So eventually I snuck to the library and got the film for the typical three-week checkout, which left me enough time to let it casually sit in the middle of my floor until I got used to its presence. Three days before it was due, I put the movie into my VCR, squinted my eyes in apprehension, and hesitantly pressed “play”. And the verdict? Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas IS a surprisingly charming and sweet movie with memorable characters and a delightfully un-annoying musical soundtrack. But there were still a few moments where the animation made me shift uncomfortably.
The rough story is that this skeletal pumpkin-headed fellow named Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and sung by Danny Elfman), the ringleader for all things Halloween, has just wrapped up another successful spooky holiday. However, he is restless and unsatisfied. He wanders in the woods one day, and accidentally discovers a portal to the land of Christmas, where he sees all the elves and townspeople preparing for their holiday, which makes people happy, not frightened. Well! Why not try that? With a little help, Jack kidnaps “Santy Claws” and takes over Christmas, instilling fear in children and adults the world over.
The animation is really something to see. I got over my apprehension as more and more outrageous characters were introduced, including the literally two-faced Mayor, the mad scientist duck (?) in a wheelchair, and my new animated hero, the Oogie Boogie Man.
The story and the screenplay are rather sophisticated, and the animation a bit grotesque at times, so in my book that makes the story a delight for both adults and older, already-corrupted children. My only complaint is that the film wrapped up a bit too quickly with a rather abrupt ending. But, yes, I am now one of the converted… Nightmare is an enjoyable holiday film for the sick, twisted person in all of us!
It has certain taken long enough, but Disney has finally released a phancy-pants DVD version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is touted as the 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (and comes in an open-faced box with a plastic image of Jack Skellington that is bound to get his nose crushed in), but oddly enough has three discs. The third disc is Disney’s new Disneyfile Digital Copy, which will allow you to, errr, legally transfer the file to your PC, Mac, or other portable device. Anyways, as for the rest of the goodies on the two discs of the 2-Disc Collector’s Edition you will find a ton of stuff, including: a behind-the-scenes featurette; new audio commentary by Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, and Henry Sellick; Tim Burton’s original poem narrated by Christopher Lee with Burton’s original concept art (awesome!); deleted scenes; and two of Burton’s famous early short films, Frankenweenie (from 1984) and Vincent (1982). With even more than what I just listed to offer, this looks like the exhaustive collection that the fans have been waiting for! (And by the way, if you get motion-sick, you may not want to loiter on the menu screens too long. I’m just sayin’.)