As we just looked at Hocus Pocus and its 30th year anniversary we have another 30th year anniversary for a classic film in The Nightmare Before Christmas!
This film was originally released in 1993 and I’d imagine many of you have watched it with your significant other, kids, or grandkids. I have watched this numerous times and also in 3D. This was a welcome addition to our slate of movies this year. We get a final taste of “spooky season” will a touch of Christmas! As we all sit debating on wearing a coat today or not, Christmas is coming soon too. So how would this stack up to the other films we’ve watched this year? Was this all nostalgia at play or a worth the price of admission?
Onto the film.
We are taken to a place called Halloween Town and meet our “hero” of the film named Jack Skellington (Sarandon) who the townspeople refer to as the “Pumpkin King.” He’s in charge of all the Halloween activities. However, he’s bored. He wants something new and exciting! Meanwhile we have different song from the cast talking about their lives and the town.
I will note this film has man wonderful songs composed and even preformed by the great Danny Elfman and company. He actually does the singing for Jack Shellington which I’m ashamed to admit…I just learned this this year. Well done Mr. Elfman!
As Jack (Sarandon) wanders around Halloween Town he comes across doors on trees in the forest. The imagery engulfs you early on, but we see a “tree” connected to a holiday. Think Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas!
From here the film is truly an adventure, a roller coaster ride, as Jack attempts to turn Halloween Town into a little more of the Christmas land he saw. This works in some ways and falls flat on others.
Meanwhile we meet Sally (O’Hara) who holds her own in Halloween Town and as a interesting character who Jack likes. The songs featuring both Jack and Sally are some of the best aside from……Oogie Boogie’s song!! Oogie Boogie is our “big bad” in this film and he wants to take over Halloween Town as Jack is preoccupied with Christmas.
What we get is a exciting story, albeit a short runtime. This doesn’t take away that the characters and scenes look beautiful with the Claymation production/design even after 30 years! When you watch this for the first or hundredth time, you think of Tim Burton’s films and stop-motion animation. He was instrumental in this film and production, and it truly creates imagery that stands the tests of time.
Here’s what works:
The cast and musical score are A+ and hold up. The songs have become classics and you’ll know the tunes and hopefully are singing and humming as you read this …” This is Halloween. This is Halloween.” That song will be in my head all day.
The animation as I mentioned with stop—motion and clay sculptures show the love and effort the production team put in to creating this story and world. It’s beautiful every time you watch it and works ESPECIALLY well on a big screen and in 3d if you are able to see it in that format.
Here’s what doesn’t work:
The runtime. It could be a touch longer. I’ve always wished the film spent more time in the other “Holiday worlds” too. This isn’t a deal breaker just a what if…
If you haven’t watched this yet? It’s been 30 years!!! If you’re a fan of musicals, macabre, Christmas AND Halloween…. put this on! 4 ½ stars out of 5