The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Greg Proops directed by Henry Selick Movie Review

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)   4/54/54/54/54/5

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey - Henry Selick

Christmas Goes for a Burton

From The Nightmare Before Christmas baby clothing and hoodies to tattoos and mugs you can get just about anything with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and Jack Skellington on it which considering we are talking about a 20 year old movie is quite surprising. And 20 years ago I would have been even more surprised as for a time I wasn't a fan of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas", I'd given it a chance and watched it a couple of times but between the stop motion animation, the weird storyline and the rhyming songs it just didn't win me over. That is until I rewatched it many years later and all of a sudden it won me over. From the almost Dr. Seuss like storyline and the equally Dr. Seuss like rhyming songs through to the stop motion animation "The Nightmare Before Christmas" worked, it made me smile and entertained me with its weirdness.

After another successful Halloween the characters of Halloween Town are all celebrating, that is everyone except Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King who is bored of doing the same old thing each and every year. One day whilst out walking he comes across Christmas Town and immediately is taken with the fun which is Christmas. Returning home Jack tries to sell the others on the idea of Christmas and although they go along with Jack's plans they don't quite get what Christmas is all about.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Greg Proops

One of the marvels of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is from the mind of Tim Burton we get a frankly freaky tale of Halloween characters ruining Christmas. It sounds like it could be scary, dark and even disturbing but it isn't. In fact it is a movie that children could watch and laugh at the semi horror of Burton's quirky creations. Yet whilst entertaining for children with the quirky stop motion characters there is a second level which adults will appreciate, the rhyming songs and subtle humour with its grown up tone.

And to add to this it has to be said that not only does Burton create a movie appealing to adults and children alike he also manages to combine horror and Christmas without making it overly scary. The various creations such as Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie and Dr. Finklestein are all scary, quirky characters but putting them into a fun environment with what is an eventually sweet family tale negates their horror, turning them into comical ghouls. Even those background elements such as a character with an axe through their head isn't scary because it is a fun character. You could say that Tim Burton plays with your mind as he gives us a series of horror characters, but through a fun, family friendly storyline there is no horror.

What also messes about with your mind is that to start with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a musical filled with catchy music and songs. But also the songs we hear are clever rhyming pieces full of devilishly clever lines but because the music is so upbeat the horror of the lyrics is lost as the natural bounce of the music takes over. Some of the songs come across like an English lesson with their excessive rhyming but there is a cleverness to them, a catchiness which causes you to remember the tune and smile but not necessarily remember the comically dark lyrics.

All of which makes "The Nightmare Before Christmas" very much like something from the realms of Dr. Seuss although Tim Burton and director Henry Selick gives it his own style and touch. If you think about the Grinch he wanted to ruin Christmas but only made it better, here we have Jack Skellington who wants to enjoy Christmas but ends up ruining it, or almost. It's a nice twist and one which has plenty of fun especially with the decision to go down the stop motion route, which is surprisingly captivating thanks to all the intricate details and curious creations.

As such you have to say that Tim Burton's mind must be child like with his wild fantasy creations, the various characters and clever back drops. Jack Skellington is just a great character voiced by Chris Sarandon with Danny Elfman doing the singing parts, a lanky skeleton with a talent for horror who has a nice side to him. And Jack is not the only marvellous creation as from Oogie Boogie through to Dr. Finklestein they are all marvellous creations and all so well voiced.

What this all boils down to is that "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a movie which grows on you as you appreciate its cleverness more and more. From the stop motion animation characters, through to the rhyming musical numbers "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is great fun, dark but also family friendly.

Tags: Christmas Movies