Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins

DARK SHADOWS (2012). Director: Tim Burton.

"I don't think people take meetings at the bottom of the ocean."

If you were hoping that Tim Burton's big screen retake of the old horror soap opera Dark Shadows would be another entertaining horror-dark comedy romp like Sleepy Hollow, or just entertaining like Ed Wood, be advised that Dark Shadows, unlike those two films, is a real stinker. A prologue that takes place in 1760 is promising as it details what happens when witch Angelique (Eva Green) puts a curse of vampirism on Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) because he spurned her love. The action then switches to 1971 Collinsport where Barnabas is accidentally disinterred from his grave and rejoins the family, consisting of Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), her daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), Dr. Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), the handyman Willie (Jackie Earle Haley), among others, and new arrival Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is governess to little David (Gulliver McGrath) and the spitting image of Barnabas' old love, Josette. Who cares? Even fans of the old show will be disappointed in this very silly updating that consists mostly of empty [if well-done] pyrotechnics. There is the occasional funny line and clever moment -- Barnabas and Angelique have disco sex and a bit with laughing portraits-come-alive -- but all that really holds this together is Bruno Delbonnel's stunning cinematography, which deserves a better script to showcase. Depp also gives a very good performance, as do Pfeiffer, Carter and especially Eva Green [Casino Royale], but they all take a back seat to the formidable Christopher Lee in a cameo as a sea captain. [Some of the original cast members of the TV show supposedly appear in a party scene but they are impossible to spot.] This is a blatant misfire -- too bad.

Verdict: Is this Dark Shadows -- or The Munsters?" **.

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