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Movie Review

Dark Shadows

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Mystery Thriller Horror Drama
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 11, 2012 (wide—3,700+ theaters)
DVD: October 2, 2012
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

people trying to destroy others’ lives because they have been rejected or are jealous


witches and witchcraftin the Bible


ghosts in the Bible

murder and death

rebellious teenage daughter

Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

magic and magicians in the Bible


lost love

blood in the Bible

alcoholism and drunkenness

dysfunctional family


Young Victoria is strapped down and receives electroshock treatment.

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

Featuring: Johnny DeppBarnabas Collins
Michelle PfeifferElizabeth Collins Stoddard
Helena Bonham CarterDr. Julia Hoffman
Eva Green … Angelique Bouchard
Jackie Earle HaleyWillie Loomis
Jonny Lee Miller … Roger Collins
Bella Heathcote … Victoria Winters/Josette DuPres
Chloë Grace Moretz … Carolyn Stoddard
more »
Director: Tim Burton
Producer: Dan Curtis Productions
GK Films
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“The legend bites back”

After Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) refused to declare love for his servant Angelique (Eva Green), he soon learns the devastating consequences of his rejection. Unbeknownst to him, Angelique is a witch who not only murders the people Barnabas loves, she denies him his own death, by cursing him to be an immortal vampire. Chained in a coffin, Barnabas remains locked away for nearly two centuries.

Upon his release, he returns to his family home and meets the current remaining family members. Since the still-living Angelique has made it her mission to completely ruin the Collins lineage, the newly awakened Barnabas becomes determined to help restore the family business and adjust to living in the 1970s.

There isn’t much more to the plot, and this is where the film falls into mediocrity. “Dark Shadows” marks Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s eighth film collaboration; the acting and cinematography are excellent… The gothic setting and the first accumulation of scenes are well-made and entertaining. Seeing Barnabas’s reactions to modern society held some charm; however, these points could only carry the film so far. Near the end, it wanes to a rather anticlimactic fight scene, where Barnabas simply stands around. Further marring the film is its objectionable content.

Objectionable content

Ghosts and witchcraft are heavily woven throughout the entire movie. Ghosts are shown inhabiting the Collins mansion. One has crabs crawling over her, while the other screams in an attempt to murder someone. Angelique is shown casting spells by adding ingredients to a pot and chanting the required words. One of her spells causes a massive stone to fall onto Barnabas’ parents (the screen blackens on impact). After his parents’ death, Barnabas states that he got into dark magic. Angelique also forces Barnabas’s fiancée to throw herself from a cliff. In his grief, Barnabas, too, falls off the cliff in an attempted suicide, but awakens as a vampire.

Barnabas also kills several people, himself. When first released, he attacks several construction workers to quench his thirst. He’s mostly shown snatching the screaming men off screen to drain them and then dropping them when they’re dead. When Barnabas is double crossed by a female character, he kills her, wraps her body in a sheet and dumps her body into the ocean. In another scene, he is shown apologizing to a group of people, since he has to kill them; only screaming can be heard.

Foul language is around the 17 mark: “d_mn (5),” “b_tch” (2), “sh_t” (3), “a_s,” etc. Profanity includes “Jesus” (2), “Oh Chr_st,” “My G_d” (4), and OMG.

There are some sexual innuendos, as well. Barnabas compliments a woman’s fertile hips and confuses a teenager for a hooker. Barnabas talks about suckled “teats.” Barnabas and the family have a lengthy conversation about balls. While he believes he’s talking about dances, they obviously think otherwise. A female psychiatrist asks Barnabas if he knows about patient/doctor confidentiality. When he asks her to enlighten him, she then bends down, heavily implying oral sex.

Most of the sexual content comes from Angelique. Throughout the film she wears short dresses and low-cut outfits. She tells Barnabas that she’ll make him love her by giving him her body. She sensuously rubs him and, at one time, put his hand on her breast. They sleep together and are shown throwing each other across the room, rolling around, and Angelique deeply scratches Barnabas’s back. Sadly, there are a lot more instances of debauchery between Angelique and Barnabas. For instance, she is shown taking off her red panties and placing it over Barnabas’s face and nose.

There are several kissing scenes. Barnabas and his love interest kiss in about 4 scenes. A boy’s father tells him to guard the coat room, while he and the coat attendant spend time inside. While there, the girl tries a drug. They then kiss, and he gets on top of her.

I don’t personally recommend “Dark Shadows”. The great majority of humorous scenes can be found in the theatrical trailers. I wouldn’t say that Depp and Burton’s work here is a complete failure, but it is definitely not their best collaboration and quite high in the objectionable content.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how “Dark Shadows” advances the kingdom of darkness, or how walking in the light should make me not want to watch such a movie. I was a fan of the TV series, both the original and the 1991 remake, and was looking forward eagerly to the movie. Now that I have seen it, I can say that it was not the comedy many fans of the series were fearing it was; in fact, one should not be prejudiced by the trailers, as they offer a glimpse of the film’s humor, but not its horror.

