BBC2: Friday 25 December, 1.45pm
Charlie Tahan voices young Victor Frankenstein, inspired by his school science teacher’s musing on the power of electricity to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life. Tim Burton’s sophisticated re-animation of a live-action short he made for Disney back in the mid-80s is a triumph of stop-motion story-telling technique.
Every frame is informed by an abiding affection for ‘Monsters From Beyond’ – all the creatures and cranky magic which have fuelled dreams and nightmares from King Kong to Coraline, from Godzilla to Gremlins. A beguiling mix of Pleasantville and Pet Sematary, this is Burton’s best work since Sleepy Hollow, and hands down the best doggy tale since My Dog Skip. The tortoise is called Shelley, which is perhaps the sweetest joke in a beautifully rendered black-and-white landscape full of delightful touches and dreamy Expressionist detail.
And, with its echoes of Darkman and Edward Scissorhands, it has one Danny Elfman’s loveliest scores. Frankenweenie works on a deeper level than the likeable ParaNorman (or the unlikeable Corpse Bride, come to that), and the best line is given to Victor’s dad: “Sometimes adults don’t know what they’re talking about.” Made with so much evident care and attention, it’s The Young Frankenstein of stop-motion animation.