September 20, 2014
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Dark Shadows
Don Fowler
3.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Funny spoof of old TV soap opera)

The TV soap opera "Dark Shadows" had a big following back in the ’60s. While we were not fans, we are big fans of Johnny Depp and loved what he did with the character of Barnaby Collins, the 18th century vampire who rises from the grave to restore his family's prominence in the town of Collinsport, Maine in 1972.

Barnaby is a stranger in a strange land, as he marvels at the "little people" inside the TV sets, asphalt roads, lava lamps and other modern inventions. Depp plays him to the hilt, with tongue in cheek and passion in his heart. We can't think of anyone else who could have pulled off this melodramatic spoof.

Barnaby returns to the family mansion, which is now in disrepair, as the family tries to keep its fishing business afloat. They are stymied at every turn by Angelique, the woman vampire he scorned back in 1760, who in return buried him "alive" and caused the death of his lover. The two battle throughout the two-hour movie, leading to a major showdown.

When major scenes appear, they are followed by waves crashing against the rocky coast. They are also accompanied by great music from the ’70s.

While the story is a bit silly, the acting is terrific. And while Depp steals the show, there are also good supporting characters played by Michelle Pfeiffer, the head of the Collins family, Chloe Grace Moretz as her daughter, Jonny Lee Miller as her brother, Gulliver McGrath as his son, Jackie Earle Haley as the butler and Helena Bonham Carter as the live-in drunken psychiatrist. Bella Heathcote plays the new governess, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Barnaby's old love.

You can put up with the campy story thanks to the incredible Johnny Depp. Rated PG-13, with some vampire violence and lots of blood.


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