146 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
I had two big surprises when I started watching Dark Shadows. First: the trailer was very misleading. The trailers made this film look as if it was going to be a complete comedy. Much to my delight, the film was actually a lot darker than I thought it would be. While I have no problem with comedies, I felt that making this a completely comedic film would not do justice to the original Dark Shadows TV show, in which the comedic elements were not its main draw.
The second surprise for me was that this felt like an older Tim Burton film. Now when I say that, I mean it feels like a return to his more macabre films than his recent output. Burton has always been at his best in my mind when dealing with horror elements, such as Sleepy Hollow or even Ed Wood. He draws on classic horror films and plays with their tropes. He hasn't been doing this as much recently with the exception of Sweeney Todd. Other than that he's been doing more family friendly films (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland come to mind) which don't capture the feel of his older films. There's nothing wrong with trying something new, but this is a return to classic Burton.
The film works fairly well. The funny bits are funny and the scary bits are... well, I guess they could unnerve some people. Burton's usual color scheme is in effect, so expect a lot of dark colors with red highlights. The cinematography was a pleasant surprise, as the shots tend to be very much in the style of old Hammer Horror films (Horror film buffs should keep an eye out for shots that resemble some of your old favorites). The soundtrack is a nice mix of Danny Elfman's score and 70s rock. This is used to great effect throughout the movie (most notably Nights in White Satin).
The film is not Burton's best, nor is it Depp's (Both of which would be Ed Wood in my opinion). It is an entertaining film, nothing particularly special... but there's a sense of nostalgia to it... Both for fans of the show and old Burton fans.
Recommended for fans of Burton/Depp or those who liked old Hammer Horror films.
167 of 211 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2012
I really look forward to the Blu-Ray Release of Burton's Dark Shadows as it sounds like there are nine additional segments to the movie that can be watched individually or as part of an expanded feature film...if I understand correctly. For sure there is a fairly fast, fun paced DARK yet FUNNY movie.
To begin with...if you are a traditional vampire purist...you WILL be aggravated that Barnabas never encounters a Crucifix, never disappears on demand or turns into a bat nor is required to sleep in his coffin by day.
The Burton "take" on the Collins family (and employees) yields Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, her brother Roger Collins, her daughter Carolyn, his son David, Dr Julia Hoffman, Willie Loomis, Sarah Johnson and of course Barnabas Collins. "Victoria Winters" and Angelique Bouchard round out the main cast.
The flick is a nice tight jaunt of around 113 minutes and is very well paced. Most of the material seen on the movie trailers are quickly whisked by in the film's first ten to fifteen minutes. The story of the Barnabas' original time period from 1752 thru 1776 is recounted swiftly including his being cursed (for rejecting Angelique) and buried alive by the town's people (for being a monster). Barnabas' parents Joshua and Naomi are shown so briefly that all we remember is Joshua's declaration that "family is only the REAL wealth" while he builds a formidable fortune (using the wealth he built up in Liverpool) by building the seaport town of Collinsport and transforming it into a great fishery/sea port.
Light humor abounds throughout the flick...most of it pertaining to Barnabas trying to `ingest" and "adjust to" this great new age of 1972 after being released from his chained coffin after a construction crew literally bangs into his coffin. Barnabas is released. The construction crew do not live to tell about their discovery as Barnabas' nutrient deprived body demands a quick and furious feast.
After an encounter with "Mephistopheles", "Lucifer" and the towns people...Barnabas finally makes his way to Collinwood. He is shocked to discover the dilapidated condition that Collinwood is in and immediately seeks out the matriarch for some answers. He makes it clear to the matriarch that he's the original Barnabas Collins cursed for two centuries. She thinks he's an intruder looking for money and blood until he shows her the Family Wealth safely hidden in the lowest secret passages of the mansion. She, then, realizes that Barnabas is the genuine item and she introduces him to the family the next morning at breakfast but keeps his secret intact.
