Hooray! It’s another Tim Burton-Johnny Depp cinematic gem for the world to behold – I sure hope this one is as good as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Surely remaking a gothic soap opera from the 1960s into a comedic feature film couldn’t go wrong, could it? It turns out that Dark Shadows the soap opera was a childhood favorite of Depp’s and Tim Burton was more than happy to throw millions of dollars at the Screen Actors Guild to oblige him.
The story is built around Barnabas Collins (Depp), who is a regular run-of-the-mill eighteenth century manor lord until a witch played by the gorgeous Eva Green (Casino Royale) falls in love with him, kills his mum and dad, throws the love of his life from a cliff, turns him into a vampire, and then buries him alive in the forest for about 200 years. Yeah, the poor bloke was having a pretty bad day. And to make things worse he is accidently awoken in 1972 – could you imagine, the friggin’ 70s with bell-bottoms, leotards and Saturday Night Fever. This makes for the classic “fish out of water“ banter throughout the film. But don’t think that this film is all laughs; out of nowhere pulling you out of the depths of hum drum comedy hell Barnabas the vampire slaughters people at a campfire giving you the feeling of “gosh, that was odd.”
Thankfully for us all Dark Shadows isn’t like watching Captain Jack Sparrow meets Twilight. Depp is actually able to make this character entertaining at times, while the rest of the cast gives Johnny someone with whom to have a conversation with from time to time. Hats off to Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), who plays Willie Loomis the manor’s habitually drunk caretaker and to the always-impressive Michelle Pfeiffer for her role as the Collins family’s current but snide matriarch. Of course it wouldn’t be a Tim Burton movie without Helena Bonham Carter now would it? She plays the Collins’ live-in shrink (yes this family is so dysfunctional they said screw going down to the office doc, just go ahead and move in), who is completely befuddled by Barnabas’ existence.
The movie has some good points in its dialogue and execution, but there are some moments that are as excruciating as a slow motion kick to the junk that you can see coming but you just can’t get away from. It is better than Sleepy Hollow although not as good as Edward Scissorhands, but Depp and Burton meet you in the middle giving you a movie worth shelling out the eight bucks for. Go see it and find us on Twitter and tell
us what you thought about it.