Tim Burton’s first live-action film was a half-hour Disney movie intended to screen before the 1984 re-release of Pinocchio. That never came to pass, however, as Disney decided the film he turned in—about a boy who reanimates his dog, Sparky, after the pup gets hit by a car—was too scary for its intended audience. It was rarely seen until Burton’s first few feature releases made him famous. Now the director has returned to the material for an animated feature, expanding the story of Sparky and his escape after being raised from the dead.
This is Burton’s first stop-motion animation project since 2005’s Corpse Bride. Given the lackluster turn his career has taken in the ’00s, one hopes that this return to his roots will revitalize his creative juices. The project also reunites Burton with a number of collaborators from his best films, including voice turns from Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Landau.
Nine directors, six stories, and some genuinely creepy pre-Halloween fun. I’ll be the first to admit I’m long over found footage horror, but a group of indie directors has come together to make V/H/S do right by the genre by removing one of the biggest logical barriers to entry in a lot of these films—namely that it makes no sense why someone would continue to operate a camera in a life-threatening situation. The short format and some inventive perspectives within the films of this anthology make this better than it probably should be, given the usual unevenness of omnibus-style films. The shorts come wrapped in a frame story that finds a group of unlikable dudes invading an old guy’s home looking for a particularly valuable VHS tape, only to find the old guy dead and stacks and stacks of tapes to look through. The individual shorts are the movies that they plug into the VCR looking for the right tape. Some are better than others, but since they’re brief, you don’t get stuck with something you don’t like for too long, and there are plenty of great scares to be found.
Continue reading the rest of my picks for this week over at Washingtonian.
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