Angelique, meanwhile, has spent two centuries being a rival to the Collins family industry and has driven them to almost poverty levels. Angelique subsequently learns of Barnabas being released from his "life imprisonment" and throws all her witchery to wage war against Barnabas and the Collins family..
During the remaining hour and change of the film...we are treated to the fact that the Collins family members as well as the new governess, "Victoria Winters" each have secrets that are brought to light during the course of the film.
Dr Hoffman discovers that Barnabas is a vampire and promises to cure him as Barnabas is soon walking out in the light of day albeit that he appears somewhat like Michael Jackson with an umbrella.
In the midst of this drama...Barnabas wants to gain the favor of the townsfolk by throwing a "happening". According to Carolyn...the "happening" needs lots of booze and a superstar singer to "rock" the town as she suggests Alice Cooper. Barnabas promises enough booze to fill a schooner and declares "she", Alice Cooper, will be the guest of the Collins Family. The Collinsport "happening" is a success.
It's at this point that I would like to comment on the film's soundtrack. Burton very effectively uses Percy Faith's a theme from "A Summer Place"...The Moody Blues "Nights in White Satin"....The Carpenter's "Top Of The World" and Alice Cooper's "No More Mr Nice Guy" and "Ballad of Dwight Frye". Other nice selections are included. Loved the music.
As the film drives toward it's climax...Barnabas and the Collins family steadily move toward their final battle with Angelique which contains a surprise or two.
I found the ending (unlike most movie reviewers) quite satisfying after Burton throws everything but the kitchen sink into the final conflict. Unlike many reviewers I did not see a strong indication for a sequel. I don't expect one.
The cast performed superbly. Special Kudos to Johnny Depp and Eva Green as Barnabas and Angelique...but they were all superb in my opinion.
After all is said and done...I loved Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" for being uniquely it's own film not borrowing from the two Dan Curtis films of the 1970s. The visuals do overshadow the script....but we are having so much fun watching all the dysfunctional members of the family fighting for the Collins' true core value that "family is the only REAL wealth"...that we don't see any reason to criticize the script's shortcomings because it's so darn much fun.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I think most people can agree that Tim Burton movies have gone downhill in recent years, but I think I tend to enjoy them a bit more than everyone else. While "Alice in Wonderland" and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" fail in comparison to the likes of "Beetlejuice", "Edward Scissorhands", and "Sleepy Hollow", they're still pretty entertaining at face value. "Dark Shadows" has been rubbing everyone the wrong way ever since that first trailer was released and revealed that the original gothic soap opera from 1966 was now more of a comedic fantasy. Even after viewing the movie, giving a definite opinion of "Dark Shadows" is still rather difficult.
I didn't follow the original series, but I had my doubts about the movie right from the start. Johnny Depp looked really awkward as Barnabas Collins. If you just look at Barnabas, he appears to be an emo Nosferatu. The comedy felt like it didn't belong in a film like this. It was as if Dracula went to the school of slapstick comedy and decided to run around throwing cream pies and squirting everyone in the face with a seltzer water bottle instead of biting them on the neck and either feasting on their blood or turning them into a creature of the night.
"Dark Shadows" is somewhat surprising though. Witnessing the whole McDonalds sponsorship scene was a bit painful, but that scene that takes place where Barnabas awakens in 1972 is when the movie illustrates that it is capable of getting dark and violent. Hell, it may even show a little blood every once in awhile. The humor is very ridiculous throughout, but there are quite a few innuendos and a handful of sex jokes that you may not be expecting. There's an entire conversation revolving around balls, a scene where Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) goes down on Barnabas, a pair of panties being shoved and left in Barnabas' face for an extended period of time, and one of the most awkward sex scenes to be released on the big screen that is even more "regrettable" than Barnabas says it is.
Most of the humor that hits its mark the most involves the outdated speaking method that Barnabas uses. His fascination with "fertile birthing hips," the way he keeps referring to Alice Cooper as a hideous woman, and his fantastically longwinded insults are easily the highlight of the character. Chloe Grace Moretz is fairly entertaining, as well. That could just be because she reminds me of my cousin who wishes she was born in the seventies, but her screen time certainly didn't feel like it was wasted.
