- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), French, Portuguese, Spanish (Latino) Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish (Latino)
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: PG-13
- Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD )
- Digital Copies: UltraViolet
- Run Time: 113 Mins.
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: October 2, 2012
- List Price: $35.99
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(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland) and Johnny Depp (The Rum Diary; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Rango) team up once again for a journey into the macabre to resurrect the classic daytime drama Dark Shadows, but this time out the Burton visual magic and Depp charisma cannot save what is a flawed and ultimately dull rendition of a vampire story that should have remained buried.
Fishing magnate Barnabas Collins (Depp), falls in love with the innocent young beauty Josette (Bella Heathcote; In Time) and spurns the love of Angelique (Eva Green; TV’s Camelot; Perfect Sense; Casino Royale). But Barnabas chose the wrong woman to two-time, as Angelique was a witch, and in her scornful rage she punished Barnabas to a life of immortality as a vampire, turned the townspeople against him, and buried him alive. Two centuries later, in 1972, Barnabas is inadvertently released from his grave where he returns to his estate, Collinwood, only to find it in disrepair and his descendants haunted by the macabre secrets of the Collins family. Setting out to rebuild the family fortune and name, Barnabas finds himself once again battling his old scorned lover, Angelique, who has taken over all the fishing contracts in the small fishing village. What’s more, his true love, Josette, appears to have returned as well, in the form of the Collins’ children’s nanny, the sweet young Victoria (also payed by Heathcote).
Where Burton and Depp play up enough melodrama in this rendition of Dark Shadows to remind us all that at its roots it is in fact a soap opera, the story trips over itself by meandering into too many 1970s jokes. It’s as if the writers and Burton couldn’t decide if they wanted Dark Shadows to be a straight remake of the daytime drama classic, or comedic spoof of the series. It should also be noted that members of the cast, like Michelle Pfeifer (Scarface) and Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; The King’s Speech), are tragically underused in favor of bringing the core love triangle of Barnabas, Josette, and Angelique to the fore. Even so, the love triangle itself takes a backseat to the interplay between Barnabas and Angelique, which makes for the only truly compelling parts of the film. Eva Green is terrific, as usual, as the seductive viper, while Depp plays the undead Lothario to a tee. When we do reach the culminating action sequences that bring Dark Shadows to a close, however, we are neither surprised nor fully invested in any of the characters.
Dark Shadows was shot on 35mm Kodak Vision3 500T 5219 using Arricam LT and Arricam ST cameras. The heavily processed image almost has the look of an original high definition production, save for a few telltale signs of natural film grain that appear in the darker areas of the images. Lots of soft filters are applied, especially in scenes with Eva Green, for that old-time ingénue look, so very sharp detail isn’t what you get with this AVC/MPEG-4 encodement. However, the contrast is strong, with inky, obsidian blacks and pale whites. There are little flaws to speak of even as the overall presentation never really pops due to the artistic choices of the filmmakers.
No complaints at all about this lossless soundtrack other than it s provided only in 16-bit. With that being said, the DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/16-bit) mix oozes with atmosphere, which is a big plus for anything horror related. There are ample lows to bolster the action sequences and lots of directional panning of discrete sound effects across the front and to the surround channels. Dialogue is full and clean as well, never getting lost under the effects.
All the video supplements are offered in 1080p and they cover they cover most aspects of the film’s production, offering interviews with the cast and crew.
- Focus Points – These Focus Points can be accessed individually or can be viewed during film playback:
- Becoming Barnabas (05:23) – It takes more than just a set of prosthetic fangs! Get the scoop directly from Johnny Depp on his reimagining of this infamous and undead cult character.
- Welcome to Collinsport! (04:26) – Explore every strange nook and peculiar cranny of the most spectacularly detailed city to never exist.
- The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons (06:49) – Become scarily familiar with this creepy cast of quirky characters as Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and their costars reveal their unique working relationship.
- Reliving a Decade (04:54) – From groovy bell-bottoms to classic rock’n’roll, strut through the ’70s and discover the tops-turvy world that Barnabas finds himself in after centuries in the grave.
- Angelique: A Witch Scorned (02:58) – Johnny Depp and Eva Green reveal the lurid details of their characters’ centuries old lascivious and tumultuous relationship.
- Alice Cooper Rocks Collinsport! (02:25) – Shock rock the night away with the master of musical horror himself, Alice Cooper, as Johnny Depp and the cast invite him to rock the roof off Collinsport Manor.
- Dark Shadowy Secrets (03:53) – Watch out for exploding buildings and all manner of bizarre, supernatural occurrences as Tim Burton’s spectacular props and special effects wizards bring this eccentric world to crazy life.
- A Melee of Monstrous Proportions (03:59) – Join the fight and experience the thrilling final battle sequence in a way that only Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could imagine.
- Dark Shadows: The Legend Bites Back (02:05) – Uncover the method behind Tim Burton’s madness as he twists and tweaks his favorite classic movie monsters for the gothic universe Dark Shadows.
- Deleted Scenes:
- Dr. Hoffman and Elizabeth discuss Barnabas
- David and Barnabas discuss Dinosaurs
- Carolyn and Victoria – Girl Talk
- Police warn Willie and Barnabas
- Dr. Hoffman offers Victoria help
The Definitive Word
A flawed effort that has a few interesting moments and is filled with the usual visual characteristics of Tim Burton, Dark Shadows is ultimately another disappointing resurrection of this cult series. The drama is lacking in impact, the comedy too goofy and out of place in the horror-inspired storyline, and the characters aren’t well defined. Even with its flaws, however, Dark Shadows still presents itself quite well on Blu-ray.
Additional Screen Captures