Tim Burton has become so well known for his unique filmmaking style that, much like notable directors, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Alfred Hitchcock, his name has been transformed into an adjective. The Burtonesque cinematic style is known for its whimsical macabre qualities, heroic loners, quaint gothic film sets, and surreal humor.
Tim Burton is best known for directing the films, Beetle Juice, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Mars Attacks! and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Currently, Burton is teaming up with Disney to bring to life a live-action remake of Dumbo which is set for release in 2019. The director has also discussed the possibility of a follow up to the 1988 comedy Beetlejuice, however, this sequel has yet to receive the greenlight.
For all of you who are familiar with Burton’s entire filmography and need something to keep you occupied in the lead up to the release of Dumbo, we have put together a list of Burtonesque style films to keep you busy.
Here are 10 Burtonesque films you need to see if you love Tim Burton:
1. Pan’s Labyrinth – 2006
Pan’s Labyrinth has a dark fantasy visual style and loner lead, much like Burton’s films. However, the similarities stop at Pan’s Labyrinth’s story. While Burton’s films feature a comedic tinge, the Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy, written and directed by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, is a haunting and grim story that doesn’t hold anything back.
Sure, Pan’s Labyrinth may be more intense than the average Tim Burton film, but the three-time Oscar Award winning title is worth a watch for anyone intrigued by dark fantasy and grim fairy tales.
The film takes place five years after the Spanish Civil War and follows the lonely young protagonist Ofelia. When Ofelia travels with her pregnant but sickly mother Carmen to meet her new stepfather Captain Vidal, a large stick insect which Ofelia believes to be a fairy, leads her into an ancient stone labyrinth, bringing her face-to-face with a monster named The Pale Man whose hobby is eating children.
2. Coraline – 2009
3. Monster House – 2006
Coraline has such a heavy Burtonesque style, many mistakenly give Burton credit for the dark family animation. This may be due to the fact that the film’s director Henry Selick also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas which was written by Tim Burton and is also frequently mistaken for a Burton directed film.
The Oscar nominated film Coraline is just whimsical enough to be considered a family movie, but that doesn’t stop the animation from being creepy as hell.
The film is based on a book by Neil Gaiman and follows a girl named Coraline who moves to an old house, and feels bored and neglected by her parents. She finds a hidden door with a bricked up passage and decides to go on a midnight adventure. When she crawls through the hole she enters a parallel world where everybody has buttons instead of eyes. Life in the parallel world is good, her alternate parents are kind, and all her dreams are coming true. But when her new mother invites Coraline to stay in her world forever, and she refuses, things turn bad.
3. James and the Giant Peach – 1996
Most will recognize James and the Giant Peach as the 1961 childhood classic from author Roald Dahl. But, for those who are unaware, the quirky story also got turned into a film.
James and the Giant Peach is directed by Henry Selick, and has similar dark tones to Selick’s other Burton-like works Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The film is a mixture of grim, quirky, and whimsical, with a style of stop-motion animation which is commonly associated with Burton. While Tim Burton doesn’t direct the film, he does act as a producer alongside Denise Di Novi.
The fantasy stop-motion animation follows James, a boy who once had a happy life at the English seaside until it rudely ends when his parents are killed by a rhinoceros and he goes to live with his two horrid aunts. Daringly saving the life of a spider, James comes into possession of magic boiled crocodile tongues, after which an enormous peach starts to grow in the garden. Venturing inside he meets not only the spider but a number of new friends including a ladybug and a centipede who help him with his plan to try and get to New York.
4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – 2009
The star-studded 2-time Oscar-award winning film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a must-watch for Tim Burton fans.
The strange and intriguing film by Terry Gilliam takes you into a fascinating Burtonesque fantasy world that is equal parts odd, magical, and dark. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Christopher Plummer, Jude Law, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present-day. It tells the story of Dr. Parnassus and his ‘Imaginarium’, a traveling show where members of the audience get the opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Doctor Parnassus is blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, but also cursed with a dark secret.
5. The Adams Family – 1991
If you have somehow gotten this far in life without watching The Addams Family, who are you?
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the Oscar-nominated film The Addams Family thrusts the black and white 1960s television series into color. The film brings the famous macabre family, who takes delight in things most would find terrifying, on a new adventure as a con-artist tries to steal from the family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.
The film has some obvious likeness to Tim Burton’s films, taking a light hearted approach to the grim, morbid and grotesque.
The film stars Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman.
6. 9 – 2009
Directed by Shane Acker from a screenplay by Pamela Pettler, this dark, Tim Burton-produced fantasy may be animated but it definitely isn’t for children.
The quirky, visually stunning adventure takes viewers on a journey into the final days of humanity. In the film, the world has turned into an unrecognizable dark landscape of futuristic machines and spare parts, but, when a dedicated scientist brings to life nine of his creations, the group of nine find out that if they band together, they might hold the key to humanity’s salvation.
The film features the voice of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Crispin Glover.
7. ParaNorman – 2012
The Oscar nominated stop-motion film ParaNorman tells the story of a misunderstood boy who takes on ghosts, zombies, and grown-ups to save his town, Blithe Hollow, from a curse.
Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell the film has a distinct Burtonesque quality both because of its visual style and plot. The film is the first stop-motion feature to use a 3D color printer to create characters faces and only the second to be shot in 3D.
ParaNorman stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck.
8. Monster House – 2006
While, visually, Monster House’s 3D-computer-generated style differs from Tim Burton’s stop-motion aesthetic, the Monster House narrative definitely seems like it could have dropped out of Burton’s head.
Directed by Gil Kenan, and executive produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-nominated film follows three teenagers who find out that their neighbor’s house is a monster, but nobody believes them. In order to destroy the house, the trio seeks advice from Reginald “Skull” Skulinski, who is supposedly an expert on the supernatural.
9. Hugo – 2011
The visual masterpiece Hugo is a must watch. From acclaimed director, Martin Scorsese, the film is whimsical, heart warming and funny, whilst also addressing some of the more macabre aspects of life.
The film tells the story of an orphan boy living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. The boy learned to fix clocks and other gadgets from his father and uncle, knowledge he uses to keep the train station clocks running. The only thing he has left of his dead father is an automaton (mechanical man) that doesn’t work without a special key. Hugo needs to find the key to unlock the secret he believes it contains. On his adventures, he meets shopkeeper George Melies and his adventure-seeking god-daughter.
10. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – 2005
Wallace & Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit not only has a Burtonesque visual style, it also features several Tim Burton-ish moments of darkness.
The Oscar-award winner follows Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit, as they set out to discover the mystery behind the garden sabotage that plagues their village and threatens the annual giant vegetable growing contest.