The Truth about Samhain

As we enter the final stretch of the Halloween season we now turn our eyes to the origin of the holiday, Samhain. And since this is Fanboy News Network I am going to tie it back in with geek culture by the end.

Before I even get into what Samhain is/was/isn’t/whatever I want to tackle one of the trickiest subjects of all, how to pronounce it. You see Samhain is a Gaelic word and so its pronunciation has nothing to do with how our eyes accustomed to modern English see it. When you look at it I am sure that you assume it is pronounced Sam (as in the common first name) hane (rhyming with bane). And you would be wrong. In fact it is pronounced Sow (like the pig) in (as opposed to out).

We will get back to fun with pronunciation later.

So what is Samhain and how does it relate to Halloween? Well to answer that we need to look to our old friends the ancient Celts.

It’s easy to think of the Celts as a superstitious people who spent most of their time painted blue and hitting things, but really they were a very practical people who incorporated their spiritual lives into their everyday lives. Due to this a lot of their holy days tended to line up to practical matters like planting or harvesting.  It is also good to keep in mind the harsh climate they lived in. Finally you have to remember that they did not look at seasons the same way we do. To them there were two seasons, summer and winter.

So for Samhain, the first thing to know is that its literal translation is “summer’s end”, meaning it was when they marked the beginning of the winter season. Or to put it another way, it was the Gaelic word for November. The festival of Samhain was the feast that they would have to mark the occasion. It was also when they would bring in their livestock from the summer pastures and slaughter any animals to provide food for the winter. Due to this last bit it was sometimes known as the blood harvest.

On the spiritual side of things it was a time when the barriers between the worlds of the living and the dead were thought to be thinnest. Many traditions that we think of as Halloween traditions were born out of this belief. People would dress in ways they normally didn’t to confuse spirits that meant harm, turnips were craved into frightening faces to scare off evil spirits and offerings were left out for the beloved dead.  Thus we have costumes, Jack-o-lanterns, and trick or treating for candy.

For the Celts Samhain was the beginning of their year and the festival of Samhain their most important holy day.

I’m sure some of you are now thinking “But haven’t I heard of an actual mythological character called Samhain?”

I’m sure you have, and let me take this time to explain why this is wrong.

In the 18th and 19th centuries in England the practice of armchair academics was very popular. These were amateurs in various sciences who would do research and get published without any actual field experience. I have always held the belief that the kind of people that did this would be what Monty Python would refer to as an Upper Class Twit.

One such individual was Col. Charles Vallency, who wrote a 6 volume set of books in 1770 that attempted to prove that the Irish people once came from Armenia. This work has the first reference that can be found naming a god called Samhain.

This concept would be picked up by Godfrey Higgins in 1827. Higgins wanted to prove that the Celts originally came from India. Now today there is scientific evidence that backs this up, but the field work that proved it had not been done yet in 1827 and Higgins needed something to prove his theory. In his research Higgins came across Vallency’s work and picked up on the idea of calling a god Samhain. He found a Hindu God named Samana, and figured he had his hook.  But he needed a mythology to go with Samhain to make this work.  Finding reference to the blood harvest it was an easy step to go from a sensible practice to survive the winter to a festival of ritual sacrifice to appease a pagan god. And the belief of the dead roaming the land made Samhain a god of the dead, terrorizing the people as the cold set in.

And this BS is what stuck in a lot of people’s minds.  For years if you did a search on Samhain on the internet all you would find would be references to a “Lord of the Dead”. Fortunately decent research in more recent years has drowned those pages out and most information you find is in the neighborhood of accurate.

Well unless you are talking about mass media, then all bets are off.

It seems that when you want to do a TV show or movie involving Samhain that last thing you want to do is actual research, especially when the BS is so much more fun.

One example that I always think of is an episode of the TV show Supernatural. Now this show has always had its issue when it comes to research. Don’t get me wrong, I like this show, and watch it regularly. When they are working from a mythology they create no problem, but whenever they try to work in any existing folklore, not so much. Let’s put it this way, my sister and I have a game where we predict when the other is going to start flailing at the screen because they got some piece of lore wrong. When they did their Samhain episode she actually called me and said “are you yelling at the screen yet?” The answer was yes by the way. They basically took Higgins’ story and used it whole cloth, adding that Samhain was helping bring about the apocalypse.

