SAN DIEGO - Walking through the "Frankenweenie" exhibit at Comic-Con 2012 felt a bit like entering the world of Tim Burton's childhood - if Tim Burton's childhood had actually been plagued by mutant pets.
Producers Allison Abbate and Don Hahn brought several of the film's puppets, sets and props to the San Diego Convention Center's massive exhibition hall this week to give fans a tangible sense of what went into its creation - and HitFix was lucky enough to score a personal guided tour from Abbate herself.
Featuring the voices of Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short and Martin Landau, among others, "Frankenweenie" (created using the stop-motion animation method that Burton prefers) follows a young suburban boy named Victor Frankenstein (Tahan) as he figures out a way to reanimate his beloved, recently-deceased dog Sparky - only to unleash chaos on his small town in the process. As Abbate pointed out during the tour, Burton based the film - which he originally made in 1984 as a live-action short - on his own experiences growing up in sunny Burbank, California.
"He's been living with it for such a long time," said Abbate, standing before a display case containing several of the film's puppets. "And it is sort of loosely based on his losing his dog when he was a kid, and being inspired and wishing that he could bring him back from the dead."
Given that the original film was only around 30 minutes long, expanding the story required raising the narrative stakes considerably. To accomplish this, Burton and his collaborators decided that the undead Sparky should represent perhaps the least-threatening "zombie-pet" to be set loose on the town in the course of the movie.
"The technology that Victor has created has created these monsters," said Abbate, referencing the later portion of the film in which Victor's young classmates decide to raise their own expired pets from the dead. "It kinda opens up the whole third act of our movie...so [Tim and his team] created some monsters. So we have sea monkeys, which are kind of monster-y, kind of Gremlin-y type of sea monkeys. We have like a were-rat, which is kind of like a rat version of a werewolf. And then that's a very, very small [version] of the turtle monster," she continued, pointing out a miniaturized version of the giant, Godzilla-esque creature glimpsed in the film's most recent trailer, "which actually is like a huge turtle monster that ends up kind of walking through town and creating havoc wherever he goes."
Like what you've heard so far? Check out the rest of our "Frankenweenie" tour in the video above!
"Frankenweenie" hits theaters on October 5.
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