Dark Shadows (film)

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Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows 2012 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Burton
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onDark Shadows
by Dan Curtis
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyBruno Delbonnel
Edited byChris Lebenzon
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 11, 2012 (2012-05-11)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$150 million[1]
Box office$245.5 million[1]

Dark Shadows is a 2012 American horror comedy film based on the gothic television soap opera of the same name. It was directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Bella Heathcote in a dual role.[2][3] The film had a limited release on May 10, 2012,[4] and was officially released the following day in the United States.[5]

The film performed disappointingly at the United States box office, but did well in foreign markets. The film received mixed reviews; critics praised its visual style and consistent humor but felt it lacked a focused or substantial plot and developed characters.[6] The film was produced by Richard D. Zanuck, who died two months after its release. It featured the final appearance of original series actor Jonathan Frid, who died shortly before its release. It was the 200th film appearance of actor Christopher Lee, and his fifth appearance in a Burton film.


In 1760, the Collins family moves from Liverpool, England to Maine and establishes the fishing town Collinsport, where they build their estate, Collinwood.

When he first arrives, the young son Barnabas meets the young Angelique Bouchard, who instantly becomes besotted with him. Angelique's mother, a witch, warns her against socialising with people of noble birth; however, this does not stop Angelique from following the family for many years, hoping to be loved by Barnabas, but to no avail.

By 1776, Barnabas (Johnny Depp), now a grown man, falls in love with a young woman named Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote), scorning Angelique (Eva Green), who works as a maid in his household. Turning to black magic, Angelique curses the Collins family, first by killing Barnabas's parents (Ivan Kaye and Susanna Cappellaro) in an assumed accident, then by enchanting Josette to leap to her death from a seaside cliff called Widow's Hill. In a fit of grief, Barnabas attempts to leap to his own death but fails, as Angelique curses him to the immortal life of a vampire. When he still rejects her advances, she turns the town against him, and he is buried alive in a coffin.

196 years later, in 1972, a young Maggie Evans (also Bella Heathcote), under the assumed identity of "Victoria Winters", applies for a job as a governess at Collinwood and meets with the current reclusive matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer). Her nephew David (Gully McGrath), for whom Victoria will be caring, believes his mother, who drowned in a boating accident, still visits him. Victoria does not divulge that since her young age she, too, can see ghosts.

After meeting with David, his live-in psychiatrist Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), his father Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), and Elizabeth's rebellious daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), Victoria is hired by Elizabeth. That night, Victoria sees the ghost of Josette, who warns that "he's coming" before disappearing after falling from a chandelier.

Elsewhere, a group of construction workers dig up Barnabas's coffin and inadvertently free him. After satiating his bloodthirst of 196 years and shocked by the modern times he finds himself in, Barnabas returns to Collinwood, and hypnotizes the groundskeeper, Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), as his personal Renfield, and introduces himself to the family as a "distant relative". Elizabeth believes him to be a con-man until he reveals hidden riches buried in a secret passage within the house, whereas Elizabeth thought the family to be destitute. After realising who and what Barnabas is, she asks him to keep it a secret to protect the children of his true nature, passing him off as his own descendant, "Barnabas Collins III".

During his breakfast with his newfound family, Barnabas is instantly smitten with Victoria when he meets her as she resembles Josette. Resolved to honorably win her heart, he seeks out Carolyn's advice on courting her. Angelique, now an immortal witch herself and Elizabeth's rival, learns of Barnabas' resurgence and visits him, informing him that she now has taken over Collinsport as a member of the upstanding community. In retaliation, Barnabas reopens the Collins Cannery family business and uses hypnosis to steal several of the fisherman crews who work for Angelique. As a result, she tries to buy him off. However, even after an episode of supernatural lust between the two, he rejects her offer. Meanwhile, Julia later discovers his identity by hypnotizing him and offers to cure his vampiric condition via blood transfusions.

