Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Night Magical Movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Another Halloween has come and gone, blustering in like a mad swirl of cheesecloth, cupcakes, pumpkins and chocolate, and now lurking quietly like the styrofoam headstones and ghouls left powerless in the daylight as they await their plastic tub tombs until next year. What's that tug? It's my heart, and something else...ah, the last bit of spirit gum stuck to my ear...

Every Oct. 1 when those plastic tubs are opened up and the magic comes bursting out, my kids and I begin the traditional cacophony of singing, "This is Halloween, this is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween...Halloween..." they are adults and teens now, but they know all the words and sing it with feeling! I couldn't pack it all up again without sharing Tim Burton's classic that encompasses the current offerings at most retail stores, "The Nightmare Before Christmas!"

This weirdly wonderful musical stop animation film came out in 1993, and when it did, we hadn't seen anything quite like it! In this strange land of Halloween Town, lanky skull-faced Jack Skellington (voice of Chris Sarandon) is the dapper Pumpkin King, and he delights in the organising of a good scary Halloween. But lately, he's become bored, and feels like he's looking for something more out of life. (or death, as the case may be) He ends up wandering, and discovers a magical grove of trees, each tree with a door to a different holiday. Jack steps through the door to Christmas Town and becomes enchanted, he feels this is for him! Upon his return to Halloween Town, he gathers the denizens together and tells them tales of Christmas and Sandy Claws!

The well-meaning yet misguided Jack is certain he could do this Christmas thing, and even improve it. He enlists all of the citizens of Halloween Town to get to work of their version of Christmas which includes heads in boxes, hideously stuffed stockings and kidnapping Santa! All along Sally, (voice of Catherine O'Hara) the sweet rag doll assistant to the mad scientist warns Jack of the folly of trying to take over Christmas while she pines for him secretly.

Tim Burton came up with the idea back when he was an animator for Disney taking his inspiration from those old stop animation holiday classics we grew up on. Michael McDowell wrote the adaptation and Henry Selick directed. The music of Danny Elfman sets the mood, as he frequently does for Burton's films, and a team of 10 sculptors created the characters and sets, a whopping 227 puppets and Jack Skellington had about 400 heads himself! The time consuming process of stop animation is unbelievable, and the creativity, attention to detail and dedication really shows in this film.

It's hard to watch this movie without singing along, it has everything, horror, fantasy, romance, action, singing, dancing, and a snake that can swallow an entire Christmas Tree. What more could you want in a film, really.

Momma always said, "If Mickie could have anything she wanted for Christmas, it would be Halloween!"


  1. One of my favorite movies of all time....for the lessons....not just the entertainment value. I packed away our Samhain decor today and couldn't believe it was all over...As much as I love each season, I always want to hold on to this one a tad longer....

  2. This is one of my favorite movies of ALL time! Thanks for giving it the spotlight!!! Theresa


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