Dark Shadows

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earl Haley, Chloe Grace Moretz. Thriller. Directed by Tim Burton.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The 1960s gothic soap opera is dug up, gets new blood, is reawakened and given new vision by those kindred freaky spirits Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. A wicked witch has cursed Barnabas Collins for unrequited love. Through witchcraft she kills his parents and his dearest love, with a spell she turns him into a child of the night, then seals him in a coffin for two hundred years and steals the family business. This is a clever chick, but not one you want to spurn. When a crew of developers digs up the coffin, now bloodthirsty Barnabas is released from his earthbound prison and immediately satisfies his thirst.

After slaughtering the construction crew, Barnabas heads back to Collinsí manor and gets acquainted with his familyís eccentric descendants. Itís 1972 and the cursed vampire has to adjust to a psychedelic society dominated by McDonaldís and miniskirts. He regains his standing as lord of the manor and stresses the importance of family to his brooding brood. Soon, the fortune is reestablished and, except for his penchant for neck-biting, all becomes well. UntilÖthat vengeful ex-girlfriend shows up.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Itís not quite The Addams Family, but there is some witty, dark humor. And itís not Nosferatu, but there is that element of dreaded vampirism. What it is, is a salute to its classic TV namesake. But although it is complete with a supernatural gloom, a setting dwelled by the untamed and the neíer-do-well, and where the displaced can dwell in seclusion, in this version of the gothic daytime soap, the camp quotient has been upped, as well as the carnage.

In this their eighth collaboration, quirky actor Johnny Depp and even quirkier director Tim Burton display yet again their fascination with the weird, the outcast, and the not-so-normal. Reportedly costing $125 million, it has a little something for the children-of-the-night in all of us: gruesome monster slaughtering by a vampire who canít help himself, soap-opera melodramatic intrigue, Morticia and Gomez-like lust, teens with attitude, and a tribute to songs of the Ď70s.

Iím not sure there is any great lesson to be learned, though the director and star present a humanist take on family values, but itís funny, scary, and pop kitschy.

I enjoyed the wry humor and it didnít seem to be promoting the dark arts, even though they are used to further the story. But please read the content section before deciding to attend.

DVD Alternative: If you would prefer scary comedy without todayís excessive sexuality or gory crimes, try Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. A funny spook spoof. Opening scene where Lou uncrates the Dracula coffin is hysterical. Caution: some scary moments may frighten little ones.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: One crude sexual comment from a child about his teen sisterís sexuality.

Obscene Language: Two obscenities, the s-word, and several minor expletives.

Profanity: Jesusí name is misused twice.

Violence: Though the violence stays within the PG-13 rating, several people do get murdered; some, (we detect via sound effects) have been butchered; there is a fearsome final battle between superhuman vampire and witch. Oh, a lot of blood.

Sex: Two sex scenes, one implying oral sex; though neither include nudity and they are both done with more than a pinch of humor.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking, mainly blood; Barnabas sits around a campfire with hippies as they smoke pot.

Other: Spells are conjured up in order to kill and destroy.

Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Up

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