Rev. Warlock DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

Dark Shadows

XLVIII A.S. Directed by Tim Burton. Soundtrack by Danny Elfman. Starring Johnny Depp {Barnabas Collins}, Michelle Pfeiffer {Elizabeth Collins Stoddard}, Helena Bonham Carter {Dr. Julia Hoffman}, Eva Green {Angelique Bouchard}, Jackie Earle Haley {Willie Loomis}, Jonny Lee Miller {Roger Collins}, Bella Heathcote {Victoria Winters / Josette DuPres}, Chloë Grace Moretz {Carolyn Stoddard}, Gulliver McGrath {David Collins}, Ray Shirley {Mrs. Johnson}, Christopher Lee {Clarney}, Alice Cooper, Ivan Kaye {Joshua Collins}, Susanna Cappellaro {Naomi Collins}, Josephine Butler {David's Mother}

Dark Shadows

Uncustomarily compelled to emerge from My Noctuary Lair to attend the external theatre experience, I recently viewed this presentation for the amusement of it, actually not expecting too much by way of factual or actual content, usually preferring one's own viewing room, or the drive-in for these purposes. Yet harboring a deep affinity for the series, and being appreciative of the productions of Tim Burton {especially in combination with Maestro Danny Elfman's orchestrations}, it seemed a natural inspection. He does have a knack for splendidly presenting the Gothic sensibility to a fine point, after all.

I first became pleasantly aware of this sinister series through rebroadcasts on a local channel, and has since become preferred entertainment fare, which is presented in a serious vain, whose Gothic psychodramas seem to reflect many predispositions and innate interests. The uses of mood lighting, suspenseful music, occult story lines, grants it a brooding atmosphere similar to Hammer films, yet imbued with Dan Curtis' unique psychological darkness. Dark Shadows features not only vampires & witches, but warlocks, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, sinister cults, insane preachers, time-travels, mad killers, demons, & many more creatures & situations of a paranormal nature.

As far as Dark Shadows films are concerned, I personally recommend House of Dark Shadows & Night of Dark Shadows.

So, when I first viewed the preview for the film, it was a bit underwhelming, as it focuses primarily on the 70's comedic elements, yet in the overall film, it actually became beside the point. Actually, I thought it a bit appropriate after all, that since the series was broadcast in the late 60's/early 70's season {actually premiering in Year 1 A.S.}, that the setting seemed to make sense for a plot such as this. Being leery of any 'remakes, since the early 90's adaptation was actually a pleasing tribute, but what may be condensed in a 113 minute film? Obviously, if you want the real thing, just continue viewing and submerging yourself therein. I have been collecting these on DVD as they became available, & most remarkably, the entire series has recently become available in a marvelous coffin collection.

In October of VII A.S., Barnabas Collins is unleashed from a century of subterranean incarceration by construction workmen {instead of groundskeeper Willy Loomis immediately, whom he meets shortly}, who of course, sates his blood lust forthwith. He meets a drunken Willy {his 'Renfield'} wandering the Collinswood grounds among the pumpkins, who after a quick interrogation about the current surroundings, quickly assumes his role.

Arriving at the Collinswood estate, he meets with elegant matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and the rest of the surviving family. She is obviously taken aback by his arrival {return}, thus revealing some interesting house secrets during the introduction. After all, a pleasantly dark chamber via a secret passageway is a necessity for any vampire! His descriptions of the architecture and history of the fine resident possessions therein are a remarkable relation, in marked appreciation for the construction of their materialization.

Present are Elizabeth {the lovely, stately, lady of the manor}, Dr. Hoffman {here, the professional intellectual physician is portrayed as an attractive, fiery-haired lush living a life of quiet desperation}, David {well-portrayed, rather like a Damien}, pretty little Carolyn Stoddard {the impetuous blonde here portrayed as a hippie-like stoner / rebellious 'party girl' type}, & Roger Collins {the stoic gentleman here portrayed as a rude, inconstant, boorish lothario}. While Barnabas himself is here portrayed in a more slender variation, more akin to a callow Nosferatu, intentionally depicted.

With the help of these new-found relatives, Barnabas goes about familiarizing himself with the culture, to some amusing interactions with automobiles, entertainment evolutions, & technological advancements. The juxtaposition between a gentleman of eloquence, fine tastes, irrefutable deportment, dashing style, and elite dispositions, to that of an increasingly vulgar, down-slidden society are tangibly evident.

Arriving as David's new nanny, Barnabas is smitten with Victoria Winters, seemingly Josette resurrected, who, in another fanciful twist among many, here arrives in Collinwood from that fateful train ride deriving from no less than an asylum. Most amusingly intriguing indeed.

He eventually becomes re-acquainted with a busty Angelique Bouchard, the source of his torments, for those unfamiliar, in what would amount to be an undead fatal attraction, the witch who commended him into the coffin-prison for refuting her advances in favor of his dear Josette DuPres {a sweetly diminutive fiancé}, who herself plunged from Widow's Hill at the bidding of black witchcraft. Harboring resentment of Barnabas & the successes of The Collins Family since childhood, Angelique uses her own immortality & wiles to raise her family name to prominence. Of course, that re-acquaintance yields a passionate fling finally culminating in a final battle.

Notable scenes include: one Alice Cooper performing at a ball circa Welcome To My Nightmare, with Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott in attendance. "David! Go watch the Cooper woman!"; & a haggard Christopher Lee as Clarney the fisherman hypnotized by Barnabas; Barnabas lays some hippies to waste while camping in the forest.

As pleasurably typical of Tim Burton productions, the sets are a majestic marvel to behold, the music enriching with an inspired soundtrack by Danny Elfman, familiar & compelling characterizations, complimenting the overall experience. In this case, this rendition is an amusing aside, created as a quirky notion of how a vampire would interact with an outside herd world, in continued predation, of course. As a combination Gothic / Comedy / Thriller, it certainly has its moments in the shadows, even while venturing into the lightmare, and may certainly be good for a nefarious cachinnation or two, while asserting an enhanced appreciation for the core origins. ∞

Tags: adventure, comedy, dark shadows, film, gothic, horror, movie, review, spechtreum, thriller

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