It was not the inglorious death by hanging in the town square by a witch fearing populace, while unsuitably trapped in the past, mysterious zippers and all. But Victoria Winters does take the plunge in the new Dark Shadows in one of the most campiest Johnny Depp films to date. Death has a catch.
Partly based on both the 1960’s TV series and possibly the 1991 remake which is actually available for free on HULU (and I watched back in December 2011 – why I don’t know) Tim Burton pulled out all the stops with an awkwardly maudlin, gut busting cast which included Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote, Johnny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Halie, Gullie McGrath, Johnny Depp and the quintessential original king of campy vampire melodrama himself, Christopher Lee.
Sure I laughed. Who won’t? Where Carpenters songs reign in the pot smoking seventies, and where free love and peace roam the countryside all the way to Collinsport, Barnabas Collins is resurrected to find himself greeted by super-fly Chevys, tiny songstresses on the boob tube and a revelatory face to face with the very beacon of Satan, the Mickey D’s golden arches, (how fitting), among so many other novelties, two centuries after the curse upon his family is bestowed.
All I can say is that nothing has changed since 1772, 1970, or since the daytime drama when Jonathan Frid monstered around town or in the 90’s when Ben Cross decided to suck his way back into the family fortune. Neither changed is the villain.
Tuesday night’s preview screening at The Grove Theatre in Los Angeles, CA didn’t have much more to offer if you are looking for new or groundbreaking from Tim Burton. But there are two seriously great cameos. The recognizable gags and the brilliantly, badly-dressed wigs (most likely on purpose) manage to save the day even if the picture can’t do it on its own. But, “Johnny Be Good.”
Opening this Friday. Check your local listings.
Reviewed by Tracey Paleo