The North Pole is abuzz with activity as the big guy and his reindeer team are about ready to roll. But I think we can all remember one particular Christmas when a certain Pumpkin King made Santa’s trip a little difficult. Today’s Slay… The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Easily one of the most beloved holiday films for horror fans, not only has the exquisite vision that is The Nightmare Before Christmas become iconic, it also kept Hot Topic in business until Harry Potter and Twilight came along. It’s a beautiful love story that is appropriate for everyone from children to adults, and the best part…it’s all about horror! However, in the gentlest of ways.
From the two-faced Mayor to the werewolves, vampires and (my personal favorite) the Tor Johnson-esque guy with the axe in his head (“BUNNY!”), everyone has their most beloved Nightmare Before Christmas character. Danny Elfman’s music is brilliant, and the story is simple, yet powerful. To strive for something impossible, something out of reach, only to find that what we had all along was pretty damn good. Perfect, actually.
An army of artists worked to create this marvel of a film, and it’s been embraced by legions of fans. And the fact that you can put it in at any time and notice something that you’ve never seen before is amazing. It happens to me all the time. The detail is fantastic, and to think this was filmed by stop-motion photography is absolutely mind-blowing.
In the 20 years since the film was released (yep, it’s been 20 years), Jack Skellington has become a classic character. He is a representative of Halloween, and his dabble in Christmas makes him a two-holiday star (like the Bo Jackson of festive dates). Jack is loving and deep, but with an ill-conceived move one can quickly find out just what makes Jack the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. He definitely has a mean streak in him. Just ask Lock, Shock and Barrel. Grrr!
And those three impish little ne’er-do-wells lead us to the true sinister force in Halloween Town, the ferocious, but surprisingly musically gifted, Oogie Boogie. Perhaps no scene in The Nightmare Before Christmas is as visually stunning as Oogie’s song to Santa Claus (Claws?) and the daring escape Jack and Sally execute to save the beloved jolly old fellow. Oogie’s casino-themed den with trippy fluorescent paint and Day of the Dead inspired skeletons is a wonder to behold. It is truly a treasure within a treasure. And the song is pretty damn good, too…“Well, well, well. What have we here? Santa Claws, huh? Ooo, I’m really scared!”
Although the brilliant Tim Burton tried to recapture the magic of The Nightmare Before Christmas in the animated, re-animated love story The Corpse Bride, it didn’t have that…je ne sais quoi…that makes The Nightmare Before Christmas such an outstanding film. There’s something about Jack – his vulnerability, his obsession, his enthusiasm, his fearlessness – that makes him such a magnetic and powerful character.
At a quick glance by an unknowing eye, The Nightmare Before Christmas may appear to be nothing more than a simple children’s holiday movie. But as we look deeper into what went into the making of this film, we realize that it is truly Burton’s masterpiece. The most glorious achievement from a director that has based his career on bringing us the darker side of things, but often with a glimmer of hope mixed in. And with The Nightmare Before Christmas he does this in the most amazing and glorious way. Merry Christmas, Dreaddies.
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