"Dark Shadows" is this really bizarre excuse of a movie. Some moments are pretty funny and others are fairly clever, but that's where the movie's charm ends. Everything is overly goofy, ridiculous, and too over the top to be completely coherent. Imagine trying to mix a fruit salad and a garden salad. That weird concoction is pretty much what "Dark Shadows" is to the film world. The fantastical comedy isn't really good or downright awful, but you can't really describe it as anything other than "meh." Despite some interesting performances from the entire cast, everything just feels kind of thrown together without much chemistry or purpose.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
When the opening credits played to Nights in White Satin, I was done in! To have a creative pair like Johnny Depp and Tim Burton collaborate again is like getting a big gift with a bow on it. We couldn't wait to open it and see what treats we had in store! This time it's a high-concept comedy.
Late in the 18th century, handsome young Barnabas Collins was the object of unwanted affection from a witch who, out of spite, turned him into a vampire, had him enclosed in a chained casket and buried for 196 years in the New England woods. After a construction crew unearths the casket and cuts the chains in 1972, he is free to vamp about and quench a powerful thirst! Along with seeing that his once-grand family estate has fallen into ruin, Barnabas is nonplussed by horseless carriages, McDonald arches and asphalt. There are endless opportunities to show that our hero is indeed, a stranger in a strange land.
These folks make it fun:
* Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") is courtly and confused. He has lost the love of his life, so he isn't above a little diversion with that seductive witch.
* Michelle Pfeiffer ("New Year's Eve") is the current lady of the house, trying to hold together the family traditions and a nearly bankrupt fish-packing company.
* Eva Green ("Perfect Sense") is that evil witch who was deter- mined to have him for all eternity, now she will settle for ruining the Collins family fortune and reputation.
* Helena Bonham Carter ("The King's Speech") is the tipsy doctor/ counselor/psychiatrist (I couldn't tell) who seems to live in the Collins mansion.
* Bella Heathcote (''In Time") is both Barnabas' true love from his youth and the family governess in 1972.
Some samples: Because they chose to set this production in 1972, the movies on the local marquee are Superfly and Deliverance. Karen Carpenter sings Top of the World while Barnabas tries to see how she got into that accursed box! He finds a lava lamp endlessly fascinating and is shocked to see that one secret chamber in the family "pile" is full of macramé. When Alice Cooper is hired to entertain, Barnabas takes one look and says "That's the ugliest woman I've ever seen!" As a red convertible approaches the Collins' mansion, the theme from A Summer Place sweeps through the theater.
This is a reminder that the Depp/Burton team is alive and well, despite some third-act problems which they camouflaged with lots of CGI and blowie uppie stuff. The screening audience was noisy, appreciative and highly entertained, so the sequel that seems to be hinted at, will also do well. My DVD from Amazon arrived right on time!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The film starts in the year 1760, where the Collins along with their young son Barnabas leave Liverpool and travel to the United States, where they open up a fishing port in Maine. Years go by and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) grows up to be somewhat of a playboy, fooling around a servant, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who is actually a powerful witch. Barnabas falls in love with Josette du Pres and rejects Angelique's affections, but the witch doesn't like rejection. She forces Josette to jump off a cliff, and one by one the Collins die. All but Barnabas as Angelique has cursed him into a vampire. When the town people find out about the vampire, they chain Barnabas inside a coffin and bury him.
It's now 1972 and a young woman named Maggie Evans is arriving at the Collinwood Manor. She is running away from her haunting past and uses the name Victoria Winters as she accepts the job as David Collin's governess.
A group of construction works stumble upon a coffin and releases the vampire Barnabas Collins, who returns to the Collinwood Manor where he meets the handyman Willie Loomis and makes him his servant. Barnabas introduces himself to the family as a distant cousin, but he does not fool the head of the household, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (played by Michelle Pfeiffer). With no other choice, he unveils himself as their ancestor and now a cursed vampire. He wants to be a member of the family and help restore the Collins canning business, which has went under because of a competitor, Angel Bay Fishery.
