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 from Liverpool to Maine and sets up a fishing port in the budding town that is then called Collinsport. Sixteen years later, The Collins' son Barnabas falls in love with a woman named Josette du Pres, upsetting a maid, Angelique Brouchard, who had been infatuated with Barnabas since childhood. In a fit of jealousy, Angelique turns to black magic to curse the Collins family thus causing the death of Barnabas' parents in an assumed accident and a possessed Josette to leap to her death from a cliff. Barnabas also attempts to commit suicide only to discover he survived due to another curse set upon him by Angelique to become an immortal vampire. After he spurns her again, Angelique turns the whole town against him, and Barnabas is buried alive by them.

In 1972, a young woman seeking to start a new life answers an ad for a governess at Collinwood, the Collins Manor in Collinsport. Deciding not to use her real name, she adopts the name "Victoria Winters". Once at the manor, she meets the matriarch of the Collins family Elizabeth Collins and their groundskeeper Willie, after meeting Elizabeth's fifteen-year old daughter Carolyn, she is interviewed and hired. At dinner, she meets Elizabeth's brother Roger, and his ten-year old son David as well as Julia Hoffman, a psychiatrist staying with them as she oversees David after a trauma of losing his mother in a drowning accident sometime prior. David believes he can see his mother's ghost, and Vicky says she believes him, unbeknownst to the rest that she can see ghosts, which resulted in incarceration at an asylum as a child. That night, Vicky sees a ghostly appearance of Josette who warns her that "He's coming" before disappearing. Elsewhere, a group of construction workers inadvertently discover Barnabas' coffin and he is freed, killing them all to sate his one hundred and ninety-six year old hunger. Returning to Collinwood, he meets Willie, whom he puts under a hypnotic trance to serve him. He meets Carolyn and David, and Elizabeth, who, believing him to be a conman, is convinced of his identity when he shows her a room of riches, when she believed the family property to be destitute. She convinces him to not reveal his true nature, and that he is a cousin visiting from England temporarily. Despite his aversion to sunlight, and uncanny character, the family accepts him as this. He meets Victoria and is instantly smitten, as she resembles Josette. Julia discovers his true nature during a hypnosis session and Elizabeth manages to convince her to keep it quiet, instead Julia offers a solution for Barnabas' vampirism by way of blood transfusions.

Barnabas successfully restarts the Collins' business, and learns that Angelique, an immortal witch is currently living as their primary competitor after running everyone else out of town. Barnabas uses hypnosis to convince the fishermen to work for him and he regains the capital. As Barnabas and Victoria become closer acquaintances. Angelique pleads with Barnabas to give in to her demands, and he has sex with her, but regrets it immediately and refuses to sell to her company.

Barnabas then discovers that Julia had been stealing his blood to make herself young and beautiful and he mercilessly kills her in retaliation, dumping her body into the bay. At a ball, hosted at Collinwood, Barnabas catches Roger stealing and gives him a choice; to stay and be an optimal father to David, or leave with enough money to live his life. Roger choses the latter, and breaks David's heart. Shortly afterward, Barnabas' nature is revealed to the children and to Victoria when he saves David from a falling disco ball.

Angelique approaches Barnabas with an ultimatum; surrender his company to her, or risk his nature and the fact he's killed several people for their blood. He refuses, and is immediately locked into a coffin and buried in the family mausoleum to remain forever. In revenge Angelique sets fire to the Collins fishing building. David, having been told by the ghost of his mother where Barnabas was, comes and frees him. Meanwhile, Angelique plays a recorded argument to the townsfolk, revealing Barnabas' admission that he killed Julia and successfully turns the town's folk against the Collins family, leading a mob to Collinwood. Barnabas confronts Angelique, revealing her immortal nature to the public as well, and in the fight its uncovered that Carolyn is a werewolf after having been bitten by one released by Angelique when Carolyn was a baby. During the fight, David calls on the spirit of his mother who attacks Angelique and traps her up on a chandelier, which then falls, mortally injuring her. She tears her heart out of her chest and tries to give it to Barnabas, but he refuses and the heart turns to dust in her hands as she dies. David tells Barnabas that Victoria is headed for the cliffs where Josette had died, and he rushes to save her. He fails to catch her and he jumps after her, as they plummet, he bites Victoria's neck, turning her into a vampire as both survive the fall.

In the end, David asks Elizabeth what they are going to do now, Elizabeth states that they will rebuild their home and move on. Meanwhile, in the depths of the ocean, Julia's eyes open, revealing her newfound immortality.


  • 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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  4. ^ "Dates Set for Dark Shadows, Journey 2 and Rivals". ComingSoon.net. May 13, 2011. 
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External links[edit]