Dark Shadows Parent Guide
Tim Burton won't disappoint his fans that enjoy his outlandish characters and wacky scenarios. But families are a different kettle of fish.
Parent Movie Review
In spite of their shared involvement in the occult, the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine is not the Cullens family of Forks, Washington. Nor are they the oddball Addams Family. However, the Collins clan is equally as peculiar as both of them. Cursed by a scorned lover in the 1700s, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is unearthed as a vampire 200 years later in the quaint little fishing town his parents established. Fangs aside, his formal attire and archaic language make him stand out in the 1972 community of dope smoking hippies, rock-n-roll music and lava lamps.
Introducing himself to the present occupants of the Collins’ house, Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her ne’er-do-well brother Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), Barnabas discovers both the family’s business and mansion are in shambles. Eager to restore the Collins Empire to its previous glory, he goes about refurbishing the manor and redeveloping the fishing operation.
His chief competition on the waterfront is Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), owner of Angie’s Fish. The high-powered fishmonger is also the well-preserved witch who hexed Barnabas. Although 20 decades have passed, she remains as adamant as ever that the bloodthirsty beast love her and no one else. That’s a bad omen for the demure governess Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote). The young teacher looks just like Barnabas’s 1760 love interest—the one that throws herself off a cliff after being put under Angelique’s spell.
As Barnabas struggles to win Victoria’s love and resist Angelique’s renewed sexual advances (something he doesn’t always do well), he has to adapt to life on the estate. Along with his cousins and their two troubled offspring (Chloë Grace Moretz, Gulliver McGrath), he copes with the perpetually inebriated family psychiatrist (Helen Bonham Carter) and the hammered household handyman (Jackie Earle Haley).
All these dysfunctional personalities and warped family secrets add up to a dark comedy that waffles between a quirky fish out of water tale and a fiendish yarn of bloody, murderous mayhem. The emphasis is on the bloody when Barnabas snacks on a crew of construction workers. Later, blood oozes from the walls of the mansion and from a man’s wound when he is shot in the back. Other content concerns arise around the frequent depictions of smoking. And though Barnabas and Angelique keep most of their clothes on during their wild sexual romp that leaves her office in a shredded mess, the script contains plenty of crude sexual humor and comments.
Director Tim Burton, known for bizarre films like the Corpse Bride, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Mars Attacks, likely won’t disappoint his fans that enjoy his outlandish characters and wacky scenarios. But even Barnabas’ devotion to members of his bloodline isn’t enough to make this offbeat fish story one that family viewers will want to sink their teeth into.Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release May 11, 2012. Updated July 8, 2016
Rating & Content Info
Why is Dark Shadows rated PG-13? Dark Shadows is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.
Violence: Characters engage in the dark arts. Several characters throw themselves off of a cliff onto the rocks below. A character is buried alive. A vampire’s face, hands and clothing are covered with blood after he kills and drinks the blood of numerous characters. A child is sent to a mental institute by her parents and subjected to electroshock therapy. Another parent deserts a child. Characters secretly dispose of a woman’s body after she is murdered. A man goes through the coat pockets of guests and steals their money and jewelry. An explosion causes a building fire. A home is also engulfed in flames. Characters engage in hand-to-hand fighting. Others are shot, threatened, chocked and attacked with makeshift weapons. Blood is depicted in several scenes. A man and woman engage in a brutal fight and a death results from a fall.
Sexual Content: Couples engage in passionate kissing. Oral sex is implied between a doctor and patient. A woman rubs her hands seductively over a man’s clothed body. A scene of wild sexual activity is depicted although the adults remain clothed. A woman wears provocative clothing. A male character mistakes a teen for a hooker. A man refers to a woman’s “fertile birthing hips”. A woman removes her panties and lays them across a man’s face. Other brief moments of sexual innuendo are included.
Language: The script contains profanities, terms of Deity and scatological slang.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Several characters smoke and drink at home and in social settings. A woman is seen smoking after sex. Several characters are frequently drunk. Young adult characters smoke illegal drugs. Other brief drug references are made.
Page last updated July 8, 2016
Dark Shadows Parents' Guide
This movie is based on a cult TV series that ran as a soap opera from 1966 to 1971.
What are the challenges of making a TV series into a full-length movie? How does the vampire in this story differ from the ones portrayed in the Twilight series or Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant?
Why is Barnabas eager to restore the family empire?
How is love portrayed in this film? How does Barnabas’ affection for his family differ from the kind of passion Angelique demonstrates?
The most recent home video release of Dark Shadows movie is October 2, 2012. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Dark Shadows
Release Date: 2 October 2012
Dark Shadows releases to home video in a Theatrical or Unrated version. Bonus extras includes:
- Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy of Dark Shadows
- Becoming Barnabus
- Deleted Scenes
- Welcome To Collinsport!
- The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons
- Reliving a Decade
- Angelique: A Witch Scorned
- Alice Cooper Rocks Collinsport!
- Dark Shadowy Secrets
- A Melee of Monstrous Proportions
- Dark Shadows: The Legend Bites Back
- Maximum Movie Mode