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Review: ‘Dark Shadows’ brings light and laughs to gothic soap opera

Courtesy of MCT

The gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” is coming back to life, this time on the big screen.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teamed up once again for this comedic horror film, which The Lantern saw in an advanced screening Wednesday.

The film, based on a popular 1960s and 1970s gothic soap opera of the same name, “Dark Shadows,” features a vampire who has been freed from his tomb centuries after being trapped by an evil witch.

When he returns to the world, he finds things have changed a lot in the time he has been locked away. Depp’s character, Barnabas Collins, returns to his family homestead to help his family out of some hardships. Little does he know, the witch who turned him into a monster and longs to possess him is awaiting his return.

Burton’s directorial touch is evident in nearly every aspect of the film, from the dark, gothic setting to its mix of sadness and humor.

For me, the characters made the film fantastic. Collins is trying to adjust to the 1970s. Elizabeth Collins, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, is desperately trying to keep the family afloat to no avail.

Roger Collins, played by Jonny Lee Miller, is an indifferent father to a child who is thought to be a loony. David Collins, played by Gulliver McGrath, is a boy who speaks to his dead mother.

Carolyn Stoddard, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is a typical teenager, until the end of the movie. Helena Bonham Carter plays Dr. Julia Hoffman, who is best known for her epic hangovers. Last but not least is Angelique Bouchard Collins, played by Eva Green, who is the epitome of an evil and sexy witch.

The thing that humored me most in the film was Barnabas Collins’ marvel toward all things modern. He is dumbfounded by the light of McDonalds’ golden arches, and he eyes orange-haired Troll dolls suspiciously. Barnabas Collins also refers to a lava lamp as a “blood urn.”

Another big sell for me was the movie’s music. In the beginning, a train weaves through fall-colored trees to the The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin,” which added a feeling of the time period from the start. Teenage Stoddard dances around the family dinning room waving her arms to Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch.” The sounds of The Carpenters’ “Top Of The World” crones over scenes of Barnabas Collins and his family trying to return to their former glory. I mustn’t forget to mention Alice Cooper, who performs “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Ballad Of

Dwight Fry” in the movie. Other artists included Iggy Pop and T. Rex. Composer Danny Elfman hit it out of the park with this soundtrack.

Another element that I thought was hilarious was Elizabeth Collins hiding everyday items in secret spaces and rooms around the mansion. For example, she stored the badminton sets in a small, concealed, secret space.

I think Burton and Depp succeeded with their fantastic balance of humor and darkness in this one, which is to be expected from the pair.

The audience was laughing out loud and clapping throughout the film. Anytime that happens in a theater, I would deem it a success. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves Burton, Depp, comedy, vampires (not Twilight style), witches, werewolves (again not Twilight style), Troll dolls, muscle cars and more. Basically, if you are a person who likes anything, this could be the movie for you.

Grade: A+

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