Barnabas is stunned when he sees Victoria Winters as she is the split image of his long lost love Josette. He is determined to romance the young governess. The Collins doctor, who lives with them, Dr. Hoffman easily figures out that Barnabas is a vampire, and insists that she can find a cure for the curse. Out his control, Barnabas is charming to all women and Dr. Hoffman falls in love with him.
After restoring Collinwood and the canning business, Barnabas learns that Angel Bay Fishery is owned by Angelique, who has been trying to end the Collins family line for years. She still loves Barnabas, but he still does not return her affections. Therefore, Angelique plans on destroying Barnabas and the rest of the Collins.
I went into this movie fully aware that this was a Tim Burton movie; therefore I was probably going to get a gothic comedy, in which I did. A die hard Dark Shadows fan will be disappointed that their favorite Gothic drama is now a comedy, but I watched the movie for what it was, a silly Gothic tale. The sets and the costumes look amazing. I thought Eve Green was miscast. Don't get me wrong, she is a great actress and she looks the part of Angelique, but I never felt that she was truly evil. Michelle Pfeiffer looks great for her age and she does a marvelous job playing Elizabeth. Jackie Earle Haley was the best actor in this remake, putting a new spin on Willie Loomis. Johnny Depp is goofy all the way through the movie, and looks less like the 60's Barnabas and more like an old-school vampire. Even though Barnabas is a murderer, Depp made the character funny and likeable. Now I did have some issues with Helena Bonham Carter portrayal of Dr. Hoffman, who is now a lonely drunk. I felt she was never in character and was just there to be there.
The screenplay writer Seth Grahame-Smith threw in all the Dark Shadows best with a vampire, a witch, a werewolf, and ghosts. I was disappointed that Quentin never made an appearance, but I guess that was why another Collins was a werewolf, which added nothing to the plot. I liked the small ghost storyline and the CGI special effects never bothered me. I am not for sure why Seth and Tim decided to mold Maggie Evans and Victoria Winters into one character, but it didn't bother me one bit.
Dark Shadows is somewhat underrated as I did enjoy the movie for what it was, a fun Gothic romp.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2012
They assembled an all-star cast for this film. They included "dark" favorites such as Alice Cooper and Christopher Lee. Character actors like Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Toss in Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green and a great soundtrack and you would think you would have a great film, right? They forgot to hire a writer.
The film opens with a long narration to give us the 196 year old background, then shifts to 1972. Some of the humor involves the typical 200 year old man stuff coming into a strange era. It also had the immature "balls" humor. The dialogue was bad. It managed to be campy without being funny. The advantage of bringing the series to the big screen would be the use of great special effects limited by a stage. This was underutilized.
This movie was classless. None of these women could hold a candle to Lara Parker. And if you are going to give 1972 as the year the movie takes place, why would you play music that wasn't released until 1978? I thought Chloë Grace Moretz did great in her role. Gulliver McGrath as David was also fairly decent. The writing, editing and directing killed this film. Wait for the rental.
No f-bombs or nudity. Weird sex scene.
67 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
Tim Burton's twisted reimaging of Dark Shadows is not for everyone - An open mind is a must for this film. It isn't an outright comedy, but it does have fun with the melodrama and stiff style of the original 1960s TV series. Johnny Depp is creepily perfect as the vampire Barnabas, and the rest of the cast is equally good - The stylish visuals are spectacular, the plot is convoluted and perhaps a bit unfocused, but there is obvious love for the source material in Burton's work. The nay-sayers may have cried foul over the film's outrageous approach, but Tim Burton's signature style is a perfect match for the Gothic weirdness of this classic saga. I would have given the film five stars, but a couple of needlessly tacky sexual jokes lowered the tone just a bit - Even so, four strong stars for this off-beat tale of an 18th Century vampire in the modern world.
