Halloween's come early for Tim Burton fans! The first stark stills of poor dog Sparky and his death-defying young master, Victor, from the visionary director's upcoming stop-motion flick have appeared. The black-and-white, 3-D Frankenweenie feature won't creep into theaters until next fall, but Disney already wants you to stop dreaming in color.
The images come courtesy of the fine folks at Entertainment Weekly. In the original 1984 short—which, ironically, got Burton canned from Walt Disney Studios for its weirdness—mini mad scientist Victor experiments on his faithful family dog with some shocking consequences after an accident claims its life. The new images show an un-stitched Sparky enjoying a peaceful romp on the lawn with his ball and his lifeless white-sheathed body inside Victor's diabolical laboratory.
Here's Disney's official synopsis:
"A heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life--with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous.
In an interview with EW, Burton explained the genesis of the gothic project and Disney's frightful reaction to his first film:
"I don't know, they got freaked out or something, but they still allowed me to make the film," said Burton. "Even though I was frustrated about the release—or not release of it—it was still a great experience, and did a lot for me, so I couldn't really complain."
Burton's inspiration for the short came from sad experiences he had as a kid raised in Burbank and his own family pet.
"It's such an unconditional relationship," Burton remembered. "A lot of kids have that experience—I certainly had that experience with a first pet.
His name was Pepe. We lived in a Spanish neighborhood. Our dog had this thing called distemper, and wasn't supposed to live more than a couple of years. He lived much longer than that, which kind of fed into this Frankenstein mythology as well. It was a mix, kind of a mutt, with a bit of terrier, and a bit of something else."
Burton's talented voice posse includes Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O'Hara (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Short (Mars Attacks!) and Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow), all Burton's regulars.
More than 200 intricate puppets and detailed sets were designed for the movie, and the demented director's full Corpse Bride crew was reunited. It's being shot in stop-motion then rendered in 3-D for a fluid, distinct look and feel with a new cast of memorable (and highly marketable) characters. We smell a theme-park attraction tie-in here from a hundred holidays away. Frankenweenie opens Oct. 5, 2012.
Looking forward to another black and white Burton bonanza, or is it too late to teach a dead dog new tricks?