directed by Tim Burton
(Buena Vista, 1985)

It's a twisted variation on all of the "boy and his dog" movies on the market. It's also a modern suburban reinterpretation of Frankenstein. And it's one of Tim Burton's first efforts as a movie director.

Frankenweenie is a 30-minute short film, shot in black and white and starring notables including Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern and Barret Oliver. The tale is simple: a 10-year-old boy is grief-stricken when a game of fetch with his dog, Sparky, goes horribly wrong. Inspired by a demonstration of electricity on dead tissue in his school, he vows to bring the beloved pet back to life. What follows is a grand spoof of Frankenstein's laboratory, as young Victor gathers common household objects and assembles his own lab in his parents' attic.

Once the perky pooch is restored to life, the neighbors react predictably to the perceived "menace" -- and the climax has to be seen.

Burton's quirky, dark sense of humor and drama is very apparent in this early effort. Although available by itself on video, this rarely scene footage is also an extra on the special edition DVD version of Burton's classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 22 October 2002

Buy the Frankenweenie video or
The Nightmare Before Christmas special edition DVD from