#242 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)



76 Minutes

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Tim Burton, Michael McDowell, Caroline Thompson

Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

Storyline: “Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.” IMDB


Brit Boy:

I’m not sure how, but I have managed to travel through life thus far without having seen this movie, released in 1993 looking back I guess I was too busy partying in my first year at University to go to the movies. Never-the-less I have heard great things about this movie and I am looking forward to watching it.

American Girl:

I have seen this movie before, many times.  “Jack Skellington” is one of my favorite Disney characters and I still regret not buying a pair of “Jack” pajamas I saw on a trip to Disneyland many years ago…  I have not watched this movie recently, so I am looking forward to sitting down with it again with a more critical eye.

Were they like these?


Set the Scene

I am about six months pregnant, as my fiancé and I snuggle up on the sofa to watch this movie.  We were trying to wait for a time to watch it with all the kids, but life with six kids (and one on the way!) is VERY busy.  So we decided to watch it together one night once all the “children were nestled all snug in their beds”….

In a way I’m glad that we are watching this alone (shhh… don’t tell the kids), as its always nice to watch films with a fresh pair of eyes and without the constant dialog of questions one gets from our little monsters (like the maintenance of the Halloween theme…. ☺ )

Final Cut

This movie is dubbed as a “Fantasy Musical” and was released in 1993 (wow, I feel old now, I swear it was released only a few years ago)…  Granted after all that time, it still fails to disappoint!  Tim Burton was able to capture such a timeless feel with his characters, including the lanky Pumpkin King Jack Skellington, and the whimsical rag doll Sally.  This movie is made with the use of stop motion photography that I am guessing was pretty cutting edge when this was released over 20 years ago.

American Girl, I hate to burst your bubble but stop action cinematography has been around for a while, I know we have been on a hiatus since our last blog posts but King Kong used this in 1933. The difference I think though is in Tim Burton’s cinematography, at no point do you feel that you are watching something that you are not wholly part of. From the very start I was dragged into the bizarre world of Jack and Sally.

Brit Boy you are correct!  I should have remembered about King Kong considering we only recently reviewed that movie as well.

The storyline itself is nothing spectacular, albeit a cute play on the famous book “The Night Before Christmas”.  It is also quite ingenious to have a movie covering two major holidays (thus capitalizing on profits generated at both Halloween and Christmas).  It is still a well-written story, no major surprises, and pretty standard Disney fair.  What makes this movie so special however are all of the extras.


The Nightmare Before Christmas originated as a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The poem can be found here:

All of the characters are so distinct and seem as standalone works of art.  They include such detail.  (Which is probably the reason Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise is still top selling at the Disney store.  In fact, I even saw some items depicting Jack Skellington at Target this year around Halloween.) Tim Burton however didn’t just stop with the characters; the scenery, town, “props”, all have the same level of detail.  It is a visual masterpiece.


I think this is an instance where watching this in Blu-Ray definitely enhanced the enjoyment of the film. Even though we were watching the 20th Anniversary addition there was never a feeling of this being dated in fact it was as bright and colorful / gloomy and dark as if we had seen it at the cinema at its release, maybe even more so.

One of my favorite things about this movie is the soundtrack!  The songs are beautifully done and have become very recognizable through the years.  “This is Halloween” is probably the most well known and a must play for any Halloween party.  

I agree the score is especially wonderful, it is interesting to note that for the special release of the soundtrack in 2006, Marilyn Manson covered this song.

This movie definitely deserves a spot on the list.  Tim Burton isn’t lacking a single element and it is definitely not your standard animated feature.  In fact, I would say despite its PG rating that it appeals more to an adult audience.  If you have not had the chance to see this movie you are definitely missing out, and should add it to your must see list around Halloween.

I certainly will be watching this again (maybe even with the little monsters). It’s one of those timeless films which could certainly become a staple in our house come the holiday season (whether that is Christmas or Halloween).

Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough

Sir Richard Attenborough and Tim Burton have both won British Film Institute Fellowships, in 1992 and 2012 respectively.

This entry was posted in IMDB Top 250, IMDB Top 250 Movie Review, The Nightmare Before Christmas and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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