[Movie Review] The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) ★★★★★

The Nightmare Before Christmas enchants with a dark adventure and delightful characters. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion animated movie full with humor, horror songs and a thrilling adventure. It’s a dark fairytale musical with great characters and it’s both a Halloween movie as well as a Christmas movie. The designs of the characters, the settings and the whole new created world of Halloween Town is stunning and the characters are wonderful little devilish things. But it has more to offer, it also has romance and heroic actions to save Christmas. It’s an amazing movie with wonderful storytelling to watch with the whole family during Halloween or Christmas or both and that will enchant both young and old alike. 

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Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. But Jack is a bit tired of every year the same scares and when he finds a door in the magical forest that leads him to Christmas Town it brings him a wonderful idea. He wants to take over all this joy and happiness. But things don’t go as planned and Sally, slave and creation of Dr Finklestein is the only one who can warn Jack that he’s not doing the right thing. When Jack also kidnaps Santa Claus and calls himself Sandy Claws, she has to hurry to save both Halloween and Christmas.

Why you should watch it

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a wonderful magical tale full of great songs and a macabre adventure. Each character is wonderfully designed and both Halloween Town that screams Halloween and darkness and the joyous happy Christmas Town are opposites but both magical and so rich in details. Jack is the main character but not the hero of the story. While he means well, he is the one who messes everything up. Sally is the real hero of the story who loves Jack and who wants to believe in him, but also wants to protect him from himself, while he doesn’t even notices her. He is too absorbed with Christmas. It’s as well his as her story and that makes it more interesting.  

The characters of Halloween Town are very creatively designed. The evil looking Dr Finklestein, the Mayor with his different heads for each mood, the three masked kids Lock, Shock and Barrel and of course the wonderful creepy Mr Oogie Boogie. And of course there are witches, werewolves, vampires, ghouls and much more. Sally is made from different parts and sometimes even a limb falls off, but that also can come in handy, quite literally even. Jack is skinny and bony and tall and with his skeleton head he truly looks like a majestic figure. His dog Zero with his red glowing nose and his ghostly appearance is his loyal companion. All these characters form a wonderful story that is as enchanting and magical as it can be scary. Although these characters can look scary, they are also very funny and act with some dark humor. The only one who’s actually really scary and the villain who has to be defeated, is Mr Oogie Boogie and his liar is very different but amazingly made with neon lights and black lights and tripping effects. It adds a surreal vibe to the story.

The stop-motion figures are wonderfully crafted and do come to life with sardonic glee and the Halloween Towners are in big contrast to the elves in Christmas Town. The people from Halloween Town are the most uniquely created characters that are the foundation of the story. That goes for the Town as well, that is so originally detailed and creates a whole new universe of Halloween. Christmas Town feels very familiar and happy and the children to whom Jack brings his deadly gifts are very normally shaped. So it differentiates between different worlds. 

The overall story is a mix of Christmas and Halloween and this is increased by the wonderful songs mostly sung by Jack. They explain and embellish the scenes and each song feels like an essential element of the story. It enhances the atmosphere of the scene and can be either very uplifting or sombre and it’s shot in an amazing style that’s fast paced and playful. With great storytelling, this serves as both a Halloween tale as a Christmas tale all in one, but definitely brings the true Christmas Spirit alive. 

Although it looks dire for Santa and Christmas, Sally and Jack manage to save Christmas and get treated to a beautiful Christmas of their own in Halloween Town. It’s a fun adventure with wonderful characters that offers a lot of entertainment. 

My favorite part

I loved the demure part of Sally. A tragic figure that normally can’t amount to anything but in the end she’s the one who helps Jack to save Christmas and Halloween. But each song is wonderful too and will stick in your head long after the film is over and it has come to a happy ending for everyone. The unconventional choice to change up the style and atmosphere with Mr Oogie Boogie will bring some scary moments for children but not too much so it’s a fun scare. And of course Lock, Shock and Barrel are the mischievous kids who are a bit ambiguous. It’s a film that will both enchant the young and the old and the horror fans and the Christmas fans alike.  


Rating: ★★★★★

Fun factor: ★★★★★

Epic factor: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

The Nightmare before Christmas is directed by Henry Selick and written by Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell and Tim Burton. It stars Danny Elfman (Jack Skellington singing voice), Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington), Catherine OHare (Sally), William Hickey (Finklestein), Glenn Shadix (Mayor), Ken Page (Oogie Boogie) and Ed Ivory (Santa).

Duration: 74 minutes. Music: Danny Elfman. Cinematography: Pete Kozachik. Edited by: Stan Webb. Produced by: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi. Production company: Touchstone Pictures, Skellington Productions. Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Check the trailer below

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