I wonder what Tim Burton was thinking when he made “Dark Shadows.” I mean, unless you are over 50 and a soap opera fan, who would know what this slop is about.
As it were, I got background from a fan who, as a teenager, would hurry home from school and watch the villainous Barnabas Collins make grown women swoon while blowing his lines amidst hastily built sets.
While the soap opera was apparently really awful (in a campy sort of way), this “Dark Shadows” is just awful. It is the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), the master of a great house in Collinsport, a one-time great fishing community in Maine. In 1790 Barnabas spurns the love of a passionately divine housekeeper, Angelique (Eva Green).
As it turns out, the housekeeper is a witch – beware the fury of a spurned woman, particularly if she practices black magic. Angelique kills Barnabas’ true love and turns him into a vampire so that he can contemplate his unhappiness forever.
200 years later, in 1972, Barnabas is accidentally freed from his chained grave. The movie thus becomes a quirky 70’s set piece in which an 18th century vampire responds to the time warp while restoring the good fortunes of his family.
Meanwhile, Angelique is still around and running the town. There are too many questions, too few answers, and too many clichés to honor a decent narrative or plotline.
Burton resorts to “tricks” and vignettes – ghosts; hidden passages; surprise flashbacks; weird kids; and, of course, cleavage – to move the story along.
Some elements are fun, even funny, while dark and gothic.
But, Burton tries to tie too much together at the end to make this a film worthy of his or Depp’s talents.
Jim Wigge is a retired engineer, Cazenovia resident and film-aficionado, who reviews movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.