Gothic “Dark Shadows” was the only soap opera I watched in the late ’60s. So, along with the funny commercials for the movie, we expected to see a partially humorous or spoofy movie. Not so. The “partially” was minute, and there was too much Burton gore to be spoofy.
In this adaptation, in 1752 Collinsport, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is loved by Angelique (Eva Green), his housekeeper/mistress, but Barnabas loves young and pure Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote). Angelique is also a witch, who kills Victoria, turns Barnabas into a vampire, and then has the villagers catch and bury him alive for all eternity. However, eternity ends in 1972, when Barnabas’ metal coffin, wrapped with chains and locked, is opened by construction workers, who are immediately killed and sucked dry.
After quenching his 220-year-old thirst, he strolls towards Collinsport, founded by his fishing family, and finds many changes, including the family’s abandoned business. His walk ends at his dilapidated estate of Collinswood, now home to Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), her son, her son’s drunk psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), her teenage daughter, her thieving brother, and a servant. Angelique has taken over Collinsport with her fishing monopoly and is well-admired by the townspeople.
Barnabas shows Elizabeth his hidden treasury, and they bring Collinswood back to its original splendor and the family cannery back into business, which infuriates the witch. Meanwhile, Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) comes to Collinswood to tutor Elizabeth’s disturbed son. Barnabas instantly recognizes her as his lost love, which further infuriates Angelique. It is never good to thwart or enrage a witch.
Although Depp is much younger than the soap opera Barnabas, he plays a more convincing vampire, except for his lame hand-trancing. The long, violent fight at the end between him and his enemy/maker should have been cut in half. Frankly, the best thing about the movie was the soundtrack. Carter’s talent has been wasted in her real-life partner’s movie.
Rating: 3 of 5 stars.