Watch Vincent, Tim Burton’s Animated Tribute to Vincent Price & Edgar Allan Poe (1982)

If you put togeth­er a list of the world’s great­est Vin­cent Price fans, you’d have to rank Tim Bur­ton at the top. That goes for “great­est” in the sense of both the fer­ven­cy of the fan’s enthu­si­asm for all things Price, and for the fan’s accom­plish­ments in his own right. Bur­ton’s film­mak­ing craft and his admi­ra­tion for the mid­cen­tu­ry hor­ror-film icon inter­sect­ed ear­ly in his career, when he made the six-minute ani­mat­ed film Vin­cent for Dis­ney in 1982, three years before his fea­ture debut Pee-Wee’s Big Adven­ture.

The short­’s title refers not to Vin­cent Price him­self, but to its sev­en-year-old pro­tag­o­nist, Vin­cent Mal­loy: “He’s always polite and does what he’s told. For a boy his age, he’s con­sid­er­ate and nice. But he wants to be just like Vin­cent Price.” Those words of nar­ra­tion — as if you could­n’t tell after the first one spo­ken — come in the voice of Price him­self. Vin­cent Mal­loy, pale of com­plex­ion and untamed of hair, sure­ly resem­bles Bur­ton’s child­hood self, and in more aspects than appear­ance: the film­mak­er grants the char­ac­ter his own idol­a­try not just of Price but of Edgar Allan Poe, and it’s into their macabre mas­ter­works that his day­dream­ing sends him — just as they pre­sum­ably sent the sev­en-year-old Bur­ton.

Bur­ton and Price’s col­lab­o­ra­tion on Vin­cent marked the begin­ning of a friend­ship that last­ed the rest of Price’s life. The appre­cia­tive actor called the short “the most grat­i­fy­ing thing that ever hap­pened,” and the direc­tor would go on to cast him in Edward Scis­sorhands eight years lat­er. Price died in 1993, the year before the release of Ed Wood, Bur­ton’s dra­ma­tized life of Edward D. Wood Jr. In that film, the rela­tion­ship between semi-retired hor­ror actor Bela Lugosi and the admir­ing schlock auteur Wood par­al­lels, in a way, that of the more endur­ing­ly suc­cess­ful Price and the much more com­pe­tent Bur­ton.

Vin­cent also drops hints of oth­er things to come in the Bur­toni­verse: Night­mare Before Christ­mas fans, for instance, should keep their eyes open for not one but two ear­ly appear­ances of that pic­ture’s bony cen­tral play­er Jack Skelling­ton. This demon­stra­tion of the con­ti­nu­ity of Bur­ton’s imag­i­na­tion under­scores that, as both his biggest fans and biggest crit­ics insist, he’s always lived in a world of his own — prob­a­bly since Vin­cent Mal­loy’s age, when teach­ers and oth­er author­i­ty fig­ures might have described him in exact­ly the same way.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Six Ear­ly Short Films By Tim Bur­ton

Tim Burton’s The World of Stain­boy: Watch the Com­plete Ani­mat­ed Series

How Ger­man Expres­sion­ism Influ­enced Tim Bur­ton: A Video Essay

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” Read by Christo­pher Walken, Vin­cent Price, and Christo­pher Lee

5 Hours of Edgar Allan Poe Sto­ries Read by Vin­cent Price & Basil Rath­bone

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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