‘Dark Shadows’ Review: Talky, Chalky Depp Leads 70’s Style Clash

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Dark Shadows fans, worried that Tim Burton has turned your beloved TV show into something funny? Don’t worry. He hasn’t. Welcome to Collinsport, a sleepy Maine fishing town, home of the supernaturally troubled Collins family and their long lost vampiric relative from centuries ago, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp). In his younger days, Barnabas made the mistake of fooling around with a jealous witch (Eva Green), and it cost him his humanity and the life of his one true love. He’s back now, and ready to take on the 1970’s fishing industry with gusto! Such is the plot of Dark Shadows, a hopeless mish-mash of weak comedy and even weaker melodrama, chained by the leg to its source material and tossed into a sea of gothic set dressing and meaningless, non-stop talking.

Barnabas Collins is presented on the written page (by screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith) as an insatiable cad, desired by nearly every woman he meets, and unable to control his own lustful urges. It feels appropriate of his soap opera character roots, where passionate sexual trysts are a near-daily activity. What Grahame-Smith may not have counted on is that Burton doesn’t have any interest (or possibly doesn’t even understand) sex at all. Through Depp and Burton’s interpretation, Barnabas is another cartoon character brought to life, influenced simultaneously by German expressionism and the Groovy Ghoulies. Many key scenes, in which Green’s Angelique is able to manipulate Barnabas’s carnal nature into situations that he immediately regrets, end up not making a lick of sense when deflated into an embarrassed rush of special effects and rimshot-ready dialogue.

Last Week in Horror Movie News: February 28th to March 7th

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Theatrical News and Clips

Studio News and Attachments

  • SPLICE – Warner Brother’s Dark Castle division will be putting out Vincenzo Natali’s well-buzzed sci-fi/horror hybrid SPLICE this June with a few alterations in place from its last screening at Sundance.
  • THE DARKEST HOUR – Timur Bekmambetov is producing an alien invasion flick for RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR director Chris Gorak to be shot in Russia but released in the US by Summit.
  • ALIEN PREQUEL – Guess how many dimensions the Ridley Scott-directed prequel (which is likely the first part of a new trilogy) is going to be shot in.
  • ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER – Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov will be producing an adaptation of the just-published novel by Seth Grahamme-Smith.


  • PET SEMATARY – Matthew Greenberg, the writer behind 1408, has been hired to pen the remake/readaptation of Stephen King’s classic.

Indie, Foreign and Random News

  • THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER – Marcus Nispel is off the Dracula-at-sea project, replaced by COUNTERFEITERS director Stefan Ruzowitzky.
  • SOLOMON KANE – Producers of Michael J. Bassett’s solid bit of dark fantasy are hoping to use the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY “Demand it!” ideology.  Not sure it’s going to work, but the movie is worth the 40 seconds it’ll take you to fill it out for your city.
  • THE CHILD’S EYE – The Pang Brothers are doing a fourth entry in their popular EYE series.  Curious considering the first entry was, for a good while, my favorite Asian horror movie.
  • [REC] 2 – Since Sony has shown no plans of releasing it in the States any time soon, your best bet for (legally) seeing [REC] 2 is one of these import DVDs/Blu-rays.
  • THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO POND – Poster and city list for its theatrical run.

Non-Theatrical Trailers and Clips

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