, your loved ones and your family if she’s rejected. Angelique eliminates Barnabas’ parents with a crushing blow to their heads and hypnotizes Josette to walk off a cliff. She transforms Barnabas into a vampire after he fails to die jumping off the cliff in a heroic try to rescue Josette. When the locals learn of the blood-sucker from Angie, they chain Barnabas up and entomb him six feet under.
In 1972, 11 construction workers accidentally dig up Barnabas’ coffin and he thanks them for freeing him by brutally killing them all and thirstily devouring their blood. Barnabas then returns to his old mansion, the Collinwood Manor, now in a crumbling state, as are the remaining Collins family occupants who are beset by macabre secrets and financial woes. The reluctant steely matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) has little choice to survive financial ruin than to make a deal to let the vampire back into the family’s bosom, as he’s to live there and promises as a gentleman not only that he won’t harm them but will restore the family riches. The loopy Elizabeth lords it over this dysfunctional household that includes her insolent 15-year-old daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz); Elizabeth’s wastrel brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller); the needy motherless 10-year-old son of Roger’s named David (Gully McGrath), whose mother was listed as missing at sea some three years ago but the mentally unstable lad is haunted by seeing the ghost of his mother; David’s free-loading vain NYC live-in shrink Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter, Burton’s real-life wife), who not only treats David but other family members. The servants include the drunken caretaker Willie (Jackie Earle Haley) and the helpless elderly housekeeper Mrs. Johnson (Ray Shirley). There’s also the newly arrived young psychically gifted governess, Victoria Winters (also played by Bella Heathcote), who resembles the unfortunate Josette of the past.
The refined proper speaking vampire is in culture shock over all the worldly changes, but when Barnabas finds out that it’s Angelique whose Angelsbay company now controls the fishing business and is destroying his families once prominent fishing empire he prepares to fight her magic with his and try to free himself of the eternal curse.
The film’s fun is all the camp and wackiness in revisiting the late 60s/early 70s pop culture, that includes The Moody Blues singing “Nights in White Satin,” songs by Curtis Mayfield, T. Rex, Iggy and the Stooges,” noting that Superfly” is playing in the local theater, a mention of the Carpenters, naive drop-out hippies sitting around smoking weed, the mentioning with mock reverence of Erich Segal’s “Love Story,” a vintage Chevrolet and, of course, a live appearance by Alice Cooper. If Vincent Price was around, I think he would be recruited to also be in the film.
REVIEWED ON 5/13/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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