Dark Shadows (film)

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Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows 2012 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith
Story by
Based on Dark Shadows 
by Dan Curtis
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel
Edited by Chris Lebenzon
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 11, 2012 (2012-05-11)
Running time 113 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $245,527,149[1]

Dark Shadows is a 2012 American horror comedy film loosely based on the gothic television soap opera Dark Shadows that was broadcast between 1966 and 1971. The film was directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire who has been imprisoned in a coffin. Collins is eventually unearthed and makes his way back to his mansion, now inhabited by his descendants. He discovers that his jealous ex-lover, Angelique Bouchard, played by Eva Green, has taken over the town's fishing business that was once run by the Collins family (Bouchard is a witch who was responsible for transforming Collins into a vampire). Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Collins' cousin, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the reclusive matriarch of the Collins family.[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 US box office, but was well-received elsewhere. 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.


In 1760, the Collins family migrates to America from Liverpool and sets up a fishing port in Maine, naming it Collinsport. Sixteen years later in 1776 the son, Barnabas (Johnny Depp), has an affair with a maid, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), a witch who has been infatuated with him since childhood. When he tells her he does not love her, Angelique casts a spell that kills his parents. Barnabas then falls in love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote). In a fit of jealousy, Angelique bewitches Josette into leaping from a cliff to her death. Barnabas leaps after her in grief, but he survives because Angelique turns him into an immortal vampire. Still unable to win him over, however, Angelique finally rouses a mob to capture and bury Barnabas alive in a chained coffin in the woods and curses his family.

One hundred ninety-six years later, in the year 1972, a young woman is seen riding on a train to Collinsport in response to an advertisement for a job as a governess at Collinwood. She decides not to use her real name and takes "Victoria Winters" as her new name. Leaving the train station, she catches a ride with a van full of hippies. She gets dropped off in front of the Collins family's manor house and meets the family and staff now living in the manor, including Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), the caretaker of the manor, and the current family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) Elizabeth tells Victoria about the legendary Barnabas, 10-year old David and his mother's death. David's mother died at sea, but he refuses to accept her death and insists that she visits him regularly. The family sees this as a sign of emotional illness and brought Dr. Julia Hoffman, a psychiatrist, to live with them as a house guest. Fifteen year-old Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz) meets Victoria. Victoria is hired as a governess for David. At dinner, Victoria meets Dr. Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and Roger (Jonny Lee Miller).Victoria notices a "ghost" in the room, who is revealed to be Roger's young son, David (Gulliver McGrath). That night, Victoria, while unpacking her few belongings, spots a sheet believing it is David again. Instead, it is the ghost of Josette, who announces, "He is coming" before disappearing.

Meanwhile, construction workers accidentally free Barnabas from his coffin, who reluctantly slakes his unbearable thirst for blood by feeding on his rescuers. He makes his way back to his now dilapidated manor and encounters Willy, whom he hypnotizes into becoming his servant. Elizabeth is shocked to meet Barnabas, thinking him an imposter who is after money. She warns that the family is broke. He asks her about the legend of Barnabas Collins and the family curse, which Elizabeth believes are myths. Upon convincing Elizabeth of his true identity by revealing a secret treasure room behind the fireplace, Barnabas is allowed to stay under the condition that he never reveals either the room or the fact that he is a vampire to the rest of the family. At breakfast, Elizabeth tells the family their visitor is Barnabas Collins III, a distant relative from England who has come to restore the family's business and reputation in town. Barnabas becomes very deeply attracted to Victoria, whom he recognizes as the reincarnation of his lost love Josette, and immediately begins to pursue her romantically.

Angelique, still young and beautiful after two centuries, arrives at the manor. Barnabas notices her and she tells him that she runs the largest fishing enterprise in Collinsport, Angel Bay fishery. Barnabas and Elizabeth join forces to restore both the Collinwood mansion and the family business. Willie takes him to a pub to see a local sea captain, Silas Clarney (Christopher Lee). Barnabas hypnotizes Clarney into helping him recruit fishing-boat crews away from Angel Bay Seafood to harvest fish for his own family's business.