P.S., If you like this adaptation, don't miss the original 1971 film version, "House of Dark Shadows"
House of Dark Shadows
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
I have to admit I am both a big fan of the original series and Tim Burton. I think "Alice in Wonderland" was one of the best movies I've seen in my whole lifetime. Loved "Sweeney Todd,"and I generally have a very high regard for Mr. Burton's work. But this movie, comparisons with the original series aside, is just plain awful. It lacks plot, and seems to be anchored down by its attempts to make references to the original series.
I guess the really frustrating thing here is if you were going to reach back to the original series for material there were at least 8000 storylines & subplots that you could have drawn from. Unfortunately Seth Graham Greene chose to disregard all of those and gave us a sophomoric script that's a combination between the TV series Dallas and the previous Burton movie Beetlejuice. Seriously, the goings-on between Angelique and Barnabas remind me of the antics and sibling rivalry between Bobby Ewing and JR Ewing. As hard as Johnny Depp tries to make the material work, he just can't.
Anybody older than 12 is going to be totally annoyed by Chloe Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard. There's just absolutely nothing likable about this character and nothing in her performance to make you care one lick about what happens to her or the rest of the family. Eva Green is totally miscast as Angelique, and Michelle Pfeiffer - who is one of the finest actresses in Hollywood - seems to be completely wasted on this material. That goes double for Helena Bonham Carter.
The movie does have a couple of nice moments. Watching the opening titles with Victoria Winters riding a train into Collinwood, set to the Moody Blues "Nights in White Satin"was sort of breathtaking. And surprisingly, Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis is the bright spot in this mess of a movie. He truly is funny and got some belly laughs... more than once.
I don't know who to be madder at. Seth Graham Greene, or Tim Burton. But I waited 50 years for someone to do a decent treatment of Dark Shadows, and I guess I'll have to wait a little while longer. No one seems to have figured out that one of the reasons the original series worked is there were always two story lines going at the same time. It never was all about Barnabas Collins. There was Elizabeth Stoddard and Jason Maguire. And then there was Barnabas and Maggie Evans. The interplay between the two story lines is what made the series so interesting. In the 1700s it was Barnabas and Angelique, and Vicky and Peter Bradford, and I can go on. Etc. etc.
They used the excuse that they needed to update the story for modern audience. I am insulted. Next time, How about a little bit of imagination and ingenuity?
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
Many of these reviews are written from the perspective of fans of the original soap (who either hate this film or enjoyed it), or people who have never seen the original soap (who either loved it or thought it was just sort of decent, but not great). I'd like to offer a third perspective. My first introduction to the world of Dan Curtis' "Dark Shadows", although began for me as a child, did not begin with the original 1967 daytime soap. It began at the age of ten, in 1990, with Mr. Curtis' Dark Shadows Revival Series that aired as a Prime Time drama, replacing the time-slot once occupied by Twin Peaks. Although that series only lasted one season (due mostly to interruptions from network news reporting on the beginning conflicts of the Gulf War), I remember the experience well. I had a TV in my room, and even though I was strictly forbidden from watching it by my parents because it aired past my "bedtime", I would sneak watching it with the volume turned down low enough that they wouldn't hear it. That version of Dark Shadows, featuring Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins, became my "childhood" Dark Shadows memories, much in the same way the 1967 soap was for the children who "ran home from school" to see it. Instead of running home, I snuck staying up past my bedtime. That version of DS has a strong tone of gothic horror to it, and because of the updated effects and the format of being a prime time show (as opposed to a low-budget daily soap, which was filmed mere hours before being aired), it also has a strong sense of seriousness and realness to it. Upon watching the revival series, I immediately fell in love with Dark Shadows, and even though I was disappointed with the cancellation of the series, it lead me to watching the original soap (rented on VHS from Blockbuster Video, remember those days?), and the two original DS films, "House of Dark Shadows", and 'Night of Dark Shadows", which I also fell in love with. Because of the Revival Series (which strongly mirrored the plot and tone of "House of DS"), I became a die-hard cult Dark Shadows fan over the years.
