Posted by: greercn | May 13, 2012

Dark Shadows

The bromance of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp finally finds the fizz and energy we all remember from “Scissorhands”. If you liked that and have a taste for cuckoo camp vampire comedy, this is a movie you will adore.

“Love At First Bite” put similar material on the screen. “Twilight” has made vampires fashionable. Depp plays a vampire cursed by a witch (Eva Green). He comes back to his family home in Maine in 1972, after 200 years of being in a coffin underground and discovers his descendants are in trouble.

Michelle Pfeiffer is a lot of fun as the matriarch. Chloe Grace Moretz is energetic as a troubled teen and Helena Bonham Carter is a psychiatrist who has gusto and style. She’s a hoot.

The trademark Burton weirdness works a whole lot better than it did in “Alice”. It’s nonsense, but it’s joyful and stays on the good side of silly.

The audience at Stratford Picturehouse enjoyed it a lot. Even the younger people, who have no idea about the original subject material, laughed a lot and stayed engaged with the film.

“Dark Shadows” was an American soap opera about Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire. He was played by Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, who has a cameo scene in this new movie, along with two other stars of the original, in a wonderful party scene that features Alice Cooper. I wish I hadn’t seen Alice Cooper in 1972, as I would have been less critical of his performance in this. Sadly, Frid died in April 2012 while Alice is still with us, so that’s good news.

The popular soap opera ran from 1967 until 1971. At its height of popularity, it had 20 million viewers, including me.

Setting this movie in 1972 creates a few anachronisms. Chloe’s character is listening to Iggy Pop and I am certain that nobody outside Detroit discovered Iggy until about 1974.

And don’t get me started about the oddities in the early Liverpool and Maine scenes. Argh. It just makes me wish I knew less history.

But, like “Super 8”, it’s great to see a movie with no mobile phones or video games or computers.

The music is terrific although I am sure I am the only person who was humming along to everything.

Johnny Depp does this strange performance that channels a slimmer Stephen Fry, in odd ways. The voice is so erudite and offbeat. Eva Green reminded me of an evil version of Jessica Rabbit, but I think she is now well set up to carry films, all by herself.

Jackie Earle Haley and Christopher Lee have wonderful moments.

If you like comedy and horror, you’ll be happy watching this. It’s entertaining. The dark-edged cinematography and homage to 1972 make it incredibly easy to watch. It all moves along quickly.

It’s not clever or fashionable. But it’s weird and cool and funny. I will buy the DVD and relive the fun I had watching the original and I will enjoy Tim Burton’s elegant reimagining of and homage  to that show.


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