Meanwhile, Barnabas struggles to adjust to life in the 1970s with his present-day family. A suspicious Dr. Hoffman hypnotizes Barnabas, realizes he is a vampire and gets angry at Elizabeth for keeping the secret from the rest of the family. Anxious to win Victoria's love, Barnabas turns to Carolyn for relationship advice. She tells him to learn how to act "normal". Barnabas strikes a deal with Dr. Hoffman to provide him with regular blood transfusions in an effort to cure his immortality and make him mortal again.

Angelique sets up a meeting with Barnabas in her office and tries to convince him to sell the Collins fishery to her. She tries to win him back, later forcing him to make wild, passionate love with her in the office, saying that if he doesn't, she will kill Victoria. Although he has sexual intercourse with her, he still rejects her, as he loves Victoria. Barnabas learns Dr. Hoffman is using his blood, taken during the transfusions, in order to make herself immortal.

Victoria has nightmares about her childhood. Meanwhile, Barnabas decides to invite the entire town to a party (which he calls a ball) at the manor featuring Alice Cooper (whom Barnabas mistakes for a female due to Cooper's name). Barnabas observes Roger stealing money from guests' wallets in the coat room while the party is in progress. Barnabas spots Victoria out on the balcony alone. She tells Barnabas something made her come to Collinsport, and reveals to Barnabas that her parents committed her to an insane asylum, (under her real name "Maggie Evans"), as a child because she could see and talk to an invisible friend (Josette's ghost). Angelique arrives at the party in a sparkly red dress looking for Barnabas. Barnabas and Victoria confess their feelings for each other and kiss, unknowingly in Angelique's presence.

Upon discovering Dr. Hoffman's betrayal, Barnabas drains her blood and dumps her corpse in the ocean. Barnabas catches Roger trying to find the secret room and exposes Roger's lack of interest in his son. Barnabas makes him choose between being a good father to David, or accepting a lump sum of money to leave the family. Roger chooses to leave, deeply wounding his son's feelings. Immediately afterwards, Barnabas rescues David from a falling disco ball and stumbles into a beam of sunlight, burning his skin and exposing his secret to the horrified children and Victoria.

Later that night, Angelique calls Barnabas into her office and coaxes him into confessing to the murders he has committed since being freed from his imprisonment. Angelique offers him a choice, either rule Collinsport by her side as her partner and lover, or she will place him back in the coffin. Barnabas leaves choosing neither. Angelique pulls Barnabas into the coffin using her magic powers and traps him inside, leaving him in the family crypt. She then heads to town and sets the Collins canning factory on fire. David, however, has followed her to the crypt and frees Barnabas once she is gone.

Angelique plays her secretly-made tape recording of Barnabas' murder confession to the police and rallies the townsfolk, once more turning them against the Collins family. Angelique leads the mob to Collins Manor to arrest the entire family. Barnabas turns the tables, exposing Angelique as a witch. As the townspeople leave, Barnabas and Angelique begin to fight. Angelique makes all the sculpture and fixtures in the house come alive and attack the family. After Barnabas hits Angelique, she causes the house to drip blood. To her mother's shock, Carolyn turns into a werewolf, attacking Angelique, who knocks Carolyn out by throwing her across the room. Angelique then confesses to having killed David's mother at sea, sending a werewolf to bite Carolyn when she was a baby, and killing Barnabas' parents. David stands up for Barnabas and tells Angelique to leave; when she refuses, David summons his mother's vengeful ghost. The ghost gives a single scream which knocks Angelique into the chandelier. Angelique causes the house to erupt into flames, and the family flees.

