Tim Burton Movies, From Bizarre to Bewitching

Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd... amazing movies - artistic films. But who is the man behind these creations?

Tim Burton. If you asked me which person in the entire world I would most want to have a conversation with, I would be tempted to say Tim Burton. I just want to know ...What goes on in that mind of his? Does he have nightmares? And if so, does he actually get scared of them? Or maybe I don’t want to know.

At any rate, Tim Burton is an artist in the sense that he puts his own mark on everything that he works on. Tim Burton movies are sometimes strange, sometimes grotesque, sometimes dark, but they are always unique and original.

I appreciate his artistry and his ability to always surprise me, and I love escaping into his world for a couple of hours. It's a world filled with fantasy and imagination. Some of his animated films are down-right scary, and yet, I think Tim Burton tries to redeem depicted death with life and hope.

Read on, to find a list of Tim Burton's great achievements in the world of film - he's made everything from superhero movies to animation to science fiction.

Tim Burton
Tim Burton | Source

Do you think Tim Burton movies are:

  • Amazing
  • Scary
  • Bizarre
  • Bewitching
  • Annoying
  • Sometimes good, sometimes not
  • All of the above and everything in between
See results without voting

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Paul Rubens, Elizabeth Daily

Rated PG

Have I seen it? Yes, a long time ago

I remember those childhood days watching Pee-wee Herman and his crazy antics. I think I thought he was funny back then. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was Pee-Wee Herman’s first movie and came out of the theatrical The Pee-Wee Herman Show. This movie came out a year before the popular children’s television show Pee-wee’s Playhouse aired on CBS. The plot follows Pee-wee as he sets off on an adventure to recover his stolen bicycle. “I know you are but what am I? I know you are but what am I?” – echoes in my ears.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? No

I wasn’t allowed to watch this as a kid, and seeing the trailer now, I completely understand. Beetlejuice is about a couple of ghosts who, unable to scare away the living people in their old house, call upon another ghost named Beetljuice to help them out. Beetlejuice causes more harm than good, and almost succeeds in marrying the character played by Winona Ryder. Perhaps this is the beginning of Tim Burton’s fascination with marriage of the dead and the living.

Batman (1989)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Gough

Rated PG-13

Have I Seen It? Maybe, back in the day

Batman was one of the first superhero feature films. Perhaps the making of this movie sparked the growing popularity that superheroes have today. Batman deals with the conflict between Batman (whose real identity is Bruce Wayne) and The Joker, one of the greatest villains of all time. Tim Burton also helped make the movies Batman Returns and Batman Forever.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Director, Producer, and co-Writer: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest

Rated PG-13

Have I Seen It? Yes, I love it!

Edward Scissorhands is by far my favorite Tim Burton movie. The story is a grown-up fairy tale, and it’s been said that it is a partial autobiography of Tim Burton. Edward is an “abnormal” being in a “normal” world one street wide. The extremes are obvious. Edward (presumably representing Tim Burton himself) is strange, he has scissors for hands, and real-world logic doesn’t make sense to him. Everybody else fits into a mold. They have no personal identity. But from the view of Tim Burton, the other people are the abnormal, inhumane ones, and Edward is the one with heart and imagination.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Producer and Co-Writer: Tim Burton

Cast: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Rubens

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? No

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Disney film, but was originally released under Touchstone Pictures due to its non-children-friendly themes. Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of HalloweenTown, decides to drop Halloween and try out Christmas for a while. After kidnapping Santa Claus, he attempts to take over the Christmas rituals. I imagine that Halloween and Christmas somewhat clash.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Producer: Tim Burton

Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Simon Callow, Paul Terry, Joanna Lumley

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? Yes, I could live in a peach

James and the Giant Peach is based on the book by Roald Dahl. Tim Burton and Roald Dahl are the perfect match as far as creativity goes. This adaption of the classic children’s book is a mix of both animation and live action. James lives with his horrid aunts after his parents disappear until one day when he escapes via (you guessed it) a giant peach that takes him and his new friends (giant talking bugs) to the magical land of New York City. The horrid aunts are grotesquely scary, but there are many interesting characters and adventures to entertain, if you have the acquired taste.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Michael Gough, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Lee

Rated R

Have I Seen It? Yes, but couldn't handle it

Sleepy Hollow is based on the short story by Washington Irving. But the movie really isn’t much like the written story. This version is more horror than folk legend. I confess, I couldn’t make it though the entire film because all the blood and evilness was getting to me and making me ill. I never was one for horror. The movie version has a lot of murder and hellish plots, not quite like Irving’s work at all. I can appreciate Tim Burton’s originality, but not quite in this case.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti, Tim Roth

Rated PG-13

Have I Seen It? No

Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes is a remake of the 1968 film. In science fiction form, the plot follows an astronaut who falls through a vortex and travels through time, landing on a planet inhabited by talking apes. In reverse of natural roles, the apes on this new planet are in control of the world, and treat humans like animals. I haven’t made time to watch this movie yet (monkey business isn't quite my thing) but I might have to change my mind ... it is Tim Burton after all.