Another is the otherwise really fun horror movie Trick r Treat. It’s iconic character is Sam who looks like a little kid in a pumpkin mask, but is in fact Samhain who acts as the spirit of Halloween.

But really it was the cartoon the Real Ghostbusters that solidified the use of Samhain as the spirit of Halloween. In multiple episodes they had a pumpkin headed baddie called Sam Hane who wanted to make every day Halloween.

As for shows that get a bit closer to the facts, even they can have issues.

True Blood for example almost drove me to drink. They did great on the Samhain mythology, but their pronunciation was like fingernails on a chalkboard. They pronounced it Sama Hane. I have no idea where they got that extra A from.

Another show that was not annoying was the show Reaper, about a guy who ended up stuck working for the Devil. In one episode the Devil lamented that he missed the festival of Samhain, and nailed the pronunciation. His mythology was a bit off, but better than most.

The one show I can cite that nailed it on the head was American Horror Story last season. They opened their Halloween two part episode with a character accurately describing the old Samhain traditions, getting both pronunciation and history correct. The best part was that since the story was about ghosts, they were able to take the accurate information and make it relevant to the plot.

So there we have it, a look at what is and isn’t true about Samhain. So when you go out this year, remember that there was no blood god wanting sacrifices, just a people getting ready for winter and honoring their beloved dead.

Mockingbird Lane review

Mockingbird Lane, the reboot of the Munsters, is what is known as a busted pilot. It is a pilot for a TV show that the network, NBC in this case, decided to pass on. But it also was expensive to produce so NBC decided to air it as a Halloween special.

So how was it?

I guess the first thing is how did Mockingbird Lane differ from the original? And the answer is a lot. The original Munsters show was a sitcom featuring characters based on the Universal Monsters. The joke was that they thought they were perfectly normal and that the rest of the world was off. Mockingbird Lane went a whole different direction with Munsters knowing that they were different and trying to blend in.

The humor on Mockingbird Lane is also darker than the original. Most plots on the original show usually centered on Herman and Grandpa getting into some form of hijinks. For Mockingbird Lane it was more a conflict between Herman and Grandpa about how to live their lives and raise Eddie.

There were two basic plot threads for the pilot. One was that Eddie had just become a werewolf and the family was addressing how to deal with this and break the news to him. The other thread was that Herman’s heart, his last original body part, was wearing out and needed replacing. Herman was resistant to this as he was worried that without his heart he would not love his family the same way.

When judging a comedy there is one simple test, did I laugh? I’ve watched it twice now, and I laughed out loud both times. So on that alone we have to say yes it succeeded.

A lot of this was due to a smart script written by Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller. I’m sure a lot of credit can also go to director Bryan Singer for timing the interplay between the characters. Most of the humor was dialog and character based rather than the slapstick the old series depended on.

And how did the characters fair?

In what should be a surprise to no one, Eddie Izzard as Grandpa Munster stole the show. His expert comic timing meshed perfectly with Grandpa’s dark nature.

What was a surprise Mason Cook as Eddie Munster.  This kid is 12 but held his own and delivered almost as many laughs as Izzard.

Another surprise was how well the character of Marilyn was used. On the original show she was almost a background character, having little development. Here she was clearly a Munster and despite being normal, which was treated as a point of shame, may have been the creepiest of the family. Charity Wakefield played her with a subdued sense of glee.

Herman Munster, played by Jerry O’Connell, was the emotional core of the show, but not the source of much humor. He was largely a foil for Grandpa and the voice of reason.

Lily Munster, played by Portia de Rossi, got the short end of the stick in the pilot. She was relegated to the role of love interest.

Overall I give Mockingbird lane a B+

But I would like to see more. Hopefully enough interest was generated by showing the pilot to convince NBC to order the series.

The Horror Host

As we continue on through the Halloween season I thought that now would be the perfect time to cover the grand tradition that is the Horror Host. To bring any newcomers to the concept up to speed, Horror Host is the general term used for a character that would host late night horror movies often called creature features.

The genesis of both the Horror Host and creature feature is interesting. Back in the 50’s local station were always looking for cost effective programing to air, as well as trying to bring in viewers.

