See the Real-Life Childhood Pet That Inspired Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie'

See the Real-Life Childhood Pet That Inspired Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie'

Oct 05, 2012

It's always fascinating to see the ways in which real-life childhood memories help inspire some of the most memorable fictional characters in our favorite movies. Though he tends not to divulge too much information, Tim Burton isn't hiding the fact that much of Frankenweenie was inspired by his own experiences growing up, watching monster movies and dreaming of becoming a filmmaker one day. But what about Frankenweenie himself, Sparky the dog? 

In a great piece by Anthony Breznican over at EW, Tim Burton reveals that the true inspiration for Frankenweenie was actually a fluffy white dog named Pepe that he had as a kid. In the photo above, you'll see that Pepe is the white dog sitting between Burton's mother and his kid brother. Their other dog, Frosty, sits atop his mother's lap, while kid Burton looks on from the left. On Pepe, Burton explains what it was about the dog that eventually helped inspire the creation of Sparky. "He was a dog that was meant to sort of not live for long and had distemper," Burton told EW. " He ended up living quite long," Burton says. "It just had a good spirit, that dog." 

If you look a little closer at the pic, Burton fans will notice another familiar element from one of his most popular films. Yup, that's his kid brother holding a shrunken head, which you'll recall as being one of the more amusing parts of Beetlejuice. "The shrunken head... I remember buying that. He got it off me," Burton recalled. 

So what other aspects of Burton's childhood have inspired characters in his films? Well, take a look at this Halloween costume that his mother made for him as a kid. Look like someone familiar? Jack Skellington, perhaps?

The EW piece is definitely worth reading, if only for this one quote that basically sums up all of who Tim Burton is. “I always felt like I was a fairly normal person, but at a certain age, I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not because everyone’s saying I’m not.’” 

Hey, we're glad he's not. Go see Frankenweenie this weekend -- it's a blast. 


Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.


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