Blu-ray Review: Dark Shadows

I get that Barnabas had been a dream role of Depp’s since he was a kid, and if you’re going to make a Dark Shadows film what other director do you hire to do it other than Burton? It seems like a recipe for success. However, like many Burton films of recent years, this film lacks a certain something that made his early films so great.

The biggest flaw in the Dark Shadows film written by Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and directed by Tim Burton is that they could have made a really creepy atmospheric horror film the likes that Hammer used to produce. However, instead the have delivered a campy silly film that feels more parody than adaptation of the TV series of the same name.

From silly one liners and Barnabas’s off kilter, dated view of the ’70s to the super cheesy soundtrack, this film feels more like yet another in a long line of mediocre Tim Burton films than a true adaptation of Dark Shadows.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the humor works. It is funny and you will laugh. I just wasn’t expecting to laugh so much watching this film. Depp has a certain charm as Barnabas and the other performances in the film are all pretty good. Michelle Pfeifer give one of the stronger performances in a while. Eva Green is interesting as the villainous witch, Angelique, but she more comes off as a poor mans Anne Hathaway than anything. Alice Cooper playing a younger version of himself works and you even have a small cameo by Christopher Lee.

But through at all I couldn’t help but think that if it weren’t Dark Shadows by name, but rather a nameless campy Tim Burton vampire film, it would be a much more enjoyable film. However, it is a Shadows adaptation and with that comes a certain level of expectation that this film falls short on.

It does have a handful of spooky moments, but those are very few and far between. And in between you have a ridiculously over the top sex scene between Barnabas and Angelique set to a Barry White song. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes and facepalm.

Dark Shadows is by no means a terrible film, but nowhere near as good as it should have been.


This film is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is a very well shot film and it looks fantastic in Blu-ray. There are some great colors in this film that the Hi-Def transfer really brings out. The sound is evenly mixed as well.

Deleted Scenes: (5 min.) These are all very meh scenes. Very obvious why they were deleted. Focus Points: (35 min.) A series of behind the scenes featurettes on the film including: Depp’s transformation into Barnabas, building the town of Collinsport, the actors and characters of the Collins family, the production design that went into recreating the 70’s, Eva Green as Angelique, Alice Cooper as himself, the special effects, the final battle, and the influence of classic horror films on the movie. These make for good special feature viewing. DVD and Digital Copy

While yet another remake, Dark Shadows is a step up from some of Burton’s recent films, but if you want to see a 2012 Burton film, Frankenweenie is the way to go. There are much better vampire films out there. Though, at least he doesn’t sparkle in the sunshine.

Warner Bros. presents Dark Shadows. Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith. Story by Seth Grahame-Smith and John August. Based on the TV series by Dan Curtis. Directed by: Tim Burton. Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Cloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper. Running time: 113 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: October 2, 2012. Available at

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