Another kooky role for Depp

JOHNNY DEPP as Barnabas Collins in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' gothic comedy "DARK SHADOWS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
JOHNNY DEPP as Barnabas Collins in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' gothic comedy "DARK SHADOWS," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

LONG before Robert Pattinson’s fangs spawned a billion dollar franchise – and even before Sarah Michelle Gellar routinely staked the undead – a cult US TV show gripped a 60s generation.

Dark Shadows has since had a makeover at the hands of gothic film impresario, Tim Burton, and with it comes the usual, but unfalteringly competent, cast of A-List suspects.

Johnny Depp takes up the mantle of the cursed Barnabas Collins, a dandy vampire who having spent 200 years buried alive for scorning the affections of wicked witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), wakes up to find it’s1972 and times have drastically changed.

Returning to his crumbling mansion to find the newest generation of Collinses living off the dwindling remains of his former fortune, he resolves to resurrect the family’s fishing business.

But his evil nemesis – in her new guise as cut-throat businesswoman, Angie – has other plans in store which do not include Barnabas winning the affections of doe-eyed Vicky (Bella Heathcoate).

While the culture clashes provide the obvious gags, Burton’s typically dark directorial stamp is offset by the hammy acting which in this instance helps retain the low-budget air of an American 60s sitcom.

Depp slips back into his kooky character stereotype, resurrecting his armoury of double takes and unplaceable English accent for what seems like the hundredth time.

Playing the vampire confused by the new world isn’t without its chuckles though as Depp stands mesmerised by the “devil” – the golden arches of McDonald’s.

And a cameo from glam-rocker Alice Cooper – who ironically hasn’t changed his appearance since the 1970s – tips the iceberg of soundtrack classics used throughout the film.

Michelle Pfeiffer’s matriarch character is unfortunately a little two-dimensional and the only real merit to Helena Bonham-Carter’s superficial live-in psychiatrist is to leave the door open for a sequel.

Heathcoate gives a measured performance as the haunted, reincarnated love of Barnabas’ past life, but it’s Green who steals the show with her evil seductive sorceress routine, playing the ultimate bunny-boiler with the sort of wonderful mad-eyed crazy normally seen only by cartoon characters.