Friday, May 11, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Dark Shadows

Directed by Tim Burton

Writing credits

Seth Grahame-Smith (screenplay)

John August (story)
Seth Grahame-Smith (story)
Dan Curtis (television series)


Cast (in credits order)

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
Chloƫ Grace Moretz ... Carolyn Stoddard
Gulliver McGrath ... David CollinsRay Shirley ... Mrs. Johnson
Christopher Lee ... Clarney
Alice Cooper ... Alice Cooper
Ivan Kaye ... Joshua Collins
Susanna Cappellaro ... Naomi Collins
Josephine Butler ... David's Mother
William Hope ... Sheriff
Shane Rimmer ... Board Member 1
Michael Shannon ... Board Member 2
Harry Taylor ... Henchman
Glenn Mexted ... Captain Rubberpants
Guy Flanagan ... Bearded Hippie
Nigel Whitmey ... Hard Hat 1
Philip Bulcock ... Hard Hat 2
Sophie Kennedy Clark ... Hippie Chick 1
Hannah Murray ... Hippie Chick 2
Victoria Bewick ... Hippie Chick 3
Sean Mahon ... Collinsport Cop
Alexia Osborne ... Young Victoria
Richard Hollis ... Vicky's Father
Felicity Brangan ... Vicky's Mother
Michael Anthony Brown ... Windcliff Doctor
Charlotte Spencer ... Coat Check Girl
Gabriel Freilich ... Hippie 3
Justin Tracy ... Young Barnabas - aged 6
Thomas Grube ... Construction Worker 1
Jeff Mash ... Construction Worker 2
Raffey Cassidy ... Young Angelique
Jonathan Frid ... Guest

When the original Dark Shadows first made its appearance on daytime television, I was eight years old. I made a very quick crush transition from Peter Tork of The Monkees to Barnabas Collins.

My Mother did not approve. The only way I could convince her to allow me to watch the show was to do an hour of piano practice and some housecleaning. And I did it. I'm still a fan and yes, I was ready to see the Tim Burton film on the first night.

So, what's the plot? Basically, back in the 1700's, young wealthy Barnabas Collins had a dalliance with the housemaid, Angelique. Unfortunately for him, when he threw her over for a more "appropriate" girl, Angelique turned out to be a witch--I'm talking a real witch.

Angelique lures Barnabas's love Josette off a cliff to her death in the sea. Barnabas races to save her and falls as well, but Angelique saves him and turns him into a vampire.

She also imprisons him in his coffin for two hundred years. Barnabas is freed in 1972. It's love, peace, hippies--and his family is broke and desperately in need of his help. Angelique is also now in control of the town the Collins family used to own.

Anyone who's watched the old show will tell you--this is definitely nothing like the original Dark Shadows. I already know some hardcore fans strongly do not approve.

Strangely enough, I do. Even stranger, my dear husband who cannot stand gore and suspense and only went with me as a courtesy loved the show. He described it as a "hoot." Who'd have thunk it?

What I like about Tim Burton's reboot is that he took the time Barnabas reawakened into mind. We saw hippies, drug abuse, and yes, Alice Cooper--who was my favorite rock singer for several years. Yet, Burton also kept some gothic gore and the "feel" of the original show.

Burton's Dark Shadows has definitely lost some of the grace and flair of the original show, but I'm going to be honest and say I'm not sure anyone could play Barnabas in the same elegant manner as Jonathan Frid. Same with Julia Hoffman's character. The sets have definitely improved and the soundtrack is great if you love 70's rock music.

If you're a purist, watch the trailer carefully and if you find poking fun at the original offensive, don't waste your money. On the other hand, if you're flexible and don't mind a reboot with a different twist, give the new version a go. Both of us liked this film well enough to pay full price and to add the DVD to our collection. That's saying a lot considering Tony's aversion to horror films as a rule.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, May 2012

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