Well, first of all, I have never seen the original Dark Shadows which was a Gothic Horror TV series that ran from 1966 to 1971. I first learnt about Dark Shadows by accident when I saw the 1990’s TV series which I absolutely LOVED. I was hooked and then absolutely gutted when they didn’t do a second season. It didn’t fail due to lack of viewings but due to outside circumstances that effected it’s broadcast. I really wished they could have taken it all the way.
Dark Shadows 2012 set in the Year 1972 🙂
So when this Dark Shadows movie came out for some reason, I didn’t watch it. I don’t know why. I just loved the 1991 series and this looked too modern and colourful to be Gothic and Vampire. And it just didn’t lure me in. But it did catch my eye. How could it not?
Directed by Tim Burton
Dark Shadows 2012 was a Fantasy, Horror, Comedy directed by Tim Burton. It starred Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green amongst others.
Blood is Thicker than Water but can be much more deadly
I decided to watch it on Netflix a few evenings ago and I kinda liked parts of it. 🙂 It opens in a Dark Port in Liverpool, with little boy Barnabas embarking a ship to set sail to The New World, leaving little girl Angelique behind much to her despair, and her mother pulling at her telling her to remember her place.
“It is said that Blood is Thicker than Water.
It is what defines us.
For some Blood means a life of wealth and privilege.
For others a Life of Servitude.”
(Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows 2012)
Angelique the Jealous Witch
Then we move on to the two reunited but Barnabas announcing he does not love Servant Girl Angelique and so her inner witch comes out causing death and chaos and destroying his family. Barnabas then becomes obsessed with dark magic in the depths of his grief, his only light being found in his one true love, Josette, but darkness ensues.
Angelique is the feisty witch with her sights set on Barnabas so she doesn’t take too kindly to him being besotted with his true love Josette. Instead of letting True Love take it’s natural path, jealous, she concocts a spell that makes Josette fling herself off Widows Hill to the crashing waves and rocks below. A tragedy caused by Angelique’s wicked heart. 😦
Barnabas decides to follow Josette, plunging to his death but does not die as Angelique has cursed him to be an eternal vampire in eternal pain. So she can watch him squirm.
From a Gothic Past to a New World in the 1970’s
After the Ancestral scene is set, we then move from the Gothic world into the New World of 1970’s America. I hadn’t realised it was set in 1972! AWESOME. And there’s a very cool music soundtrack and a bit of a hippy vibe mixed with witch and vampire. I just love the train scene. And how cute is that camper? 🙂 Victoria Winters train trip is where she assumes her new name, then hitches a ride with a bunch of hippies to arrive at Collinwood Estate for a Governess job.
Vampire living in the Shadows of a Witch
Dark Shadows 2012 centres on the doomed love affair between Angelique and Barnabas Collins. A wealthy man cursed to be an eternal vampire, tortured and living in the shadows of a jealous witch. After two centuries buried alive he emerges to find himself feeling somewhat alienated in the modern world and still the object of her eternal wrath.
This movie centres around Barnabas and Angelique
In the 1990’s series there was very much a Passionate Love affair with Barnabas and the beautiful Victoria. In this 2012 film the emphasis is much more on the tumultuous and destructive relationship between Barnabas and Angelique. She will not let go and with every rejection becomes more vicious. Barnabas is so caught up in battling her advances we don’t get to see much of a relationship bloom with him and Victoria, who exactly resembles his long lost love Josette who haunts Collinwood.
We also see the unhealthy family dynamics in Collinwood, including a little boy who sees ghosts and a tempestuous, moody teenage girl straining to break free. Angelique appears in the modern day, blonde with a red sports car to torment Barnabas once again in a different fashion. Despite her physical attractiveness and material wealth she still seems hollow inside, angry towards him and it seems she has not filled the void that she felt Barnabas created.
I love old fashioned Gothic Romance stuff and I like Seventies stuff. This is modern and I like that it is set in the 1970’s. Johnny Depp’s character in this is very eccentric. He puts on a tense, stoic front which breaks into anger at times. His visual style is very exaggerated and elaborate with the stage style make up and flamboyant clothing. He plays an eccentric version of Barnabas Collins. Although some versions of Dark Shadows are drawn out, passionate and romantic which I like, this is more of a short burst of eye candy, comedy, colours and special effects, a fast food version. It’s light entertainment.
Movie featured the original Barnabas Collins and Christopher Lee
The film received mixed reviews and didn’t do the best in the Box Office in the USA but was vastly more successful in foreign markets. It featured the actor who played the infamous Vampire Barnabas Collins in the old original series, Jonathan Frid, in a cameo appearance, but he died shortly before its release. Christopher Lee also appeared, his 200th film and his 5th time appearing in a Tim Burton movie.
A Wacky Version of a Cult Classic
I loved the beginning but then it all got a little bit wacky near the end with some bizarre special effects! A bit surreal. Angelique, once powerful initially, turning her heartbreak to success, showed her dark side on the Vampires return, becoming desperate and vengeful. And ultimately she became too pitiful, basically just breaking into pieces in her quest to be loved. She could not love herself and would not allow Barnabas to find love nor be able to own her own heart. She refused to let go, destroying everything that stood in that way of what she wanted eventually destroying herself in the end. Vengeance is a double edged sword. We also see the emergence of a were-wolf and it all gets a little crazy in Collinwood. The ultimate end though goes back to it’s Gothic roots which I liked.
I do like Tim Burton’s stuff. However, I will always love the 90’s Dark Shadows Series the most and thought the actors were perfect, as was the ambience. But I like this one too in a totally different kind of a way. Like a fun colourful snack as opposed to opulent wining and dining. As this is a film you cannot get into the same depth with characters and plots that you can with a series. Still there’s a nice mix of goth and modern.
Quirky, Gothic, Colourful, Seventies, Horror Comedy Kitsch
The characters are good in this though there is not enough time to get to know them in much depth. You will recognise some famous faces here…
Barnabas Collins – Johnny Depp
Victoria Winters / Josette du Pres – Bella Heathcote
Angelique Bouchard – Eva Green
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard – Michelle Pfeiffer
Roger Collins – Jonny Lee Miller
Dr. Julia Hoffman – Helena Bonham Carter
Willie Loomis – Jackie Earle Haley
Carolyn Stoddard – Chloe Grace Moretz
David Collins – Gully McGrath
Willie Loomis – An interesting character
I did like Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, the Caretaker or Butler character. I think that he’s a great character in all the Dark Shadows. He’s a man with a troubled past who now finds himself as the Handy Man in the Manor. He sees and hears all the drama and just plods on in his dead end job going through the motions.
He’s in the background but at the same time he is in the centre, he feels it all, absorbs it all and takes to the bottle. He is surrounded by wealth and drama but not a part of it and actively trying to keep out of it, though it wears him down as he has to play the eternal role of the obedient servant which he does so reluctantly.
I think it’s clever to set it in the 1970’s, it made it quite kitsch. It’s horror in a techni-colour, cartoonesque, Scooby Doo kind of a way, with something fishy going on and doomed love as the plot. So if you like Vampire stuff but at the same time don’t take it too seriously you might like this. It’s a quirky, gothic, seventies horror comedy with a great soundtrack. 🙂
(This post is by Anne-Marie at SupernaturalHippie.com – Not to be reproduced without prior consent.)