Dave: I’ve come across something interesting, called the Burton Theory.
Really? What’s that?
Dave: It’s a theory that suggests that all of Tim Burtons original movies are connected. To clarify, that would be Vincent, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride and Beetlejuice. Prepare to have your mind blown. Ready?
I’ve got my migraine medicine and sickbag. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
Dave: Let’s begin. In the short film Vincent, the eponymous character has a dog named Abercrombie, who he likes to experiment on. The theory claims his mother gave the dog away, and it was adopted by Victor Frankenstein, who renamed him Sparky. When Sparky died, some time after the events of Frankenweenie, he becomes a spirit in Halloween Town. Victor gets a new dog, named Scraps, who later dies as well. Now, Victor from Frankenweenie and Victor from Corpse Bride look a bit similar, right?
Well, yes, a bit.
Dave: That’s because they’re the same person! The loss of a second dog was too much for Victor. He ran away from home and ended up being adopted by the van Dorts. Amusingly, the neighbour in Frankenweenie, Mr. Burgomeister, is the brother of Finis Everglot, Victors future father in law. When Victor eventually dies, he goes to the afterlife, and becomes Jack Skellington. His sweetheart Sally is actually the dead wife of Vincent Malloy, and she also passed into the next life and changed her name. Also in Halloween town, Dr. Finkelstein has an assistant, Igor, who looks an awful lot like Edgar from Frankenweenie. Obviously, he also died and came to Halloween Town. Speaking of Frankenweenie, the character Elsa van Helsing is also Lydia, the daughter in Beetlejuice. The Weird Girl in the same movie is really named Kim, and when she grows up, she appears in Edward Scissorhands.
Wow… that’s… a lot of detail. You know, I feel bad now.
Dave: Why’s that? Is it because you’re sorry you doubted the theory?
No, it’s because it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into this theory. It’s easily the most elaborate theory you have ever brought me. And that is why it almost breaks my heart that it doesn’t work. Believe me, I would love for this theory to be true, but the arguments presented simply do not add up.
I admire the effort, but I am frustrated at the lack of attention to details. Because it’s the details that really are important.
To begin with, if Sparky and Abercrombie are the same dog, why do they look nothing alike? Sparky is noticeably chubbier than Abercrombie, for a start. I’m more of a cat person, but I’m pretty sure dogs don’t dramatically change size and shape with time. And then, when Sparky dies, you say he becomes Zero, the ghost dog in Halloween town?
Dave: Exactly. That’s why his nose glows.
But Sparkys nose didn’t glow. It occasionally (and fittingly) sparked. And again, Zeros shape is very different to Sparky, including long floppy ears.
There’s also another, very important detail, but I’ll get to that soon enough. In the meantime, there’s the idea that Victor runs away, and is adopted by the van Dorts. Remind me, why did he run away?
Dave: Because his second dog, Scraps, died. The trauma was too great.
The problem with that is that by the end of Frankenweenie, Victor is pretty shaken up when he thinks his dog is dead (again), but he is also ready to accept this fact. Supposing this is true, that would mean that when Scraps died, that is the third or fourth time Victor loses a pet, depending on how you look at it. I understand how sad it is to lose a pet, but I don’t really see Victor as the kind of person to run away when his second dog dies.
And even then, we know what Victor van Dort looked like as a child. It is one of the first things we see in the movie.
Suddenly, the two don’t look so alike, I think. And if he ran away from home because Scraps died, how is it possible for him to have a picture of himself and Scraps from what has to be AFTER he ran away?
All in all, that is not possible
Which is not surprising, since the two Victors cannot be the same person.
Dave: Why’s that?
It’s the same reason Finis Everglot can’t be Mr. Burgomeisters brother. Not only is there a notable size difference, with Mr. Burgomeister being quite tall and Finis being comically short (as are all members of his family, going by the pictures in his house). There’s also the fact that the two movies are set at radically different periods.
So either they’re separate people, or I’m going to need a very good explanation for how Victor Frankenstein and Finis Everglot managed to leave their home in what appears to be 1930-1940’s America, and end up in what looks to be England, in the 1880’s.
And I really hope you won’t to try to bring the time machine from Back to the Future into this, just because there’s lightning…
Now, let’s skip ahead slightly to Sallys supposed origin.
So, Vincent Malloy imagines he has a wife, right?
A wife who doesn’t exist, because she’s imaginary, right?
And despite this, he tries to dig her up, as part of his imaginary world. Which means she still doesn’t exist. He’s just pretending to dig up her corpse, but in reality just ruins his mothers flower bed. Because his wife is imaginary, and therefore does not exist. Right?
Dave: Uh… right…?
So please explain to me how the spirit of said wife, despite being purely imaginary, and therefore does not and has never existed, still manages to pass through to the afterlife and take on corporeal form despite, and yes I know I am repeating myself, because this is ever so slightly massively crucial:
SHE DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST!
