It is a remake of Burton’s 1984 short film of the same name and is a parody of and a homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley‘s book of the same name. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the full 1984 movie.
The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands); Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas); Martin Short (Mars Attacks!); and Martin Landau (Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow).
Frankenweenie is in black and white. It is also the fourth stop-motion film produced by Burton and the first of those four that is not a musical. The film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film and was nominated for an Academy Award; a Golden Globe; a BAFTA; and an Annie Award for Best Film in each respective animated category.
Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend: his dog, Sparky. But then, tragedy strikes, and Sparky shuffles off this mortal coil. Victor is heartbroken, but his science teacher (Martin Landau) gives him an idea of how to jolt old Sparky back to life. The experiment is successful, and all goes well, until Victor’s fellow students steal his secret and use it to resurrect other dead animals — with monstrous consequences.
13 Interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Frankenweenie
- This is Tim Burton’s first film since Big Fish (2003) not to feature Johnny Depp, his first since Sleepy Hollow (1999) not to feature Helena Bonham Carter and his first since Mars Attacks! (1996) to feature neither of them.
- Winona Ryder and Tim Burton’s 3rd collaboration. Their previous one, Edward Scissorhands (1990) was 21 years earlier.
- One of Tim Burton’s regular actors, Christopher Lee, did not take part in this film, but archive footage of him in Horror of Dracula (1958) is watched by Victor’s parents on television.
- The demonstration that Mr. Rzykruski shows in class of the frog’s legs twitching when given electricity is based on actual experiments in 1771 by Italian physicist Luigi Galvani, who was the first to discover that the legs of dead frogs and other dead creatures twitched and moved when sparked by electricity. This to led to the study of bio-electricity and further study of the nervous system and its functions. The study of “galvanic” effects in biology is named after Galvani, who is seen as the discoverer of bio-electricity. Several of Tim Burton’s movies have played with this theme, most notably Frankenweenie and Edward Scissorhands.
- The pet cemetery features the grave of Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
- A turtle named “Shelley” is buried in the pet cemetery. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus,” the novel on which this film is loosely based.
- This film reunites Tim Burton with Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara who previously worked with Burton on Beetlejuice (1988).
- The mayor of the town is Mr. Burgermeister, which means mayor in German.
- Victor’s friend and next-door neighbor is “Elsa Van Helsing”, a reference to Abraham Van Helsing, Bram Stoker’s Dracula character, and Elsa Lanchester, the original “The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)”.
- The film’s release spawned a fan theory that this film, and Burton’s other two stop motion animated films, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005), all are taking place in a shared continuity, and tell one big story spanning several centuries, and the possibility that Victor Frankenstein and Sparky are descendants of Victor Dort and scraps from Corpse Bride (2005).
- Tim Burton created the Weird Girl (“Staring Girl”) in his book “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories” (1997).
- Nassor is strongly similar in appearance and speech to original 1931 Frankenstein’s monster while his hamster is a Mummy. Both Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932) where played by the actor Boris Karloff.
- This was originally scheduled to be released on the same program as the 1984 re-release of Pinocchio (1940), but was pulled after test screenings upset children.
Watch the original 1984 Tim Burton Short film here: