Monday Movies–Dark Shadows

dark shadows movie poster

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows is a “remake” of the popular 1960s television drama (or soap opera, if you will) of the same name. The story of a vampire who returns for the love of his family, here, Johnny Depp plays the inimitable Barnabas Collins. Once the toast of the small and growing town of Collinswood, Maine, he had the bad fortune to catch the eye and heart of a witch. The problem is, he didn’t return her love. So she cursed his true love and forced her, in a trance, to take a deadly flying leap.

And Cursed Barnabas to live for all eternity as a vampire.

In this movie, Barnabas returns to Collinswood, now basking in the psychedelic glow of the 70s, and finds the Collins family nearly living on skid row, with an uptight teenage daughter and a troubled young boy in their midst. The boy, poor dear, lost his mother to suicide but swears he sees and talks to her ghost. His psychologist, Victoria, is working with him to try to help the dear lad separate fantasy from reality.

And when Barnabas sees her, well, he’s instantly in love. It can only be his Victoria returned from the dead. He’ll win her heart he thinks, and bring the family back from oblivion. So long as the matriarch of the family keeps his secret, that he’s 100 year old vampire.

But time has been kind to Collins’ enemies as  well and the witch Angelique returns, determined to shred the last vestiges of the Collins family legacy. She controls all but one of the fishing boats in town, and despite Barnabas’ best efforts, that control isn’t going to slip easily. She’ll compromise, however, if Barnabas will bow to her whims and become her lover.

I was far too young to watch the series when it first came on television, and I guess I’m glad I was. I’ve heard lots of bad press about this movie from fans of the television show, and quite frankly the previews made the thing look dreadful. (And Burton’s movies are always, always hit and miss for me. Beetlejuice, good, Willy Wonka bad. Nightmare before Christmas, one of my all time favorite Christmas movies.)

Because of all that, I didn’t have high hopes going into Dark Shadows, and those aforementioned friends of mine who are fans of the show wouldn’t see if it you tied them up like Alex in Clockwork Orange.

It’s well-known (and damn near his trademark) that Burton has a dreadful habit of destroying—erm, I mean, “reimagining” other people’s masterpieces, however… I was quite pleased with how Burton handled this. It has its highly cheesy moments, and if you’ve seen the trailer…you’ve seen about 98% of them. But the story is really good, very dark and broody and almost suspenseful. I felt for poor Barnabas and Victoria and rooted for them to win. And even the cheese factor wasn’t too bad. (I admit it, I found the Alice Cooper section a nice little touch and would’ve loved it if they’d included the entire performance in the extras (gee, wouldn’t that’ve been a good idea, DVD manufacturers, you think?). But hey. I do like his music anyway. >:)) and he pulled together an interesting cast around his core worshippers of Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Eva Green did her best at Angelique, I suppose but I’d rather see her in Camelot or reprising her role as the witch in Golden Compass (where is that sequel??) By god, Burton even conned—erm, hired—Christopher Lee to be in Dark Shadows!

And the ghost! The first couple times Victoria sees her…well, it’s not as creepy as say, The Grudge, or Sixth Sense (*shudder*) but nicely done.

Despite it’s missteps, all in all, I really enjoyed Dark Shadows, and if you go in with an open mind (and maybe with low expectations), you just might enjoy it too.

Dark Shadows Warner Bros site

Dark Shadows at IMDb

At Amazon

Top Romantic films for Valentine’s Day

Top romantic films for Valentine’s day

It’s that time of year again, and since I usually do a movies thing on Monday I thought I’d combine them. There are tons of lists out there, everyone’s got their own favorite, and some movie choices that made me go WTH? And some I had to leave off just because—well, I had to cut myself off somewhere. When it came down to it though, it turned out incredibly hard to pick just a few. So forgive me if I missed one of your faves.

An Affair to Remember

A playboy named Nickie (Cary Grant) meets the lovely Terry (Deborah Kerr) on a luxury cruise, they flirt, and when he invites her to meet his mother, on a stopover, the encounter has Terry falling head over heels for Nickie. At the end of the cruise they agree to meet again in six months’ time, but tragedy prevents the meeting. When he finds out why Terry never showed up… well, it’s all good. You’ll have to see the movie to find out the end. I don’t want to spoil it for you. ;)

Somewhere in Time

A young actor (Christopher Reeve) falls for the portrait of a long-dead actress, and dares to go back in time to try to win the actress’ (Jane Seymour) heart.

Cold Mountain

A young man (Jude Law) sent off to fight the Civil War finds himself wounded, decides he’s not going back to the front and walks across two states to get home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina and the gal he loves (Nicole Kidman), dodging soldiers out to drag him back, runaway slaves, and befriended by a not so pious preacher. Meanwhile, Ada loses her father and has to learn to run her huge farm with only one helping hand the tenacious Ruby (Renée Zellweger).

A Room with A View

A young woman (Helena Bonham Carter)  and her escort (Maggie Smith), Charlotte, travel around Italy where they meet the most bizarre young man (Julian Sands). In the center of Rome, despite her escort’s best efforts to keep her charge pure, they fall in love.


Steve Martin’s classic (hilarious) retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Martin plays C.D. Bales, the fire chief of a very inept fire crew, and owner of a very large nose. He  falls for Roxanne (Daryl Hannah)—a young astronomer when their paths continually cross. Trouble is, C.D. isn’t exactly the most handsome man on the block, and Daryl has eyes for his new recruit—Chris, a guy that wouldn’t know romance if it bit him. He turns to C.D. for a little poetic help.

