Directed by Tim Burton
Story by John August and Seth Grahame-Smith
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on the television series created by Dan Curtis
I remember the original “Dark Shadows” a bit differently than everyone else. I was only four years old when the show made its debut in 1966; so I don’t recall watching the show very much, if at all. What my memory does retain about the show and the corpuscle craving Barnabas Collins came from within the pages of my sister’s 16 and Tiger Beat magazines. Don’t laugh; if it had pictures to look at I had my nose stuck in it. Then, as I learned to read I would learn all about the people whose photos I gazed upon in wide-eyed wonder. I discovered that “Dark Shadows” was a popular and scary TV show and that Barnabas Collins was one ‘hunky’ vampire. That is what I remember about the show.
So, it doesn’t bother me that Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation takes a more comedic approach to the story of the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine. The film chronicles the turning of Barnabas Collins from grieving lover to eternal bloodsucker at the hands of the jealous witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green in a scenery chewing performance). Resurrected in 1972, Barnabas struggles to adapt to the times as he attempts to restore the Collins name to prominence and resumes his love-hate relationship with the aforementioned Ms. Bouchard.
Johnny Depp does an impressive job as Barnabas Collins; and despite there being an all-star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter, this is Depp’s movie all the way. I have no problem with that. Depp has been a constant in Tim Burton’s films for the past 20 plus years and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
What I do have a problem with is Burton’s balance within the film. Burton’s movies have always been both two parts bright and sunny and one part dark and gloomy, or they’ve been the exact opposite. Sometimes the balance has been just right (Batman, Edward Scissorhands), other times it’s been disastrous (Mars Attacks). Unfortunately, Dark Shadows falls into the latter category. Remember, I said that the comedic approach Burton takes with film doesn’t bother me and I meant that. What does bother me is that I wish he’d remembered to throw in a little more of the “Dark” to go along with the “Shadows.”
This is Tim Burton’s eighth film with Johnny Depp, his seventh film with Helena Bonham Carter, his fifth film with Christopher Lee, and his second film with Michelle Pfeiffer(Pfeffer had starred in Batman Returns twenty years previously).
Kathryn Leigh Scott reported at the Dark Shadows Festival in Brooklyn (August 19-21, 2011) that she, Lara Parker, David Selby and Jonathan Frid were treated “like royalty” when they arrived on set for their cameos during the first week of July 2011, and thatJohnny Depp walked up to Jonathan Frid and said, “None of this would be possible had it not been for you” referring to Frid’s original portrayal of the Barnabas Collins role and its impact on the success of the original series.
Christopher Lee stars with Jonny Lee Miller in this film; decades earlier, Lee had appeared with Miller’s grandfather Bernard Lee in the OO7 film The Man with the Golden Gun, which was based on a novel written by Lee’s cousin Ian Fleming.
This was Jonathan Frid’s last film.