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Morbid videos seem to pique interest

Morbid videos seem to pique interest

I truly wonder what Tim Burton got up to as a child. I just watched Frankenweenie, his newest offering, and am still wrapping my head around it. It is animated in highly detailed stop-motion and unusually, in black & white, which is quite beautiful, feeling as rich and buttery as colour.
In it, Victor, a precocious middle school loner, loses his dog Sparky in an accident. In one of his more interesting science classes, (you remember these: frogs, electricity, twitching) Victor is stimulated to try to re-animate his best friend. It works, and as word gets out, classmates competing for a science prize, do their best to create bigger, better zombie pets culminating in a glorious rampage through town.
It’s all a bit morbid and not really for smaller kids, but is witty, chock-full of references to all kinds of vintage horror and saved by the charm of Sparky, who is after all, just a barky littledoggie who is still easy to love even if he’s stitched together and sporting neck bolts. The supporting characters are also nicely done, such as the no-nonsense science teacher and the parents, who, for a change are helpful and sensitive, not bumbling idiots as they (we) are so often portrayed. This movie is also a great way to get a little black & white past the kids.
Then there’s Paranorman, also rated PG. This is from Laika studios, who brought us Caroline and Corpse Bride and is in colour.
It is a mixture of skewy but effective stop-motion animation and CG effects. There are also many references to vintage horror for the old school fans.
Our main character here is not just a loner, but is actively ostracised because he can see dead people. Being a nice little boy, he interacts with these spirits the same way he would friends, if he had any. Again, this movie is both morbid and hilarious. Most kids will eat this up, but some may be a bit disturbed. There are zombies, a witch hunt, narrow-minded townsfolk, but it is livened by visual gags, interesting supporting characters and, in the end, good messages about bigotry, and bullying, but also acceptance and letting go. I’m not sure what to make of the morbid factor of both of these films, except when I really go back to my own childhood; I remember that kids are often fascinated by and less bothered than we may think or assume about death. Cool to have 2 films that both adults and older kids can enjoy together.

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