The Nightmare Before Christmas

Laura Clifford
Robin Clifford

Touchstone Pictures is rereleasing one of its modern classic this holiday season, "Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas," in which Jack Skellington (speaking Chris Sarandon/singing Danny Elfman) yearns to ditch his Halloween gig and dispense gifts from a sleigh, even if it is drawn by skeletal reindeer.

Laura:
Tim Burton's 1994 production was directed by an animation friend of his, Henry Selick, from 10 yrs before when Burton was a Disney animator but it has Burton written all over it. Disney didn't want it back then but became very interested when their young animator turned into the director of Batman.

Skellington, voiced by Chris Sarandon, is the Pumpkin King and ruler of Halloween land, where the Halloween holiday is worked on all year by its strange inhabitants. Jack's getting bored, though, when an accidental trip to Christmas Land inspires him - why not take over this new fun holiday and let Sandy Claws have a rest this year! Jacks sends his best trick or treaters, Lock, Shock and Barrel, out to kidnap the old man.

Lock, Shock and Barrel eventually get it right, and even though his admirer Sally has premonitions of doom, Jack proceeds with his Christmas production. Unfortunately, his experience isn't what's required of this job - the results are unusual.

This is an amazing looking film. The stop motion animation required a painstaking five days for five seconds of footage. With a crew of fourteen animators working on twenty sets, moving puppets a fraction of an inch at a time, it took one week for every minute of this 75 minute film. Their labor of love paid off.

Long time Burton collaberator Danny Elfman not only wrote the score and song lyrics, but the former Oingo Boingo frontman did Jack Skellington's singing as well. The tunes are memorable.

This one shouldn't scare children any more than "The Grinch that Stole Christmas," which would make a great double bill with this film. I know I had a grin on my face throughout. It may be a weird holiday pairing, but it works!

A

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