Hey everyone, welcome to another movie review courtesy of Old School Lane. Today we're taking a look at Dark Shadows.
No, not that one.
Nope, not that one either.
Yup! That one!
Based on the 1966 gothic soap opera and the 1991 remake of the same name, it was about a young girl named Victoria Winters traveling to Collinsport, Maine to find out more about her mysterious and eerie past. She resides at the Collins manor called Collinwood on top of Widow's Peak. Throughout the episodes, Victoria travels back in time starting at 1795 where she saw the life of the Collins' ancestor Barnabas Collins and how he would eventually become a vampire in the hands of a witch named Angelique Bouchard.
Out of the two soap operas, the movie tends to follow more on the 1991 remake in which Barnabas is released from his coffin after being sealed in it for centuries and tries to get rid of his curse with the help of Dr. Hoffman. Victoria still travels back in time to witness Barnabas' life before he would end up as a vampire thanks to Anqelique.Both of these soap operas are considered to be camp classics with its intriguing storyline, memorable characters, eerie music, and atmospheric settings. The shows are still loved by many people to this very day.
So when I heard that Tim Burton was going to be the one to direct this movie, I thought he was going to pull it off. Being a fan of Dark Shadows himself, I thought that he was going to stay faithful to the original source material while putting in his own unique spin on it. However, when I saw the trailer, I was not impressed. But being a huge Tim Burton fan, I decided to check it out anyway. Is this movie flowing with a creepy atmosphere mixed with a campy humor or has it been cursed to be an atrocious monster for all eternity? Let's sink our teeth into Dark Shadows.
The movie begins in Liverpool in the year 1760 where Joshua Collins, his wife Naomi, and their son Barnabus sailing to North America to start a new life. They settle in Maine where they open a fishing business and it grows to be successful. Jump to 12 years later in 1772 and the Collins family becomes very rich. Barnabus breaks the heart of a maid named Angelique, who is actually a witch, and she plans her revenge. She kills Barnabus' parents, his current love Josette, and curses him as a vampire. She convinces the townspeople to chase him out of the town, chain him into a coffin, and bury him deep underground.
Skip to 200 years later in 1972 and we see Victoria Winters riding a train to Collinsport for a job position as a governess. We meet the current Collins family and also included are the therapist Dr. Hoffman and the house servants Willie Loomis and Mrs. Johnson. David, the youngest Collins in the family, is claiming that he's seeing his mother, despite the fact that she disappeared at sea years ago. Victoria tries to settle in and understand the state that the Collins family are currently going through.
Meanwhile, a construction site digs up Barnabus' burial spot and is finally released from his coffin. He looks around Collinsport, barely recognizing it, and finds Collinwood. Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the household, finds out that Barnabus is a vampire and tells him of the current state of the family. The Collins are nearing in poverty mostly due to the competing fishery Angel Bay. Barnabus promises that he will restore them to their former glory and wishes to connect with his new family. Elizabeth agrees, but only if Barnabus doesn't tell anyone about the fact that he is a vampire.
We find out that Angel Bay is runned by Angelique, the witch who cursed Barnabus into being a vampire. When she finds out about Barnabus being released from his coffin, she heads over to the Collinwood immediately to confront him. She tells him that she still loves him and that they should run their businesses together for eternity. Barnabus refuses since he still hasn't forgiven her for cursing him.
Throughout parts in the movie, Barnabus restores the Collins fishery back to a successful business, he falls in love with Victoria, thinking that it's his former love Josette reincarnated, and struggling with the current time he's in. Angelique, now seeing the Collins family as a threat, decides to confront Barnabus again. They go through an insane sex scene, which just popped right out of the open when slogging through the 45 minutes of nothing exciting happening. Barnabus refuses Angelique's offer again of being together forever. Angelique threatens Barnabus that he would pay for refusing her love for him. Barnabus simply walks away.
Dr. Hoffman finds out about Barnabus being a vampire thanks to hypnosis and is shocked that Elizabeth didn't tell anyone about it. Shocked, yet fascinated about this revelation, she decides to help Barnabus by giving him blood transfusions to try to make him human again. But it turned out that she was drawing out his blood so that she could be a vampire herself. Barnabus, angry about being decieved, kills her and threw her body away underwater.
Later on, they have a huge party at Collinwood where Alice Cooper makes a appearance singing to the townspeople of Collinsport. Admittedly, this is the best part of the movie.
Angelique decides to destroy the Collins' fishing port and confront Barnabus once again. Geez, can't she take a hint?
Angelique and Barnabus fight against each other, Collinwood has a huge fire, and Barnabus defeats Angelique thanks to the ghost of David's mother. But wait, Victoria is walking by Widow's Peak thanks to Angelique's hypnosis, but Barnabus rescues her in time. However, she still jumps out since she knows she can never have Barnabus. He jumps after her, turns her into a vampire, and narrates that his curse is finally over.
Overall, this movie misses the mark on so many levels. It becomes slow and boring throughout the majority of the movie, there are too many characters that don't get enough development, and it doesn't even know if it's trying to be comediac or dramatic. It falls flat on both of these levels. When Dark Shadows came out in 1966, it was a breath of fresh air of doing something dramatic and serious when it came to a horrow TV series like The Addams Family and The Munsters. Barnabus was loved by millions of people, despite his flawed persona of struggling with his vampirism and living a normal life. Nowadays, we're being oversaturated with vampires thanks to the popularity of Twilight, True Blood, and Vampire Diaries. To the many people who do not know about either of the Dark Shadows TV shows, they'll just see this as another vampire movie trying to cash in on the craze. To those who were fans of the TV shows, they'll be insulted that it strays so far from the original source material.
It's a shame too since Tim Burton was a huge fan of the Dark Shadows and Johnny Depp idolized Barnabus Collins. It didn't sound like it was going to fail, but unfortunately it did.
While it's not Tim Burton's worst movie, it's certainly his weakest. It's kinda sad when a brilliant man who directed some of my favorite movies of all time such as Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Sweeney Todd would be starting to lose his touch of mixing in a wonderful balance of style and substance. Well, Tim has two more movies being released this year. Let's see how they are when they are released.
Well, that's it for today. Tune in next time as I look at a little movie called The Avengers. Hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Take care.
P.S. Today is my birthday! Happy birthday to me!