A ghoulish stop-motion animation by zany director Tim Burton, Frankenweenie may be in theatres the week before Halloween but this off-beat horror spoof is more than just a holiday gimmick.
Frankenweenie is based on a short film of the same name made by Burton for Disney back in 1984. It's the story of introverted and budding young film-maker Victor Frankenstein (Tahan), who uses science to bring his much-loved dog, Sparky, back to life after he's killed in a car accident.
Victor tries to keep his "creation" tucked away in the attic but it's not long before his classmate, a hunchback called Edgar 'E' Gore (The Middle's Atticus Shaffer) discovers his secret, and blackmails Victor into sharing his newfound ability to bring the dead back to life.
Filmed in black and white, and rendered in 3D, Frankenweenie is filled with references to classic black and white monster movies, and Burton's own work.
These include shots angled to send shadows looming across walls, references to horror actors (such as Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre), and creatures inspired by films such as Godzilla and Gremlins.
The character aesthetic is similar to Burton's previous work in Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas (which Burton wrote but didn't direct); large-headed figures with eyes circled in black, sitting on top of stick-thin bodies.
Clever, dry and dark, Frankenweenie is classic Burton and is for adults as much as for older kids, although too scary and the script too sophisticated for little ones.
Visually stunning, this endearing, if somewhat macabre story is more interesting and goes a little deeper than most family animations.
Cast: Charlie Tahan, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder
Director: Tim Burton
Running time: 87 mins
Rating: PG (scary scenes)
Verdict: Burton gives Frankenstein a new lease of life