My longing to live in a Tim Burton movie goes back years. I guess it started with Sleepy Hollow. Oh, to live in a spooky world where pumpkins glow and thunder rumbles above trees of autumn orange … which lead me to The Nightmare Before Christmas and Halloween Town: a place where I would fit in quite well, I think. I fantasize about these movies in October and wish, wish I could live in Tim Burton’s world. I was most recently reminded of my fascination via Dark Shadows, released this past weekend.
Little did I know, Dark Shadows was first a 70s soap! My mom filled me in. When she was in nursing school, all the girls would rush home from class and watch Dark Shadows in the community lounge. The original series looks serious (unlike the movie remake), although the characters are the same, featuring Barnabus Collins and his wacko family, plus cameos by vampires, werewolves, and ghouls. (Why don’t we make daytime soaps like that anymore, huh?)
The movie remake, as mentioned, is directed by Tim Burton. This is the eighth film he’s shared with leading man, Johnny Depp (obsess much?), and his seventh with long-time girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter. Depp lost weight to better reflect the image of a two-hundred-year-old vamp; he weighed a mere 140 pounds during filming! The movie’s tagline? “Every family has its demon.”
The film begins in the year 1752, where we first meet Barnabus Collins and his ill-fated family. Barnabus made the mistake of jilting a witch, Angelique (played by drop dead goregous Eva Green, best known for Casino Royale). She put a spell on Barnabus, damning him to eternal life as a vampire in an iron coffin. Uncovered by construction workers, Barnabus wakes in 1972 to find his descendants still reside in his old mansion, but they’ve fallen on hard times, thanks to vengeful Angelique, who is still alive thanks to her witchy powers. Barnabus must try to restore the family’s fortune and take down Angelique in the process.
Is this a horror movie? Sort of. Is it a comedy? Yes. Is it Tim Burton at his best? It’s up there. I love creepy stuff and black comedy; therefore, I loved every second of this film that went from serious to laugh-out-loud in the span of five seconds. The comedy caught me off guard, which made it all the more unexpected and riotous. A master of imagery, Burton brings the Maine seaside village of Collinsport to life. He does the same through his characters. Depp’s performance harkens back to Edward Scissorhands: awkward and yet charming. Michelle Pfeiffer still looks fabulous, and Eva Green plays an excellent lovelorn psycopath.
Unlike other Tim Burton favorites like aforementioned Edward, this is a film I could watch over and over. It has serious moments, and it is dark; yet it never takes itself too seriously, and I was left feeling giggly and cheerful by the end. I truly do want to live in a Tim Burton film, where an edge of the macabre is always within view, where freaks become heroes, and where a little bit of supernatural magic is the norm. I know it’s the middle of May, but this movie made we want to shout, “Is it Halloween-time yet???”