12/26/14

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS - REVIEW


What's this?!

A movie that's both perfect for Christmas AND Halloween, not to mention a treat for Burtonites and Oingo Boingo aficionados?

What.

Is.

This?

It's The Nightmare Before Christmas, of course. Henry Selick's stop-motion Disney classic based on the gothic surrealism of Tim Burton who contributed the story and the characters while Danny Elfman not only took on the music and the lyrics but voiced the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington, during the songs with Chris Sarandon on voicing duties the rest of the time. The film quickly became a Christmas and Halloween tradition since its plot cleverly merged both holidays in a unique way without coming off as overly gimmicky. After a thrilling opening number, "This Is Halloween", which introduces us to Halloweentown and its spooky inhabitants (vampires, witches, you name it), we finally meet Skellington, the bony showman who has been making the best out of every single Halloween, wowing the townsfolk every time. Unfortunately Jack's hit a rut and has grown so tired of the same old thing... (his words).

After a long night of walking through the woods, he finds a tree with a bunch of doors and one of them leads him to a world so unlike his own he simply can't believe his eyes: Christmas Town. Soon enough, he becomes determined to use the whole Christmas thing as a way to spice up his routine, even going as far as to kidnap Santa "Sandy Claws" Claus and stealing his job. Of course, the spirit of Halloween doesn't quite merge with the spirit of Christmas and Jack's venture becomes a doomed one very quickly. The film is a stop-motion gem packed full of impressive animation, nifty little details and many memorable characters (a lot of them voiced by Burton regulars) from mad scientist Doctor Finklestein's creation/love interest Sally (Catherine O'Hara) who can detach and re-attach her limbs at will to the villainous Oogie Boogie (Ken Page), a bug-infested, gambling Boogeyman who doesn't play fair.

It's a shame Henry Selick's name often gets overlooked since, although this is very much Tim Burton's creation and his world, Selick does all the hard work here and he knocks it out of the park to say the least, the film still not feeling dated to this day. This is, however, well and truly Danny Elfman's baby: each song is appropriately dark and mischievous, not to mention catchy-as-hell, tons of fun and full of playful, poetically macabre lyrics. Elfman may have been responsible for some pretty iconic scores but this will always be his little masterpiece.

What more can I say about The Nightmare Before Christmas? It's the perfect holiday classic: it's gothic and kinda twisted but also bursting with Christmas spirit. It's got a genius concept, it looks amazing, it sounds amazing, it's very funny, heartfelt not to mention original.

What's this?

This is one nightmare I never tire of revisiting.

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