Behind the Scenes: The Films of Tim Burton

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?” – Orson Welles (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) in Ed Wood (1994)

“We don’t have permits. Run!” – Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) in the same film

Box office prosperity has never had a great deal of correlation to artistic quality when it comes to movies, but few directors have a filmmography where that relationship is as inversely proportional as Tim Burton’s. Which is a wordy way of saying that the more money a Burton film seems to make (i.e. Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland), the less likely I seem to be to enjoy it. That equation is summed up by the fact that my favorite Burton outing (1994’s Ed Wood) was by far his least attended. Ed Wood put so few butts in seats upon release that the same year’s Monkey Trouble, Lightning Jack and House Party 3 all more than doubled its box office take.

Below is a look back at Burton’s paradoxical career through a series of Behind the Scenes pics detailing the making of all 17 of the director’s feature films. I like to think that on each of them, Burton channeled Bela Lugosi (or at least Martin Landau’s incarnation of him) with the call to arms, “Let’s shoot this fucker.”

 

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Tales From the Crypt (1972)

Running Time: 92 minutes
Rating: PG
Who the Devil Made It: director Freddie Francis
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Peter Cushing, Roy Dotrice, Nigel Patrick, Patrick Magee
Cinematographer: Norman Warwick
Studio: Amicus

A woman is attacked on Christmas Eve by an escaped mental patient dressed as Santa Claus. Now imagine that same scenario, only the woman has just murdered her husband with a fire poker. That turn of the screw defined the worldview of EC Comics’ pulp horror rag Tales From the Crypt during its run in the 1950s. The victims of the macabre morality tales usually had it coming, an idea which extends to Amicus’ 1972 anthology film version. Unsurprisingly, considering this adaptation’s British roots, that comeuppance is often inflicted upon a member of the monied class. Continue Reading ›