In 1953 actress Maila Nurmi attended a Los Angeles masquerade dressed as Morticia Addams. A local TV producer saw her there and had the inspiration to have her host horror movies on his station. Making alterations to the look and manner of the costume to avoid copyright issues Nurmi created the character of Vampira, and is credited as being the first Horror Host. The original show only lasted a year, but Nurmi made sure she owned Vampira and was able to bring the character back on a different station a year later. The ghoulish manner and macabre puns she used became the blueprint for all the Horror Hosts to follow.

Nurmi may have set Horror Host template, but it was production company Screen Gems that assured that they would be an American institution. In 1957 Screen Gems was the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, and had syndication rights to over 50 Universal Horror films. These films were marketed as a cost effective syndication package called Shock to local stations. As part of the package the stations were encouraged to have a host following the style that Vampira had set. Many markets called their show Shock Theatre after the name of the package. There would be a later package in the 60s called Creature Feature, and due to its rhyming nature it became the generic term for the show type.

John Zacherle was hired as the Horror Host for a station in Philadelphia. He created the character of Roland, a cross between an undertaker and a mad scientist. Later incarnations of this character were called Zacherley. Zacherle would take the macabre humor and ramp it up, including having Roland break in during the middle of a sequence of the film doing something odd or ghoulish and then go right back to the film. Zacherle would also go on to do things like record a novelty song called Dinner with Drac. Dick Clark gave him the nickname the cool ghoul. If Vampira set the stage for Horror Hosts then Zacherle codified how to do it.

Most stations had purchased the Shock package, and later Creature Feature as a means of low cost programing. Since they were interested in keeping costs down the Horror Host was often an employee of the station who did an off-screen job such as an announcer or program director. Sometimes it would be an on-air talent such as a weather man.

A great example of this type of Horror Host is Count Gore De Vol. Dick Syszel who played the count was an announcer at a Washington DC station. The character of Gore De Vol debuted in 1973. Syszel took the standard Horror Host routine and upped the ante. As he was in the nation’s capital he would often include political humor. De Vol was also one of the earliest, if not first, Horror Hosts to regularly include sexual innuendo as part of the act.

One other early Horror Host that deserves mention is Sinister Seymore. Seymore was played by actor Larry Vincent and hosted a show called Fright Night for a Los Angeles station. Seymore would use the Zacherle model of interacting with the movie, but instead of a cutting to him he would either appear in a pop up screen in the corner of the film to make a remark or blue-screening himself directly into the movie. He was also clearly an inspiration for the character of Peter Vincent in the movie Fright Night. Vincent played Seymore until his death in 1974.

Six years after Vincent passed the station decided to revive the show, and looked for a new Horror Host. The person they found became the Horror Host that is almost universally known, Cassandra Peterson better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Elvira combined aspects of many of the Horror Hosts that came before. Her look harkened back to Vampira, she did break ins like Roland, she had innuendo like De Vol, and she added a sharp wit. Peterson would go on to do several acting gigs as Elvira including headlining two movies as the character.

A lot of the Creature Feature shows in the early to mid-eighties saw their viewer base erode since they were on Saturday late night and the audience was being drawn away by Saturday Night Live.  On top of this it became harder for stations to afford to pay broadcast rights for the old horror movies as they became more expensive with the rise of cable stations. However there were some notable exceptions

One was Commander USA’s Groovy Movies on the USA Network. Unlike the traditional Horror Host Commander USA, played by actor Jim Hendricks was a blue collar superhero, and would play the character more in the style of an old Kids show host. Another difference is that the show would run on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The show ran from 1985 to 1989 and produced 200 episodes.

Around the same time as Commander USA, TBS had Al Lewis host an afternoon creature feature show as Grandpa Munster. Due to copyright issues, even though he wore the same basic costume that he did on the Munsters, Lewis’ character was only called Grandpa.

One other show that I would be remiss if I did not mention was of course Mystery Science Theater 3000. Originally a creature feature show for a station in Minnesota, the shows premise of riffing throughout the program, rather than the break-ins practiced by Roland and Seymore, brought it to the attention of the newly started Comedy channel, which later became comedy central.

When MST3K went off the air in 1999 it seemed that the era of the Horror Host was over. Most local stations found the broadcast price for the movies too expensive and the cable networks had moved on to other programing. While it appears that there was never a time without a Horror Host, the tradition appeared to be fading.

