A self-described “labor of love,” Burton’s part-charming, part-macabre and all-strange homage to “Frankenstein”-style chillers brings the blockbuster director back to his roots.

“It was based on my 1984 short, which is also pretty odd, and I was very passionate about it being black-and-white and doing it stop-motion, and Disney were very supportive, although it wasn’t something they’d typically do,” he says. “I would have said ‘No’ if anyone had insisted on doing it in color, because the language of black-and-white is so emotionally rich and immediately takes you back to all those classic horror films. Same with stop-motion, which just seemed the perfect technique for the story. And of course it helped that it wasn’t a giant budget.”

Even so, the film, which has grossed $34 million, took “two years of pre production and testing the puppets” and a London-based international crew of some 200 animators to bring it to life.

“As with all my films, I never know what will be successful, and just like ‘Nightmare,’ in this era of huge opening grosses that disappear two weeks later, it’s nice to feel that something can have a life after box office death,” Burton says.