Face-Off: Dark Shadows vs. Crimson Peak

In our previous Face-Off, we brought you a mid-90's Cage match with THE ROCK vs. CON AIR. I gave THE ROCK the edge for being a more well-rounded movie, and the vast majority of you agreed. There was also some love for FACE/OFF, which isn't surprising as it nicely rounds out that trilogy of mayhem.

This week, with Tim Burton's MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN hitting theaters and October right around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look at two gothic horror/romance films of the past few years. Burton's own DARK SHADOWS revamped (sorry) the classic television show with a comedic spin, while Guillermo del Toro's CRIMSON PEAK brought us a more dramatic tale of love, betrayal, and ghosts. Without further ado, let's find out which film will survive and which will be left to roam the halls of the internet for eternity.
Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins
Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard
Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters / Josette
Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman
Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis
Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins
Chloë Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard
Gulliver McGrath as David Collins
Christopher Lee as Clarney
Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing
Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe
Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe
Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael
Jim Beaver as Carter Cushing
Burn Gorman as Holly
Leslie Hope as Mrs. McMichael
Doug Jones as Edith's Mother / Lady Sharpe

These are both stellar casts to be sure, and CRIMSON PEAK features three powerhouse performances, but I'm giving this one to DARK SHADOWS for how fun, colorful, and disparate the characters are.
Collinsport, Maine, 1776 and 1972

The fusion of Georgian/Colonial style with the culture of a 1970's American fishing village makes for a unique setting, with the Collinwood estate and its mysterious hidden passages at its centerpiece.
Buffalo, New York and Cumberland, England, 1887

The mansion here is absolutely stunning and serves as another character in the film. Even the locations outside of the mansion are exquisite and make almost every frame a treat for the eyes.
In a fit of unrequited love, a witch murders a vampire's family and lover and buries him alive. Two hundred years later, he escapes, returning to his estate to find his descendants residing there, the witch a powerful presence in the town, and a potential new love.
When an English baronet falls for an American author, he takes her away following her father's death to a mysterious mansion in England to live with his sister. The author has seen ghosts all her life, who now appear to warn her of the dangerous family she's found herself in.
"My name is Barnabas Collins. Two centuries ago, I made Collinwood my home... until a jealous witch cursed me, condemning me to the shadows, for all time."

"I was awakened, by a giant dragon with millions of teeth and a thousand shining eyes!"

"Do you think the sexes should be equal?"
"Heavens, no. Men would become quite unmanageable."
"I think we're going to get along fine."

"My beloved home, what have they done to you?"

"Are you stoned or something?"
"They tried stoning me, my dear. It did not work."

"My name is Victoria Winters. Please, call me Vicky."
"Enchanted. But I shall call you Victoria, a name so wonderful to me that I could not stand to lose a single syllable of it."

"She has the most fertile birthing hips I've ever set eyes upon."
"You're weird."

"I am reminded of a line from Erich Segal's 'Love Story': 'Love means never having to say you're sorry.' However, it is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you."

"What sorcery is this? Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!"

"I guess the only thing missing is Alice Cooper."
"Perhaps you should go and acquaint yourself with the evening's entertainment. Ugliest woman I've ever seen."

"Here are my terms: Goest thou to hell, and swiftly please, and there may Azmodaeus himself suckle from your diseased teat!"

"You may strategically place your wonderful lips upon my posterior and kiss it repeatedly!"

"I suppose, strictly in the name of her honor, I must now defile myself for a few seconds..."

"Sleeping flame, I summon thee / To your form return / Make the night as bright as day / And burn, baby, burn!"

"I'm a werewolf, okay? Let's not make a big deal out of it. Woof."

"I killed your parents and every one of your lovers. They kept us apart."

"If I can't have you, my love, I'll destroy you!"

"I have spent the last two centuries locked in a box, with nothing to keep me occupied but a glimpse into the dark shadows of my soul."

"It is said that blood is thicker than water. It is what joins us, binds us... curses us. My name is Barnabas Collins, and my curse has finally been broken."
"Ghosts are real. This much I know. The first time I saw one I was ten years old. It was my mother's. Black cholera had taken her. So Father ordered a closed casket, asked me not to look. There were to be no parting kisses. No goodbyes. No last words. That is, until the night she came back."

