The only reason this isn’t the ultimate Halloween movie is because it’s the ultimate HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS COMBINATION!
Gee, whiz. Halloweason is over now, but it sure was fun! The finale on my list is the incredibly popular Tim Burton masterpiece directed by Henry Selick. It’s funny, sweet, creepy, and has amazing, singable songs throughout. You can catch it on Disney+ this holiday season, but it’s honestly a great watch that shouldn’t be trapped to only cold weather watching.
***SPOILERS (but minimal)***
I don’t even remember the first time I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. It simply appeared in my life one day and never left. Chris Sarandon as Jack Skellington’s speaking voice and Danny Elfman as Jack’s singing voice make for an unforgettable combination, while Catherine O’Hara as Jack’s friend and love interest, a “rag doll” Frankenstein’s-monster type creation named Sally, is as soft and creeping as a midnight wind.
Jack is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, a title that pretty much just means he is the big guy in charge of making Halloween scary for the human world. But after a successful Halloween, Jack begins to feel a little listless in his career. So, Jack wanders all night–much to the dismay of Sally and the town–until he comes across a grove of trees with holiday doors on them, and he finds the enchanting Christmas Town.
The rest of the film is Jack’s awful attempt to recreate Christmas with himself as Sandy Claws (Santa Claus) and the rest of Halloween Town helping out. It goes awful. Terrible things happen. For instance, three little creepy henchman steal Santa from Christmas Town and deliver him not to Jack, but to their leader, a bug-filled bag man named Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) who is gross and sings one of the best songs in the movie.
Thankfully, Sally is able to keep Oogie from killing Santa too quickly, and Jack gets his head back on (haha) and realizes Halloween is his thing to do what he wishes, and he doesn’t need to take Christmas, too; Jack is able to save Santa and save Christmas! Don’t mind the fact that he’s also the one who ruined it.
The stop-motion of this movie is obviously old, but it still looks so good. There’s something so cool about the shapes and dimension of Halloween-y characters in stop motion that brings creepy movies back to the medium again and again (ParaNorman, Coraline, etc.) And the characters are really what drives this story, from Sally’s longing for freedom and desire to help her friends to the Mayor’s (Glenn Shadix) wild mood swings that are reflected in his spinning head and changing faces.
And, like I said, the music: the songs are spectacular. I sing them all year long. The tone, the voice work, the emotional tenacity–good stuff. It’s good stuff.
And best of all, it’s perfect for Halloween day, because CHRISTMAS! Even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good segue into winter festivities and family-focused celebration. Now that it’s November, winter holidays are going to start encroaching on all of your lives, so why not get started on the day right after Halloween?
Well, it’s been a lot of fun–most of the time–and I’m glad that I got to put my unending opinions somewhere other than my husband’s ears.
Until next time,