With the voices of Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman, Ken Page, Glen Shadix, William Hickey, Paul Reubens
Directed by Henry Selick
Style: Stop-Motion
Reviewed by JB

     By 1993, director Tim Burton was on a serious creative roll, with PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD SCIZZORHANDS and two blockbuster Batman films under his belt.  Due to his commitments to BATMAN RETURNS, he could not direct his pet project THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but stylistically it is still as much of a Tim Burton film as any of the others mentioned above.  NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is Burton's lovingly warped take on some of the beloved Rankin and Bass stop-motion Christmas specials, with a little of MAD MONSTER PARTY thrown in, as well as bits of THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, FRANKENSTEIN, German expressionism... you name it, you'll probably find it somewhere in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

     The story is something that Rankin and Bass themselves would have had fun with.  Jack Skellington, the good-hearted pumpkin king of Halloween Town, accidentally discovers Christmas and decides he loves it even more than Halloween.  His plan to kidnap Santa Claus (or "Sandy Claws") and take over Christmas goes awry when his own strange toys cause a panic among children and adults alike.  When Jack goes back to get the real Santa in order to restore Christmas, he discovers that the jolly old elf in now in the clutches of the evil and murderous Oogy Boogy.  This slim plot would have made a fine hour long special.  It is stretched to two hours by Danny Elfman's songs, which turn THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS into something of an operetta.  None of them are all that memorable, but, as in THE WIZARD OF OZ, they do move the story along painlessly, and the set designs, characters and almost nonstop weirdness of Tim Burton's imagination make THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS a cult classic worthy of watching on Christmas, Halloween, or any day in between. 

     Ironically, this stop-motion masterpiece, which took three years to complete, came just two years before TOY STORY, the computer-animated film that essentially replaced stop-motion.  4 - JB    

Animation  The Secret Vortex


"Jack, please, I'm only an elected official here, I can't make decisions by myself! "