How is that possible?!
The answer is: it isn’t possible! And we KNOW Sallys origin! She was created by Dr. Finkelstein. It’s a big part of her character, that she keeps poisoning him and leaving, to be close to Jack.
Speaking of, this brings us neatly to Jack, as well as Igor, Zero and indeed Sally. The theory suggests all these people died and passed through to the afterlife. Now, there’s a problem with that idea, and this is where I get back to the problem I mentioned earlier.
Halloween Town is NOT the afterlife. It’s one of the many “Holiday Worlds“, worlds that specifically create holidays for the people of the world. Halloween, Christmas, St. Patricks Day, Thanksgiving and so on.
This is not the same as where people go upon death. We know this, because in both Corpse Bride and Beetlejuice, we see two very different versions of the realm of the dead.
There is nothing to suggest that the creatures in Halloween Town were once human. The only way that works is if we first assume it is a form of afterlife. Because if we assume it’s the afterlife, the people there must be former humans, which proves it’s a form of afterlife. That’s just backwards logic.
But this leads us to Lydia from Beetlejuice. Explain.
Dave: When Victor ran away, Elsa van Helsing fell into a deep depression and her parents, unable to help her, gave her up for adoption. She was adopted by Charles and Delia Deetz.
Dear god, where to start… Ok, the idea of Lydia being Elsa from Frankenweenie relies on the idea that Victor ran away from home. But as we’ve established, there’s nothing to suggest he ran away from home, because he and Victor van Dort can’t be the same person.
But let’s suppose that Victor did run away. Were they really that close, for her to become absolutely distraught when he disappeared? Yes, they got along, but it’s not like they were a couple, or long time childhood friends.
But again, let’s suppose that she fell into depression. And her parents tried and tried to help her, but nothing seemed to work…
So they put her up for adoption?! What kind of maniac leap of logic is that?! That is not solving the problem. That’s just washing your hands and move the problem somewhere else. What, they just figured “Our kid being depressed is such a drag. Let’s get rid of her“?
That reasoning doesn’t work, unless the parents are both sociopaths!
And why would she change her name to Lydia, even if she was adopted?
Dave: Because she wanted to leave her past behind and-
If she was able to leave her past behind like that, she wouldn’t have become so depressed she couldn’t be helped by medication or therapy or any of the many other methods to deal with grief, would she?!
And finally, the Weird Girl in Frankenweenie. What’s the deal there? I mean, her personality is nothing like Kims from Edward Scissorhands. So how did she reach that point?
Dave: She was adopted by Peg and Jim Boggs.
Ok, let’s ignore that it doesn’t really explain the change in personality. Just answer me this: why?
Dave: She tried to explain what had became of her cat, Mr. Whiskers, but her parents wouldn’t believe her, and eventually put her up for adoption.
Now I have to ask, Dave. What do you think adoption is? Because it’s not just a conventient way to get rid of troublesome kids. Again, unless the parents have absolutely no love or empathy for their child, they’re not gonna put her up for adoption for… what, lying? Is that what we’re going with?
And you say her parents wouldn’t believe her? Why not? She’s got a town full of witnesses! In fact, chances are, HER PARENTS WERE THERE DURING THE EVENTS!
Elsas parents were gone for the duration of the movie. Weird Girl’s parents weren’t mentioned as being missing.
But despite probably witnessing these events first hand, or if not, having a fucking city full of witnesses, they decided to put her up for adoption, and just hope things sorted themselves out?!
That makes no sense at all!
And the idea is, she’s adopted by Peg and Jim Boggs, and changes her name to Kim? Again, children don’t generally change their names when they’re adopted, do they?
Dave: What do you mean, change her name?
Her real name is Anne Chambers. A simple google search tells you that.
This is what I mean with why the small details are so important. Because of these small, but crucial details, we have a very elaborate fan theory wherein, near as I can tell, not a single part of it actually works. As soon as you scratch the surface or put it to any amount of scrutiny, it crumbles to dust.
And there are of course variations of it, but many of them make the same mistakes. The only one I found that kind of worked is the idea that Victor Frankenstein is a descendant of Victor van Dort. And that doesn’t really work either.
Dave: Well, you can’t prove it’s not true…
Maybe not, but the absence of counterarguments alone does not validate the theory. It’s far more important to provide evidence to support their claims. That’s how making a theory works.
But I digress. Like I said, it’s an impressively elaborate theory. But that is not enough on its own.
In a way, this theory is very much like what actually happens if you stick a lightning rod to a dead dog, and put it into a thunderstorm.
You will get lots of noise and lots of sparks. You will not, however, get a reanimated dog. No matter how impressive the process looks or sounds, that dog, like this theory, will still be dead as a doornail.