Frankenweenie is a 2012 American animated fantasy horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a parody of the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley's book of the same name. The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands); Martin Short (Mars Attacks!); Catherine O'Hara (Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas); and Martin Landau (Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow), along with some new voice actors, such as Charlie Tahanand Atticus Shaffer. Frankenweenie is in black and white. It is also the fourth stop-motion film produced by Burton and the first of those four that is not a musical. In the film, a boy named Victor loses his dog, a Bull Terrier named Sparky, and uses the power of electricity to resurrect him — but is then blackmailed by his peers into revealing how they too can reanimate their deceased past pets and other creatures, resulting in mayhem.
Young scientist Victor Frankenstein lives with his parents, Edward and Susan Frankenstein, and his beloved Bull Terrier dog, Sparky, in the quiet town of New Holland. Victor's intelligence is recognized by his classmates at school, his somber next-door neighbor, Elsa Van Helsing, mischievous Edgar "E" Gore, obese and gullible Bob, overconfident Toshiaki, creepy Nassor, and an eccentric girl nicknamed Weird Girl, but communicates little with them due to his relationship with his dog. Concerned with his son's isolation, Victor's father encourages him to take up baseball and make achievements outside of science. Victor hits a home run at his first game, but Sparky, pursuing the ball, is struck by a car and killed.
Inspired by his science teacher Mr. Rzykruski's demonstration of the effect of electricity on dead frogs, a depressed Victor hires himself as a mad scientist, digs up Sparky's corpse, brings him to his makeshift laboratory in the attic and successfully reanimates him with lightning. Seeing Weird Girl's living cat, Mr. Whiskers, the undead Sparky escapes from the attic and explores the neighborhood. He is recognized by Edgar, who blackmails Victor into teaching him how to raise the dead. The two reanimate a dead goldfish, which turns invisible due to an error with the experiment. Edgar brags about the undead fish to Toshiaki and Bob, which, in panic of losing the upcoming science fair, inspires them to make a rocket out of soda bottles, which causes Bob to break his arm and Mr. Rzykruski to be blamed and fired due to his accused influencing and reviling the townsfolk for questioning his methods when he steps up for self-defense. So, the gym teacher replaces Mr. Rzykruski.
Eventually, Edgar's fish disappears when he tries to show it to a skeptical Nassor (who was told by Toshiaki), and when Edgar is confronted by Toshiaki, Nassor and Bob on the baseball field at school, he accidentally reveals Victor's actions, inspiring them to try reanimation themselves. Victor's parents discover Sparky in the attic and are frightened, causing the dog to flee. Victor and his parents search for Sparky while the classmates invade the lab, discovering Victor's reanimation formula. The classmates separately perform their experiments, which go awry and turn the dead animals into monsters — Mr. Whiskers holds a dead bat while it is electrocuted, resulting in him fusing with it and becoming a monstrous bat-cat hybrid with wings and fangs. Edgar turns a dead rat he found in the garbage into a wererat, Nassor successfully revives his mummified hamster Colossus and Toshiaki's turtle Shelley is covered in Miracle Gro and turns into a kaiju-like monster. Bob's Sea-Monkeys grow into amphibious humanoids. The monsters break loose into the town fair where they wreak havoc.
After finding Sparky at the town's pet cemetery, Victor sees the monsters heading to the fair and goes with his classmates to help deal with them — the Sea-Monkeys explode after eating salt-covered popcorn (due to them being freshwater), and Colossus is stepped on by Shelley, while the rat and Shelley are returned to their original, deceased forms after both being electrocuted. During the chaos, Persephone, Elsa's pet poodle, is grabbed by Mr. Whiskers and carried to the town windmill with Elsa and Victor chasing after. The townsfolk blame Sparky for Elsa's disappearance and chase him to the windmill, which Mayor Burgermeister accidentally ignites with his torch. Victor and Sparky enter the burning windmill and rescue Elsa and Persephone, but Victor is trapped inside. Sparky rescues Victor, only to be dragged back inside by Mr. Whiskers. A final confrontation ensues, and just as Mr. Whiskers has Sparky cornered, a flaming piece of wood breaks off and impales Mr. Whiskers to death. The windmill then collapses on Sparky, presumably killing him again. To reward him for his bravery and saving Victor, the townsfolk gather to revive Sparky with their car batteries, reanimating him once more. Persephone comes to Sparky as the two dogs share their love and kiss.
