When the folks at Disney greenlit The Nightmare Before Christmas, there had to be a few eyebrows raised. A movie where Halloween is celebrated all year-round, animation that relies heavily on dark, gothic themes, and the word nightmare in the title?
Would this become the type of movie filmmakers dream of making or a complete and total … well … nightmare?
Of course, we’re 25 years into the future and know now that Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t just a fanciful adventure into Halloweentown. It’s the sort of cult classic that has a fan base that’s intensely loyal and set on spreading the love.
Despite the name and even Burton’s attachment, Nightmare is a delight, a film packed with kooky characters who are at their hearts sweet and sensitive, just a bunch of skeleton pumpkin creatures with hopes and dreams just like us.
These days you can’t walk into a Hot Topic or into a group of tweens without being treated to Jack, Sally, and the whole gang on t-shirts, Pop Sockets, and plenty more sweet but spooky merchandise.
And now there’s another must have for Nightmare fans on the horizon. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the film, Disney is dropping a brand new Blu-Ray. Disney sent over a copy of the 25th Anniversary version of the film so we could see if it lives up to fans’ hopes.
First, and perhaps most appealing for Nightmare lovers, is the addition of a sing-along version of the film. Although the original, full-length film is included in the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, a second version comes with pop-up lyrics so you can hook your friends on This Is Halloween, What’s This and Sally’s Song faster via easy-to-read lyrics.
Danny Elfman’s music brings a lightness to the dark backdrop of Nightmare. No matter how spooky things got on screen, you can always depend on the characters bursting into song to get you up on your feet and dancing around.
Second is the movie itself. Twenty-five years in, we’re seeing more and more of our old favorites don’t stand up when brought out under the bright lights of 2018. But the story of an outsider trying to find something more in life beyond the hand he was dealt is as relevant, if not more today, especially to adolescents. We were all Jack Skellington at one point, tired of our hometown’s Halloween obsession and wondering if we’ll ever get out of this place. We all know a kid who is right there on the precipice of discovering there’s a Christmastown just around the corner. And we all hope to find a way to make sense of our place as pumpkin king (or something like it).
If you’re not already a Nightmare fan, watch the original film once. Then turn on the sing-along version to truly immerse yourself in Halloweentown. But don’t wait until Halloween, or Christmas for that matter.
Nightmare is a film that’s made for watching all year-round, if only to remind us that where there’s darkness, there’s often light too.
In “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Jack Skellington (singing voice of Elfman and speaking voice of Chris Sarandon), Halloweentown’s beloved Pumpkin King, is bored with the same old annual scare-and-scream routine and longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his newfound obsession puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere. Jack is surrounded by a creepy and captivating cast of characters, including Sally (voice of Catherine O’Hara), a resourceful rag doll that has trouble fitting in, like her good friend Jack; mad scientist Dr. Finklestein (voice of William Hickey); the two-faced Mayor of Halloweentown (voice of Glenn Shadix); Oogie Boogie (voice of Ken Page), a rambling, gambling bag of bugs; and Lock (voice of Paul Reubens), one in a trio of trick-or-treating troublemakers.