Halloween Movie Countdown #7 – The Nightmare Before Christmas

#7 – The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993

Kidnap the Sandy Claws

Beat him with a stick!

Lock him up for ninety years

See what makes him tick!”

I have never been sure if The Nightmare Before Christmas is supposed to be classified as a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie.  But I only have the urge to watch it at Halloween, and never at Christmas.  So, Halloween it is.

The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King, who hails from Halloween Town.  Although Jack is seen as the rock star of Halloween Town’s yearly festivities, he has grown bored with repeating the same routine.  After the most recent Halloween has been completed, Jack goes for a walk in the woods.  There he discovers a grove of trees with symbols of other holidays drawn on them.  He approaches the one with a Christmas tree on it, which turns out to be a portal to Christmas Town.  Jack is in awe with what he witnesses.  He returns to Halloween Town and tries to relate what he has just seen.  Soon, he convinces the residents of Halloween Town that they should be the ones to carry out Christmas, and give Sandy Claws (Santa Clause) a break this year.

Tim Burton‘s idea for The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem that he wrote while working as an animator for Walt Disney in the early eighties.  He initially intended to adapt it into a televison special that would be narrated by Vincent Price.  Burton was inspired by the popular animated Christmas specials of the sixties, such as Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  He was in talks with Disney to do this, but development eventually stalled as the company deemed the project’s tone and direction to be a little too weird for its tastes.  Shortly thereafter, Burton left Disney to work on other projects, finding commercial success on Beetlejuice and Batman.  After making more of a name for himself, he was able to return to the idea in 1990, but Disney still owned the rights to the project.  He would collaborate with Disney animator, Henry Selick, to produce a full length film.  Burton was too busy with Batman Returns and seemed too put off by the potential frustrations involved with stop-animation to direct, so that job fell to Selick.  Renowned movie musical maestro, Danny Elfman, was responsible for the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas.  He even provided Jack’s singing voice.

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