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Tim Burton, 'Frankenweenie,' and 'Dark Shadows' -- with Michelle Pfeiffer

Apart from the blessings of "Big Fish" and "Sweeney Todd," Tim Burton has spent too much of the past decade selling himself as a brand name for the commercial-bizarre. (Because of his charmless, effects-clotted hit "Alice in Wonderland," he lands in 6th place on "Hollywood's Top 40" earners in Vanity Fair, right between Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler.)

Happily, Burton is returning to his first inspirations.

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As a disaffected adolescent from bland and faceless Burbank, California, Burton escaped from suburban blight by watching Hammer horror movies and the Roger Corman-Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe films.

So it's piquant to think of Burton now remaking and expanding, as a puppet-animation feature, his black-comic live-action short masterpiece, "Frankenweenie" (1984), about a boy named Victor Frankenstein who brings his dead bull terrier back to life. Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara head the voice ensemble.

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Plus, Burton has assembled a tip-top cast for his revamping of the 1966-1971 vampire soap "Dark Shadows," including Johnny Depp, Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green -- and reportedly, Michelle Pfeiffer. He and Pfeiffer worked splendidly together on "Batman Returns"; as Catwoman, she was the life of the party. Let's hope she brings the same zest to the world of the walking undead.

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