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'Frankenweenie' is an ode to monster movies

January 15, 2012|By Robert Abele, Reporting from London
  • Victor happily examines his beloved dog Sparky after he successfully brings him back to life in "Frankenweenie," a stop-motion, animated comedy from Tim Burton.
Victor happily examines his beloved dog Sparky after he successfully brings… (Disney Enterprises, Disney…)

A lot can change when you're in the reincarnation business, and with Tim Burton's upcoming "Frankenweenie," which opens Oct. 5, that means resurrecting a beloved live-action 1984 short film about a boy named Victor and his live-then-dead-then-live-again dog Sparky as a feature-length, stop-motion animated film. What's staying the same is the movie's evocative black-and-white look, a stylistic choice that the film's makers say became one of the more unintentionally hard-won artistic rewards on this 21/2-year-long production. "You'd think black-and-white would be forgiving because it's just shades of gray. But it isn't. It shows every little flaw," said Trey Thomas, "Frankenweenie's" animation director, speaking at his East London office about the movie's monochrome aesthetic.

About 200 puppets were crafted for the film — including 16 Sparkys (eight dead, eight alive), 14 Victors and new oddball creations called E (short for Edgar) and Weird Girl, both of which are voiced by longtime Burton collaborator Catherine O'Hara. For Thomas, his guiding philosophy was honoring Burton's love of classic 1930s monster movies. "What we're trying to create is Universal horror plus," he said.

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