Angelique pulls out her heart and offers it to Barnabas; he refuses it and the heart shatters as Angelique dies. Barnabas then discovers that Angelique has bewitched Victoria into jumping off of Widow's Hill, the same cliff where Josette fell to her death. After Carolyn turns back to her normal self, Elizabeth, Carolyn, David, and Willie stand outside while the Manor burns down. When the children ask what the family will do now, Elizabeth replies, "What we've always done - endure." Barnabas arrives moments before Victoria is about to jump and breaks the spell cast by Angelique. Victoria pleads with Barnabas to make her a vampire so that they can remain together forever, but he refuses. She then casts herself off the cliff, forcing Barnabas to jump with her and bite her neck to save her from mortal death. Now a vampire, Victoria and Josette become one. As the two kiss on the rocks in the waves, Barnabas narrates that he has been freed from his curse. The film ends with an underwater scene showing a school of fish swimming away from Dr. Hoffman, who suddenly opens both eyes wide and stares into the camera—newly immortal.


  • Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, an 18th-century vampire who awakens to the 20th century.[7] Justin Tracy appears briefly in the film as a young Barnabas. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 feature like a porcelain doll and like glass, her face becomes cracked when damaged, 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 generations of the "Bouchard Women".
  • 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.
  • 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 vault, 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.
  • 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 recoils after discovering his true nature.
  • 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.
  • Gulliver 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]
  • William Hope as Sheriff Bill of Collinsport
  • Hannah Murray as Hippie Chick
  • Guy Flanagan as Bearded Hippie

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 Danny Elfman
Released May 8, 2012
Recorded 2011–2012
Genre Orchestral
Length 52:45
Label WaterTower 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
No. Title Length
1. "Dark Shadows Prologue" (Uncut) 7:52
2. "Resurrection"   2:54
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
Released May 8, 2012
Recorded 1966–2012
Genre Progressive rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, pop, R&B, orchestral
Length 44:43
Label WaterTower Music, Sony Music
Producer Various, 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, "Top of the World" by The Carpenters, "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" by Barry White, "I'm Sick of You" by Iggy Pop, "Season of the Witch" by Donovan, "Get It On" by T. Rex and "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath. 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 the 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, and "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John.

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
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Nights in White Satin" (1967) The Moody Blues 4:26
2. "Dark Shadows – Prologue"   Danny Elfman 3:56
3. "I'm Sick of You" (1972/1973) Iggy Pop 6:52
4. "Season of the Witch" (1966) Donovan 4:56
5. "Top of the World" (1972) The Carpenters 3:01
6. "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (1974) Barry White 4:35
7. "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" (1971) T. Rex 4:26
8. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1972/1973) Alice Cooper 3:08
9. "Ballad of Dwight Fry" (1971) Alice Cooper 6:36
10. "The End?"   Danny Elfman 2:30
11. "The Joker" (original song from 1973) Johnny Depp 0:17


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. The film 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, with a "rotten" percentage of 37% and an average rating of 5.3/10 on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 231 reviews. The sites 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] Metacritic gives the film a score of 55% based on 42 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] and that Depp overacted in the film.[33] Many of the same, and other reviewers, however, noted its visual style was impressive.[34][35][36]

Positive reviewers, on the other hand, opined that the film did successfully translate the mood of the soap opera,[37] also acclaiming the actors—most notably Depp as Barnabas, who several said was the stand-out character due to his humorous culture shock,[35] as well as Pfeiffer[38]—and their characters; and further, that the film's '70s culture pastiche worked to its advantage.[39]

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.[35] 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."[34]

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."[36] 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."[37] 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 Gulliver McGrath Nominated [40]
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 web site.[41] The film was released on both formats several days earlier in Australia; in stores on September 24, and online on September 26, 2012.[42] The film was released on October 15, 2012 in the UK.

The DVD includes just one featurette, "The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons",[43] while the Blu-ray contains a total of nine short featurettes and six deleted scenes.[44] Several worldwide releases of both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

See also[edit]

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


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External links[edit]