Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Ghoul Assembly: Part 5 - Terrier from Beyond the Grave

We’re ending on a high note - a good Tim Burton film (no, really)

Ah, Tim Burton… I must really like you because the three or four films you’ve made which I actually like outweigh the decades of, umm, lesser output I’ve sat through.  But I’ll probably forgive you anything because of your tributes to the two greatest Horror film studios in history - 1999’s love letter to Hammer: Sleepy Hollow, and an animated feature about a boy and his dog called Frankenweenie.

Created in beautiful black and white, this is an unlikely homage to the Universal horror films, almost every single one, in fact.  There are analogues for every famous creature and stock character from that studio’s chillers, and even appearances from ‘Godzilla’ and Christopher Lee as Dracula. 

Monster gallery: Victor's revived dog Sparky; the vampire cat; were-rat;
Colossus the mummy-hamster; Shelly the tortoise(-zilla) and a Sea Monkey.
There’s immense fun to be had in spotting all the references, but best of all is that at a mere 87 minutes Burton doesn’t have time to go of the rails and tells a tight and entertaining, funny, moving and ultimately exciting story for all ages.  Being a painstakingly crafted stop motion film probably also persuaded the Director to stay to adhere to the essence of the story.
In fact this is a remake of a 1984 live action film which the then-young director made for Disney.

The original, live action Frankenweenie from 1984
A young Boy with the very unassuming name Victor Frankenstein finds a away to bring his recently deceased dog back to life with the power of an electrical storm.  His various classmates discover his secret and set about reviving their own past pets. This mad science even extends to a swimming pool full of mutated sea monkeys who are finally look like the advertisement always said they would.
The revived creatures, including a mummified hamster, a vampiric bat-cat, a hulking Were-Rat and a titanic bipedal tortoise converge on the town festivities to wreak havoc in the ultimate monster mash-up..
Naturally, the thrilling climax involves a flaming windmill and torch-wielding villagers.

Sparky bravely faces the vampire cat in the fiery climax
This film is a delight , boasting the voice talent of past Burton collaborators Martin Landau, Winona Ryder and Martin Short. And certainly Jack Skellington and the Corpse Bride have already shown how brilliant Burton-designed stop motion can be.

Martin Landau as Vincent Price.  I mean, Victor's Science teacher

And so ends Ghoul Assembly, my look at ‘monster mash-ups’ - at least for this year.  Winter is over and we are now into the truly bad weather - Spring in New Zealand.  So maybe it’s not time to put those horror films away just yet…

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