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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

DVD Cover (Walt Disney Studios Collector's Edition)
Genres / Traits:
Animated Feature Film, Animated Musical, Animation, Children's / Family, Children's Fantasy, Creature Film, Fantasy, Musical, Musical Fantasy, Christmas, Halloween, 3-D
Director:
Henry Selick Henry Selick
Starring:
Danny Elfman Danny Elfman
Chris Sarandon Chris Sarandon
Catherine O'Hara Catherine O'Hara
William Hickey William Hickey
Glenn Shadix Glenn Shadix

7.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: January 30, 2008
Welcome to a world where each holiday is controlled by an entire town. When their time of the year rolls around, the town does its thing, then sits back for a year and plans for the next celebration. Right now, Halloween is in full swing, and the citizens of Halloween Town are having a blast. However, all is not well with Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King. You see, he is the unofficial ruler of Halloween and by all rights he excels at the art of scaring humans, but after celebrating Halloween year in and year out, he yearns for a change in scenery. Trying to clear his skull, he wanders off into the woods in a despondent daze, accidentally coming upon a clearing with doorways to each holiday. Inexplicably drawn to Christmas Town, Jack is blown away by the lights, music and general goodwill in the atmosphere. Realizing this is exactly what he's been looking for, Jack hurries back home to tell his friends about it; however, they are quite happy with their Halloween mindsets, and don't quite grasp the Christmas feeling. Instead they wonder if there's a rotten foot in the stocking or a decapitated head in the gift box. Depressed that he can't get that Christmas feeling across, he decides to only way to truly get them to understand is by celebrating it themselves. With only a few months until the big day, they plan a coup d’état of the holiday and do it their way, despite the warnings of Sally (Catherine O'Hara), a rag doll who harbors a secret crush for Jack. Maybe Jack should have listened; by bringing his Halloween influence to Christmas, he has inadvertently destroyed the holiday that he loves so much.

Tim Burton initially conceived the idea after seeing a store in the process of swapping the Halloween decorations for Christmas decorations, and with this contrast in mind, he whipped up a quick poem and some sketches and pitched the idea to Disney as a traditional animated movie. However, Burton left Disney long before the movie was made, and it was soon decided that it was going to be attempted as a stop motion film. Now, you have to realize how big of a step this was; a stop motion production had never been attempted at a scale this high before. Indeed, many new techniques and methods had to be invented on the fly, and the work was horribly slow going. Even with multiple teams working simultaneously it took over three years to complete the film. The work definitely paid off, as upon its release Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas was met with open arms from fans and critics alike, and it has proven itself to be nothing short of revolutionary in the world of animation.

Even though Tim Burton didn't have a direct role in the film's production, his signature visual style was kept fully intact. Just a quick skimming of any of his numerous poem books and you'll get a good idea of the style Halloween Town is portrayed. The stark contrast between Halloween Town and Christmas Town is another Burton mainstay. I have to hand it to Disney, despite feeling the movie was too dark for their banner (the film was initially distributed under Touchstone), they still had enough respect for the man to stay true to his own vision. Also keeping with Burton standards, Danny Elfman is running the musical show here, and my, what a show it is. The songs are all catchy and memorable; hell, I still sing along with them. While his score has come under attack from some critics, I have to disagree. I feel it really captures the mood and moves the film along very nicely. Plus, he lends his voice to a few characters, including doing the singing for Jack himself.

For all this talk of its revolutionary status in the world of animation or the sheer Burton-ness of it, the most important thing here is that it's just a damned fun movie. No matter how revolutionary a movie is, chances are its popularity won't hold up outside the field if the movie can't stand on its own feet, and Nightmare Before Christmas has no problems here. The movie is close to fifteen years old and it still has a dedicated legion of fans (It's in my personal top three) and with companies like Hot Topic still kicking out merchandise, it's gaining new fans even to this day. Hell, it was even re-released in theatres earlier this year in a 3-D format. It takes a special movie to stand this tall, and this film is definitely special. 10/10
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grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 01/30/2008, 02:47 AM
I used to watch this movie everyday for awhile when I was younger, love it still, but I love the movie... not the merchandise haha

10/10
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 01/30/2008, 05:06 PM
What a fantastic film this was -- innovative, exceptional and highly entertaining. The biggest problem when it was first released is that it was too dark for kids and too kid oriented for adults. Luckily, it has caught on and the re-release helped. A masterpiece. 10/10.
Griffinheart #3: Griffinheart - added 01/30/2008, 05:55 PM
An excellent movie overall, but not one that really struck me as a perfect. It's a beautifully put together movie, but I don't think I'll watch it too many more times. 8-8.5/10
Rest Easy Soul #4: Rest Easy Soul - added 12/22/2009, 03:13 PM
I love the special edition because it includes all of Burton's independent stuff as well. This movie was fantastic and still is. Sadly it's whored out by fat gothic chicks and skinny emo dudes.
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