“He’s cute. He’s wild. He’s rechargeable.”
Released five years ago on 5th October 2012, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie became an instant Halloween classic. Based loosely on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenweenie is an ‘energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story’ about a boy’s love for his dog.
When tragedy strikes, budding scientist Victor Frankenstein uses lightning to resurrect his best pal Sparky. This leads to monstrous mayhem and misadventure as Victor’s fellow students blackmail him into teaching them how to resurrect their own precious pets.
Frankenweenie was met with great critical acclaim leading to nominations for best film from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, and the Academy Awards within their animation categories which, given Frankenweenie’s origins, came as a huge surprise to all involved.
Before being resurrected in 2012, Frankenweenie began life as a live-action short produced by Burton in 1984 for Disney. Ironically, the original version led to Burton’s dismissal from the studio on the grounds that the short was too scary for children and therefore a waste of studio resources. Fast-forward twenty-eight years and an incredibly lucrative adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Disney hired Burton to recreate his pet-project as a stop-frame animation that utilised a monochrome palette and new technology, making it the first stop-frame animation released in IMAX 3D. Frankenweenie reunited Burton with much of his cast from previous films including Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands) and Catherine O’Hara (The Nightmare Before Christmas).
Frankenweenie is by no means terrifying (although a younger audience might find it disturbing what with the dead pets) but that doesn’t make it any less of a Halloween classic. Just as Sparky is sewn back together, Frankenweenie presents a loving pastiche of horror films from Hammer and Universal, creating a monster-mash parody with oodles of Burton’s signature charm and charisma. With each passing year, Frankenweenie remains current and ages with its audience as all classic films should.
Ultimately however, it is the story of a boy who loves his dog, tenderly explored with dark humour and affection, that makes this film so enduring. Add to that Burton’s signature aesthetic, wonderfully unique colour palette and quality animation and you have a recipe for a tail waggingly good time.
Remind yourself of this modern classic by checking out the trailer below: