Rashid Irani's review Dark Shadows

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp-starrer vampire flick Dark Shadows is a comedy fantasy, which oozes with mystery, allure, romance and action. Here's a look at who's in the ...

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp plays the vampire Barnabas Collins.

  • Barnabas Collins

    An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

  • Michelle Pfeiffer

    Michelle Pfeiffer plays the head of the family, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.

  • Dark Shadows

    Set in the 1970s, Dark Shadows has a retro feel that could appeal to different generations - vampire fans who like The Twilight Saga and ...

  • Chloë Grace Moretz

    The film also stars Chloë Grace Moretz.

  • Barnabas Collins

    The story follows a reluctant vampire, Barnabas Collins, who is released from a coffin after 200 years to reclaim his position with the family at ...

  • Tim Burton

    Far from the horror vampire themes of The Twilight Saga and even the 1966-'71 original TV series, Tim Burton's Dark Shadows is more of a ...

  • Helena Bonham Carter stars in the film as Dr. Julia Hoffman

    Helena Bonham Carter stars in the film as Dr. Julia Hoffman while Jonny Lee Miller plays Roger Collins.

Dark shadows
Direction: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green
Rating: ***


A big-screen reworking of the 1960s gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows marks the eighth collaboration between those mavens of the macabre, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

Reportedly a rabid fan of the television series created by the late Dan Curtis (to whom the film is dedicated), Depp portrays a rich playboy in 18th century Maine.

A breezy prologue reveals that the protagonist has been turned into a vampire and buried alive by his spurned lover, who happens to be a witch (Green). When he finally manages to escape from his tomb, it is 1972, allowing director Burton (Alice in Wonderland) to let his playfully dark imagination run riot.

A lot has changed over the course of the two centuries since our undead hero was first locked away. His once-grand ancestral mansion, now occupied by a dysfunctional band of descendants, has fallen into ruin.

Meanwhile, the befuddled bloodsucker, who even mistakes a McDonalds sign for the mark of Mephistopheles, vows to restore his family fishing business to its former glory, never mind the renewed presence of his witchy rival.

A satire on the societal conventions of the era, the somewhat laborious script melds melodrama, supernatural romance and culture-clash comedy. Subplots involving the modern-day matriarch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her extended family aren't satisfactorily resolved.

A whimsical fantasy desperate to make it to the blockbuster category, the film features creative production design as well as a wonderful ’70s-inflected music score by Burton regular Danny Elfman. Plus, there are cameos by the original Dracula, Christopher Lee, and rock star Alice Cooper, who's hilariously mistaken for a woman.

Johnny Depp animates his lovesick vampire with aplomb. The rest of the cast barely makes an impression, though. Despite the occasional longueurs, Dark Shadows is still worth a trip.

 

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