Thursday, September 24, 2015

Frankenweenie (1984, 2012) - BONUS



Frankenweenie
1984, 2012
Director: Tim Burton
Starring:  Shelley Duvall (1984), Daniel Stern (1984), Barrett Oliver (1984), Joseph Maher (1984), Sofia Coppola (1984), Winona Ryder (2012), Catherine O'Hara (2012), Martin Short (2012), Martin Landau (2012), Tom Kenny (2012)

People are weird.
      ~Victor Frankenstein



This was on the docket all along, and Aaron Neuwirth seemed to be in tune to know so.  But, how could I do these bonus Frankenstein pieces and not include Tim Burton's loving, adorable love letter tributes to the original film.  The behind the scenes tale of Frankenweenie seems either comical or in the effect that Disney was righting a previous wrong from decades earlier when it comes to the remake.  Burton's original black and white short, which was supposed to run before a re-issue of Pinnochio in 1984, was deemed a disaster by the mouse house.  They thought a lot of money was wasted on something they felt would scare children and not appeal to them.  On top of that, they fired Burton from the studio.
Hypocritically, years later, after Burton had bagged himself success with Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, a couple Batman films and Edward Scissorhands making him one of the biggest and hottest directors in Hollywood, Disney released the original short to VHS in 1992.  I remember seeing the film sitting at my rental store when it was a new release.  Tim Burton's name was on it, that's really all I needed at the time.  I'm pretty sure that was my only rental for the evening.  Not knowing it was a short, I was sourly disappointed with the fact it was only 30 minutes and I had nothing to watch the rest of the night.  I enjoyed it, it was good, but that's not a cool surprise at all.  So, I watched it a few more times.
Its incredible that Disney totally whiffed on the immense amount of talent Tim Burton was displaying in just this little short.  The opening credits and the set in that graveyard are incredible.  There were also much much scarier things being sold to kids in 1984 than Frankenweenie.  For 30 minutes, this film provides a lot of charm and heart with its characters.  Its also very passionate about the source material its borrowing from.  While at a young age you "get" what they're doing, but being older and having studied film and such much more, its becomes an much more incredible sight to see, when you notice props, jokes and shots that perfectly mimic the original Universal film.
Burton went back to Disney on a two film deal and got the ball rolling on a stop-motion animated Frankenweenie back in 2005.  The film finally was released in 2012.  While, yeah it is a remake, it feels more like a compliment to the original short than it does in some sort of competition with it.  Here, things become even more adorable (Thanks to animated characters), and the world and ideas are flushed out even more.  Things you may be thinking about when the original ends gets addressed here.  Like, for instance, the grand conflict of Victor sharing his ways and other pets being resurrected.  It still has the homages, and also is able to go bigger an more cartoonish because it doesn't have reality implications.  I really loved this film, and had it not been for that damned awesome ParaNorman that came out just a month prior, it would have been easily my favorite animated film of 2012.
Both Burton's Frankenweenie creations are enjoyable on the same and different levels.  There's something with that original short that feels special, and its really neat to see one of Burton's earliest offerings.  The latter animated movie is just a great animated film through and through.  Tim Burton's inspirations in his career from the earlier works of horror see a lot of his more obvious and true passions come through in both of these.  And they are an incredibly respectful, fun and loving take on the Frankenstein story and film.

NEXT TIME: I still have not seen I, Frankenstein...
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...and I still haven't.  Let's rank these damn movies I was done writing about last week already!

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