by Lorie Lewis Ham
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
Are you ready to take a trip to the craziest town in the 1970s, Collinsport, Maine? A town filled with vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts? Then head out to the movie theater and check out Dark Shadows.
The Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp as a vampire (in reality do I even need to say anything more?) and directed by Tim Burton, is based on the gothic soap opera of the same name that was on TV from 1966 to 1971. The basic plot of the movie seems to follow the TV show fairly closely, with the vampire Barnabas Collins returning to Collinsport and the family estate Collinwood, after having been imprisoned for two centuries by a witch who cursed him to become a vampire and to lose everyone he loves. He returns and begins helping his dysfunctional family (the depths of which they are dysfunctional shows itself as the movie goes along) to restore the family name, business and estate to its original glory. Things of course don’t go so well for this cursed family and their new governess Victoria Winters who bears a striking resemblance to Barnabas’ lost love.
I found it interesting that the show ended in 1971 but the movie takes place in 1972 and would love to know why Burton chose to do that. Burton as always did an incredible job of creating the right “feel” for this movie. It feels very late 60s early 70s in every way including the acting style, and of course we have the soap opera over the top camp as well. And while there’s a nice amount of humor, mostly tied to Barnabas’ unfamiliarity with the time he finds himself in, it’s not really anything like the trailers would lead you to believe. It’s played very seriously and darker and scarier than the trailers portray—but more 70s style scary not 2012.
Having watched the show with my mom as a very young child, it was a lot of fun to see what Burton and Depp would do with this movie and I think they did a good job. My mom claims my life long fascination with vampires is all her doing because she watched Dark Shadows with me and she may be right—if so I owe much of my life’s entertainment enjoyment to Dark Shadows.
This is a fun movie whether you watched the show or not, and I’m sure those who have watched the show more recently could better attest to how close the movie is to the original. You can definitely see Burton’s gifted hand in this, as well as Depp’s wonderful acting, and well seeing him as a vampire is worth the cost of a ticket. And you get Danny Elfman’s music and Helena Bonham Carter as well of course, as they are part of the Burton team. Michelle Pfeiffer was also good as the current head of the Collins family. They have set the movie up for a possible sequel so if that happens, I look forward to the next chapter of the Collins family.
You can check out the movie trailer on the movie’s website but keep in mind it’s not a good representation of the movie itself—but you can get a sneak peak at Depp as a vampire.
Check out an article on the Dark Shadows soap opera in our current issue.
Dark Shadows is now playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website.