Blu-ray Review: Frankenweenie (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy)

Frankenweenie BD cover artGenre: Animation | Horror | Comedy

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Tim Burton (original idea), Leonard Ripps (1984 screenplay), John August (screenplay)

Voice Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell, Winona Ryder.

MPAA Rating: PG

Run Time: 87 minutes excluding bonus features


From Disney and creative genius Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes the hilarious and offbeat Frankenweenie, 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 learn that getting a new ‘leash on life’ can be monstrous.

This is such a charming, quirky, warmhearted creepy movie. It works as a wonderful family movie, if the kids are maybe not too little and you have the right kind of family. It’s a Tim Burton movie, after all, and sometimes the creepiness factor gets just a little too vivid. But there are a number of things that make this so much different, and so much better, than your standard family fare. As you might imagine, again because it’s a Tim Burton movie, it is never too sweet, never too treacly. The look of it alone keeps that from happening. Nothing and no one is too pretty or too perfect.

In fact it’s the kids who are the creepiest, not the adults. Victor’s dad worries that Victor doesn’t have friends and might turn out “weird.” I’ve got news for him; every kid in Victor’s class is weird. Which is one of my favorite points of the movie. It isn’t how much better the weird kid is than the popular kid, because none of the kids in New Holland are particularly popular. It is, in fact, a weird little town. Perfectly Burtonesque. People get struck by lightning all the time. There are names like Frankenstein and Van Helsing. The kids are not actually meant to be representatives from horror movies, they just look that way naturally. Well, and sound that way, like a young Boris Karloff,  Peter Lorre, and Collin Clive. The adults are mostly the usual small-minded type you find in kids’ movies, with a slightly wrong-headed dad and a kind mom.


The stop action animation, kid-centric story and general look may put this in the category of a kids’ movie, but like many of the best productions aimed ostensibly at children, it includes elements that adults will appreciate without becoming tedius for the kids. Like Victor’s dad says – why not do both? We would expect nothing less from Tim Burton but it’s still nice to see that he does this so well here. The science teacher with the unspellable name (but it’s pronounced something close to “Rice Krispies”), voiced with perfection by Martin Landau, explains lightning as a metaphor for the migration of eastern bloc scientists to America. Trust me, it’s hilarious. Kids will like it because he looks crazy and is yelling.

Beyond that, there are a lot of fun Burton touches for his fans, from the casting of some of his favorites – including Winona Ryder, Conchata Ferrell,  and Catherine O’Hara – to the look of the town, to the Danny Elfman soundtrack – never too melodramatic; beautiful, hopeful, magical, but never overly sentimental, just like the movie – to the stripes on the legs of one of the creatures.

And for some of us, the name of the neighbor and mayor of New Holland, Mr. Burgemeister, sure does seem like a tip o’ the hat to the Rankin Bass 1970 special Santa Claus is Coming to Town and its bad-guy mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger.

Frankenweenie Victor goggles

Best of all, though, it is a wonderful homage for adults, and therefore a wonderful introduction to kids, to the world of classic horror movies. Yes, the kids as caricatures of the famous actors and their voices is one aspect of that, but the settings, the interactions, the direction with its crazy angles, and the musical score during key dramatic moments, are absolute perfection. And, of course, the creatures are a hoot.

The stop-action animation is stylized and gorgeous, and there are some moments that will take your breath away if you think about the work that must have been involved. Victor’s experiment in the attic, with all of its whirring and spinning machines, had to have taken an exceptional amount of time and work and is worth watching just for that. The water effects – there’s a slight mishap when the Sparky drinks water – likewise will make you gasp, if you happen to remember that this is stop-action animation while you’re watching. It’s easy enough to forget, even though you can see that the faces are handmade. It’s part of their charm.

Homages, winks and nods, a salute to science, brilliant animation and music, and the cutest little zombie dog. This movie is quietly brilliant, and has more layers than you might notice on first watch. The moral is really quite touching, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

Frankenweenie Sparky and Victor

Like many Disney releases, this movie is available in a variety of packages. My review set is the 4-disc package and is the best bet for your money. Animated movies come to life on Blu-ray, so Blu-ray for the Blu-ray player, DVD for hubs’ laptop, digital copy for my laptop, 3D for when I finally get that 3D player and TV. Here’s the breakdown of what comes in each configuration:

4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)—Includes:

· All New Original Short: “Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers”—An exciting all-new short featuring Victor and Sparky’s home movie. As adorable as you would imagine.

· “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing ‘Frankenweenie’ To Life”—Viewers get an in-depth tour of the London set that includes never-before-seen footage showcasing the hundreds of artists who worked on the film. Overwhelmingly impressive.

· “Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit—Allows audiences to explore the artistry of the film’s puppets, sets and props in a showcase that’s traveling the world. A great representation; I saw the exhibit at Comic-Con and it was beautiful.

· “Frankenweenie” Original Live Action Short—Burton’s original live-action short film. The basis for the movie and a fun watch after seeing the stop-action animation version. 

· Music Video—“Pet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s Fun video by a coolio group.


2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD) — Includes: All 4-Disc bonus features

· “Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers”

· “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing ‘Frankenweenie’ To Life”

· “Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit

· “Frankenweenie” (original Live-Action Short)

· “Pet Sematary” Music Video performed by Plain White T’s


1-Disc DVD


· “Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit

· “Pet Sematary” Music Video performed by Plain White T’s


Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

DVD: Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions

Audio: Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 7.1 DTS-HDHR, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

DVD: English, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital

Language Tracks: English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles

Frankenweenie Sparky

Along with Brave, easily one of the best animated movies of 2012, and with the added joy of Tim BurtonDanny Elfman, and a black- and-white horror homage, with terrific bonus features, you just really need to own this set.

I give Frankenweenie (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy) Five Out of Five Stars.



Frankenweenie (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy) is available now. Here’s the Amazon link:

Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for