Maybe you thought it was too corny, too weird, and maybe even too scary. Maybe you were never aware it existed. Not matter if you were a fan or not, it’s undeniable; Dark Shadows was a pioneering strike of television genius. A supernatural daytime soap from the late 60s, Dark Shadows paved the way for many popular odd ball shows through the years. Finally making its way to the big screen, Dark Shadows is luckily not the full-on Addams Family comedy romp the adverts portray–but it’s still stuck in the mud.
As a young boy, Barnabas Collins and his parents leave England to start a new life in America. Settling in Maine, their fishing business becomes so large the entire town is named after them. They even build a huge mansion to commemorate their wealth and prosperity. When Barnabas spurns the heart of a young chambermaid, he gets more than he expects as retaliation. The young lady just happens to be a witch. After killing his parents and all loved ones, the young chambermaid still thinks Barnabas has not suffered enough.
With her magic, she turns him into a vampire and has him buried alive by the town’s people, never to be seen again. 200 years later however, Barnabas is accidentally unearthed. Finding a set of his now distant relatives living in the mansion, he intends to bring the Collins name back to its original glory, before the witch ruined it all.
This updated attempt of resurfaced nostalgia is plainly lost in itself. From the credit sequence, watching a train whiz along set to Nights in White Satin to the Alice Cooper cameo, Dark Shadows takes every opportunity to wave to the audience yelling, ‘Hey everyone, it’s the 1970s, please don’t forget.” Moving from one nostalgic echo of a 60s soap opera to another cheesy representation of the 70s, the film never clasps onto anything worthwhile. Sure, it tries really hard to be a movie about heart, love, endurance, and compassion. Really though, it’s a movie of quiet chuckles with a creepier toned ending.
With an over abundance of unnecessary character plots, it’s obvious the writers tried to shove five seasons worth of a normal show’s story lines into a single two hour movie. Characters are left unseen for whole acts and the combined story is a convoluted mess. The majority of time was spent concocting jokes about a “man” from the 1700s reacting to the strange world of the 1900s–My God, that has never been done before! Even if some of the jokes were well played and funny, the practice is not only so tired and worn out, but it takes away from the ability to make a properly cohesive story. Instead, they jam pack the rest of the film with mind numbing twists that bare no weight to anything.
All of the world’s popular film makers have a distinct style, you can’t deny it. Yet, most of them do try and branch out–try new things. I’ll be amazed the day Tim Burton makes a film that consists of even one character with a normal skin tone and its feet somewhat on the ground. Till then, he seems to be doomed to making films that tread the same water and leave me shrugging my shoulders as I leave the theater.
Rating: 2 out of 5 ‘Staches