After successfully restoring the family fortune and business, Barnabas decides to hold a ball to reintroduce the family to the townsfolk with Carolyn suggesting that they make it a happening with musician Alice Cooper as the headliner. During the ball, Barnabas catches Roger stealing from guest's coats and later finds Victoria gazing out from a balcony. Feeling comfortable around him, Victoria confides to Barnabas that she's actually an escapee from the mental asylum where her parents had her confined since she was a child due to her powers. Meanwhile, Angelique makes a grand appearance in order to see Barnabas. When she catches him and Victoria kissing, she becomes even more embittered.

Motivated after Victoria reciprocated his feelings, Barnabas seeks out Julia (wishing even more desperately to be mortal again), only to find out that the latter has been using his blood to make herself immortal. Feeling betrayed, he drains her and dumps her seemingly dead body into the town bay with Willie's help. After catching Roger trying to break into the secret passage, Barnabas gives him a choice: to stay and be an exemplary father to David or to leave with enough money to live his thieving life elsewhere. Roger chooses the latter, anguishing David. Barnabas's true identity is finally revealed to the rest of the family and Victoria when he saves David from a falling disco ball. Victoria is scared by the revelation and runs away.

Upset, Barnabas barges into Angelique's office to demand her to release him from his curse, and while she offers him blood due to her knowing that Julia is no longer around to provide him blood transfusions, she also threatens to send Victoria off Widow's Hill, the same way she did to Josette, and offers him an ultimatum: Either become partners and lovers with her or be locked in a coffin again. With Barnabas rejecting the former, she proceeds to do the latter, this time placing him in the Collins Family Mausoleum. Shortly after, he is found and freed by David, alerted by his mother's ghost, and they return towards the mansion. Meanwhile, Angelique destroys the Collins Cannery and implicates Barnabas in the murders of Julia and all the people he had to feed on, turning the townsfolk against the family.

At the mansion, Barnabas and Elizabeth see the police, Angelique, and the angry mob approaching as Carolyn withdraws into the mansion. Willing to turn himself in as long as she goes along with him, Barnabas reveals his and Angelique's true natures in front of an angry mob and a fight ensues, pitting Barnabas and Elizabeth against Angelique. During the fight (following the mob's departure upon these revelations), Carolyn reveals to her family that she is a werewolf and joins her family in their battle against Angelique, but a fire later breaks out in the house. Ultimately, the ghost of David's mother (Josephine Butler) manages to hurl Angelique against the chandelier, which then falls to the ground, mortally wounding her as she starts to shatter. She reaches into her chest and literally offers her heart to Barnabas this time as it shatters as well, resulting in her death. Concerned for Victoria's well-being, Barnabas storms off to look for her as David informs him through his mother that she's headed towards Widow's Hill. As David asks Elizabeth what they will do now, Elizabeth says that they will do what they've always done as the Collins family: "Endure."

After catching up to Victoria at Widow's Hill, Barnabas stops her from leaping and refuses to turn her into a vampire to save her from eternal suffering as an immortal, despite her request. Touched, Victoria throws herself from its cliffs anyway, resulting in Barnabas leaping after her and biting her, so that she can survive the fall as a vampire. She awakens, asking him to call her Josette, and the two kiss passionately on the rocky shore.

The closing scene is at the bottom of the bay as Julia opens her eyes to her new immortal life.


  • Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, an 18th-century vampire who awakens to the 20th century.[7] While an empathetic character aware of his sinister nature, Barnabas retains a vicious streak, never forgiving and relentless in the kill. His only loyalties to his family aside, he is a well-mannered man consistently trapped in the mindset of an 18th-century Englishman.
    • Justin Tracy as Young Barnabas
  • Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, a vengeful witch who plots a vendetta against Barnabas and his family.[7] She wears a constantly false smile that resembles a smile of a porcelain doll or glass figure, her face becomes cracked either when damaged or emotionally distraught, revealing a possibly hollow interior. She had spent two centuries using her immortal nature to ruin the Collins family name and give herself more power, posing as five successive generations of the "Bouchard Women".
  • Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters, David's governess and Barnabas' love interest.[7] Heathcote also plays the role of Josette du Pres. Victoria and Maggie Evans' roles in the original series were combined in the film, with Maggie choosing to adopt the name of Victoria after seeing a poster for winter sports in Victoria, British Columbia while on the train to Collinsport. As a child, Victoria was sent to a mental hospital by her parents for possessing the ability to see and speak to ghosts, only to escape and find refuge with the Collins family. She is from New York and has a very kind nature. She is mutually attracted to Barnabas, but initially recoils after discovering his true nature. After being cursed by Angelique, she ultimately decides that the only way for her and Barnabas to be together is for him to turn her into a vampire as well.
    • Alexia Osborne as Young Victoria
  • Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the family matriarch.[7] Stern and strict, but loyal and devoted to her family, Elizabeth cares for every member of the household and tends to help them through their personal trials. To "endure" as they always have, she isn't afraid to stand up for herself.
  • Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins, Elizabeth's "ne'er-do-well" brother.[7] Larcenous and greedy, Roger often takes advantage of what he can through theft, trickery or bribery. When Barnabas catches him snooping around for the secret passage, he offers Roger a choice, either stay at Collinwood and be an exemplary father to his son David, or leave with the money to live on. The selfish man chooses the latter, hurting David at his departure.
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, the family's live-in psychiatrist, hired to deal with David and his belief in ghosts.[7] Somewhat vain and losing to her aging, she takes it upon herself to receive transfusions from Barnabas (under the guise of trying to cure him). She is often drunk or taking pills. Barnabas woos her into having a crush on him, often taking advantage of his naive nature without regarding the possible consequence of betraying him.
  • Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, the manor's caretaker.[7] He becomes Barnabas' servant through hypnosis; he retains his own mindset, but follows his master's will instantly.
  • Chloë Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, Elizabeth's rebellious teenage daughter.[7] She offers Barnabas advice on love, music, and insight into the current era. She wants to run away to New York when she turns 16, but her mother constantly forbids it. She also turns out to be a werewolf, as she was bitten by a werewolf sent by Angelique when she was a baby.
  • Gully McGrath as David Collins, Roger's "precocious" 10-year-old son, who can see his mother's ghost, who was killed by Angelique at sea.[7]
  • Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson, the manor's elderly maid.[8]
  • Christopher Lee as Silas Clarney, a "king of the fishermen who spends a lot of time in the local pub, The Blue Whale."[9][10]
  • Alice Cooper as himself[9]
  • Ivan Kaye as Joshua Collins, the father of Barnabas Collins.[11]
  • Susanna Cappellaro as Naomi Collins, the mother of Barnabas Collins.[12]
  • Josephine Butler as Laura Collins (credited as David's Mother), the mother of David who was killed by Angelique and appears before him as a ghost.
  • William Hope as Sheriff Bill (credited as Sheriff), the sheriff of Collinsport.
  • Guy Flanagan as Bearded Hippie
  • Sophie Kennedy Clark as Hippie Chick 1
  • Hannah Murray as Hippie Chick 2

At the San Diego Comic-Con 2011, it was also confirmed that four actors from the original series appear in the film. In June 2011, Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott all spent three days at Pinewood Studios to film cameo appearances. They all appeared as party guests during a ball held at Collinswood Manor.[13][14][15] Frid died in April 2012, making this his final film appearance.


In July 2007, Warner Bros. acquired film rights for the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows from the estate of its creator Dan Curtis. Johnny Depp had a childhood obsession with Dark Shadows, calling it a "dream" to portray Barnabas Collins, and ended up persuading Burton to direct.[16] The project's development was delayed by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. After the strike was resolved, Tim Burton was attached to direct the film.[17] By 2009, screenwriter John August was writing a screenplay for Dark Shadows.[18] In 2010, author and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith replaced August in writing the screenplay.[19] August did, however, receive story credit with Smith for his contribution to the film. Filming began in May 2011. It was filmed entirely in England, at both Pinewood Studios and on location.[7] Depp attempted to emulate the "rigidity" and "elegance" of Jonathan Frid's original Barnabas Collins, but also drew inspiration from Max Schreck's performance in Nosferatu.[20]

Additional crew members and Burton regulars are production designer Rick Heinrichs, costume designer Colleen Atwood, editor Chris Lebenzon and composer Danny Elfman.[7] French cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel — known for his work in Amélie, A Very Long Engagement and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — worked on the project.



