By Alan Silverman
A Soap Opera from the 1960s gets a makeover in director Tim Burton’s new horror-comedy Dark Shadows features his favorite lead actor, Johnny Depp.
In the 1770s, a curse turned Barnabas into a vampire. In 1972, a construction crew digs up his coffin and the denizen of the dark finds his way back to what remains of the Collins estate.
His cousin Elizabeth, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, thinks he can restore the Collins line to its former greatness. But Barnabas soon discovers that Angelique, the witch who cursed him, is still around.
Johnny Depp plays Barnabas, angst-ridden by his fate and confused by the world in which he awakes.
“The idea of this very elegant gentleman who is brought back to probably the most surreal era of our times, the 1970s. How he would react to things like ‘pet rocks’ and troll dolls and lava lamps,” explains Depp.
“What was most interesting in terms of Barnabas was to make that guy, clearly a vampire, fit into this odd society and this dysfunctional family,” the star adds.
Dark Shadows is Depp’s eighth film with Tim Burton – a creative partnership that began with the 1990 horror fable Edward Scissorhands. Burton is comfortable with the macabre, but admits it was a challenge to stay true to this film’s soap opera origins.
“The weirdest challenge was to get the kind of acting tone – the kind of soap opera nature – which is a weird thing to go for in a Hollywood movie,” confides Burton. “That’s why I was so grateful to all of the cast because even the ones that didn’t know the TV show kind of got into the spirit of it.”
Dark Shadows also features rising star Chloe Grace Moretz as a moody and mysterious teenager in the Collins clan. Helena Bonham Carter plays a conniving doctor who plots to use the ageless Barnabas to help her find eternal youth. And Eva Greene is the spurned witch Angelique who is right at home in modern times. Dark Shadows features an array of 1970s music, including a cameo by rock star Alice Cooper.