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Dark Shadows Movie Review



Grade C+: I was interested in the Dark Shadows movie when I first heard about it since director Tim Burton (Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) doing a movie based on a horror soap opera* sounded like one heck of an interesting idea. But, for whatever reason I never went to see it in theaters and recently caught up with Dark Shadows on DVD. After watching the movie, I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing it on the big screen.

Dark Shadows follows cursed vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) as he awakens 200 years after he was buried “alive” by scorned witch Angelique (Eva Green). Barnabas must navigate a radically different 1970s America from the 18th century one he left while at the same time stopping Angelique, who’s spend the last two centuries amassing a fortune and local good will, from destroying the modern Collins family altogether.

In many ways Dark Shadows reminded me of the movie Austin Powers (1997) in that both dealt with a man out of time who’s forced to adapt outdated modes of thinking to achieve some goal. But, while I’d argue that Austin Powers was a movie that worked, Dark Shadows never quite gelled for me.

There were interesting characters and the visuals of Dark Shadows were striking. But while the movie was very nice to look at the story seemed to skip over a lot of details and I have to admit that I left Dark Shadows confused. I couldn’t decide if the parts were being skipped were because they were from the TV series, and I was lost because I’d never seen it, or if the filmmakers were simply trying to cram too much story into a movie that could have been a lot simpler and still retained a sense of fun.

* The soap opera version of Dark Shadows ran just five years but produced an incredible 1,225 episodes of television. To put that number into perspective, the animated TV series The Simpsons has aired the last 23 years but “only” produced 500+ episodes.

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