Today! Because you aren’t comprehending the position that you’re in –
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Directed by Henry Selick
Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory, Greg Proops
As the years have gone by, The Nightmare Before Christmas has become more and more a vehicle to sell tie-in merchandise. Disney’s not one to let these sort of opportunities slide, so even though it was fairly successful in its initial release, it quickly morphed into something very different. And it’s nice that this movie found an audience – it is a terrific piece of ghoulish fun – but I do think the movie itself tends to get a bit lost in all the Halloween costumes, figurines, and whatnot.
This wonderfully dark musical poses one of the more interesting holiday conundrums this side of Die Hard – is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie? Is it a Halloween movie? It’s kind of both, which effectively makes it neither, as the things that fundamentally bind a movie to a holiday mostly come from a spirit and a tone, and these holidays have enough differences to cancel each other out, I feel. But hey, watch them at either or both, given your preference! Feel free to enjoy things without judgment! Danny Elfman’s songs are terrific, the voice cast is first rate, and the Tim Burton-ness of the whole thing came at just the right period in time – after he’d really defined it with Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, and before it devolved into self parody with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.
And really, it couldn’t get one Oscar nomination for Best Song? “This is Halloween”? “What’s This?” “Oogie Boogie’s Song?” Come on! No, it got a lone nomination for Visual Effects – still pretty impressive considering it’s a stop motion film. But let’s toss it Best Song Threatening Santa Violence! Also, Best Ghost Dog, as Zero gets too often overlooked, in my opinion. You know what? Zero – movie MVP!