Susan Granger’s review of “Dark Shadows” (Warner Bros.)
Slyly laced with weird, supernatural humor, Tim Burton brings back the cult classic series with deliciously demonic Johnny Depp as gothic vampire Barnabas Collins.
In 1750, young Barnabas sailed from Liverpool with his parents, who built a fishing empire in the coastal Maine town known as Collinsport. But Barnabas fell in love with beautiful Josette (Bella Heathcote), infuriating Angelique (Eva Green), a witch who killed Josette and cursed Barnabas for eternity.
Some 196 years later, when his crypt is accidentally excavated, Barnabas elegantly emerges into 1972, bewildered by cars and TV sets, not to mention lava lamps, which he calls “pulsating blood urns.” Despite the efforts of its caretaker (Jackie Earle Haley), Barnabas’s ancestral home, Collinwood Manor, is in ruins, as the financially-strapped family matriarch (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to cope with her angry, rebellious teenage daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz). Barnabas’s arrival coincides that that of a young governess, Victoria (Bella Heathcote), persecuted because of her mysterious psychic gift. Victoria’s charge is 10 year-old David (Gully McGrath), who talks to his dead mother and is neglected by his wastrel father (Jonny Lee Miller), despite efforts of the Collins’ resident psychiatrist, (Helena Bonham-Carter).
Worst of all, Collinsport has been transformed into Angelsbay, named for its most prominent businesswoman, known as Angie (Eva Green). Declaring, “Family is the only real wealth,” Barnabas vows revenge, determined to right the wrongs done over the past two centuries.
Imaginative Tim Burton directs from Seth Grahame-Smith and John August’s screenplay, based on Dan Curtis’s vividly melodramatic ABC-TV series, broadcast weekdays from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, amassing more episodes (1,225) than most other sci-fi series, including “Doctor Who” and “Star Trek.”
Kudos go to production designer Rick Heinrichs for the atmospheric interiors, Bruno Delbonnel for the eerie cinematography, and Danny Elfman for the pulsating score – with cameos by Christopher Lloyd and Alice Cooper, plus original cast members Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott and David Selby.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dark Shadows” is an enduringly escapist 8, a murderously funny fantasy.