The movie “Dark Shadows” is based off of an old soap opera by the same name. Both the movie and the soap opera follow Barnabas Collins, a former aristocrat turned vampire, as he returns to his manor Collinwood in the 1970s.
The movie starts with a brief, yet dramatic, overview of Barnabas’s life up until his untimely death from the spurned witch, Angelique. Angelique, angered by Barnabas’s refusal to love her, locks him away for two hundred years after killing his family and the girl he loved. Then in 1972, construction workers dig up Barnabas’s grave and unknowingly release him.
The rest of the film follows Barnabas’s attempts restore Collinwood to its former glory, get to know the remaining four Collins, try to become human, woo the Collins’ nanny with an uncanny resemblance to his former lover and take down Angelique’s fishing company. Angelique has all but taken over the town, and now that Barnabas is back, tries even harder on remaining the “big fish.”
Director Tim Burton kept with some of his favorite cast and crew. Danny Elfman, whose work can be heard in “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and other Burton hits, is responsible for the music. Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp also pair up again (“The Corpse Bride,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”) for the film as Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas Collins. Eva Green joins the star-studded cast of Dark Shadows as Angelique.
Barnabas’s lack of understanding of how the world works in the 1970s can be humorous. Between thinking a McDonald’s sign is a demon from hell to quoting a Steve Miller Band song in a Shakespearian way, it is clear that this vampire is a little confused.
Barnabas is not the only character with humor; the entire family, including the hired staff, seems to be out of touch with reality. The live-in doctor is a drunk, the daughter is a drama queen in a questionable state of mind, the father is a thief and the son speaks to his dead mother.
While “Dark Shadows” has many comedic and light-hearted parts, it is not a movie intended for younger viewers, as determined by its PG-13 rating. The sex and blood are ample for those hardcore vampire fans. Within the first half hour, there are over ten deaths and while the deaths of Barnabas’s family are not very graphic, you can expect to see a woman jump off a cliff and several construction workers bloodied. The camera does not explicitly show the workers’ deaths but does show blood splatters galore. One death may have been meant to be comical, as the worker is drug by a crow bar in the old fashioned cane-to-the-neck bit where a bad performer is pulled off stage.
As previously mentioned, sex is a moderate part of the movie. A few sexual acts are inferred (younger viewers may or may not catch the reference), while there is a major scene where Angelique and Barnabas are rolling around on top of one another. Parents wanting to take their children to see the movie should take into consideration the sex and violence.
“Dark Shadows”was overall a good movie. The only real downsides were that not all of the storylines fully developed, the story seemed somewhat rushed and the acting could be a little too clichÃ©, though that could be a tribute to the over-the-top style of soap operas. If you are expecting a goofy, dark and typical Tim Burton film, you will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for a strong plot sequence, character growth and an ending that makes sense, “Dark Shadows” may not be for you.