The vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) returns to his home town of Collinsport after being locked up in a coffin for two centuries. He discovers the witch Angelique (Eva Green) who cursed him is alive and well. The small fishing town his father founded is now under her control. Barnabas must find a way to restore his family name to its rightful glory. He also longs to be free of his curse and the hunger for blood it causes him to have. At the same time, a new visitor (Bella Heathcote) to Collinswood resembles his lost love from centuries before. Could she be the reincarnated woman he’s longed for so long?
Dark Shadows has the same perfect blend of sophisticated and unrefined humor we’ve come to expect from director Tim Burton. You could say it’s a blend of Beetlejuice comicality and the gothic seriousness of Sleepy Hollow. Most of the comedy comes thanks to Depp’s portrayal of the “out-of-time” Barnabas being exposed to 1972 culture and technology. That’s not to say the horror and supernatural elements are put on the back burner. They’re very much present and play a big part in the movie.
The high-definition transfer of Dark Shadows is stunning. All the darks colors stand out in contrast and Burton’s beautifully gloomy color schemes shine through nicely. Helena Bonham Carter’s red hair dances across the screen clashing with the grey scenery around her. It also brings out all the nooks and crannies of the old Collinswood mansion.
The 5.1 surround sound mix spreads out all the creepy sounds, creaks, crashing waves, and Danny Elfman’s masterful score throughout the speakers. It will heighten the viewing experience in a home theater.
Special features included in the Blu-ray edition consist of Maximum Movie Mode, Focus Points, and deleted scenes. Maximum Movie Mode gives us picture-in-picture commentary from Tim Burton, cast, and crew about different facets of the movie. 37-minutes of Focus Points are broke up into different featurettes entitled “Becoming Barnabas,” “Welcome to Collinsport,” “The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons,” “Reliving a Decade,” “Angelique: A Witch Scorned,” “Alice Cooper Rocks Collinsport,” “Dark Shadowy Secrets,” “A Melee of Monstrous Proportions” and “Dark Shadows: The Legend Bites Back.” Five deleted scenes round out the bonus material.
I think if people give Dark Shadows a chance on Blu-ray or DVD, they’ll discover an entertaining Tim Burton film that celebrates the television show many of us grew up watching. It’s one of the best examples of a movie where the directors and stars successfully poke fun at the unintended campiness of its source material while being reverent to it at the same time. If you’re a fan of Burton, his ensemble casts, and / or Johnny Depp, Dark Shadows is a must-see.