I know I've been a little negligent with reviews lately; it's been a busy month. When I sat down to start my reviews again I realized that I had neglected a very important film.
What film, you may ask? A film is from close to our hearts for a long time in one form or another, a film called Frankenweenie. Read on to see why this film was so special...
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I first saw Frankenweenie on a third-generation bootleg VHS tape because at the time it just wasn't to be found anywhere. The story of a boy and his dog and his love which transcended death. Okay sure, it sounds creepy, and a little bit wrong, but it was pure. How would you make that into a film? It sure is one thing, the worm to take that idea for an hour and a half?
Frankenweenie is the story of Victor Frankenstein, no not that one, who is sort of an odd kid that excels at science. After his father presses him to try sports, for more normal achievements, Victor relents and gives it a go. Thanks so go that bad actually as Victor hits a home run in his first game, problem is his beloved dog Sparky chases the ball into the street and is hit by a car. Inspired by his science teacher's recent experiments with reanimating frogs, Victor sets out to bring Sparky back and men the hole in his heart. Though he is successful, reanimating your pet is bound to have serious consequences and change the way things work in a small-town.
Frankenweenie is chalk full of references. The overall theme has echoes of Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton's most personal film, and us is quite often a tearjerker in its own right. Bedes the obvious name choices, I do want to point out a few great that stand out. All try to the spoilers to a minimum, but you have been warned.
At one point one of Victor's creepy friend/rivals Edgar E. Gore reanimates in the army of the Sea monkeys and they were a catatonic bar and elsewhere, a tip of the hat to Joe Dante's Gremlins. Within the Sea monkey madness is a phone booth attack ala Hitchcock's The Birds. One pair undergoes a transformation milar to an American Werewolf in London and the Wolfman combined. The list goes on. I would like to do an exhaustive list of all the references in this film and in ParaNorman (rumored to be over 200) when they come out on Blu-Ray.
For now all I can say is this, Frankenweenie is a special kind of Halloween film. Part horror film, part coming-of-age drama, with plenty of comedy sprinkled on top. Many of us have pets as children, be a goldfish or dog or cat or hell even the lizard. When they were gone it was her first real taste of loss and we never thought that that wound would heal. Frankenweenie is a way to heal that wound, for Tim Burton or for anyone else still misng that little someone special. It should be in everyone's collection, because it speaks to the child in all of us.