Every movie Tim Burton makes is a haunted mansion: a Gothic pile full of hidden passageways, veiled secrets, and ghosts swinging from the chandeliers. Collinwood, the family mansion in Dark Shadows
, is therefore a Burton playground, and the proper centerpiece for this daffy adaptation of the cult '60s TV soap opera. For Burton's version, the angst-ridden vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp--were you really expecting someone else?) is exhumed after a 200-year burial at the hands of local witch and disappointed lover Angelique (Eva Green, Casino Royale
). The year is 1972, so--after the nicely antique prologue and the suitably creepy arrival of fresh-faced nanny Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) to Collinwood--the film shifts gears to allow for campy gags about Barnabas and his initial encounters with McDonald's signs and women's lib. Burton is incorrigible about that blend of Mad
magazine-style spoofery and his very real affection for the gauzy tropes of horror movies, and while Dark Shadows
rarely solves the disconnect between those tones, it certainly is silly and fun on its own terms. It's too bad the movie forgets about certain cast members for long stretches, because in their various ways Michelle Pfeiffer (as the Collins family patriarch), Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jonny Lee Miller seem very much in the spirit of things, and Helen Bonham Carter (as Collinwood's psychiatrist in residence) is ready to get off the leash. Depp, not surprisingly, is a stitch; he actually does come close to wedding the absurd one-liners with a trace of genuine romantic torment. Toss in a musical performance by Alice Cooper ("Ugliest woman I've ever seen," murmurs a confused Barnabas), and you've got a movie that doesn't particularly hold together but does provide a weird amount of diversion. --Robert Horton
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.