This has been quite a busy week for my little pooch, Spike. He celebrated his 8th birthday and attended his first movie premiere. He wanted to write his own review of FRANKENWEENIE, but he's tied up in meetings all day with his agent so you are left with me.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from this event. All we knew was that this was the world premiere of a long awaited Tim Burton feature and the opening film of Fantastic Fest. Never in my life as a little girl sitting at home watching BATMAN & BATMAN RETURNS did I ever imagine I would someday be at a Tim Burton film premiere! Spike donned his finest bow tie and received first class treatment. This marked the first time ever the Alamo Drafthouse reserved an entire theater for dogs and their guests. We posed for pictures on the red carpet mere feet from the film's own stars. It was truly a wonderful experience that I will never forget.
Living in Austin, I have been fortunate enough to encounter several actors, filmmakers, and musicians that I respect & admire so I do not usually get starstruck. That was until I saw Winona "I welcome death" Ryder! Any slightly strange, raven haired girl growing up in the 80s wanted nothing more than to be Winona Ryder (myself included). She is an icon and still looks amazing at the age of 41. In 2001, I had a Winona Ryder Halloween party (her birthday is Oct. 29th) in which I dressed as Lydia Deetz. I wanted to ask her what it felt like to be the head goth bitch in charge. Even Tim League (Alamo owner) was in awe of her greatness.
We also had the pleasure of seeing the legendary Martin Landau and Barbara Crampton who you may know from a little film called RE-ANIMATOR. Tim Burton was on hand to do his best Robert Smith impersonation as well as Robert Rodriguez who I happen to see at the comic book shop a few weeks ago.
It was quite the star studded event, but none compared to the adorable doggies walking the red carpet. We saw corgis, yorkies, poodles, wieners, and one pug. All the dogs were surprisingly well behaved during the film. Trust me, I’ve been to rowdier screenings at Highland Galaxy than a theater filled with costumed lap dogs.
A Q&A followed the film where everything from Vincent Price to Burton’s merits as a parent was discussed. Someone asked Winona if she was anything like the dark brooding teenage she often played on screen. She confessed to being a bit moody back in the day. Martin Landau compared working with Burton to working with the likes of Woody Allen or Hitchcock.
Now on to the film itself: I absolutely love the original short film, FRANKENWEENIE which starred Daniel Stern & Shelley Duval. You may also recall a cameo by a very young Sofia Coppola in a horrendous blonde wig. I’ve watched the short countless of times as well as Burton’s other films like BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, PEE WEE, ED WOOD, MARS ATTACKS, and the beloved NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. However, the last decade have seen Burton films that pale in comparison to his heyday. Since the abomination that was PLANET OF THE APES, we have seen a steady decline in Tim Burton’s work. Just this past May, I renounced him for the crimes committed against DARK SHADOWS.
I will now accept FRANKENWEENIE as an apology for the last twelve years. I had very high expectations for this movie as it would be pretty hard to fuck up your own film. I'm glad to see that Burton went back to his roots on this one. He recaptured the same magic he once conveyed with NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Burton once created a special world for anyone who felt like they didn’t belong. Since the day I saw Jack & Sally on the big screen as a young girl, I myself have tried to create my own Halloweentown, in my life & in my home. FRANKENWEENIE reminded me of the Tim Burton world I fell in love with so long ago.
This film pays homage to all classic Hammer/Universal horror and it does it well. Burton carefully chose the perfect actors to bring life to these delightful characters. Thank goodness he finally left Helena Bonham Carter & Johnny Depp (as much as I love him) out of a film! I had not realized the film was in 3D, but it never takes away from the story like most 3D films tend to do. Black and white was the perfect choice as well. I felt like it gave more perspective to the character of Sparky since dogs only see in black and white.
Obviously I knew Sparky gets hit by a car just like in the original, but when the scene approached, I still winced & teared up a bit. This film is not just about a boy and his dog. It’s about every animal lover out there. It speaks to everyone who’s best friend is a dog, cat, turtle, or even sea monkey. The film's message is that even when they leave us, our pets are still in our hearts. I can’t suggest this film enough, especially if you have children. FRANKENWEENIE is a must see for everyone!
Special thanks to CW & Austin American Statesman for drawing our names in the contest. Thanks to Chris P for escorting me & Spike to this glorious event. Thanks to Tim Burton for warming my cold, black heart once again. Special thanks to Alamo Drafthouse & Fantastic Fest for making a little girl's dream come true.