Dark Shadows: Original Score
Film score by
ReleasedMay 8, 2012
LabelWaterTower Music
Dark Shadows music chronology
Dark Shadows: Original Score
Dark Shadows: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The film was scored by long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman. An album featuring 21 tracks of compositions from the film by Elfman was released on May 8, 2012.[21]

Track listing[edit]

Dark Shadows: Original Score
1."Dark Shadows Prologue" (Uncut)7:52
3."Vicki Enters Collinwood"1:21
4."Deadly Handshake"2:14
5."Shadows (Reprise)"1:08
6."Is It Her?"0:43
7."Barnabas Comes Home"4:18
8."Vicki's Nightmare"1:26
9."Hypno Music"0:47
10."Killing Dr. Hoffman"1:14
11."Dumping the Body"0:58
12."Roger Departs"2:33
13."Burn Baby Burn / In-Tombed"2:49
14."Lava Lamp"2:17
15."The Angry Mob"4:40
16."House of Blood"3:38
17."Final Confrontation"2:20
18."Widows' Hill (Finale)"3:47
19."The End?" (Uncut)2:42
20."More the End?"1:55
21."We Will End You!"1:09


Dark Shadows: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedMay 8, 2012
GenreProgressive rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, pop, R&B, orchestral
LabelWaterTower Music, Sony Music
ProducerVarious, Tim Burton
Dark Shadows music chronology
Dark Shadows: Original Score
Dark Shadows: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The soundtrack features a score of several contemporaneous 1970s rock and pop songs, along with others from later and slightly earlier, including "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues, "I'm Sick of You" by Iggy Pop, "Season of the Witch" by Donovan, "Top of the World" by The Carpenters, "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" by Barry White and "Get It On" by T. Rex. Alice Cooper, who makes a cameo in the film, sings "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Ballad of Dwight Fry". A cover of the Raspberries' song "Go All the Way" by The Killers also plays over the end credits. The soundtrack, featuring 11 songs (including two score pieces by Danny Elfman, and Depp's recitation as Barnabas of several lines from "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band) was released on May 8 as a download,[22] and on various dates as a CD, including on May 22 as an import in the United States,[23] and on May 25, 2012 in Australia.[24] Songs not featured on the soundtrack that are in the film include "Superfly" by Curtis Mayfield, "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John and "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath.

Track listing[edit]

Included next to each track is the year of the song's original release, excluding the score pieces.
Dark Shadows: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Nights in White Satin" (1967)The Moody Blues4:26
2."Dark Shadows – Prologue"Danny Elfman3:56
3."I'm Sick of You" (1972/1973)Iggy Pop6:52
4."Season of the Witch" (1966)Donovan4:56
5."Top of the World" (1972)The Carpenters3:01
6."You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (1974)Barry White4:35
7."Bang a Gong (Get It On)" (1971)T. Rex4:26
8."No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1972/1973)Alice Cooper3:08
9."Ballad of Dwight Fry" (1971)Alice Cooper6:36
10."The End?"Danny Elfman2:30
11."The Joker" (original song from 1973)Johnny Depp0:17


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $79,727,159 in the United States and Canada, along with $165.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $245.5 million.[1] For a Burton film, Dark Shadows achieved below-average domestic box office takings,[25] with many commentators attributing that to the domination of The Avengers.[26] However, the film was popular overseas; it came second to The Avengers in most countries in regard to opening box office takings.[26]

Critical response[edit]

Dark Shadows has received mixed reviews from film critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 37%, based on 233 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "The visuals are top notch but Tim Burton never finds a consistent rhythm, mixing campy jokes and gothic spookiness with less success than other Johnny Depp collaborations."[6] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 42 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[27]

Some critics felt that the film lacked a focused or consistent plot or genre (as either horror, comedy or drama)[28] pointing to Grahame-Smith's script, and that some jokes fell flat.[29] Some further claimed that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's collaborations have become tired.[30][31][32] Many of the same, and other reviewers, however, noted its visual style was impressive.[33][34][35]