Big Fish (2003)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter

Rated PG-13

Have I Seen It? No

The director of Big Fish was supposed to be Steven Spielberg, but Spielberg ended up working on another movie and Tim Burton replaced him. Big Fish sounds intriguing in that it is told as a fairy tale set in the South. After a long separation, a father and son are brought together through the father’s telling his life story which sounds more like myth than truth. This is on my list of movies to watch.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? Yes, of course

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a marvelous concoction of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Roald Dahl, with lots of candy thrown in for extra sweetness. Although I like Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, I love Johnny Depp in the part. The only part of this version that I didn’t like was the bizarre songs by the Oompa Loompas. But the story is great: a boy from a poor family gets the chance to explore the best chocolate factory in the world, run by the quirkiest chocolatier in the world.

Corpse Bride (2005)

Co-Director, Co-Producer, Co-Writer: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? No

Corpse Bride looks very like The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is based on a very old folktale. The plot follows a young couple, Victor and Victoria, about to be wed. Victor accidentally marries a corpse bride while practicing his vows. A flurry of complicated events follow. This is yet another “children’s film” that deals with the restless dead and a backwards view of the afterlife.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Steet (2007)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen

Rated R

Have I Seen It? No

Sweeney Todd, what can I say... it’s a horror/ musical/ period piece. I am very tempted to watch this one, but my former traumatizing experience with Sleepy Hollow dissuades me. I think I would enjoy the music and the costumes and maybe even the storyline, but I have a hard time watching straightforward slaughter. Sweeney Todd is a murderous barber who spills much blood as he seeks revenge for the death of his family, all the while singing his thoughts out loud.

9 (2009)

Co-Producer: Tim Burton

Cast: Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connely, Crispin Glover

Rated PG-13

Have I Seen It? Yes, it was ok

9 is the darkest animation film I have ever seen. I believe there was approximately 90 seconds of sunlit happiness to the tune of a happy song. But every other moment was dark and dreary. This movie follows the 2009 trend of post-apocalyptic films. After all the humans on earth die off, nine man-made creations, given parts of the soul of their creator, attempt to survive a world ridden with destructive machines.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska

Rated PG

Have I Seen It? Can't wait!

I am very excited about the new Alice in Wonderland. I have a feeling this version will be more faithful to Lewis Carroll than the Disney cartoon of 1951. Although, the plot will be a little different as the new Alice is nineteen years old and is returning to Wonderland.

Voice your opinion!

What is your favorite Tim Burton movie?

  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure
  • Beetlejuice
  • Batman
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Big Fish
  • Corpse Bride
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Sweeney Todd
  • 9
  • Alice in Wonderland
See results without voting

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Comments - Let me know what you think! 24 comments

Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA

I have mixed feelings on Tim Burton. Some films I love others are just ho-hum. Though I will never say the man has no imagination! He clearly is able to express is imagination quite well. I absolutely love the Nightmare before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow! Those are great films! James and the Giant Peach is great too but I place the praise more on Roald Dahl for that one. And as for Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory there will never be anything to replace the Gene Wilder version. It's really nothing against Tim Burton or Johnny Depp because I think they are great! It's just why try to recreate perfection? As for Sweeny Todd the music is great! I recommend listening to 'Johanna' I think you'll like that song. Thanks for the hub! (Clearly I had a lot to say :)

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Kendall, thanks for sharing all your thoughts! I like the Gene Wilder version too, except for that one scene in the boat - kindof scary when I was a kid. I still think the Johnny Depp version is my favorite, just my preference. I have heard the song "Johanna" and love it :) I think I'm going to have to watch Sweeney Todd one of these days.

MK Efflandt 6 years ago

Hi Rose,

Interesting....I don't know what to think about Tim Burton, either. I am looking forward to Alice, loved Willy Wonka and Edward Scissorhands. I agree, he puts a mark on everything he does and there's no denying who made the film. He's different and original even though he is mostly entertaining us on the dark side. I WANTED to see Sweeney Todd, but felt that it would be on the grotesque side. I did see Sleepy Hollow and don't remember much, except that it was pretty much gross and more freaky than I'm comfortable with. I haven't seen Nightmare Before Christmas, but I did see James and the Giant Peach. That was okay.

