Tim Burton films: the 13 best and most underrated movies to stream this autumn

Posted by for Film

Searching for an escape from the real world? Then you need to stick on one of these underrated Tim Burton films, stat…

It’s a fact universally acknowledged – in the cinephile community, at least – that there’s no way on earth you can watch a Tim Burton film without knowing that it’s a Tim Burton film.

Why? Well, because the filmmaker’s uniquely gothic style is instantly identifiable. And this beautifully exaggerated, almost cartoonish aesthetic permeates every aspect of his movies, from the costumes, to the setting, to the characters, to the weirdly wonderful storylines themselves.

As Burton’s films are so heavily inspired by (to quote one of his characters) the “strange and unusual”, many people rush to watch – and rewatch – them in the runup to Halloween. Which makes sense, quite frankly: even Burton’s most family-friendly projects have a spooky undercurrent bubbling through them.

But, while everyone else is cooing over Edward Scissorhands, Alice In Wonderland, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber Of Fleet Street for the millionth time over, why not try streaming one of Burton’s more underrated (yet still brilliant) films?

Tim Burton films: Everyone has seen Alice In Wonderland a million times over by this point.

To help you out, we’ve rounded up all the lesser-known Burton films that are well worth streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus this autumn.

Especially if you haven’t seen them already.

Big Fish

Guaranteed to make you sob, this touching family drama sees Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) return home to care for his dying father. His dying father who, it seems, has long had a penchant for telling tall tales. 

As his father’s health dwindles, and the light behind his eyes starts to fade, Will takes it upon himself to sift through the seemingly impossible stories he has heard over the years.

And, as he slowly uncovers the truth, he learns to love his father more than he ever thought possible.

Big Fish is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

James And The Giant Peach

One of the best ever Roald Dahl adaptations (in this writer’s opinion, at least), James And The Giant Peach tells the tale of an orphaned boy who drops a bag of magical crocodile tongues into the dirt, only for it to grow into a never-ending peach tree. 

But, this being a fairytale beyond all fairytales, the story doesn’t end there. Because, as we all know, lonely James Trotter clambers into the giant peach that blossoms on the tree’s creaking branches late one night, and comes face-to-face with six enormous insects: a spider, a centipede, an earthworm, a ladybug, a grasshopper, and a glow-worm. And, accompanied by his new friends (all of whom are voiced by Hollywood’s finest), he embarks on a whirlwind adventure. 

James And The Giant Peach is streaming now on Disney Plus.

Beetlejuice 

Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are very much in love. So, when they unexpectedly die during their cosy staycation, they initially assume it’ll mean they get to spend eternity together – until an obnoxious family moves into their house. An obnoxious family featuring not just a teenage Winona Ryder, but Schitt’s Creek star Catherine O’Hara, too.

Unable to scare their unwelcome living housemates away, the couple seek the help of bio-exorcist Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton). And that, as you’ll see from the film, quickly proves to be a big mistake.

Beetlejuice is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

In this charming and curious film, Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), an eccentric child-like man, heads off to the Alamo in search of his beloved red bicycle. Along the way, he meets many remarkable people, including waitress Simone (Diane Salinger) and a motorcycle gang – but, eventually, he discovers that his bike is being used in a movie. Will he ever be able to get it back?

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is streaming now on Netflix.

Frankenweenie

If you’ve ever loved a pet with all your heart, then prepare to cry all the tears over this animated movie. Because, early on, Victor’s beloved pet dog Sparky is hit by a car and killed.

So far, so upsetting. However, Frankenweenie is (as you’ve probably guessed) a homage to classic horror movies, particularly Frankenstein. And so it’s not long before Victor uses electricity to revive his beloved dog and bring him back to life.

Too bad, then, that Sparky now looks like a monster and Victor’s neighbours are terrified of him, eh?

Frankenweenie is streaming now on Disney Plus.

Mars Attacks!

An utter flop when it first hit cinemas, Mars Attacks! – starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, and many more – is now renowned as a cult classic, and for good reason.

It begins, as so many sci-fi films do, with an army of aliens (from Mars, hence the title) paying a visit to Earth and meeting the president of the United States. They claim to be peaceful. They are 100% lying: indeed, their so-called “peaceful exchange” ends in the total annihilation of the U.S. Congress.

It’s not long before the twisted extraterrestrials are running riot and killing humans left, right, and centre. Will anyone be able to stop them, before it’s too late?

Mars Attacks! is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

Dumbo

A live-action remake of the animated Disney classic, Burton’s Dumbo sees Holt (Colin Farrell) tasked with caring for a baby elephant with oversized ears, Dumbo. When it is discovered that Dumbo can fly, though, it’s not long before a few wicked men try to take advantage of the situation.

Dumbo is streaming now on Disney Plus.

Batman Returns

When Christopher Walken’s Max and Danny DeVito’s Penguin team up to wreak havoc in Gotham City, Batman (Michael Keaton) decides to stop them. But, this time around, he has a formidable ally on his side.

That’s right, folks: Michelle Pfeiffer famously donned her vinyl catsuit, clawed gloves, full-head mask, killer heels, and a slick of red lipstick to bring us her version of Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Burton’s Batman Returns

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, she absolutely steals the show.

Batman Returns is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

9

Based on Acker’s Academy Award-nominated 2005 short film of the same name, Tim Burton may not have a director’s credit on 9 (he served as producer), but his presence can be felt throughout.

Set in an alternative 1930s, after an apocalyptic war between humans and machines, the world is completely destroyed and void of human life. 

However, a robotic ragdoll (voiced by none other than The Lord Of The Rings’ Elijah Wood) awakens, and learns that he holds the key to humanity’s salvation.

9 is streaming now on Netflix.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Guaranteed to capture your imagination, this time-travelling tale sees Asa Butterfield’s Jacob discover a house full of children with supernatural powers run by Miss Peregrine.

It isn’t long, though, before it falls upon him to  protect their home from terrifying enemies called Hollowgasts. Will he be up to the task?

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

Big Eyes

In the late 1950s and early 60s, artist Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) achieves unbelievable fame with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. His wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), is quietly horrified by her husband’s success, though.

Why? Because she is the real painter behind the brush, of course.

An amazing-but-true story, this film – Burton’s most grown-up in years – brilliantly explores power dynamics, coercive control, and the many, many complexities of love.

Big Eyes is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

Planet Of The Apes

This story has been rebooted and remade so many times that everybody knows it by now. Or, at least, they know the main thrust of it: human slaves, ape masters, general chaos.

Burton’s version, admittedly, wasn’t all that popular with critics. But there’s no denying that his reimagining of the tale, which sees astronaut Leo (Mark Wahlberg) team up with Helena Bonham Carter’s rebel chimpanzee, is pure entertainment.

Planet Of The Apes is available to rent now on Amazon Prime.

Corpse Bride

Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas might be the most famous of his stop-motion films, but this gothic romance – all about an undead bride and her still-breathing groom – is every bit as compelling thanks to its toe-tapping tunes, gorgeous aesthetic, and emotionally-charged story.

Corpse Bride is streaming now on Netflix.

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Images: Rex Features/Disney Enterprises

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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