Since Mary Shelley’s novel was published in 1818, Frankenstein’s monster has been reinvented multiple times, most famously in James Whale’s 1931 film adaptation starring Boris Karloff. In 1984, however, director Tim Burton and screenwriter Leonard Ripps took the old monster movie in a new direction.
In a live-action short starring Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern and Barret Oliver entitled Frankenweenie, Burton tells the story of a young boy named Victor who tragically loses his dog to a car, but brings him back to life with lightning. You can watch the 30 minute short in full on YouTube, which if you’ve seen the 1931 version of Frankenstein is very obviously an homage. Some scenes would be deja-vu-inducing if it weren’t for the fact that the ‘monster’ is an adorable pet. This year, Burton is teaming up with screenwriter John August to make an animated remake.
Due to be released October 5 in the US and October 17 in the UK, the film stars the voice talents of Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. See the full trailer below:
If you’ve seen the original short, it’s easy to see some of the same camera shots despite the difference in formats. From the trailer, it seems like the new film might stick a little closer to the themes in the original novel and 1931 film, namely the consequences of playing God. That’s not to say that the 1984 short isn’t meaningful. There is a definite tone of ‘people are afraid of anything different or that they don’t understand’ running through it.
I’m a big fan of taking the oldest story in the book and putting a more relatable twist on it for kids. We may not all understand the desire to stitch together body parts to make a giant human sidekick, but we can understand wanting to bring back a beloved friend.
What do you think of this twist on Frankenstein’s monster? Leave your thoughts in the comments!