Frankenweenie

frank3There once was a dog named Sparky. He was smart, athletic, and a talented film star, at least in his best pal Victor’s homemade creations. Victor is a little boy with no friends other than his beloved dog Sparky, so when Sparky meets his untimely demise, the waterworks commence. And Victor’s not too happy about it either.

We already know that I should never watch movies the feature dead dogs, but did you know that policy should even apply to movies where the dead dog is reanimated?

Yup, still pulls on the old heartstrings. Sparky, meanwhile, has all kinds of strings holding him together, but no amount of stitches prevent his ears and tail from occasionally falling off, which seems rather macabre for a children’s movie.

Frankenweenie leaps from the mind of mad genius Tim Burton – and it’s based on a short film

FRANKENWEENIE - (Pictured) Tim Burton holding Sparky. ©2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo by: Leah Gallo

FRANKENWEENIE – (Pictured) Tim Burton holding Sparky. ©2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo by: Leah Gallo

he made back in the 80s. Victor, like everyone else in his world, is a sort of monster, but in his heart he’s just a boy inspired by his science teacher to put the screws to the laws of nature. As soon as he successfully jolts the carcass of his deceased friend to mostly-positive, mostly-alive results, his classmates are blackmailing to do them same for theirs. And not all pets are created equal. If the story sounds a little familiar, it should. It’s a tongue-in cheek homage to the classic 1931 film Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s book of the same name.

This is a beautiful stop-motion feature that used over 200 separate puppets, with roughly 18 different versions of Victor alone. The puppets have human hair and 40–45 joints. Sparky was constructed as rather “dog-sized” and is comprised of about 300 parts, some of them made by watch makers, to bring his mechanical skeleton to life.

It was the first black-and-white feature film and the first stop-motion film to be released in IMAX 3D, and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best animated film (it lost to Brave, frank1though it should have lost to Wreck-It-Ralph). It’s got loads of great voice talent from Tim Burton favourites like Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice), Martin Short (Mars Attacks!), and Martin Landau (Ed Wood).

For those of us who like our Halloween fun with a little less blood and a little more guts, I’d say this one is a definite holiday staple. What’s your favourite  Halloween thing to watch? Do you have a pet you wish you could bring back? Check out the comments for my own Frankenweenie!

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21 thoughts on “Frankenweenie

  1. The Telltale Mind

    Loved this movie! I don’t like movies that feature dogs dying and whatnot either, but I usually end up watching them either. This was surprisingly well done and quite moving at times. Good review!

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  2. Birgit

    I tried watching it and when the dog died I started to dry like an idiot. Even when the dog was re-animated, I was still sad because I could see the ending be that nothing comes back alive again and the dog would have to go. I turned it off-I know, I’m such a wuss. I would love to bring back my Katie girl-my black lab. I miss her so and think of her almost daily even though she has been gone 3 years.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I’m sorry about Katie. It’s impossibly hard to see them go.
      And while agree with your assessment of the ending, and that’s exactly what the lesson is supposed to be – had you watched to the end, you might have found that actually, Victor is one lucky little boy.

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  3. Chris

    Nice to have a dog of your own, Jay! The movie was ok, but I prefer the 1984 short film. Would be interesting to know how much of the story is based on Tim Burton’s own childhood.

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