This was the strangest, most unexpected thing. I was watching the credits of the 2012 animated Frankenweenie on Disney + for the October EYG Halloween Horror Bingefest, when the screen popped up a graphic for another Frankenweenie, which appeared to be live action.
I had no idea what this was, so I decided to watch it. There was young Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern, which immediately put an end to the idea that maybe they had done this after the animated movie.
So it was clearly something that predated the animated movie. Then I saw that Tim Burton had also directed it.
Turns out that Frankenweenie started out as a 28-minute short from Burton and that they adapted the animated movie from this short. I had no idea.
The short was fun, considerably more condensed than the 2012 film, but it did a good job of showing the relationship between Victor (Barret Oliver) and Sparky. There were a few of the scenes (like the cars hooking up their jumper cables to Sparky) were exactly the same in the animated movie.
Much like the 2012 animated movie, this is an homage to the Universal Monster Movies, particularly Frankenstein (1931). The black and white film does a great job of creating that very mood. The short also makes you feel as if you were watching those older film with the staging and the way the actors carried themselves.
This was an interesting exercise, seeing this short after seeing the animated movie. There was more depth in the animated movie, but, as a short, this brought an excellent tone and set the stage for the future movie.