It's rare you'll find a life-affirming film about the walking dead, and even less so one that's aimed at children, but Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is just that. Using stop-motion animation to gorgeously ghoulish effect, the creative team who brought you The Nightmare Before Christmas have crafted a fairytale that's both refreshingly original and enchantingly old-fashioned. In the sound booth, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are pitch perfect as the newlyweds who flout the clause 'till death do us part'...
With a hint of his softly spoken Willy Wonka (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was filmed simultaneously), Depp is Victor Van Dort, a hesitant suitor to the equally timid Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). While rehearsing his marriage vows in murky woodland, he inadvertently slips the wedding ring on the bony finger of a putrefied bride. She keeps the bewildered Victor in a death grip, while in the meantime, the greasy Barkis Bittern (Richard E Grant) is determined that Victoria's dowry shouldn't go to waste.
"A COSY WORLD OF DICKENSIAN GLOOM"
While the script slightly creaks in setting up this love triangle, the simplicity of the story - realised in exquisitely gothic design - is among its greatest strengths. It doesn't rely on the pop culture references and incessant wisecracking of Pixar toons, instead drawing you into a cosy world of Dickensian gloom cheered up with show tunes and a few mischievous twists. Surprisingly, the netherworld is a vibrant place where Mr Bonejangles (Danny Elfman doing a skeletal Sammy Davis Jr) puts on a nightly show. Above all, there's a spirit of innocence that echoes in a beautifully bittersweet ending. If you have a pulse, you'll love it.