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Dark Shadows (2012) 

Directed by Tim Burton Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith

   Beginning with a brief history was a nice thing for all us youngin’s that otherwise never knew of such a show existing prior. Yet, producing over a thousand episodes and maintaining a loyal fan base were reasons alone to have fans ready with pitchforks if not entertained by the latest adaptation from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Concerning the story of a boy (Barnabas Collins; Depp) who had traveled with his father to the New World at a young age. Watching as the next 15 years were spent building the family manor and he eventually finding love with Josette (Bella Heathcote). Subsequently, finding merely a conquest with maid Angelique (Eva Green) who harbored sensations of love quickly turning into hate upon discovery of his hearts true desire. Cursing him with becoming a vampire and buried alive for the next 200 years. Awakening to the very different and modern world of 1972 (one year after the series ended), finding his way back home.

Meanwhile, Victoria Winters (also played by Bella) headed out to Collinsport in order to fulfill a governess position caring for young David (Gulliver McGrath), who was having trouble adjusting after the loss of his mother. With claims of still speaking to her ghost on a regular occasion. His Aunt Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) proceeding with a tour while introducing her daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Mortez) and the Doc who had long overstayed her visit, Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter). Other inhabitants including gatekeeper Willy Loomis (Jackie Earl Haley) and David’s father Roger (Jonny Lee Miller).

Barnabas soon makes his presence known as their distantly found relative, put to the test by Elizabeth and ultimately welcomed in. With a promise of maintaining his “secret” allergy to the sun if hiding the treasure the house actually withheld underneath. Though the family slowly catches onto the truth behind their guest (how could they not), word gets out to Angelique who couldn’t wait to stop by and visit with her long-lost love. Making an offer to give her body in exchange for a truce, only to be shot down once again. This time met with a rage that caused her to attack the Collins with full force. Even if that meant giving up her own life in order to do so.

The Good: Right off the bat, the dark Victorian themes gave a comforting throwback feel for Burton, that I thought blended well with the rich color schemes the atmosphere provided. Molding rightly so with the hippy vibe from the seventies permeating otherwise throughout the script. But I liked that bit as well. The “happening” they threw for the town was a nice break with a cameo from Alice Cooper! I’m still not worthy! Though a favorite among the few was certainly the campfire scene as they spoke about the “good” that came from the current war and what in fact, girls really cared about. Of course before regrettably informing them of there soon to be demise.

Depp’s interaction with the modern world was another continuous, yet enjoyable aspect to the film. He had a hilarious exchange between himself and Willy upon first arriving to the manor, soon after getting settled into the house he hoped to get back to what his parents had created. An overall message of freak being chic met with how each of us should be comfortable with ones oddities they may face in their lifetime. Not to shy away from their differences but rather, embrace them as your gift. For as Victoria put so eloquently, “Part of me believes there are things in this world we don’t understand. Things like magic, death, destiny. I guess as long as it makes him happy, what does it matter what anyone believes?.” Lucky for Barnabas that losing his second love to Widow’s Hill would prevail in his favor as his beloved Victoria had awakened as his beloved Josette; reincarnated as a vampire.

The Bad: Having never seen the series made it easier to view in that I could simple watch without comparing or feeling cheated in any way. Because if I’m honest, the show was as good as any horror novella made in the 60’s could be. It pains me to say, knowing several Horror enthusiast may harbor other feelings. But an unfortunate truth nonetheless. Although I will say that Lara Parker as the original Angelique was a great reason to continue tuning in. Her demeanor on the show mixed with those enchanting eyes were an undeniable attraction to the series.

While also not necessarily minding the angle chosen for Victoria’s character, I found the delving into that matter to be somewhat farce from where the overall tone was already set. Because she was able to see ghosts from a young age, her condemnatory parents had her locked away in a Hospital where she was placed in solitude and given shock treatments. Yup. Of course the connection was important to display; along with Victoria’s specter pointing out the position for Collinwood to begin with. But for her character to have that closeness with David, I understood the original intentions. Perhaps it was just due to being prone to a different sort of Burton in later years that they felt a bit thrown off.

The mating ritual Eva and Johnny performed was also a bit too hokey for myself. With the after effect causing a slight chuckle at the thought of explaining what just happened. Or why the slutty Doctor suddenly disappeared after affirming patient confidentiality. I also couldn’t stop thinking how much Bella Heathcote would make a great Alice for a more malice version into Wonderland. But certainly nothing that took away from viewing (simply a random comment). I did also gather how the family cared to otherwise explain Barnabas’ strange behavior and rather pale skin. Then again, if Angelique was a witch, what exactly was wrong with her tongue and how come she broke upon getting angry? Lastly, the exorcist vomit scene at the end was also a bit displaced as the Death Becomes Her moments endured in the fight between our two leading ladies could have been reworked. Except redeemed by the beautiful image of her falling to pieces and ripping out her heart as a last remedy for Barnabas. A gesture done so only after told of the inability to love being her curse.

The Verdict: Overall it didn’t disappoint. I went in with absolutely no expectations because I felt the project had so much left in the air. All I knew was that Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter were at their antics again and couldn’t forget their ol’ pal Johnny Depp behind. It paid its homage’s by having original cast members arriving at the party held and entertained while making me laugh outright on more than one occasion. And sadly, that’s more than we’ve been able to expect out of the trio for some time.

**This may also be due to the number of times I watched this movie but I began to see severe undertones to the film that also made it interesting to watch. Or was that just me?**