Dark Shadows (2012) review: vampires, mirror balls, and canneries, oh my!

Not Johnny’s best look, unfortunately.

Firstly: Johnny Depp? As a vampire? 70s campy fun? Color us there! (May contain spoilers, so read if you’re inclined to, or after you’ve watched the movie.)

A friend and I had the opportunity to attend the Dark Shadows private screening Tuesday night at Deer Park, LI courtesy of gofobo.com. Although printing out the passes probably crippled our printers (at least one of ours at least, we didn’t use lasers), it was still worth having an adventure venturing out to the outlets and navigating through streets within the mall just to get into the theater.

Getting inside was easy. Seeing a huge line? A little bit depressing. We had encountered traffic getting there (since we were going with it during rush hour) and afraid that we had gotten there with no time to spare. There was a huge mob and to be honest, I was a little bit put off that that sort of line was for Dark Shadows. I’m pretty sure it’s good with Johnny and all, but to have a line that’s almost moblike? Eh.

So I asked a nice young lady what the line was for, and she replied back, “Avengers.” Ah. Okay. Whew. So it wasn’t for Dark Shadows. So why did I feel a bit jealous just then? Okay not really, there was no line for our movie, and we got into the screening pretty quick. So suck on that people watching Avengers! I’ll enjoy it later in the morning, in an empty theater where I can shout out my love for Coulson (or even Captain America, before he got all ‘roided up) without having many judging eyes upon me. Even for 7PM (when it was supposed to start), the theater wasn’t completely full and we managed to find two seats together that was still in the middle. Not bad!

The movie itself wasn’t anything spectacular to be honest. The premise was that a rich man named Barnabas Collins spurned a woman (who turns out to be a Witch) gets cursed and turned into a vampire and spends the next two centuries (200 years) in a coffin, missing out on life. He gets freed, it’s the 70s, and he has to re-assimilate himself back into the modern era and help his family (that had lost their fortune due to the witch’s curse) gain back what’s rightfully theirs. During his absence, the family’s fish canning business gets surpassed by a rival’s (Angelbay) company which is headed by (surprise, surprise) the Witch that had turned poor Barnabas into a vampire. Barnabas spends the rest of the movie trying to help his family out by hypnotizing his way into business by poaching the fishermen who supply Angelbay with fish.

The A plot I think for this movie, would be Barnabas figuring out how to fix his family. The B plot would be him falling in love with the new governess (who also happened to be the reincarnation of the girl that he loved and the Witch had murdered).

For the most part, the movie was pretty campy (which was seconded, according to my friend who had watched the original Dark Shadows). What happens in the movie was so obvious you could see from a mile away. For instance, you know the Witch was still in love with Barnabas and ends up finding some way to screw the Collins’ family over. And some parts, it just seemed that they wanted to throw into the movie for the hell of it without giving a reason (the sister of the little boy turns out to be Werewolf– what the what?! They introduce this towards the end of the movie with the final showdown between Barnabas and the Witch).  She just happens to be a Werewolf, no real reason why, but I guess they wanted to really make this family seem like strange people, and there’s really no vampire movie without a werewolf. With that, this is a movie that’s good for perhaps a rental, but certainly not really worth paying movie ticket prices for (unless you’re a diehard Johnny Depp/Tim Burton fan).


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