Positive reviewers, on the other hand, opined that the film did successfully translate the mood of the soap opera,[36] also acclaiming the actors—most notably Depp as Barnabas, who several said was the stand-out character due to his humorous culture shock,[34] as well as Pfeiffer[37]—and their characters; and further, that the film's '70s culture pastiche worked to its advantage.[38]

Roger Ebert said, "[The film] offers wonderful things, but they aren't what's important. It's as if Burton directed at arm's length, unwilling to find juice in the story." Ebert later noted that "Much of the amusement comes from Depp's reactions to 1970s pop culture," eventually concluding that the film "begins with great promise, but then the energy drains out," giving it two and a half stars out of four.[34] Manohla Dargis, writing for The New York Times, said that it "isn't among Mr. Burton's most richly realized works, but it's very enjoyable, visually sumptuous and, despite its lugubrious source material and a sporadic tremor of violence, surprisingly effervescent," and opined in a mostly positive review that Burton's "gift for deviant beauty and laughter has its own liberating power."[33]

Rolling Stone's Peter Travers gave the film a mixed two and a half stars, claiming, "After a fierce and funny start, Dark Shadows simply spins its wheels," and adding that "the pleasures of Dark Shadows are frustratingly hit-and-miss. In the end, it all collapses into a spectacularly gorgeous heap."[35] In The Washington Post, Ann Hornaday dismissed the film, awarding it just one and a half stars, explaining that "Burton's mash-up of post-'60s kitsch and modern-day knowingness strikes a chord that is less self-aware than fatally self-satisfied. Dark Shadows doesn't know where it wants to dwell: in the eerie, subversive penumbra suggested by its title or in playful, go-for-broke camp."[28]

Richard Corliss in Time pointed out that "[Burton]'s affection is evident, and his homage sometimes acute," and reasoned: "All right, so Burton has made less a revival of the old show than a hit-or-miss parody pageant," but praised the star power of the film, relenting that "attention must be paid to movie allure, in a star like Depp and his current harem. Angelique may be the only Satanist among the women here, but they're all bewitching."[36] Peter Bradshaw, in the British newspaper The Guardian, weighed the film in a mixed write-up, giving it three stars out of five, and pointing out his feeling that "the Gothy, jokey 'darkness' of Burton's style is now beginning to look very familiar; he has built his brand to perfection in the film marketplace, and it is smarter and more distinctive than a lot of what is on offer at the multiplex, but there are no surprises. There are shadows, but they conceal nothing."[30]


Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actor Gully McGrath Nominated [39]
Kid's Choice Award Favorite Movie Actor Johnny Depp Won

Home media[edit]

Dark Shadows was released on both Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on October 2, 2012, the date confirmed by the official Dark Shadows Facebook page, and the official Dark Shadows website.[40] The film was released on both formats several days earlier in Australia; in stores on September 24, and online on September 26, 2012.[41] The film was released on October 15, 2012 in the UK.

The DVD includes just one featurette, "The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons",[42] while the Blu-ray contains a total of nine short featurettes and six deleted scenes.[43] Several worldwide releases of both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Possible sequel[edit]

On December 7, 2011, Pfeiffer told MTV that she is hoping sequels will be made for the film.[44] On May 8, 2012, Variety reported that Warner Bros. may want to turn Dark Shadows into a film franchise.[45] On the same day, Collider mentioned that the ending lends itself to a possible sequel. When Burton was asked if he thought that this could be a possible start to a franchise, he replied, "No. Because of the nature of it being like a soap opera, that was the structure. It wasn't a conscious decision. First of all, it's a bit presumptuous to think that. If something works out, that's one thing, but you can't ever predict that. [The ending] had more to do with the soap opera structure of it."[20]

See also[edit]

There have been two other feature films based on the soap opera Dark Shadows:


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  3. ^ Alex Zane (May 11, 2012). "It's Dragula Alex Zane reviews Dark Shadows". The Sun. London. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
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External links[edit]