Boy brings beloved dog back to life in “Frankenweenie”

Tim Burton is one of the most unique movie makers working in Hollywood today. The former animator is renowned for helming projects that touch a variety of genres, including comedies (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure), musicals (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), action blockbusters (Batman), and animated features (The Nightmare Before Christmas).

Victor prepares to resurrect his beloved dog Sparky in “Frankenweenie.” (Photo credit: Disney)

Burton’s latest project, Frankenweenie, is a perfect Halloween offering that emulates the classic horror films of yesteryear. Shot in black and white, but presented in today’s 3D and IMAX, Frankenweenie is the story of a little boy who attempts to bring his beloved dog, aptly named Sparky, back to life — essentially the 1931 film, Frankenstein, but with a dog.

Sound grisly? Keep in mind, this is a Disney-produced film that carries a PG rating. Plus, Burton has a knack for taking unsettling topics and making them appealing for audiences of all ages.

Rather than today’s norm of computer-generated visuals, Frankenweenie uses the old-school, painstaking stop-motion animation technique employed in other films such as Chicken Run and for monster effects in live-action hybrids like Jason and the Argonauts.

Stop-motion animation is a time-consuming process where motion is conveyed by taking an object, moving it slightly, and capturing it on film, moving the object again, capturing it on film, and so on to create fluid motion. According to, 33 animators produced five seconds of film each during production; Frankenweenie clocks in at 87 minutes.

But this isn’t Burton’s first attempt at this material; in 1984, he directed a live-action 30 minute film of the same name that starred Shelly Duvall and Sofia Coppola.

Frankenweenieopens nationwide on Friday, October 5. Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate of scores from film critics, currently gives the film an 83 percent approval rating.