Every yahoo off the street knows you can’t mix certain blood types. Clumping, toxic poisoning, death – it’s a recipe for disaster. If only director Tim Burton had heeded that basic cardinal rule when cranking out Dark Shadows; a hodgepodge of a vamp-flick that has one stake in gory horror, another in sexual farce.
After a love affair with a witch (Eva Green) turns sour, lord-about-town Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is cursed; not only to vampiric immortality, but also to watch his beloved (Bella Heathcote) jump off a cliff and a few centuries spent chained up in a coffin during which to mull over the insult. Cut to the swinging 70s and beneath a glowing Maccas sign, some heedless construction workers unearth Barnabas. He promptly murders them all (he’s, “Terribly thirsty”) before heading home to reconnect with his now beleaguered and much diminished family.
While the ensemble (with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter stocking the family manor floor to peak with over-played neuroses) and concept (who doesn’t love a fish-out-of-water, especially one with fangs?) both bode well, in laying out all his cards Burton gets hopelessly waylaid. One moment Barnabas accepts a blow-job; the next he charmingly and naively throws a ‘ball’ with the ‘most ugly woman alive’ Alice Cooper as the star attraction. It’s a camp, blood-splattered circus that has little in the way of coherence. By attempting to be all things, Dark Shadows ends up being nothing much at all; except for maybe a hard-to-get-out stain. (AB) **1/2