- Charlie Tahan as Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings his dog (and best friend) Sparky back to life.
- Martin Short as Edward Frankenstein, Victor's father; Nassor, Toshiaki's partner and Victor's other rival-like former enemy, who has a flat head inspired by Frankenstein's monster and whose voice and face resemble that of Boris Karloff; and Mr. Bergermeister, the grumpy Mayor of New Holland, the Frankensteins' next-door neighbor and Elsa's uncle. He is also a homage to the villainous Burgermeister Meisterburger from the Rankin/Bassfilm Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town.
- Catherine O'Hara as Susan Frankenstein, Victor's mother; Gym Teacher, an unnamed teacher who replaced Mr. Rzykruski; and Weird Girl, an eccentric girl who is one of Victor's classmates and obsessed with the psychic predictions of her cat, Mr. Whiskers
- Martin Landau as Mr. Rzykruski, the eccentric but wise science teacher at Victor's school who speaks in a thick Eastern European accent. His teachings inspire Victor's effort to resurrect Sparky, and he acts as a mentor to Victor. The character was inspired by Burton's childhood icon, Vincent Price.
- Winona Ryder as Elsa van Helsing, a kind next-door neighbor, and one of Victor's classmates.
- Frank Welker as Sparky, Sea Creatures
- Dee Bradley Baker as Persephone, Shelly and Colossus.
- Michael Welch as Mr. Whiskers
- Atticus Shaffer as Edgar "E" Gore, a hunch-backed child (inspired by Igor) and one of Victor's classmates. He's the first to know of Victor's success in bringing Sparky back to life.
- Robert Capron as Bob, an obese boy who is one of Victor's classmates.
- Conchata Ferrell as Bob's mother, an obese and stereotypical suburban housewife who dotes upon her son. She believes in the status quo, and that her misguided actions are in Bob's best interest.
- James Hiroyuki Liao as Toshiaki, Victor's rival-like former enemy and one of his classmates.
- Tom Kenny as Fire Chief; Soldier; and Man in Crowd
- Christopher Lee as Dracula (in stock footage from Dracula).
Although Tim Burton signed with Disney to direct two films in Disney Digital 3D, including Alice in Wonderland and his remake of Frankenweenie, development for its full-length stop motion version dates as far back as November 2005, when scripts had been written by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott. John August was approached for a rewrite in 2006, but was not hired until January 2009. Like the original, the feature version is shot in black and white. Many of the animation artists and crew from Corpse Bride are involved. In addition to remaking his earlier project, Burton is also borrowing heavily from his design from the titular character of Family Dog for Sparky.
Filming began at Three Mills Studios in July 2010. The crew created three giant sound stages, including Victor's cluttered family attic, a cemetery exterior, and a high school interior. The sound stages were then divided into 30 separate areas to deal with the handcrafted, frame-by-frame style of filmmaking. Compared to other stop-motion animation sets, Frankenweenie's set is much larger. As IGN notes, the main character Sparky had to be "'dog-size' compared to the other human characters, but also large enough to house all the elements of the mechanical skeleton secreted within his various foam and silicon-based incarnation". On the other hand, the mechanics are small and delicate, and in some instances they had to have Swiss watchmakers create the tiny nuts and bolts. Around 200 separate puppets were used, with roughly 18 different versions of Victor. The puppets also have human hair, with 40–45 joints for the human characters and about 300 parts for Sparky.
In early 2011, it was announced that Danny Elfman would score Frankenweenie, with work already started on pre-production music.
Prior to the film's release, an "inspired by" soundtrack album, Frankenweenie: Unleashed!, as well as Elfman's Frankenweenie: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released by Walt Disney Records on September 25, 2012. Frankenweenie: Unleashed! contains bonus content that includes a custom icon and an app that will load a menu to view more the bonus content, provide input, or buy more music from Disney Music Group.