It is the basis of the entire film, and it is what makes Frankenweenie so damned good.
It may not be entirely classified as a horror film, but Frankenweenie brings so many elements from the Universal Studio horror classics that it is almost like a montage of those classic monsters.
Frankenstein is the basic outline of the story with the boy bringing his dog back to life, but this film pays homage to other Universal Studio horror classics: the invisible goldfish, the mummified hamster, the sea monkey creatures from the pool, the lycanthropic rat, and the vampire cat.
And the characters are creepifying (I’m looking at you Mr. Whiskers and your handler too!), which can only be expected from director Tim Burton. Expanding on the original short film of the same name, Frankenweenie explores the idea of further experimentation for the young scientific genius Victor after being found out for reanimating his dead dog Sparky.
The cast of characters are filled with references to the Universal Studio horror classics, including the main character, Victor Frankenstein.
His fellow classmates that identify heavily with the Universal Studio horror classics include Elsa Van Helsing, referencing Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Dracula; Nassor, baring a striking resemblance to horror icon Boris Karloff; and Edgar “E” Gore, referencing the Igor stock character or hunch-backed assistant from many horror films.
More than the Universal Studio horror classics are referenced in Frankenweenie, another of Victor’s classmates, Toshiaki, resurrects his dead pet turtle, Shelley, who with a bit of electricity and Miracle-Gro mutates and grows into a horrifically sized creature reminiscent of a Godzilla monster.
Frankenweenie showcases the monsters at the end half of the feature film, terrorizing the populace of the small town of New Holland and causing mischief and mayhem after being created or reanimated without the love that Victor possessed for Sparky.
It all culminates with a rescue from Sparky, overcoming a torch-bearing mob of the town’s populace and a vindictive vampire cat (Damn you Mr. Whiskers!).
I could go on forever about how much I loved Frankenweenie.
It may not really be horror, but it is a celebration of the Universal Studio horror classics that definitively are cornerstones of the genre.
In the end, Frankenweenie is nothing more than a film about a boy and his dog.
Victor’s dog just happens to be dead, but that doesn’t really matter to a young Frankenstein.