TIM Burton's re-telling of the blood-curdling tale of demon barber Sweeney Todd is a macabre masterpiece.

The gothic director's blood-thirsty musical version of the gruesome story is his most shocking and nail-biting outing since Sleepy Hollow - and sees heart-throb Johnny Depp, as demonic Todd, in his most disturbing guise to date.

Set in Victorian London and awash with Burton's deliciously dark trademark cinematography, the sad story of a bitter barber's quest to avenge the loss of his wife and child by chopping up his customers and making meat pies out of them is absolutely gripping.

Although not for the faint-hearted, it is beautifully told - thanks to the perfect pairing of Burton favourites Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, as Todd's partner in crime Mrs Lovett, and the director extraordinaire's penchant for evoking sympathy from the most unlikely characters.

The ever-watchable Depp is on sensational form throughout; likewise Bonham Carter's grotesque characterisation is also superb - and together their timing and dead-pan delivery works a treat.

Sterling support is also provided by a host of famous names including Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Adapted from Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical, the horrific - yet surprisingly poignant - dramatisation really is Burton at his best.

Don't be put off by the fact that it's a musical; the over-riding operatic element simply heightens the blood-drenched spectacle all the more.

Star rating *****