Tim Burton returns to his stop-motion animation roots by revisiting a tale from one of his early shorts, Frankenweenie. The story focuses on a boy so devoted to his pet dog that even after the dog gets hit by a car he figures out a way to bring him back to life. The film features the vocal talents of Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, and Charlie Tahan as the boy, Victor.
Victor (Charlie Tahan) and his dog Sparky are inseparable best friends. They play together, make movies together, and otherwise monopolize each other's free time in the quiet little town of New Holland. But one day during an accident, Sparky gets hit by a car and is killed. Victor is devastated and listlessly mopes about the house and school. That is until one day when his science teacher gives a demonstration on how electrical stimulation can affect and even appear to animate a dead frog. And this gives the curious and scientifically-minded Victor an idea.
During one of the many stormy nights that affect New Holland, Victor sets up his ultimate test of the demonstration he saw in class: the effects of a massive dose of electrical current (lightning) on a dead animal (Sparky). After the lightning and the carefully channeled voltage is set upon the subject, Victor finds the result of his experiment in the form of a familiar tail that once again begins to wag. Sparky is back, even if some of him must be stitched up in order to stay together.
Victor tries to keep his new franken-dog a secret, but word eventually slips out. But pretty soon, Victor's experiment has given several of his classmates similar ideas, even if theirs are perhaps driven by more selfish motives and carried out with less technical precision. And that's where all of the trouble in the tiny town of New Holland begins, as many of these resurrected animals bring unforeseen consequences.
Once again, Tim Burton has delivered a tale that combines the macabre with child-like fantasy. Only here there is also the unmistakable ode to classic horror films and science fiction from the 1950s. The setting of the quaint suburban town overrun by undead pets and the ever-present splashes of lightning on science-y electrodes and lab tables in this black-and-white landscape quickly reveal an homage to midnight drive-in fare from a bygone era.