For those who have never heard of “Dark Shadows,” the film follows the basic premise of the ABC soap opera of the same name that aired from 1966-1971: a man named Barnabas Collins has an affair with the servant of his true love, the servant’s name being Angelique, who unbeknownst to him is a very powerful witch; when he discards her, she ultimately curses him to be a vampire, which then leads to his being chained in a coffin for nearly two centuries before being freed and finding himself in a very different world from the one he last saw, which results in much of the film’s humor.

Unlike Dracula and other more or less famous vampires, Barnabas Collins hates being what he is; never has there been a more self-loathing vampire, and his inner pain is compounded by both his memory of his true love’s suicide two hundred years earlier and his discovery that a modern woman is the mirror image of his lost love.

Played by Johnny Depp, Barnabas is the ultimate example of a guilt-ridden man whose addiction to something, in this case blood, forces him to do things he reviles himself for, though he bears a good part of the blame for this, by having sinned initially with the witch who cursed him. I was quite impressed by how well the character of Barnabas, as fashioned initially by the late Jonathan Frid, who has a cameo appearance in the film, was portrayed by Depp, and it was hard not to feel sympathy for his dilemma of being a murderous vampire who cares deeply for his family and is still being tormented by Angelique.

It is clear that “Dark Shadows,” and other movies like it, is not for every Christian, and many would do well to avoid watching it, if the subject of vampires offends them. For others whose faith is not threatened, I recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Edward, age 41 (USA)
Positive—As a fan of the original 60’s soap and the “91 remake, I thought the story line was interesting with a good deal of detail that matched or at least merged with the basic plot of both. Some of the sexual innuendo was unnecessary but I liked the movie overall and thought the ending gave a satisfying end to what the “91 remake was unable to do.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—E. Black, age 53 (USA)
Negative—Look, I watched this movie to see if my children 8 and 13 could watch it. There are not many PG-13 that I do not allow them to watch. I expected it to be a little dark, witty and maybe theatrically scary. My kids have watched Harry Potter movies, and they are a little scary, witty and dark, however light prevails. This movie is yet another Hollywood test movie, it had way too many sexual references, like boobs and panties in the mouth, having sex all over the room, ceiling, floor and walls. They had many foul words, like bit** and whore and drug use. I watched this movie with my mouth hanging open and dumb founded that the MPAA must be blind!! I would NEVER let my kids watch this movie!! SHAME ON YOU Motion Picture Association!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kelly, age 32 (USA)
Negative—Many years ago I would’ve been sad that a movie version of “Dark Shadows” failed. Now, walking in the Light, I am relieved that director Tim Burton chose to attempt a parody or comic version and failed. It’s not funny. It’s not scary. Surprising that there are many suggestive and sexually explicit scenes, and that Barnabas calls on Lucifer… several times.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Barnabas Collins, the lovesick vampire, is in character. Barnabas despises being a vampire, longs for his lost love, struggles to comprehend and fit into the world after “awakening” 200 years later, and is devoted to his family, well, their descendants. He attempts to restore and rebuild the family and overcome Angelique, the witch who cursed him and his family.

Otherwise, the movie is dull. It doesn’t work. The original “Dark Shadows,” the Gothic horror soap opera from 1966-1971 gained cult status, introducing new generations to the occult and witchcraft; the Harry Potter of its day. Thankfully, this new version is likely to pass into the shadows without advancing the kingdom of darkness.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Negative—I should have checked this Web site before seeing this movie. The commercials made it seem like this movie would be quirky, funny and a bit cheesy… mostly it was just disappointing and gross. It was violent, bloody, and sexually inappropriate—with a PG-13 rating! My friends and I walked away feeling like we wasted our money. Skip this one!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Susan, age 50 (USA)
Negative—We were pulled in by a combination of nostalgia and Johnny Depp. And that pretty much sums up this dull movie. The 70s songs and the reminiscing, along with some funny lines, kept things going for a while but with half the movie to go that stuff ran out of steam. Tim Burton must have felt it too, because then the lewdness and crudeness took over. His fascination with vampires and the supernatural moved to vampire sex and my disinterest turned to revulsion.

In summary, this loser is a close race between boredom and perversion. One of our group fell asleep twice and no one liked this movie. Seeing ads for it remind me of how ripped off I felt coming out of the theater. Skip it and warn your friends.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Ed, age 54 (USA)
Negative—Went because the commercial made it look like a comedy. It was boring, not funny, and the sexual scenes made me so uncomfortable, I left the theater. They used God’s Name in vain. Please don’t waste your money on this one, not even at the dollar theater or on a DVD for a rainy day.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kris, age 37 (USA)
Negative—This is by far the WORST movie I have seen in a while. It was entertaining, at first, funny at times, and well acted, but half hour into it, it simply fell apart. The movie had no point, no plot, no resolution.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Jason, age 33 (USA)

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