-loosely based on the late 1960s TV show of the same name.
Role call is in full swing for Burton regulars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Danny Elfman who all come together in this tale of Barnabas Collins (Depp), a wealthy port owner during the 1700s cursed into a vampire and buried alive by ex girlfriend and witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green, channelling Death Becomes Her). Angelique sends his true love Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) off a cliff when she realises he’s just not into her-possessive is an understatement. Two centuries pass and Barnabas is back, this time it’s the 1970s and he’s determined to restore his family’s name and good fortune.
What sets Dark Shadows apart from the rest of Burton’s catalogue of misfits is Depp’s Barnabas-he’s no meek and innocent hard done by lead. Sure his ex girlfriend has taken over the town in which he and his family built from the ground up-but he’s no pushover. Barnabas is strong, charming and a bit of a player. Trapped for two hundred years under the ground has done nothing to dampen his ego, or libido. That aside Shadows is a strange mix of classic Burton unease, edged so delightfully along by Elfman’s score. It’s almost surprising then when a Barry White track pops up during a sex scene, or Alice Cooper cameos for slightly too long during a town party.
Michelle Pfeiffer, reunited with her Batman director after 20 years is on fire as Elizabeth Collins, the head of the current Collins household and vamps up her role easily as she comes to terms with Barnabas’ situation. Helena Bonham Carter could play Dr Julia Hoffman with her eyes closed- a cooky psychiatrist who’s problem with the bottle is the least of her worries. The trouble is there’s too much plot going on that we never really get to sink our teeth fully into each character, who are with credit, a little off the mark. But that’s the joy of most soap operas, you want to tune into the next episode as the hooks are always there. The downside to Burton’s Dark Shadows is the soap is all there, but the opera is a little half baked.
An enjoyable romp through Burton at his most relaxed and fun, whether you’re into the original TV show or not, it’s worth a watch even if this Dark Shadows is too cinematic to be washed out.