But it is hard to keep a good ghoul down, and the Horror Host as American icon was too strong to stay down long. By the mid-2000s you saw new Horror Hosts spring up, either on local station or on Internet broadcast. These shows dealt with the broadcast rights issue by showing public domain films.  One show, Cinema Insomnia hosted by Mr. Lobo, managed to get a syndication deal. Elivra has also returned using a similar format

The Horror Host image is one that has become such a part of our culture that it shows up in many interesting places, especially around Halloween.  Back in my Halloween Horror Nights article I talked about their use of characters they call the Horror Icons. Most of those characters have the qualities of a Horror Host. Last year they had a house called H.R. Bloodengutz where a Horror Host goes mad and starts terrorizing the station.

With such a history it should not be surprising that web series have also used the Horror Host. Internet Reviewer Jack Shen reviews horror movies as Count Jackula, who refers to himself as a Horror Host.

Just this month popular reviewer Lewis Lovehaug, who hosts comic book review show Atop the Fourth Wall, has started a new daily review show for the month of October called Longbox of the Damned. In it Loevhaug does a five minute overview of horror comics as Horror Host Moarte. Moarte embraces all the tropes of a Horror Host and would not be out of place on late night TV.

Clearly I have only scratched the surface of Horror Hosts here. And I found that people will feel a real connection to the host they grew up with. For me it was a character on the local Seattle station called simply the Count. He was a very generic Dracula rip-off, played by Joe Towey who directed the stations kids show, but I still have strong memories of the show as a child, and I did grow up loving the old horror films. Other friends of mine who grew up elsewhere were enthusiastic about their horror hosts including Gore De Vol, Sir Graves Ghastly, Ghoulardi, Joe Bob Briggs, Bone Jangler, and Penny Dreadful.

If you are interested in learning more, many hosts have a Facebook presence and have become a well networked community. I also came across a great blog called the Non-productive Network. The do a great series covering individual Horror Hosts.

So it looks like the Horror Host is here to stay. Who knows maybe one day I can finally produce Dr. Caliban’s Nightmare Theater.


The Birth of the Camarilla

The Camarilla, oh what a strange history I have with thee. I claim as part of my geek cred that I am one of the founders of the Camarilla. Seeing as we are into the Halloween season now, it seems like as good a time as any to explain that.

For those not in the know, the Camarilla is a fan organization based on White Wolf’s Vampire role-playing game that came out in 1991. So how did a role-playing game end up with an international fan organization? Let me give you my eye witness account, my personal journey if you will. I’m going to use Vampire game terms liberally. I’m not going to take the time to explain them, I figure most of you can use Wikipedia.

Oh and in case there is some confusion, events in the last couple of years required them to change the official name of the organization to the Mind’s Eye Society. Since I’m talking about from further back I am just going to call it the Camarilla.

Within 6 months of the game’s release a good friend of mine named Matthew Burke informed me that he had been talking with a co-worker of his named Jana Wright and they had decided that they were going to form the official fan club, and wanted to know if I was willing to help. I was a fan of the game, having both played and run a few games since its release.  Sure, I was in.

Now I want to back track here a bit. I think it is worth going over how I knew Matt and how that informed how the Camarilla was formed.

Matt and I met in a Star Trek fan club.

You see there is this really big fan club called STARFLEET International (Apparently the all caps thing is required). It’s the big Star Trek fan club with branches all over the world. The structure of the club was that all chapters were designated as ships and would be named after whatever they called their ship.  This also played into a role-playing element as members of the club would have Star Trek universe persona’s and the clubs officials would  also have ranks like Captain, First officer, Chief Medical officer, etc.  When a chapter was just starting out it would be called a shuttle and would need an existing ship to be its sponsor until it was cleared to full ship status. Trust me this will become relevant.

So our little Star Trek club was called the USS Courageous, which quickly became the main chapter in the Seattle area. I was the Chief Medical Officer, which in real life meant I was in-charge of organizing club social events. Matt joined and became Helmsman, which if I remember meant he helped with club operations. We became friends pretty quickly and hung out a lot. And before you ask, yes we had costumes, and no I do not still have mine. If there are pictures I do not know where they are, or I would be posting them here right now.

I have no shame.

So anyway back to the Camarilla. The original group that came together to get this club off the ground was a mix of officers from the Courageous and friends of Jana, many of whom were from the Goth community. Matt had reached out to White Wolf and they were more than happy to let us form an official club for their game.

