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Hollywood Product: Dark Shadows

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp put their unique spin on the ghouish serial



GENRE: Dark comedy

THE PITCH: Hell hath no fury they say, like a woman scorned. Around 1772, a spurned witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) curses object of her affection Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) by sending his true love to an early death and condemning him to an immortal life as a vampire where he is eventually imprisoned and forgotten. 200 years later, Barnabas is set free and tries to reestablish himself amongst the dysfunctional Collins family that desperately need his help to ward off Bouchards efforts to destroy the remainder of the Collins clan. Loosely based off the original dark serial that first aired in 1966.

MONEY SHOT: After Barnabas makes strides to right his beloved home Collinsworth, his rival, the ageless Angelique invites him over to her offices to discuss his intentions. The "meeting"� turns into a five-minute supernatural sexual romp as they rip, tear, smash and crush everything in their path. Nothing is spared, even the ceiling is decimated as the embraced couple twist and turn, bounding from surface to surface. Paired with crooning of Barry White's "My Everything", it's a humorous, but spectacular acrobatic feat to behold.

BEST LINE: After discovering Barnabas' secret, doctor-in-resident Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) shares her envy over a physical examination. When discussing the idea of never growing older she says, "Look at me, I'm getting half as pretty and twice as drunk." Still steeped in his Victorian upbringing, he explains his physical desires for the nanny, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) to Dr. Hoffman explaining,"She has the most fertile birthing hips I've ever seen."�

MADGE LIBS: Yeah its 1972 - Gloria Steinam has just co-founded Ms. Magazine and the woman's movement was well underway, but this simply won't stand for the Collins - or does it? During Victoria's interview for a nanny position with head of the Collins house, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), she's asked about feminine equality. Victoria sits upright and says, "... Heaven's no. Men would become unmanageable." She got the job.

TESTI(CAL)MONY: With the Collins family well on the way to securing their name in Collinsport, Barnabas decides to throw an elaborate ball. Young Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) chimes in and says nobody throws balls nowadays, they throw "happenings" instead. The table conversation becomes a ball-fueled tet-a-tet of genital entendre that's rather comical.

FANG BANGS: Number of people killed by Barnabas Collins: 20. Number of people Barnabas had relations with: 3.

REMAKE REMARKS: The town is still named the same, the house is almost exact replica of the grainy black and white footage beginning of each episode but the interior is much more spacious akin to the 1991 remake of the franchise. You'll also see the old station wagon mentioned in several episodes of the original series. One surprise was the cameo of the town's long time watering hole, the Blue Whale.

BOTTOM LINE: Tim Burton pulls out his favorite toys - his cache of actors, designers, cinematographers and such and spins yet another fantastically dark, but entertaining tale with Dark Shadows. Veering quite far from the original plot and giving it a comical twist, Burton's original story maintains some of the more elemental components of the long-running serial that makes the film tame and innocent, albeit with a signature gloomy demure.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas feels at times as if he's playing any of the other obscure, quick-witted, austere characters he's played in years past, the only real difference is makeup. Yes, he completely commits to the character and transforms into the ghoulish paterfamilias, but I would like, just on a lark to see him branch out into something a little more mundane and normal. Okay, enough of my soapbox, back to the bottom line.

Dark Shadows is a quirky, moody family friendly macabre comedy that has some well placed puns to balance out the gravity of the plot, relieving the soap opera heft of what the original series was known for. Fans of the original serial (and even the abysmal remake featuring Ben Cross in 1991) will appreciate Burton's ardor for the series' principle characters and his unexpected interpretation of Dan Curtis' original story now set within the "what if" scenario of Barnabas awakening just one decade later.

Related Film

Dark Shadows

Official Site:

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Dan Curtis

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Thomas McDonell, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote and Gulliver McGrath

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