Enter Tim Burton. When I found out that he was doing a "Dark Shadows" movie I was highly optimistic and excited. Then I found out it was going to be a "dark comedy." Still I held out hope, and waited for the trailers. Then I saw said trailers, and my utter crushing disappointment hit me like a hard blow to the stomach. Still I gave the film a chance, hoping that I could look at from a different perspective. I couldn't, and I won't. You see, even though I noticed the melodramatic acting, low budget, prop failures, and slight camp when watching the original 1967 soap, I was able to tune out those things. I simply didn't see them. Because my intro to the world of DS began with the 1990 series, I saw the "camp" of the original series as a product of the show's format; a product of being a daytime show in the 60s, with an almost non-existant budget, and extremely short daily shooting schedule. For me it wasn't about it being a "soap", because I knew the story Dark Shadows was trying to tell. I knew that story was a gothic horror story, much in the same vein as Stoker's "Dracula", or Shelley's "Frankenstein", or the "Picture of Dorian Gray", or Hawthorn's "The House of the Seven Gables." I knew the story was intended to be taken seriously, despite the flaws of its format. To me, it seemed like Mr. Curtis always wanted Dark Shadows to be more like the 1990 series and his two films, House and Night. That was when I feel Mr. Curtis was in his element (look at his "Trilogy of Terror" films for instance). I feel that Curtis was always held back from presenting DS the way he meant it to be when it was restricted by that daily soap format, and that his short-lived 1990 series and two films was how he really wanted to tell the story.
That is why I find Burton's lighthearted attempt at poking fun at the original series in his film (even if he intended to do so in a respectful way), to be so insulting. I just can't see Dan Curtis (if he were alive) approving of this comedic version. I know this just from watching Mr. Curtis' films, which are pure straight-up classic horror in the tradition of the Hammer Horror films of old. I don't know why Burton just can't do a straight-up horror film (the closest we've gotten yet, and in my opinion, his last good film, was "Sleepy Hollow"). He could have made this a great film and a great addition to the Dark Shadows legacy. He missed the mark completely. Perhaps Mr. Burton should stick to what he is best at: art direction, and films like his "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Frankenweenie." Leave the serious gothic horror stories to the pros, Mr. Burton!
Bottom line: if you are a fan of the gothic horror element of the original series, a fan of the 1990 revival series, or the two original films (House & Night), you are probably going to hate this movie with a passion. If you are a fan of serious treatments of literary gothic horror, like Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula", or Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire", or stories like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, you will also probably dislike this film. If you however are a fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's typical (and at this point, painfully predictable) quirky lighthearted approach to the macabre, then you may like this film. In either case, I invite you to seek out and watch the true Dark Shadows, both the original and revival series, and the two original series films.
63 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2012
I saw this movie with my friend, and we had a blast. It was a hilarious good time. After seeing the movie, it made me start watching the original series. I love how this was mostly a comedy, and a tribute to the series, rather then a serious dramatic soap opera. Johnny Depp was great as Barnabas Collins, the vampire of Collinwood Manor. I love how it had a classic 'fish-out-of-water' story. It was like taking Bela Lugosi's Dracula and putting him in the 70's hippie age. This is definitely a Tim Burton film because everyone wears pale Marilyn Manson-type makeup, and it has Helena Bonham Carter, along with Danny Elfman music. Chloe Moretz gives a great performance as Carolyn Stoddard. She's the rebellious teenager we've seen in all of Burton's other films like Ryder in Beetlejuice.
In the 1700's, Barnabas makes the mistake of breaking the heart of a witch named Angelique. She curses him by turning him into a vampire and locks him in a coffin for 200 years. In 1972, the Collins family are trying to find a governess for young David who claims to see the ghost of his mom. Along comes Maggie, who changes her name to Victoria Winters. When Barnabas is found and awakened, he returns home to bring the manor to its former glory and re'vamp' the family business. When Angelique returns and threatens his family, Barnabas must take action and seek revenge on the witch who cursed him. If you want a smart Gothic fun hilarious vampire movie that pays tribute to the 70's era and the original series, I would definitely recommend DARK SHADOWS!!!