So how do you go about creating a fan organization? To Matt’s credit he had an amazingly simple plan, don’t reinvent the wheel. Many of us were part of a successful fan organization based on an existing property, so why not follow their lead.

And by follow their lead I mean take their membership materials and replace all Star Trek references with vampire ones.

I’m serious; there was some confusion on some early members’ part when they asked why there was a reference to a ship in a couple of places in their membership materials.

Chapters were called Houses, and probationary Houses were called coteries and would need an existing House to be its sponsor until it was cleared to full House status.  In case you were wondering, I did copy and paste part of that last sentence.

So yes, the Camarilla is the most successful off shoot of STARFLEET International. Yes we beat out the Klingon Empire and the Terran Empire.

Matt’s plan was that the Camarilla would be a club that did fundraising and public service, just like STARFLEET did as well as the role-playing aspect. One small problem with that plan, when you base a fan club on a role-playing game guess what the members are going to be most interested in. Hint, it’s not volunteering for an adopt-a-highway program.

So gaming, specifically live action role-playing or LARPing, was clearly the heart of the organization. The great strength of the Camarilla was the worldwide chronicle where in-game events happening to us in Seattle was in canon with in-game events happening in Chicago and London.  We started with a home-brewed gaming system based on Vampire the Masquerade, but quickly moved over to Mind’s Eye Theater once White Wolf released it.

It’s at this point I want to talk about the board of directors. In game they were the Inner Circle of the Camarilla and were amongst the oldest and most powerful vampires in the in-game world. My good friend Matt as Club President was the Patriarch of the Inner Circle Dorian Strack, who was also Prince of Seattle.  At first I was not on the board. I was serving as Matt’s assistant and special advisor to the board. Also I was working with Matt on an idea to also produce a Vampire comic book to propose to White Wolf.

My Character was Caliban, a Gangrel and one of Dorian’s enforcers.  Yes, this is where I got the name from. Why Caliban? Clearly the Shakespeare reference as Caliban saw himself as a beast but could also be intelligent. Also Matt took the name Dorian, which was what I was going to use, but he was the boss.

So part of the idea was that each board member was also the representative of their clan on the Inner Circle. Why is this important? Not long after the official kickoff event for the Camarilla, but right before we open up membership, the board member in charge of the organization newsletter just up and disappeared.  We literally lost contact with him. To this day I have no idea what happened to him. As I majored in journalism in college it was natural to make me his replacement. However this meant I had to retcon Caliban into a Brujha.

So the Camarilla was off and running. And it was met with a lot of initial success. People really liked the game and so it was easy to generate interest, particularly at conventions. The Board of Directors learned a lot during that time about what was needed to run a quickly growing organization. I would say that we did fairly well. However there were some challenges. Some people found that it was more stress then they had counted on and left. Others were lured away by a more daunting challenge, a career.

When Matt contacted White Wolf about forming the Camarilla he was informed that one of the people that worked on the original game was working in the Seattle are, Lisa Stevens. Lisa had come to the area to work for Wizards of the Coast. Matt contacted her and she started attending Board of Director meetings. Lisa also invited members of the Board to visit WotC as they had open staff meetings at the time. This was almost about nine months to a year before the release of Magic: The Gathering so it was still a small company running out of Peter Adkison’s basement. A few of us went, but I was really the only one who started going to these meetings regularly, and I even started helping out on projects there.

Eventually the summer of 1993 rolled around and with it the release of Magic: The Gathering. WotC had a spare airplane ticket, and so they took me with them to GenCon that year and based on the massive response to the game Peter hired me full time at the convention.

So suddenly I am working for a game company that is growing rapidly. This did not leave a lot of spare time and within a couple of months I officially left the Board due to time constraints. I’d like to point out that I had only left the board; I was still a Camarilla member and got to keep using Caliban as my character.

If it had just been me that might have been one thing, but due to WotC’s growth they needed more people and since there were strong connections between WotC and the Camarilla board several other board members, Including Matt and Jana, were hired over the next several months. Some of the board members felt the same time management issues I did and decided to also step away from the board, but like me were still active in the organization as members. A couple balanced both; how they did this I have no idea.