Fun post - keep up the writing!

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi MK, thank you for reading and commenting! We're pretty much on the same page, I think. You'll have to let me know what you think of the new Alice in Wonderland!

Mandie 6 years ago

I have such fond memories of reading James and the Giant Peach to my little brother as we were growing up~ I was glad that Tim Burton did such a nice job. Also, I am completely with you on Sleepy Hollow. I could have never have withstood the whole movie. And it's funny you should mention Pee-Wee: I was just thinking about how we should visit the basement of the Alamo if we're in the area!

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Mandie, thanks for your comment! Sleepy Hollow really was just too much for me - very dark and disturbing. It's funny how Tim Burton has made so many different movies, some you love and some you hate.

Can you say adobe?

samii 6 years ago

I think all of Tim Burton's movies are amazing he's really creative and I love how some of his movies are completely nightmarish and others are bright and fun

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

samii, thank you for coming by... Tim Burton definitely has quite the imagination.

Jake 6 years ago

I love Tim Burton. The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably the most visually appealing movie I've ever seen. The soundtrack blows me away, too. I think Mr. Burton does have some issues to work out, but if that happened, what would become of his artistry? I hate to say it, but with this guy, they seem to be linked.

Edward Scissor Hands was also amazing.

Big Fish? Meh.

Unfortunately, even the masters don't get it right 100% of the time.

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Jake, thanks for stopping by! I haven't seen Nightmare Before Christmas yet. A lot of the music for Tim Burton's films is composed by Danny Elfman - he's an incredible talent!

No Big Fish? I recently got to watch that one, and really liked it. I don't love everything by Burton, but he is undeniable a very gifted movie maker.

MaKayla:) 5 years ago

i think tim burton is amazing

Rose West profile image

Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan Author

MaKayla - :D I think some of his movies are pretty amazing.

Brooklyn 5 years ago

I think Tim Burton makes great movies and I’ve seen most of them throughout my life. I can’t forget about my favorite shows even though I’m older and I wouldn’t mind watching them over and over again, especially since Halloween is right around the corner. I wanted to rent some kid friendly movies from Blockbuster and Tim Burton is hands down the best director to search for. I use the Blockbuster Movie Pass with my DISH Network account and I even get a ton of TV channels to go along with it. The best part is that new and existing DISH Network customers can also sign up for the promotion as well

Rose West profile image

Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Brooklyn, Tim Burton isn't just for kids :)

Meep! 4 years ago

Great movies!

Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I concur!

anonymous 4 years ago

i think tim burton is brilliant and absolutely adore his work - i also think that his 'obsession' with death is his way of dealing with 'normal life' and is really a representation of how his world view which i suspect is that dealing constantly with most 'normal'-life things can be soul-destroying and make you dreary and dull adn lifeless - sucking the life out of you and you do become the 'walking dead' ... and then he raises the questions, through his characters of what it might be like to be NOT like that? - how would it be if you were able to KEEP your imagination and your heart and not be destroyed/dead inside by the 'normal life' demands?...hence i think he has a very hopeful attitude mixed in with death/or the living dead....

Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi anonymous, I appreciate your thoughts on Tim Burton. You actually made me think even more about his perspective and how it really is hopeful. So thanks! I agree, he is brilliant, and I truly admire his daring creativity.

harmony155 profile image

harmony155 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Awesome hub! I am a big Tim Burton fan.

Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

So am I - thanks for your visit!

Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

Hi Rose, It's lovely to meet you... I just followed the link to you after posting my review on Dark Shadows. I see we have similar ideas and it was a nice surprise to see you had also included a poll to vote for one's favorite movie. :) If you have the time and inclination, I would love for you to comment on my review. I'm glad you gave me a heads-up about "9" I will make sure to avoid it. I agree that Tim Burton and Roald Dahl make outstanding partners in these enterprises! I never did see "James and the Giant Peach" and think I should do so! Thanks for this lovely hub.

Voted interesting and up.

Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Suelynn, thanks for your comments! I'm glad you stopped by :) "9" doesn't have to be avoided completely, just don't expect it to be a typical animated movie targeted at children. Thanks for your rating! I'll be sure to check out your hub.

Rachel 24 months ago

You forgot ed wood

Too funny 18 months ago

I have no idea how you can even claim to be a fan when you haven't seen half of his films.

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