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Corpse bride.jpg

Corpse Bride is a romantic comedy musical by Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, and a Spiritual Sequel to Henry Selick'sThe Nightmare Before Christmas (which Burton was the producer of). The film mixes German Expressionist elements, stop-motion animation, gothic melodrama and macabre sense of humour, and is based on an old Yiddish folk tale.

Victor, the son of some wealthy fishmongers, is being forced into an Arranged Marriage with Victoria, a beautiful young woman from a penniless aristocratic family. The couple seem to like each other, and everything is going swimmingly... except for the tiny problem of Victor being unable to learn his lines. He goes into the forest to practice his marriage vows. But, unintentionally, Victor gives the speech (and engagement ring) to the vivacious and fun-loving Emily, who thinks they are now married.

Oh, did we mention Emily is dead?

Victor is dragged to the underworld, which ironically, heavily contrasts with the drab surroundings of the living by being colourful and vibrant. At first he is desperate to get back home to Victoria, but is soon torn between the life he knew and his life in the unlife. Victor also finds himself drawn towards Emily, whose tragic death may be more entwined with the lives of Victoria and himself than Victor first thought. However, there's the matter of what will happen to Victoria herself, and then the arrival of a mysterious man named Barkis changes everything.

The film has many little shout-outs and references to previous works by Tim Burton. Danny Elfman's character, Bonejangles, is a call-back to his time with Oingo Boingo.

Tropes used in Corpse Bride include:

 Mr Everglot: We shall continue as planned, with or without Vincent.

Mrs Everglot: Victor.

Mr Everglot: Whatever.

    • Also, the maggot was a Peter Lorre impersonation.
  • Exact Words: "Until death do us part..."
  • Fairy Tale: Based of a Jewish-Russian folktale originally, about a woman murdered on the way to her wedding. Emily's backstory also bears tragic resemblances to the English folktale Mr. Fox (not to be confused with a later stop-motion animated film).
  • Fake Brit: Johnny Depp as Victor.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Barkis, after unwittingly consuming poison, is now one of the dead, which conveniently removes the restriction that the dead cannot harm the living. An angry mob drags him off as he screams. Made worse in that we never really do find out what they do to him.
  • Feuding Families: While Victoria's family arranged the marriage, they did it only because the family is penniless and needed a quick way of getting cash. Likewise, Victor's family agreed in order to get some status by being linked to an old family. They don't get on very well... But their kids do, since they're Not So Different.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Victor's mom gets caught in the door of the carriage, and Mayhew and Victor's dad tries to push her in. Cut to the Everglots watching the carriage rocking wildly back and forward. "Fish merchants!" Also see Parental Bonus, and doubles as a William Shakespeare reference: 'Fishmonger' used to mean 'pimp'.
  • Gold Digger: Lord Barkis Bittern. Hey, a male one! Good for him.
  • The Grotesque: In some ways. Emily is nothing but skin and bones. She also has an eye that pops out and a worm living in her skull. Eww. But she remains ever gentle and kind.
  • He's Not My Boyfriend: "He's my husband."
  • Head Desk: Victor bangs his head on the bar counter.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Everywhere, but a special mention goes to Elder Gutknecht, who's played by Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Hurricane of Puns: They're everywhere.
  • Impairment Shot: Used after Victor runs into a tree.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Victoria's family.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Honestly? Do we have to say his name?
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Mayhew.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Who does Victor look like? Honestly.
    • Ironically, Victoria was based a bit on Helena Bonham Carter (Emily's voice actress, and back then Tim Burton's girlfriend) physically, as the character designer wanted to make sure she looked interesting and pretty enough enough opposite the exotic Emily, so he gave her Bonham Carter's face shape (particularly her chin and forehead). Burton originally wanted Bonham Carter to voice Victoria anyway, which might make this fact a relic of the straightforward use of the trope. Bonham Carter asked to play Emily instead, as she'd played Victoria-type characters in live action before when she was the character's age.
    • According to the "making of" book, Emily too was redesigned to look a bit more like Helena (specifically, they gave her more of Helena's forehead).
    • Watch Danny Elfman sing "Remains of the Day" live and you'll understand where everything about Bonejangles comes from.
  • Ironic Echo: "New arrival..."
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy What lets Emily finally be free, as she puts it, is pushing Victor and Victoria towards each other.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say
  • Jaw Drop
  • Karmic Death: Barkis, after some Evil Gloating at the dead, who are unable to harm the living. On his way out, he casually takes a sip from a cup placed on the altar. Unfortunately for him, the cup contained the poison which Victor was supposed to drink during the marriage ceremony. He is instantly killed. See the Fate Worse Than Death section of this article for what happens next. May also qualify as Death by Irony.
  • Losing Your Head Paul the "Head Waiter."
  • Love Triangle: Victor must choose between Emily, his dead wife, and Victoria, his live. Which is harder than it probably sounds. He almost chooses Emily, but she realises that the one he loves is Victoria and points it out. So in the end, he goes to her while Emily finally can rest in peace
  • Minor Insult Meltdown: Victor does this to Emily after she finds out about Victoria. "Why can't you understand that this is a mistake? I would never marry you!" Geez, Victor, couldn't you phrase that any more painfully?
  • The Musical
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Lord Barkis Bittern.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Most people think Maggot sounds like Peter Lorre.
  • No Indoor Voice: The town crier. Well, he does, but only uses it to forecast the weather.
  • Noodle People
  • Obviously Evil: Lord Barkis. And his chin. His evil, evil chin.
  • Of Corset Hurts/Of Corsets Sexy: As Victoria is getting her corset drawn her mother cries to tighten it. "I can hear you speak without gasping."
  • Offscreen Teleportation: You cannot run Victor! Emily will find you! Not in a way that's physically possible but still.
  • Offstage Villainy: Emily's murder.
  • Pass the Popcorn: General Bones-apart just knows that the tale of Emily's murder "is gonna be good."
  • Parental Bonus: When Victor is in the woods, practicing his vows, he says a line to the effect of "With this hand, I will cup your...", with his hands placed near his chest area. Once he realizes what he's doing, he pulls his hands away and says, "Oh goodness, no."
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Victor and Victoria.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Nearly everyone in the land of the living. Most notable with the parents of the bride, especially when her mom orders her dad to smile, which takes great effort.
  • Prank Date: Emily perfectly fits Definition 6 of this trope.
  • Proper Lady: Victoria through and through.
  • Ravens and Crows
  • Real Is Brown: The staid Victorian world of the living. Notably not applied to the afterlife, which resembles San Francisco in the hippie era.
  • Romantic False Lead: And we have a twofer. Emily is the likable variation, with Barkis being the nasty version. Subverted with Victoria: she turns out to be the one all along. And Barkis gets what he deserves
  • Rummage Fail: She doesn't exactly rummage, but it's close enough when Mrs. Plum tries to grab a knife from the male cook's head for Victor to fight with but accidentally takes hold of a fork and tosses that to Victor.
    • Also when Victor attempts to arm himself, but the sword doesn't come free of the guy it's stuck through.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Emily's murder to make it more family friendly, but also to hide the identity of her killer.
  • Shotgun Wedding: In a way, Victor and Emily.
  • Shout-Out: The piano Victor sits at when meeting Victoria is brand-labeled a "Harryhausen", in homage to stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen.
    • There's even a Gone with the Wind shout out when the dead folk head upstairs for their wedding party.
    • Victoria's mother's character design is very reminiscent of Lady Tremaine from Cinderella.
    • Victor and Victoria.
  • Skewed Priorities: Victoria's mother.

