ByZach Enos, writer at
All Monsters Are Human.
Zach Enos

Since the year 1985, Tim Burton has entertained audiences with his unique films and directing style. It all began with his first big directorial debut that brought a beloved character to the big screen, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Before Pee-Wee, Burton used his time to direct short films and a TV movie titled Hansel and Gretel. But his name really got out there with his story of a man who lost his bike. He has a true talent for taking crazy ideas, putting them on the big screen, and making them work. As Tim Burton said:

One person's craziness is another person's reality. -Tim Burton

Burton's big directorial debut brought an already existing character to theaters in his first motion picture. Pee-Wee had his own television show and was loved by children all over the world. Tim Burton knew exactly what he was doing by signing on to direct this film. This film got Burton's name out there and sparked the beginning of his career. Thanks to Burton, the film was a major success. I still get scared of Large Marge to this day. The sequel, Big Top Pee-Wee, was a flop unfortunately but that was only because Tim Burton did not continue with more films.

  • Beetlejuice (1988)

BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE! BEETLEJUICE! Don't say his name three times! Burton continued his directorial work by being presented an original idea and having the challenge of making it work, unlike the previous film where he had to transition an already developed character from television to film. Beetlejuice was a film about a deceased couple trying to seek help from a spirit to rid their house of unwelcome new residents. The film was a masterpiece when it first came out and is still rewatchable to this day. The film's popularity helped create a show at Universal Studios and the character of Beetlejuice lives on through Halloween costumes that are still worn to this day. There's even a rumored sequel in the works so Beetlejuice is still alive, even almost thirty years later. (Did you notice the pun? No? Awkward.)

  • Batman (1989)

After bringing the dead to life, Burton took on the challenge of taking a character from the comic books and placing him on the big screen. Batman is a character that is known and loved by all. Who doesn't love a good superhero film? Well superhero films are favorites of mine and Burton did it justice. He made the smart decision by choosing the most popular Batman foe, The Joker, and having him take control of Gotham City in Burton's debut in the superhero genre. The direction of the film had the Burton touch to it as dark humor was added to a comic book world.

  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Taking a break from the comic book world, Burton took up writing films. His first film to write and direct was a tale of a boy who was different from everyone in town; in fact, he was so different that he had razor sharp hands. No, I am not talking about Freddy Kreuger. I am talking about the one, the only, Edward Scissorhands. Teaming up with Johnny Depp, Burton put his visual dreams into our hearts by creating a character that is so unrelatable yet still somehow relatable to every person. It is my favorite love story to ever be produced or written. How did Edward Scissorhands even become popular? The story is so weird, the setting is so weird, and each character is, well, weird. But that is the beauty of Tim Burton directing. It should not work but it does. It just does.

  • Batman Returns (1992)

Burton soon returned to the superhero genre to make a sequel to his vision of Batman. The sequel, titled Batman Returns, ditched The Joker and had our caped crusader battling Penguin and Catwoman, played by Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer. Both films are completely different yet have similar elements like how dark each film looks. Burton's directing of Catwoman has made Pfeiffer's name well known for arguably the best portrayal of the feisty feline ever. Add in the quirk of DeVito's Penguin character and you have a Tim Burton film, ready to leap off the page. How many more lives does Burton have to make more films like this? Hopefully at least nine.

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

While he did not direct this film, he did have a part in writing the story. This film has turned into a true classic. It is shown every Halloween on television and the characters are very popular in terms of costumes. I cannot even walk into a HotTopic or Spencer's these days without seeing some kind of Jack Skellington product. It is amazing how a film can still leave a lasting impact for generations past, present, and future.

  • Ed Wood (1994)

Burton's next obstacle was to make a biopic. One of the directors who inspired Burton, Ed Wood, teamed up again with Johnny Depp, and put forth a highly successful film detailing the life of Ed Wood. Having to make a movie out of someone's life is never an easy task for anyone to do but Burton took on the challenge with confidence and put forth yet another masterpiece that stays fresh in viewers' minds.

  • Mars Attacks! (1996)

Tim Burton challenged himself by seeing how many stars he could fit into one film with his odd comedy, Mars Attacks! The film has stars ranging from Jack Nicholson to Glenn Close to Sarah Jessica Parker and Natalie Portman. Although the film is not one his greatest works, it is still entertaining as hell. Cartoony aliens come down and invade the Earth. Yep, sounds like a Burton film to me.

  • Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Surprise surprise! Another Tim Burton film featuring Johnny Depp! I must admit they do make a great team together and this film is proof. Burton takes on the classic urban legend of Sleepy Hollow and transforms it to match his vision. He keeps the gothic theming and sparks it up with twists and turns. He is a true genius at work with this production. It may not be one of his most popular films but it still packs the punch!

  • Planet of the Apes (2001)

Said to be one his worst films, Planet of the Apes involved talking monkeys at war with the human race. He attempted to make it in the true Burton fashion but unfortunately failed. I must admit I prefer the reboot of the films, starring James Franco, as opposed to Burton's version. Sorry Burton!

  • Big Fish (2003)

Thankfully, he redeems himself with Big Fish. This amazing tale details a fantasy world where the protagonist and even the audience have a hard time separating what is fact and what is fiction. It is a fantastic tale of love, heartbreak, and well, Tim Burton weirdness. Big Fish never disappoints.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Time for Burton to tackle a remake! And of course he has Johnny Depp to help him recreate the beloved WIlly Wonka character. Many criticized Burton for trying to remake a classic but for me, all he did was make the classic more known for a new generation. Using the acting talents of Depp and having new elements being added to the original story, Burton put his twisted mind into it to make a brand new film. Add a brand new soundtrack, brand new oompa loompas and backstories for each child and you have a good remake in my eyes. Way to go Burton!

  • Corpse Bride (2005)

With how well The Nightmare Before Christmas was perceived, Burton decided to give the animation field another try but this time, he would just be directing, rather than also writing. Johnny Depp once again helped him out with this task and it was a huge success. It might not have been as popular as The Nightmare Before Christmas but it still stood tall on its own feet. The man sure has a smart touch when it comes to animation.

  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Damn this film makes me want to never visit a barber again. Who am I kidding? My gay ass goes to salons anyways. But still, this film makes me wary of any barber. Leave it up to Burton to tackle a full musical next. And thanks to him, we all get to hear how Johnny Depp's singing is. Not too shabby if you ask me. Depp takes on a different type of role as he picks up a knife and commits many murders. Kinda weird but kinda arousing. What. Never mind. Burton proves he can take on a musical, add Burton flair, and produce a masterpiece. I still have all the songs on my iTunes, don't judge me.

  • Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Burton recently remade a beloved Disney classic, Alice in Wonderland. His best friend, Johnny Depp, took on the role of the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter took on the role of the Queen of Hearts. This is definitely not like the original film, yet, it adds something new to make people not care. It seems to be some sort of sequel or reimagining of the classic tale. Burton feelings are all throughout this fantasy film from the way the characters look and act to the settings and designs of the film. It was so well-received that there is a sequel being released this year, however it is not directed by Tim Burton.

In the past five years, he has released other films such as Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie. Burton is still actively directing, writing, and producing many different types of films ranging from animation to superheroes to musicals to horror to fantasy to thriller and everything in between. There is nothing this man cannot do. He will take any genre and put his own flair on it and still make it a #1 film. Leave it up to Burton to get the job done! This is what makes him my all-time favorite director and it is my ultimate goal to meet him or just photobomb one of his pictures, whatever is easier.


What is your favorite Burton masterpiece?


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