Sparky Lights Up Home Screens January 8
In 1984, Tim Burton created Frankenweenie, a short that was destined to become a cult favorite. A parody of Frankenstein, it told the story of a boy and a dog—a dog who gets hit by a car and revivified by his heartbroken owner. The casting was perfect and the short was a treasury of Frankenstein conventions as well as witty references, visual jokes, and Tim Burton’s signature all over.
When fans first learned that Frankenweenie was being remade as a 2012 feature film, there was a lot of eager anticipation and a few reservations. How would Burton take a story that was flawlessly told in 30 minutes and turn it into an approximately 90-minute feature? The underlying fear was that the feature film would be a clunky, over-padded exercise in 3D disappointment. In short, Tim Burton was underestimated. Again.
In remaking Frankenweenie, Burton transformed the live-action short into a stop-action masterpiece, featuring the voice talents of Charlie Tahan as Victor, Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, and Conchata Ferrell. Through deeper character development and expanding (rather than padding) the story, Burton created a Frankenweenie for the ages—ages of being double-featured on Halloween with the original short by awe-struck fans (okay, I admit it, I’m one of them).
Kindly, Walt Disney Studios is not making us wait until fall to re-experience Frankenweenie (2012). On January 8, 2013, Frankenweenie comes to home video in a four-disk combo pack that includes the Blu-ray 3D feature film; the Blu-ray feature film with bonuses (the original short, a behind-the-scenes look at bringing the film to life—again, and Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers); a DVD feature film with bonuses; and a digital copy of the feature film. Frankenweenie is also available on DVD alone and a Blu-ray/DVD combo.
Short-sighted Disney fired Burton after he created the original short; among the studio’s justifications for the termination was that the film was not suitable for young audiences—they had planned to show it in concert with a more-typical Disney film. Sometimes, any excuse will do. Children with whom I’ve viewed the original short were not at all disturbed by its contents; they knew that the story was about a dog brought back to life by a little boy—they expected that the dog had to die before that could happen. Judging by the reactions of the children in an October theatrical showing of the feature film, fear was not a factor. It was all fun.