 Victoria: It's true, Mother! Victor is married to a dead woman! I saw her - a corpse! - standing right there with Victor!

Lady Everglot: Victor was in your room!?

  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Victoria doesn't object to Victor's wedding to Emily; Emily herself stops it when she realizes that if she goes through with it, she will steal Victoria's dreams just as her own dreams were stolen.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Emily plays this trope against Victoria's Proper Lady counterpoint.
  • Spiritual Successor: Corpse Bride may as well call The Nightmare Before Christmas "Daddy."
  • Stealth Pun: The head waiter is a head who happens to be a waiter.
    • Not to mention that the joint where he works is called "The Ball and Socket."
    • At one point, Emily literally cries her eye out. (Just one, though.)
    • While looking for Victor, Emily passes a second-hand store that sells hands for people that lost the first one.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Victor and Victoria seem to be headed to this. . . Emily is vital (no pun intended) into averting it.
  • Talking to Himself: Completely averted. Despite a good number of minor characters having the same voice actor, none of them speak to each other. For example, Mayhew and William Van Dort are both voiced by Paul Whitehouse and have some interaction together but never say a word to each other.
  • The Reveal: Lord Barkis Bittern the killer. Buh buh BUUUUUHHHH!!!
  • Title Drop: Repeatedly in the underworld. Victoria also tells the minister that Victor "has a corpse bride!"
  • Together in Death: That's how Emily wants it.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Delivered through song!
  • Undeath Always Ends: Emily is finally able to die in peace.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Everyone who's dead. The living are all mostly pale-skinned brunettes.
  • Upperclass Twit: Both Victor's and Victoria's parents, to varying degrees.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Weren't Victor's parents last seen on an out-of-control carriage? What happened to them?
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: "I guess they didn't want to waste the cake."
  • Woman Scorned: Emily briefly seems to play it straight, but beautifully subverts this trope with her gracious act of kindness.
  • Worldwide Punomenon: Just try and count them.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Spoofed with extra points for having it said by Christopher Lee's character.
    • "Keep it down, we're in a church!"
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Gloriously subverted. Almost deconstructed, even, as the living gradually recognize their lost loved ones among the shambling ranks of the dead.