"It seems he's a baronet."
"What's a baronet?"
"Well, an aristocrat of some sort."
"A man that feeds off land that others work for him. A parasite with a title."
"This parasite is perfectly charming and a magnificent dancer. Although, that wouldn't concern you, would it, Edith, our very young Jane Austen? Though, she died a spinster, no?"
"Actually, Mrs. McMichael, I would prefer to be Mary Shelley. She died a widow."

"Where I come from, ghosts are not to be taken lightly."

"I cannot leave you here. In fact, I find myself thinking about you even at the most inopportune moments of the day. I feel as if a link exists between your heart and mine, and should that link be broken, either by distance or by time, then my heart would cease to beat and I would die."

"Goodness. How many rooms are there?"
"I don't know. Would you like to count them?"

"They're dying. They take the heat from the sun, and when it deserts them, they die."
"How sad."
"No, it's not sad, Edith. It's nature. It's a world of everything dying and eating each other right beneath our feet."
"Surely there's more to it than that."
"Beautiful things are fragile... At home we have only black moths. Formidable creatures, to be sure, but they lack beauty. They thrive on the dark and cold."
"What do they feed on?"
"Butterflies, I'm afraid."

"You're so... different."
"From who?"

"You're monsters. Both of you!"
"Funny. That's the last thing Mother said, too."

"The horror was for love. The things we do for love like this are ugly, mad, full of sweat and regret. This love burns you and maims you and twists you inside out. It is a monstrous love and it makes monsters of us all."

"I won't stop until you kill me or I kill you."

"I won't stop until you kill me or I kill you."
"I heard you the first time."

"Ghosts are real, this much I know. There are things that tie them to a place, very much like they do to us. Some remain tethered to a patch of land, a time and date, the spilling of blood, a terrible crime... There are others, others that hold onto an emotion, a drive, loss, revenge, or love. Those, they never go away."
Rather than using the bleak, dark, and old as a stark contrast to the bright, cheery, and new as he did with EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, Tim Burton instead melds the two in DARK SHADOWS. While the film feels a bit uneven and melodramatic at times, Burton blends these styles and genres surprisingly well.
With works like PACIFIC RIM and the HELLBOY films, we've seen Guillermo del Toro's tendency to take things to extremes more than once. CRIMSON PEAK is much more subdued, though, bringing enough intimacy to make the film feel organic and real and enough of a flourish to leave it awash with a sense of romance and fantasy.
This is where DARK SHADOWS falls apart. We're never really told exactly what Angelique's powers weaknesses are, so the twists and turns of the final battle feel more alienating than exciting, including the underwhelming reveal of Carolyn as a werewolf. Add to that Burton's tendency to make every other moment slapsticky or overblown, and the whole thing ends up a bit of a mess.
CRIMSON PEAK is a bit of a slow burn, with much of the film playing more like a costume drama than a horror story. Once the final act kicks off, though, we're treated to a very satisfying bloodfest, with sacrifices and triumphs and all of the pieces set into place in the first two acts paying off. Also, the fact that the finale moves through different parts of the house gives it a nice sense of magnitude.
Danny Elfman delivers another of his classic scores, featuring a grand, sweeping orchestra and choir for the melodramatic moments, an underlying tension, and a sense of playfulness, the latter of which is rounded out with some choice selections from the early 1970's.
Spanish composer Fernando Velázquez lends his considerable talent to CRIMSON PEAK, providing an extremely tense, driving score which heightens the sense of horror, drama, and romance and adds to the classical setting and feel of the film.
IMDB: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 37% (Audience Score: 46%)
Metacritic: 55 (User Score: 5.7)
Domestic Total Gross: $79,727,159
IMDB: 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 71% (Audience Score: 55%)
Metacritic: 66 (User Score: 7.6)
Domestic Total Gross: $31,090,320
There's no question both Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro are visual masterminds, but they tend to be hit or miss when it comes to their directorial work. That said, while CRIMSON PEAK may have left audiences underwhelmed, it's still a solid, beautifully designed film, while DARK SHADOWS feels like a less exciting, less imaginative version of Burton's previous works. Let me know which you prefer below, and if you're so inclined, check out my recent visit to Guillermo del Toro's art installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art here. Burton's MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN goes wide September 30th, and del Toro is set to bring us THE SHAPE OF WATER in 2017.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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