Stars: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Tim Burton
Showing: Speciality Cinema week of Friday, May 18. For more information call 292-2135.
Tickets: Buy tickets online
Runtime: 114 minutes
The years, gray hairs and wrinkles fade away from Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer, and the cobwebs are brushed off Dark Shadows in Tim Burton's campy and dark take on the late 1960s vampire soap opera.
The cheesy and cheap but beloved TV program takes an affectionate ribbing in the film, which has more in common with That '70s Show than its actual source.
But it's a fun flashback to the days when a jilted witch (former Bond babe Eva Green, in fine fury) cursed the Byron-haired Barnabas Collins (Depp) to eternal damnation as a vampire.
The evil Angelique killed his parents, turned the seaport village of Collinsport against Barnabas and had him entombed. And when he is accidentally awakened in 1972, he discovers that was just the beginning of her revenge.
The descendants (Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath) are living in the cluttered ruins of Collinwood, their vast mansion. Angelique now dominates the fishing industry that made the Collins clan's fortune. Tragedy has visited the family on a regular basis. Little David (McGrath) lost his mother and requires a governess (Bella Heathcote) who is the spitting image of Josette, the long-lost love of Barnabas Collins.
Depp is wonderfully adept at playing this sort of fish-out-of-water. Depp and Green set off real sparks as ex-lovers, with Green vamping up her vintage man-eater role and Depp's Barnabas harrumphing that he will never fall for “a succubus of Satan”.
It's all done in the name of good, slightly off-color fun. Burton relishes the time-period pop so much that he plays entire songs on the soundtrack, lacing ‘Nights in White Satin’ under the opening credits, The Carpenters, Barry White (the big sex scene, of course), Black Sabbath and Elton John's ‘Crocodile Rock’ under other moments. He brings in Alice Cooper for an extended cameo-concert.
The effects are grand, the settings, shadowy and digitally enhanced for your enjoyment. One bit, having a character turn into an eggshell caricature of herself, is something we've never seen before.
But all is not Anne Hathaway-sized grins and tasty one-liners in Collinsport. Heathcote (In Time) is woefully out of her depth, faintly mysterious but unable to suggest the passion that Barnabas carried for 200 years in a coffin. Jackie Earle Haley, who takes on the Renfield role in this Dracula parody, is hilarious. But Jonny Lee Miller is wasted, given little to play and thus bringing nothing to the party.
At nearly two hours, this two-joke comedy is entirely too long. But Burton neither dishonors the show nor disappoints generations of fans of that series, people inspired to pass their vampire love on to their children and now grandchildren.
Next attraction: Battleship