27 Dresses

A reporter (James Marsden) hears of Jane (Katherine Hiegel),  a woman who’s been a bridesmaid 27 times in a row and decides to get the inside scoop. But the woman isn’t sure she wants to be a bridesmaid again, when she would stand for her sister–who’s marrying the man Katherine loves.


Carl has lost his wife of fifty years but… decides he must keep their dream of moving to Africa, just like their hero. Trouble is, his house is about to be taken away, and Carl forced into a nursing home. Afraid to lose the chance he’s finally decided to take, he devises a clever plan of travel. It has been said that the first five minutes of the movie pack more romance into it than some do in full length scripts. See it and you’ll see why.

50 First Dates

A zoologist (Adam Sandler)  falls for a young woman (Drew Barrymore), but finds out she has a brain injury that keeps her from remembering her life beyond a 24 hour period. Despite these odds, he sets out to win her heart. (Although, let me warn you there’s a scene near the beginning that makes me gag every time. Other than that, this is a great movie!)

Shakespeare in Love

The bard (Joseph Finnes) faces writer’s block and finds his greatest inspiration in a young woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) desperate to act, in a time when only men were allowed on stage. From their affair (supposedly) springs Romeo and Juliet.
Gone with the Wind
A vain socialite sees her world blown apart by the Civil War, marries and loses her heart’s desire, only to fall for the broodish rogue.

I’d also add:

Four Weddings and a Funeral
A Englishman (Hugh Grant) and his pals attend four weddings, at each of which he runs into the girl of his dreams (Andie McDowell). When she marries someone else and a friend dies, it casts a pal of dread over both their lives. Do they get their HEA? You’ll have to watch it to see.


A lonely little worker-robot who’s only mission in life is to clean up the mess humans left behind on Earth, has his whole life toppled when a new, stylish robot lass shows up in his neck of the woods.

Letters to Juliet

A young woman on vacation in Verona, Italy finds a “letter to Juliet” and tries to find and reunite the lovers about whom the letter was written.

And I had to stop myself there or we’d keep going on… So that’s my list. What are your favorites?

Freaky …Saturday Signed copy of Frankenstein found by chance sells for over £350,000 – Telegraph

I was so busy yesterday I didn’t have a chance to post a freaky Friday. In the meantime,  I found this about one of my favorite works of horror.

Signed copy of Frankenstein found by chance sells for over £350,000 – Telegraph.

Signed copy. Wow! I envy the lucky duck who found it. Knowing me though, I probably wouldn’t have sold it! ;) So good for them. That’s pretty cool, huh? Oh, to find something like this in a used bookshop ’round here!

Found Via:  Spooky Isles

Beth Trissel–A Christmas Carol and my new Christmas romance

From last Christmas (giveaway closed):

Our next guest, award winning Romance author Beth Trissel, is here today talking about the classic Christmas story of the Victorian age “A Christmas Carol” and also a little about her latest release: a Christmas romance called Somewhere the Bells Ring. Beth, whenever you’re ready…

A Christmas Carol and My New Christmas Romance

Beth Trissel

I’m A Christmas Carol junkie. Dickens himself would be hardpressed to find a bigger fan. As to the history behind this popular Christmas classic, Wikipedia (and you know they’re always reliable) says, “A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge‘s ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim.
The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain when it was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions, and at the time when new customs such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards were being introduced. The tale has been viewed as an indictment of nineteenth century industrial capitalism and was adapted several times to the stage, and has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity in Britain and America after a period of sobriety and sombreness. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, opera, and other media.”
No kidding. I’ve probably seen every film made with this title or theme, plus the play performed by the local Shakespeare troupe who changed things up a bit for Christmas. My favorite movie is the production with George C. Scott. Tiny Tim gets to me every time. I’m also partial to The Muppet Christmas Carol, well done and not as scary for those who find Jacob Marley (what a moaner) and that creepy Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (not much for chitchat) rather unnerving. I recently got around to watching the animated version with Jim Carrey. He was great in the film, but it is not for young children. It would scare my grandbabies and young niece to death. Make merry at Christmas or go to Hell was the impression that flick left me with. And I don’t think Dickens meant that to be the message we take away with us, but rather that this is a story of redemption. In Scrooge’s words, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
And now, a word about my new Christmas release Somewhere the Bells Ring: ‘Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Spending Christmas 1968 at Maple Hill is a dismal prospect until a ghost appears requesting her help, and her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, returns from Vietnam.’

If you enjoy an intriguing mystery with Gothic overtones and heart-tugging romance set in vintage America then Somewhere the Bells Ring is for you. And did I mention the ghost? Not a scary, but intriguing ghost. I met him in the vivid dream that inspired this story and takes place in the beautiful old Virginia home place where my father grew up and I visited over the holidays.

~ Available in various ebook formats at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon Kindle, All Romance Ebooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook & other online booksellers.

*If you leave me nice comments I will give away an ebook, pdf, ePub, or kindle, winner’s choice.
*For more on me, my wordpress blog is the happening place:

About Beth Trissel:

author Beth Trissel and FriendsMarried to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles.

So, interesting, Beth! Gotta love the ghost. ;) Thanks for being with us, Beth! We enjoyed having you and hearing about this Christmas Classic. Good luck with Somewhere the Bells Ring! Folks, don’t forget to leave Beth a comment or question for a chance to win. And thanks for joining our Christmas fest. We hope you enjoyed it and have a merry Christmas!