DARK SHADOWS – Review by Susan Granger

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Slyly laced with weird, supernatural humor, Tim Burton brings back the cult classic series with deliciously demonic Johnny Depp as gothic vampire Barnabas Collins.

In 1750, young Barnabas sailed from Liverpool with his parents, who built a fishing empire in the coastal Maine town known as Collinsport. But Barnabas fell in love with beautiful Josette (Bella Heathcote), infuriating Angelique (Eva Green), a witch who killed Josette and cursed Barnabas for eternity.

Some 196 years later, when his crypt is accidentally excavated, Barnabas elegantly emerges into 1972, bewildered by cars and TV sets, not to mention lava lamps, which he calls “pulsating blood urns.” Despite the efforts of its caretaker (Jackie Earle Haley), Barnabas’s ancestral home, Collinwood Manor, is in ruins, as the financially-strapped family matriarch (Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to cope with her angry, rebellious teenage daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz). Barnabas’s arrival coincides that that of a young governess, Victoria (Bella Heathcote), persecuted because of her mysterious psychic gift. Victoria’s charge is 10 year-old David (Gully McGrath), who talks to his dead mother and is neglected by his wastrel father (Jonny Lee Miller), despite efforts of the Collins’ resident psychiatrist, (Helena Bonham-Carter).

Worst of all, Collinsport has been transformed into Angelsbay, named for its most prominent businesswoman, known as Angie (Eva Green). Declaring, “Family is the only real wealth,” Barnabas vows revenge, determined to right the wrongs done over the past two centuries.

Imaginative Tim Burton directs from Seth Grahame-Smith and John August’s screenplay, based on Dan Curtis’s vividly melodramatic ABC-TV series, broadcast weekdays from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, amassing more episodes (1,225) than most other sci-fi series, including “Doctor Who” and “Star Trek.”

Kudos go to production designer Rick Heinrichs for the atmospheric interiors, Bruno Delbonnel for the eerie cinematography, and Danny Elfman for the pulsating score – with cameos by Christopher Lloyd and Alice Cooper, plus original cast members Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott and David Selby.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Dark Shadows” is an enduringly escapist 8, a murderously funny fantasy.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.