Friday, 22 June 2012

Dark Shadows.

An American T.V. gothic soap opera created by Dan Curtis, that run from June 1966 to April 1971, became a childhood obsession for a certain John Christopher Depp the Second and it was this same gentleman that persuaded Tim Burton, a man who has made a very successful career out of dark eccentric movies, to direct the 2012 film version of Dark Shadows.

One rather dysfunctional family.

Seth Grahame-Smith’s screenplay starts in 1750 at the Port of Liverpool where Joshua and Naomi Collins along with their young son Barnabas set sail to start a new life in America. It’s here that they build a fishing business and a town called Collinsport. We move on twenty years and find that Barnabas Collins is a very rich and well to do young man who falls in love with the beautiful Josette DuPres. This upsets the powerful witch Angelique Bouchard who has fallen for the good-looking Barnabas. She casts an evil curse that forces Josette to jump off a cliff and turns Barnabas into a vampire and then buries him alive.

Angelique Bouchard.

We are still in Collinsport but two centuries later, its 1972 and workmen are extending the Angel Bay Fisheries when they displace a tomb from which emerges Barnabas Collins: Vampire!!!!!!! After a quick snack Collins returns to his ancestral home where he finds that his once grand estate has fallen into disrepair and is occupied by the dysfunctional remnants of his once proud family and a live-in psychiatrist. Our rejuvenated vampire decides to restore his families fortunes but discovers that the fisheries business, and the town is know run by a certain Ms Angelique Bouchard.

More families should have a live-in psychiatrist?

Tim Burtons tongue in cheek gothic comedy, which brings to mind Edward Scissorhands (1990) and HBO’s True Blood, stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas, Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard the family matriarch, Helena Bonham Carter as the previously mentioned live-in psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman, the ever more beautiful Eva Green plays the vengeful witch Angelique Bouchard and Chloe Grace Moretz plays Elizabeth’s rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn. Both Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper, who plays himself, have cameo roles.

Fooling in love with a vampire is not always easy.

As well as a score composed by four time Oscar nominee and regular Burton collaborator Danny Elfman the soundtrack also includes several great rock and pop anthems from the likes of The Moody Blues, The Carpenters, T.Rex and Black Sabbath, with Depp chipping in on the Steve Miller track The Joker. The whole ‘look’ of the film is brilliant with some great sets from Rick Heinrich (Sleepy Hollow) and costume designs from Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland). It was filmed entirely in England at the Pinewood Studios and on location. Depp’s performance as the wronged vampire is pure class and he is provided with some first rate dialog that is at the same time extremely funny and charming. In fact, although the critics reportedly said that this was not the greatest Burton/Depp collaboration, I found this wonderfully hammy nonsense to be a very agreeable evenings entertainment and can highly recommend it for a couple of hours pure escapism.

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