Friday, October 27, 2023

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Rereleased in theaters for the film's 30th anniversary, Tim Burton's stop-motion mash-up of Halloween and Christmas might be the most Tim Burton film ever made, even if Burton only produced rather than directed the movie. Our story takes place in Halloween Town, one of many worlds centered around a single holiday where the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman), who admittedly loves his holiday and planning for it every year, feels stuck in a malaise yearning for something new. When he chances upon a door to Christmas Town he gets more than he ever imagined.

Unable to properly describe the wonders of Christmas Town to the other members of Halloween Town, but not willing to forget about his experience, Jack rolls with the punches and leads the team in taking over Christmas by kidnapping Santa Claus (Edward Ivory) and adding some Halloween mischief to the toys Jack, dressed as Santa, will deliver mistakenly believing those in Christmas Town will love him.

The film is filled to the brim with odd characters including Sally (Catherine O'Hara), a rag doll who repeatedly sneaks away from her creator Doctor Finklestein (William Hickey) and alone understands the idea of Christmas right away and sees the problem with Jack's plan, the trio of Lock (Paul Reubens), Shock (O'Hara), and Barrel (Elfman) who Jack sends to kidnap Santa, the dual-headed emotional Mayor (Glenn Shadix), and the malevolent Oogie Boogie (Ken Page).

The Nightmare Before Christmas starts out tremendously strong with the opening number "This is Halloween" and ends, not unlike The Grinch who Stole Christmas, with the gift of the true meaning of Christmas being gifted to the inhabitants of Halloween Town, but I've always felt it looses itself a bit towards the end with the Oogie Boogie segments. That said, the film has held up remarkably well becoming a classic for not just one holiday but two. Other standouts include musical numbers "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" and "What's This?" and Jack's ghost dog Zero.

The film was a modest box office hit as well as a critical one earning awards and nominations including taking home the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. It's also become something of a pop culture icon leading to games, books, comics and novelizations, LEGO figures of Jack and Sally, and even a series of live concerts. Despite Burton being against the idea of a sequel, it is something both Disney and director Henry Selick have had their eyes on for decades, although nothing has yet materialized.

Watch the trailer

Listen to "What's This"

Listen to "Kidnap The Sandy Claws"

Listen to "This is Halloween"

  • Title: The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • IMDb: link

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