Tim Burton: the king of Halloween cinema

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Design by Elliott Woodmansee- Siress. Asset credit: Tim Burton Productions | Warner Bros. | Walt Disney Pictures | Laika | Touchstone Pictures | Skellington Productions | The Geffen Company | 20th Century Fox | Focus Features | Relativity Media | Lux Animation | The Zanuck Company | Plan B Entertainment | Village Roadshow Pictures

Joemi Cordonero, Designer

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Around this time of year, Halloween movies start to appear in theaters and thus the annual tradition of rewatching these classic festive films begins. Though he is often overlooked because of his outlandish ideas, Tim Burton’s films are seen as a staple of Halloween movies because of his unique style. Ranging from the stop motion box office hit of The Nightmare Before Christmas to the eerie adaption of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Burton’s works are enough to get any viewer into the holiday spirit. 

A common and classic Halloween movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, is set in a world where each holiday has its own town but prioritizes Halloween and Christmas. It follows the skeleton king- Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) and his search to find something grander than what he’s accustomed to. Though initially a bit generic, Burton’s iconic spin on how to make the animation eerie allows it to be a staple for many halloween decorations. He was able to formulate the story to be more lively with the character’s acting and set a piece of mystery in the art.

Another film, Corpse Bride, has been recently popularized again by Tiktok with an abundance of people comparing it to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Corpse Bride follows Victor who couldn’t correct his marriage vows and ends up tangling himself with a literal corpse. The movie’s witty comedy works well with Burton’s decision to make the living characters bland, while the dead characters are much more lively. The bizarre plot and personalities make it a fitting Halloween movie to rewatch and for many to recreate the characters as Halloween costumes. 

Beetlejuice is an iconic Halloween movie filmed in the 80’s. Beetlejuice is about a couple who previously passed away and start to haunt their property. The owners of the house disliked the new residents in their home so they called in Betelgeuse to help them scare the new residents out. Burton added an extra thrill to the movie with stop motion parts and special effects to make the plot more immersive. The movie is an important Halloween film because of its spookiness that Betelgeuse contributes when haunting the family, in addition to its comical aspects that lessen the horror elements. It also brings another sense of Halloween to places like Halloween Horror Nights and brings a sense of joy along with terror. Another live action film, Edward Scissorhands, also incorporated the special effects which made the movie visually pleasing and helped bring the sense of Burton’s signature creepiness. 

From all of the previously mentioned films, Frankenweenie is the newest, yet hits home for its mostly classic story. It follows Victor and the loneliness he has from losing his dog, Sparky, that leads him to resurrect Sparky from the dead. Because it’s a remake from the original movie, Burton paid homage to the original by keeping the monochrome color scheme and  keeping most of the bland story the same. His creative decision to tweak the ending by giving Victor and the other characters a little more depth gave the ending a sense of a better completion and shows how the new additions were beneficial. Another addition to give the remake a bigger burtonesque style is the disfigured lab experiments that Victor’s classmates create. The creations give an uncomfortable feeling when viewing  but really shows what Burton is capable of. He only added the creative ending and the disfigured creations to add the creepiness of the story and to really bring in the feeling of Halloween.His touch adds a creative dark touch to the well-known story that many remember watching growing up. 

The feeling of Halloween differs for everyone but for many, the movies that Tim Burton  creates allow for many to enjoy the holiday. From the festive feeling of seeing his movies on cable channels to seeing them in stores, it’s a trivial part of their holiday. Even when the season of Halloween passes, people find his works as comfort movies. After all, there’s no better way to say it than quoting Burton himself, “For some of us, Halloween is everyday.”

Tim Burton’s movies are classic Halloween films because of the way he turns simple stories and uses his imagination to make said stories so much more vivid, unique, and stranger. Though his ideas can be seen as unsettling, he’s able to envision a gothic twist on anything he directs. That’s why his movies are always airing to get many into the Halloween spirit.