He’s married to a corpse. He has a corpse bride. There must be some way to undo what’s been done.
Every year I do an animated movie as part of my Horrorfest review. As I was trying to decide which one, I finally settled on The Corpse Bride as I thought it was high time I reviewed a Tim Burton film. I have been trying to do Edward Scissorhands or Sleepy Hollow (1999), for years now but it just seems as if 31 days is never enough time to do everything I wish.
So the first time I watched this movie I wasn’t really into it. I felt the plot wasn’t that interesting and there were too many songs. But my niece really loves it and wanted to watch it (several times) and it is funny, but the more I watch it, the more I like it. I have actually really grown to love it, despite all the things I disliked in the beginning.
So the story begins with Victor Van Groot (Johnny Depp), nouveau rich, as he prepares to marry Victoria Everglot, from an old important family (who unfortunately has no money). There marriage is supposed to be one of convenience, but Victoria and Victor have fallen for each other.
However, even though Victor is in love with Victoria, he is extremely nervous about the wedding and messing things up. He ruins the rehearsal when he drops the ring, (symbolizing his death) and accidentally catches Mrs. Everglot’s dress on fire.
He runs away embarrassed and tries to work on his vows. He manages to knock them out of the park, but when he gets to placing the ring on the finger (a stick off a tree) it turns out that he has awaken the dead, and now has a zombie bride.
He then gets dragged down to…I don’t know actually. Is it is heaven, hell, purgatory, or a final resting place for the townspeople? They never explain.
Is it for everyone or just the village? And how was she even able to drag Victor down if he isn’t dead?
Anyways, they give him the story behind the Corpse Bride, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). She was engaged to marry a man her parents disapproved of. She stole all their money and jewels as the two planned to elope. But when Emily arrived, her betrothed strangled her and took off with everything. She then decided she would wait there until her true love awoke her.
Victor wants to leave, but Emily doesn’t want him too. He convinces her to let him return to the world above so that they can see his parents. They go, but instead of seeing his parents, he tries to tell Victoria what has happened.
Emily follows him, and upset at his betrayal, drags him back down to the underworld.
Victoria is worried and tries to seek help, but everyone thinks she is crazy. Her parents are desperate for money, so when Lord Barkis, (who has just arrived in town and no one knows him but he gives the appearance of being wealthy and from a distinguished family) offers to marry Victoria, her parents accept. Victoria on the other hand is completely distraught.
Meanwhile, below ground Victor’s coachman has just arrived and given him the news about Victoria. Heartbroken that she would marry another, Victor agrees to spend eternity with Emily. In order to make the ceremony lawful, they must return topside, preform the wedding ceremony, and Victor must take poison so that he can join Emily in the afterlife.
The dead rise and head to the church, coming in right after Victoria and Lord Barkis have performed the ceremony. Everyone is terrified including the townspeople.
However, after they discover that the skeleton/zombie creations are their dead relatives, they are happy to have their loved ones back.
Lord Barkin wants to flee and tells Victoria to get all her family’s money so they can take off. Victoria reveals they have no money, and now both are very unhappy.
Victor and Emily are getting ready to perform the ceremony when Emily sees how much Victor loves Victoria and stops the ceremony. Victor and Victoria are together, but unfortunately they can’t really be together as she is already married, something Lord Barkin reminds everyone. But as he comes to take Victoria away, it is revealed that he was the one who killed Emily.
All the other skeletons and zombies are furious, but there is nothing that can be done by the dead as he is still alive. Lord Barkin laughs at this and takes a drink of the wine set out for the wedding ceremony, making fun of Emily. But the wine he drank was the poisoned wine that was set out for Victor.
As he is now dead, Emily can get justice; Victoria and Victor get their happy ending; and Emily is released and able to pass on.
So let’s start with what I did like:
1) The Animation
In a world that was moving from 2D animation to CGI, it is nice to see a throwback like this, I actually wish we had more films like it. I know it was becoming too expensive for a lot of studios to do it and will eventually become totally outmoded, but I like it. There is something so real about these puppets.
2) The Ending
The ending was so cute, it was why I even wanted to watch the film. I mean I loved how Victor and Victoria get together and Emily has peace.
Although, why does she turn into butterflies?
Things I Didn’t like:
1) Too Nightmare Before Christmas
I really felt like Burton was just trying to recapture The Nightmare Before Christmas. He just borrowed too much from his earlier film for me. I mean the creatures had the same style; Emily looked like a Blue Sally; there are two skeleton kids and a dwarf replacing the three trick or treaters; and a bone dog instead of ghost dog; and tons of songs. Even though it is cute it also gives the impression Burton is running out of new ideas.
2) Too Many Songs
Now I love music
But the songs in a film need to be good and have something to do with advancing or enhancing the plot. Quite a few of these songs felt more like filler to lad out the runtime instead of enhancing the story.
3) This Was too Short
Everything felt as if it was moving too quickly. It made me feel as if they couldn’t really think of a way to flesh out the idea they had for the plot and instead decided to jam extra songs in and hurry to the ending.
4) Music is Not Right for a Young Lady
Uh, did Burton do any research? Victoria wants to play the piano, but isn’t allowed as “music is not right for a girl”. Uh, no. Music has always been something young ladies were trained in. Think of the three acceptable arts: piano, painting, and embroidery. I mean remember Mr. Darcy?
“a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’ Caroline Bingley…’All this she must possess,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
6) No Character Development
So Victoria and Victor are cute, but we hardly know anything about them! I mean we know Victoria doesn’t want to wear corsets, or follow society’s rules, but what does she like? What does she want? Who is she? Victor is insecure and frightened, but that’s it. There is nothing else to him.
7) Why Would They Marry Their Daughter Off to Someone They Don’t Know
Now don’t tell me “it is because they need money”. Why would a family that was so concerned over their daughter marrying a rich fish merchant’s son, even though they are filthy rich, just send her off with a guy they know nothing about? That makes no sense. Why wouldn’t they have looked into his background and discovered he has no money either?
8) They Couldn’t Just End an Engagement
So as stated before I guess Burton did zero research as you can’t just switch one engagement for another. Since Victor never actually ended his engagement there could be legal steps taken against the Everglots, and a family that has no money would be careful about that.
9) More Research Issues
So again another problem with the time period they set this film in. The Everglots are angry at Victor and Victoria alone in the room but that wouldn’t be as big an issue, as when a couple was engaged there were a few relaxed rules. I mean Victor couldn’t be in her bedroom, but he could be in the room alone with her for a bit. I mean seriously, Did you do ANY research?
But even though it has quite a few issues, I will admit that it grows on you. The more I watch it, the more I love the characters of Emily, Victor, and Victoria; and thanks to my this has become a yearly watch.
-Update 2019- I think Catherine Morland, if she lived today would love this film.
And bringing back the facebook covers/mini posters. I haven’t been able to do them for the last few posts as I couldn’t find pics I liked that had a horror-ish feel. But I did make one for The Corpse Bride.
To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)
For the previous post, go to It’s A Hard World: Backfire (1950)
For more zombies, go to Say Something Human: Warm Bodies (2013)
For more animated films, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)
For more claymation films, go to A Matter of Loaf and Death: Wallace and Gromit (2008)