We’re only disappointed by the increasingly self-parodying direction in which Tim Burton’s career has gone because we are so enamored of his earlier work, which, despite his gothic and weirdo affectations, are buoyed by a great soulful vibrancy that’s sorely lacking in his recent work. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at one of the director’s lesser known early works.
Dangerous Minds have uncovered this obscure gem—it’s likely many Burton fans are unaware this even exists, as this writer didn’t—from 1983: an adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm tale "Hansel and Gretel" that aired as a half-hour Halloween TV special for the then-nascent Disney Channel. The very weird (obviously) Burton-directed short film had a budget of $116,000, was shot on 16mm and starred a cast of unknown Japanese actors. There’s kung fu fights and stop-motion animation in the film with plenty of silliness to be found and more than a little creepiness. Seriously, we can only imagine what the poor kids watching the special on Halloween night were thinking. If you’re wondering why this special hasn’t surfaced before now, it’s because it aired only once on the Disney Channel—we wonder why—and only as part of the Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art a few years ago and in the Cinémathèque Française’s traveling Burton-themed traveling exhibit.
Thanks to the powers of the internet, however, you can now watch Tim Burton’s insanely cool “Hansel and Gretel” below. You’re welcome.