Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dark Shadows - the Movie

Fans of the Dark Shadows TV show started worrying about the Tim Burton version as soon as the first trailer came out. Fortunately, the trailers are not very representative of the movie. Yes, it is Tim Burton's funniest movie since Pee Wee Herman but a lot of the TV show is there, also.

All of the major characters are there, even Maggie Evans who changes her name to Victoria Winter a few minutes into the movie.

The family members are all there - Elizabeth the family matron, Roger the officious ass, Caroline the rebellious teenager, and David who talks to ghosts. Also living at Colinwood are the servants, Willie Loomis and Mrs. Johnson and Dr. Hoffman, a psychiatrist who was suppose to spend a month treating David and never left.

There are some changes. The biggest is Dr. Hoffman who drinks heavily as well as using drugs.

Then there is Barnabas. In the movie he is deathly pale, speaks with a British accent, and constantly suffers culture shock. He is much more bombastic than in the TV show and most of the movie's humor comes from his transition into 1972.

In the 1970s House of Dark Shadows, Barnabas is released after nearly 200 years and introduces himself as a long-lost cousin. The family governess, Maggie Evans looks just like Barnabas's long-lost love, Josette and he courts her. Along the way he drains Caroline Collins of blood and she returns as a vampire. Dr. Hoffman guesses that Barnabas is the main vampire and offers to cure him. At first the treatment works but Dr. Hoffman falls for Barnabas herself and, in a fit of jealousy, gives him an overdose which causes him to age to over 200-years old. He reverts to being a vampire and plans to convert Maggie but is destroyed.

A lot of these elements are in the new movie but a new element is added - the witch Angelique who cursed Barnabas and spent the last 200 years tormenting his family. This takes over as the main plot and the rest is pushed to the background. This is good for the rest of the cast since most of them died in the original version.

The new treatment is fairly successful although it has a few flaws. The biggest is that the romance between Barnabas and Victoria is barely shown.

Then there is Depp. He is a great actor, assuming characters wildly distinct from each other, but he does not bring as much emotional depth to the role as Frid did. He just isn't as tortured.

One interesting thing about the movie - it is much more firmly part of the 1970s than the TV show was. The show could not afford the rights to popular music so it made do with a few pieces written for the show. The movie's soundtrack is largely made up of period music. That and real, outdoor sets make the movie much more of a period piece than House of Dark Shadows.

There are several Tim Burton touches in the movie starting with a scarecrow near the beginning.

Overall, fans of the show and of Tim Burton should be pleased with the movie.

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