A vampire movie that doesn’t suck

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Usually, when a movie is made based off of a television series the first thing moviegoers do is cringe, as many movies based on as the formula falls flat. Dark Shadows does not.
The Tim Burton flick is based off of the 60s era soap opera and  tells the story of Barnabas Collins, a 16th century nobleman turned 200-year old vampire.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ gothic comedy “Dark Shadows,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

William James
The Broadside

Usually, when a movie is made based off of a television series the first thing moviegoers do is cringe, as many movies based on as the formula falls flat. Dark Shadows does not.
The Tim Burton flick is based off of the 60s era soap opera and  tells the story of Barnabas Collins, a 16th century nobleman turned 200-year old vampire. Though Collins believes he has become a monster, he tirelessly works in the series and in the movie to protect his family and ensure the Collins name lasts for generations.
Burton’s mix of comedy and dark imagery throughout ties the movie together and puts his own signature stamp on it. The time is 1972, where the iconic Collins family and their fishing business that brought them so much wealth and prestige is being damaged by time and by the advances of one Angelique DuChard’s business; who happens to be Barnabas’ jilted lover. Intrigue, deception, conspiracy follow as Barnabas sets out to attempt to rebuild his family’s company and legacy, all the while attempting to open his dark heart to Victoria Winters, the good hearted but mysterious governess played by Bella Heathcote.
The choice of music by composer Danny Elfman – a mix of original score and selections from the 1970s, the era the movie’s based in not only set the tone for the entire adventure, but spoke to the spirit of the original series as well. The entire movie paid homage to the series in excellent fashion, even down to the smallest detail of Collinwood, the stately and ominous manor that the family lives in.
Tim Burton did a stellar job crafting a coherent and straight-forward arc out of a show that lasted almost five years and fitting it into two hours of film time. You will not feel lost during the movie, and you will definitely enjoy the cameo appearances including one by Alice Cooper, identified by Mr. Collins as “The ugliest woman he has ever seen.” I’m sure Mr. Cooper would take that as a compliment.
Whether you watched the series or not, you will enjoy Dark Shadows as a creepy, dramatic, funny and engrossing adventure that will leave you wanting to scream as much as fall over laughing. The visuals of Barnabas charging up Widow’s Hill to protect Victoria from Angelique’s schemes compared with the stiffness and rigidity of Mr. Collins as he attempts to court a “lady of this time” in Winters.  Don’t be fooled by its poor box office performance; it had the rotten luck of opening the same week as the highly anticipated Avengers movie.  I would highly recommend Dark Shadows.

(Contact: wjames@cocc.edu)

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