sat 24/10/2020

DVD: Dark Shadows | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Dark Shadows

DVD: Dark Shadows

Tim Burton's gorgeous gothic comedy has a cast to die for

Johnny Depp's dark homage to Barnabas Collins, American TV's favourite 1960s vampire

It’s not often you get a sumptuous spectacle like Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Then again, it's not often 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) returns to his brooding family mansion in Maine. Burton’s love of style over content transformed America's favourite horror soap of the 60s into a gem-like retro horror comedy that combines just the right hair with just the right wardrobe in just the right car.

It’s not often you get a sumptuous spectacle like Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Then again, it's not often 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) returns to his brooding family mansion in Maine. Burton’s love of style over content transformed America's favourite horror soap of the 60s into a gem-like retro horror comedy that combines just the right hair with just the right wardrobe in just the right car. Storywise, though, it's a glossy mess soundtracked with pop hits from the 1970s (sticklers will note The Carpenters' "Top of the World" is from the wrong year)

The cast is exceptional. Depp brings a pallid sweaty majesty to the long-taloned Barnabas opposite Michelle Pfeiffer’s dignified yet witty Elizabeth Collins Sotddard, lady of the house. Eva Green, Chloe Moretz also appear as does Helena Bonham-Carter overinterpreting Dr Julia Hoffman (nimbly played by the legend Grayson Hall in the TV original). Jonny Lee Miller, almost transparent as Roger Collins, contrasts nicely with Collins son David. Here, Gulliver McGrath (Hugo) brings much-needed emotional resonance.

While there is fun to be had amid the wonderful set pieces in Dark Shadows, half of it doesn’t work. The love scene in particular - a fully clothed Barnabas and Angelique destroy a room - seems to come from another film. The screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) based on a story by John August (Frankenweenie) and Grahame-Smith is skeletal, not exploiting the high octane cast. Fans of the old TV series will strain to find cameos by original cast members (look for the late Jonathan Frid, David Selby, et al coming to the party). Brief cameos too by Alice Cooper and Christopher Lee.

While there is fun to be had amid the wonderful set pieces, half the film doesn’t work

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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The "other film" the comic sex scene comes from is surely "The Tall Guy", with Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson, made sometime during the late '80's if I remember correctly.

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