Coraline (2009) is a dark fantasy horror film that uses stop-motion animation. It was based on a short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman. At the end of by Coraline ran in theaters, it became the third highest-grossing stop-motion film after Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and Chicken coop (2000). Coraline also won a number of awards, including Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production, and Best Animated Female (for the character of Coralina).
With so much critical acclaim, Coraline earned a reputation as a well-crafted dark children’s film. It balances the wonderful and the disturbing in a way that suits a family audience. Believe it or not, though, it’s not the only film to strike that balance between creepy and fantasy. There are many more, and many are also known for their stop-motion animation style.
ten Corpse Bride (2005)
Tim Burton’s signature style combines whimsical stories with dark atmospheres. When the public saw Coraline, it reminded them of Tim Burton movies like Corpse bride.
Corpse bride is actually Burton’s third stop-motion animated film. It follows the story of a newlywed who mistakenly marries a girl from beyond the grave. Like Coraline, the characters are quite imaginative and there’s just enough comedy to keep the audience happy without taking away from the dark setting. It’s also a musical, adding another layer to the film’s surreal balance of levity and horror.
9 Beetle Juice (1988)
Yet another Tim Burton film, this time in live-action, beetle juice tells a story from the perspective of a couple who die and must haunt their house like ghosts in an attempt to maintain their way of life. Although not animated, the film is still full of fantasy and never gets too scary for a family movie. In fact, it’s a bit more comedy-heavy than Coraline. The film is quite creative, exploring what it might be like to live as a happy ghost couple.
8 James and the Giant Peach (1996)
This movie was actually made by the same man who made Coraline, Henry Selick. The story is based on the 1961 novel of the same name. It centers on a boy who has shrunk to the size of an insect and adventures with small creatures in a flying peach.
What really separates this film from other stop-motion animations is that the beginning and end are live. The stop-motion pieces are reserved for the more whimsical parts, which take place on the giant peach with the insect characters. Although not as critically acclaimed as Coraline, James and the giant peach won numerous awards for Best Animated Feature.
seven Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Edward Scissorhands sits next to beetle juice as one of Tim Burton’s live-action dark fantasy films. However, the comedy of beetle juice is replaced by romance in Edward Scissorhands, although there are still some pretty fun moments to enjoy. While Edward’s character design can be scary for a young child, Edward is a sweetheart and has an innocent view of the world.
6 Monster House (2006)
Neither stop-motion nor live-action, The monster house is a computer-animated film. It’s both comedy and horror, telling the story of a neighborhood terrorized by a haunted house during Halloween. Although often compared to a Tim Burton film, it was directed by Gil Kenan. The monster house has in fact often been compared to Goonies (1985) in terms of its adventurous heart but with a spooky twist.
5 A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (2004)
It is a film adaptation of the first three books of A series of unfortunate events. It’s a gothic black comedy about a few very unfortunate orphans and their struggle under their cruel new guardian, Count Olaf. The film won an Oscar for Best Makeup and was directed by Brad Silberling.
4 9 (2009)
This computer-animated sci-fi film was directed by Shane Acker and was actually based on a short film of the same name by the same director. The story is set in an alternate version of the 1930s where humanity was wiped out by a soulless robot. The scientist who created the robot in the first place uses alchemy and bits of his own soul to create nine rag doll-like creatures.
Despite its creativity and beautiful design, the film ultimately received mixed reviews from critics for its less substantial narrative. However, its world and traditions are compared to the great works of Hayao Miyazaki.
3 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Another stop-motion movie from Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas, is incredibly well-known because it has the brilliant idea of being a holiday movie for two different holidays at once. The story follows the King of Halloween, Jack, on his discovery of Christmas. He decides he wants to take over Christmas and tries to be Santa Claus, which ultimately causes a ton of chaos for his world, the Christmas world, and the human world.
Due to its fame, most of those who have yet to see this film do so by choice and not for lack of opportunity or knowledge.
2 Frankenweenie (2012)
This stop-motion animated horror-comedy is another work by Tim Burton. Like 9, it is in fact a short film of the same name made previously by the director. The story follows a boy who resurrects his deceased bull terrier, Sparky. Following this success, he is blackmailed to share how he revived his dog. This results in chaos.
As the title suggests, the story is a parody of Mary Shelley Frankenstein, though it parodies the 1931 film more than the book itself.
Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, this stop-motion comedy horror film follows the story of an 11-year-old boy, Norman, who can talk to the dead. Due to his supernatural ability, he begins to uncover a dark part of the town’s history in terms of witch hunts.
The film won many awards such as Best Animated Film and Character Animation in a Feature Production. The film has been praised for the way it deals with such a weighty issue as death.
NEXT: Coraline: 5 Things The Movie Did Right (& 5 The Book Did Better)
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