As Halloween movie season approaches, families around the world are getting ready to carve pumpkins and offer some delightful frights. In a symbiotic relationship with Halloween is Hollywood’s horror film industrial complex, which churns out horror movies at an alarming rate, especially in the autumn months. In the contemporary film landscape, few have influenced (and have been influenced by) horror cinema as much as auteur Tim Burton — even though he’s never really made a proper horror movie.
Burton rose to prominence in the mid and late 1980’s, as his unique Halloween-inflected films took a critical look at America’s middle class and the relentless conventionality it demanded. His eye-catching aesthetic, inspired by German expressionism and the history of haunted cinema, gave a different visual context to stories about loners and those who felt maligned by mainstream society.
Burton eventually took on superheroes, sci-fi classics, and (more recently) Disney fantasies — with varying levels of success. Although his earliest works were lauded by critics, it’s true that lately the quality of his films has hit a bit of a plateau — and his resistance to diversity isn’t exactly helping his case.
Nonetheless, despite our newfound political awareness around specific issues, the films of Burton have a special place in the history of American cinema and in the hearts of goths and punks throughout the globe. We’re taking a look at his filmography and separating the essentials from what you’d be better off skipping.
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