Due to this eventually it was decided that a whole new board was needed. I was not involved in these decisions so I don’t know how it came to pass, but it was decided that the Camarilla group in Salt Lake City was to take over the duties as Board of Directors.  At this point any knowledge I have about how the Camarilla was run would be third hand at best.

I did stay an active member more or less until about 2004. I won’t go into why I left other than to say it was a combination of burn out and some personal issues.

So how do I feel about my time with the Camarilla? Nostalgic I suppose. I joke with a lot of the other founders and early members that I am still friends with that when we created the Camarilla we said “what’s the worst that can happen” and “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The truth is that it was a good idea and it has given a lot of people a lot of joy over the years. People met other people that they would have never met otherwise. This means friendships and even marriages happen because it exists.

Other than a couple of people I hang out with that I knew before it was formed, my entire social circle can be traced either directly to the Camarilla or to WotC which itself I can trace to the Camarilla. Because of this I met my wife, found my job which I like, discovered a sister and associated family that I love, and had a host of amazing experiences. Heck even my entertainment comes from the Camarilla. I have mentioned before that I am a fan of an internet streaming show called Radio Dead Air. The host Nash is a Camarilla member and started the show as an in-character radio show in his local game.

So that is my tale of the birth of the Camarilla, as I recall it. Of course other board members from that time may remember things differently. So to them I make this offer. If any of the other founding board members have a different take on the early days, or just want to write up their memories of what happened, I will give you your say. Write up what you remember and send it to me. I promise I will publish it here on Fanboy News Network completely unedited.

As I said a lot of interesting things happened during my time in the Camarilla. One day I might dip into that vault and tell another tale. Believe me there was a lot.

Frankenweenie Review

Since we are now into the Halloween season, what better way to kick it off then with Tim Burton’s new film Frankenweenie? This is the full length stop-motion remake of Burton’s 1984 live action short about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life.

I’m not going to cover the differences between the two here. I’m going to focus on the new film as it is its own entity and there are enough differences between the two.

The film is a parody and homage to the horror film genre that Burton so clearly loves. It obviously references old Universal Horror, but also touches on Hammer Horror, Japanese kaiju, and a smart nod to Gremlins. There is also tribute to horror stars with characters based on Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorrie, and a clip of Christopher Lee as Dracula.

At the heart of the film however is the simple tale of a boy and his dog. The main character Victor Frankenstein (Yes there is a lot of naming like that in the film) is a boy who doesn’t go out and make friends, but rather spends his time with his dog Sparky making homemade movies. When his father’s efforts to get Victor involved in sports inadvertently leads to Sparky’s death, Victor is inspired to bring him back based on a lesson from the schools eccentric science teacher.

After his success several of his classmates learn what Victor has done, leading them to try themselves. Chaos ensues.

Burton has taken some heat in recent years over some not so great films, like Alice in Wonderland or Dark Shadows. With Frankenweenie Burton is clearly back on form. The large part of that is that this is a movie with heart. Victor is a character you can relate to, especially if you have ever had a pet that you loved.

One of the things I really liked about Frankenweenie was that the movie avoids a lot of clichés that normally plague a story like this. Victor is a loner, but not because the other children shun him or bully him. I was bracing myself early in the film for a scene showing Victor being bullied that never happened. From all appearances Victor could make friends but was just content being a loner. I like that the film showed that basically this was alright, even if it did worry his father.

From a technical side I was amazed at how well the stop-motion figures were able to convey the characters emotions. I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas right before seeing Frankenweenie and I could see how much the craft has evolved in the last two decades.

The voice work was also top notch. Defying expectations this is the first Burton movie since Big Fish to feature neither Johnny Depp nor Helena Bonham Carter. Other past Burton collaborators do make an appearance though. Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short both voice multiple characters including Victor’s parents. Winona Ryder voices Elsa van Helsing, Victor’s neighbor and love interest. Martin Landau steals the show as Victor’s science teacher Mr Rzykruski who is clearly based on Burton’s childhood hero Vincent Price. Charlie Tahan is the voice of Victor and his voice helps carry the emotional core of the film. Special notice also needs to go to Atticus Shaffer as Victor’s classmate Edgar “E” Gore, who is of course based on the classic Igor character.

Frankenweenie is a Burton getting back to what he does best, telling a heartwarming story as filter through an Addams Family sensibility.

I give Frankenweenie an A+.