Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dark Shadows: A Tim Burton Masterpiece

The film Dark Shadows encompasses a rarely met joining of horror, gloomy fantasy, and dark humor, which is often created by the overwhelming sexual tension that oozes across the screen in numerous scenes.

Yes, Tim Burton is still creating and directing for Disney, but clearly the powers-that-be in the White Castle have stepped back and let the master do what he will in the dungeons. This movie is dark – in tone, appearance and plot – as it is bloody, and deeply sexual, leaving the story many twists and turns that continually surprise.

The trip to the colonial state of Maine ends up flinging young Barnabas Collins into a spurned witch’s frying pan, as she curses him to become a vampire and buries him in the ground for a couple of hundred years.
Collinsport, Maine in both 1752 and 1972, appears shadowy, and the Collinswood mansion is a character in and of itself, not as the traditional haunted house, but more as a silent background presence; Collinswood sports intricately placed levels of black art, secret passages, and serenading sea creatures carved into fireplace mantels and walls.

Tim Burton has delved even deeper into the foundations of the fantastic, and with Dark Shadows not only is the visually awe-inspiring aesthetic kept on par with the excellence of Alice in Wonderland, but the sheer dark nether regions of New England are pronounced here with haunting black tones and hilarious bouts of sexual humor that emerge from nearly everyone but Johnny Depp’s vampiric character of Barnabas Collins.

It is not that Depp is devoid of sexual prowess in the film, it is just that his character is the constant target, victim, and passive purveyor of love-making, and rather than seeing a vampire playboy, we see an awkward Englishman from the eighteenth century trying to survive the throes of the witch that cursed him.

Eva Green and Helena Bonham Carter are spectacular in their sexually thirsty characters using their overtly titillating methods to arouse the esteem of Barnabas in order to gain what their tainted hearts desire.

The overall effect of this film is enrapturing for its uniqueness (especially concerning a vampire genre that has been done to death, though not like this), its beautiful visuals, its laugh-raucously-out-loud dark humor, its dripping sexuality, and its entertaining art as pertains to unrequited and requited love.

Impulsive Review Grade: A