A superb left-of-centre fairy tale, this marked the first teaming of star Johnny Depp with director Tim Burton (they went on to make Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together, among others).
Edward is not a real boy at all, but rather the creation of the Inventor (Vincent Price), who died before he could complete his masterpiece. Poor Edward looks human enough except for one thing – instead of hands, he has long, shear-like scissors at the ends of his arms. Since the death of his ‘father’, Edward has lived a lonely life in a crumbling mansion high above a neighbourhood of pastel-coloured houses. It is only when kindly Avon lady Peg (Dianne Wiest) discovers his hiding place that Edward descends to the ‘real’ world below, and finds himself embraced by Peg’s neighbours when he displays his talent for hairdressing, dog-clipping and hedge-shaping.
Of course, it’s not the happy ending it seems, and when Edward falls for Peg’s cheerleader daughter (a blonde Ryder), it sets off a chain of events that leads the town to turn on him.
Absolutely beautiful to look at, this skilfully blends humour with sadness and a thoroughly entertaining story. The cast are all superb, from Anthony Michael Hall as Ryder’s oafish boyfriend (playing against type, as he’s best known as the nerd in The Breakfast Club) to Alan Arkin as Peg’s bemused husband. But it is Depp who steals every scene, conveying Edward’s frustration with few words, his pale, scarred face showing the hurt when he discovers that even the gentlest touch with his scissor hands can cause pain. Wonderful stuff.
Is Edward Scissorhands suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
When Edward is pursued by the townspeople it is more upsetting than scary.