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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burtons The Nightmare Before Christmas

A ghoulish tale with wicked humour & stunning animation.

Directed by:

Henry Selick

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 76 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

If you were to lop off the top of Tim Burton’s head and take a peek inside – not something I’m in any way advocating by the way – I like to think the contents would look something like ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.

This animated masterpiece is the full embodiment of the worlds hinted at in previous Burton projects such as ‘Beetlejuice’, ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and the first two ‘Batman’ movies. But it’s also much more than that. It’s the antidote to every overly-sugary Chrimbo-flick ever made. It’s the number one example of how good quality animation can be used to make any stretch of the imagination seem real. And, like so many of Burton’s movies, it’s macabre and morbid, but also surprisingly uplifting.

Chris Sarandon is the voice of Jack Skellington, the spindly-legged resident of the ghoulish Halloween Town. While walking in the woods one day, he discovers a doorway to Christmas Town, where he’s overcome by the spirit of goodwill shown by the cheery residents with their decorated trees and snow-covered streets. In fact, so taken is he by the idea of Chrimbo, that upon returning home he convinces his fellow townsfolk to abandon Halloween and start preparing for yuletide instead.

The only trouble is, his plans – which include having “San-dee Claws” kidnapped – aren’t entirely appreciated by the rest of the world. Particularly when small children discover severed heads and giant snakes in their stockings instead of the usual array of pressies.

Director Henry Selick (you can also see his work in ‘James and the Giant Peach’) is the man behind making Burton’s vision come true, using the stop-start animation technique to brilliantly create a world packed with creepy characters.

Danny Elfman, meanwhile, chips in with a string of marvellous songs with razor-sharp lyrics to turn this into a dark musical from the same file as ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. Elfman also supplies several of the voices, including that of Jack himself when it’s time for another song.

Coming in at a short 76 minutes, you needn’t worry about kids losing interest. Every scene is both a visual and a musical treat, and there’s so much going on in the shadows that you’ll be happy to watch it over and over again. But be warned – although it’s a PG, you can bet that some kids (and quite possibly some adults) will find it just a teensy-weensy bit too scary. Personally, that’s just another one of the many things I love about it.

It's Got: Santa Claus being chased around an underground casino by a gambling boogie man.

It Needs: To be watched every year – at Christmas AND Halloween.

DVD Extras Deleted scenes, animated sequences, behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards and image gallery, an audio commentary, and some excellent original trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, James and the Giant Peach, Little Shop of Horrors

Summary

If there’s a more wickedly funny, inventive and totally engrossing festive flick than this, I’ve yet to see it. Tremendous.

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5 Comments

  1. Cassandra
    Posted December 10, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    This is the best movie I have ever seen. The moment I saw it I fell in love with the songs, animation and characters. I have tons of Nightmare Before Christmas merch. but my lifelong dream is to meet Tim Burton. That would honestly make my life complete. You rock Tim Burton <3

  2. Joanna
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I’m 17 and only just saw it… wow! I love it! Admittedly the first time I saw it, I was frickin scared OO but the more I watched it, the more I found the characters to be amusing =p lmao x

    I can’t deal with scary films with any certificate normally, but this film is fine, so don’t be put off by people saying it’s scary – it’s scary because the characters are creepy-looking at first as you’re not used to looking at people with that physical appearance, and because of it you expect something terrible to happen… it doesnt ^^ it’s a lovely film! x

  3. Julia
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Coraline and the corsps bride are MUCH more scary(for an animated movie)

  4. Samantha Duggan
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    i freaking love this movie!

  5. Eric Johnson
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    This has to be one of my top 3 movies of all time!
    I wish I could watch it in theaters, that would be awesome! 😀

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