“The Nightmare Before Christmas” stars Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory. Released on October 29, 1993, the film is about a “Pumpkin King” who decides to celebrate Christmas in his own Halloween-y way.
The film is directed by Henry Selick, who also directed films such as James and the Giant Peach, Monkeybone, and Coraline. Once again, Halloween is upon us this year, and while people are celebrating the holiday with their Nightmare on Elm Streets and their Friday the 13ths and the new season of Stranger Things, I occasionally celebrate Halloween with this stop-motion animated gem. The film’s idea came from Tim Burton’s poem back in 1982, which convinced Disney to develop it as a film. With Burton’s support, of course. It was released through Disney’s “Touchstone Pictures” banner due to the film’s concerning tone, although Disney later distributed it during its re-releases starting in 2006. From the looks of it, I can definitely see why. The film went on to become a hit both critically and financially as well as earning an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, and the rest is history. I usually watch this film from time to time, whether it’s on Halloween or Christmas or any other time (mostly during music class back at high school), and I always find something fascinating and surreal that made its concept so special. Aside from the fact that it’s considered either a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. Now that I’m reviewing it for the first time, does it still retain that kind of something that made this animated tale what it is today?
The story takes place in the fictionalized town known as Halloween Town, where all of the residents are spooky monsters, demons, vampires, witches, ghosts, you name it, and they love to celebrate Halloween every year. Well, all of them except for Jack Skellington (Sarandon), the town’s leader, who has grown tired of doing the same routine year after year after year. Yearning to add something new and exciting into the mix, Jack accidentally stumbles upon a portal that leads him to “Christmas Town”, the film’s version of the North Pole. Fascinated by the holiday festivities, he decides to transition from being the king of Halloween to the king of Christmas, not knowing about the consequences that will fall upon him. Clocking in at an hour and 16 minutes, the film offers both a simple and effective tale about the monsters’ first experience at celebrating a holiday that is much different than their own and a visually remarkable experience for fans of stop-motion animation. Even though that Tim Burton is one of the producers of the film, I can easily point out that his fingerprints are all over it in terms of its tone. Speaking of which, the film has a near-perfect combination between scary and jolly that makes itself suitable for both kids and adults. Sure, there were a couple of moments that might be frightening for the very young, but aside from that, director Henry Selick successfully managed to find the perfect tone that captures everyone’s imaginations as well as their hearts. Ranging from Sarandon as Jack to Ken Page as the villainous Oogie Boogie, the voice cast did a terrific job at voicing these well-developed and creepy characters. Catherine O’Hara also did a nice job voicing Sally, who serves as a love interest of Jack as well as the only person in Halloween Town who’s worried that his plans will lead him to disaster. My only mild flaw with the characters is that the film didn’t really explore the relationship between Jack and Sally that much, but for those who aren’t into romantic moments, it hardly needs to. The animation still looks fantastic as usual with its outstanding production designs, the character designs and movements, and its mixture of stop-motion and 2D animated visuals. It’s both creative and passionate in its own right. The songs and score by Danny Elfman were also the key parts that made this film a delightful and creepy treat. The songs that are provided in the film, such as “This is Halloween”, “What’s This?”, and “Making Christmas”, helped drive the story as well as expressing the characters’s personalities and feelings. They’re nicely written and fun to listen to despite the fact that I couldn’t remember all of the lyrics. I also thought that Elfman’s score was magnificent for its eerie and cheerful tone. One of his best works, in my opinion.
Overall, if there’s one movie that has a unique mixture of fright, joy, and imagination, it’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Filled with enjoyable characters, outstanding animation, effective storytelling, and some memorable songs, the film still remains a place in my heart as one of my go-to films for both Halloween and Christmas as well as one of my favorite films that involve Tim Burton. If you’re a fan of stop-motion animation or if you’re unfamiliar with this film, I would highly recommend it. To the folks who are reading this, I hope you all have a spooktacular and safe Halloween.