Back in 1984 a young director by the name of Tim Burton released a short film called “Frankenweenie”, about a dog corpse being re-animated by its owner. Here we see a teenage Victor Frankenstein, voiced by relative newcomer Charlie Tahan, bring back to life his bull terrier Sparky via the means of a scientific experiment. However, with the re-birth of Sparky come grave problems such as terrifying the neighbours and Victor’s friends wanting to know the details of the experiment so they can use it at the upcoming school science fair.
There is always a worry of directors revisiting old ground to raise their star again, however this time Burton has found his magic again. All the hallmarks we know from earlier Tim Burton films are present, from the slightly creepy secondary cast to the beautifully bizarre backgrounds that have one too many swirls or jagged edges. Not only that but the actual stop motion is stunning even in black and white, with plenty of movement in the puppets bodies and faces that make it look very realistic.
Where Frankenweenie excels is in its storyline, and for anyone who grew up with the old Universal and/or Hammer horror films then they will appreciate it even more. All the cast are styled after old horror icons and also take on their personas, from friend Edgar Gore helping Victor with his experiments to school teacher Mr. Rzykruski channelling Vincent Price.
Sure there are storyline plot holes along the way, and maybe a sense of having been here before. Also we must point out that it felt a little too adult in its scary moments for children to be watching it, especially the last twenty minutes which become bat-shit crazy with all the monsters on screen.
It’s taken a dark and stormy night to re-animate Tim Burton’s career, one when he’s thrown all the classic horror films into a stop motion machine and pumped out a dazzling modern take on his macabre childhood.
Mark has awarded Frankenweenie four Torches of Truth.