On sci-fi and Tim Burton

Many years ago, Martin Scorsese created A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, a lengthy documentary and companion book that went through many of his favorite films and filmmakers. 

It’s always fascinating to see what a director drew from in creating their own style, and now we’ll be able to see the same with Tim Burton.


Burton’s work is currently the subject of a major retrospective at the L.A. Mueseum of Modern Art, and he also be showed a number of films that inspired his own movies as well. 

Included in the special Saturday matinee were The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Fantastic Voyage, the original version of The Thing, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Mothra, and more.


It’s fitting Burton would show the work of stop motion animation master Ray Harryhausen (Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts), as Tim is a big animation fan, has done wonderful stop-motion style animation himself (albeit with CGI), and he also worked at Disney during the transition period that brought about experimental films such as Tron and The Black Cauldron.


Burton also showed The Horror of Dracula, the film that launched Christopher Lee’s career as a horror star, and Sleepy Hollow was greatly inspired by the Hammer horror films from England. (Lee also has a cameo in Sleepy Hollow.) 

It’s harder to draw a line with the rest of the films Burton showed and how they influenced his own movies, although you wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s a fan of them.


The Thing and Shrinking Man were both crucial building block films for early science fiction, and The Thing also pioneered the important device of keeping the monster hidden, which really came in handy with Jaws. 

Mothra is also a kitsch fave for another A-list Hollywood director, Quentin Tarantino, and a friend of mine spotted Tarantino at a local screening of the film. The tiny twin princesses were cool, and it’s great fun to see cars flying into buildings from the wind generated from Mothra’s wings.


Oddly enough, Burton didn’t show any Mario Bava films, the Italian horror master who is also a big influence on Scorsese (Not to mention in Pulp Fiction, the highest grade of junk that Eric Stoltz is selling is called “Bava.”). 

Bava’s work was also an influence on Sleepy Hollow, which made a nice blend with the Hammer influences. Burton is also a big Charlton Heston fan, and it also would have been fun to see Heston screaming, “SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!,” on the big screen again.

Well, maybe next year…