“Jack, I’m only an elected official here. I can’t make decisions by myself.”
Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) is Jack the “Pumpkin King”. He presides over Halloween Town. Each year Jack and the literally two faced Mayor (Glen Shadix) plan all the celebrations for Halloween. Jack has grown tired of the same old Halloween events. Bored he and his ghost dog zero wander through the forest all night long.
In the morning Jack finds himself in a part of the forest he’s never been in. In front of him are trees marked with symbols of different holidays. The symbols are doors to various different holiday towns. When he sees one with a symbol of a Christmas tree on it he opens the door and finds himself in Christmas Town. Jack gets excited by the unfamiliar holiday.
He returns to Halloween Town with Christmas items. Jack decides that he wants to take over Christmas so he organizes the residents of Halloween Town to create whatever is needed. Unfortunately the creatures of Halloween Town incorporate their own ideas of how Christmas should be. Dr. Finklestein, the mad scientist, creates skeleton reindeer to pull Jack’s coffin sleigh. Others create horror toys.
Sally (Catherine O’Hara) is Dr. Finklestein’s stitched together creation. She is tasked with sewing a red outfit for Jack to wear. Sally also has premonitions. She foretells disaster ahead for Jack. He dismisses her concerns and has Santa, who he believes is called Sandy Claws, kidnapped so that he can take his place. Naturally Jack’s Christmas Eve trip ends up a mess. Jack realizes that he’s not cut out to be Santa but now Santa is in the grip of Oogie Boogie (Ken Page), the boogieman. Santa is in serious danger.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” AKA “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” was released in 1993 and was directed by Henry Selick. It is a stop motion animated fantasy film and a dark musical. The film is also Disney’s first stop motion film. It is based on a poem by Tim Burton and was produced by Burton and Denise Di Novi. The film was distributed by Touchstone Pictures which is the adult division of Disney Productions. Disney felt it may be too scary for their normal children target audience. When it became a bit hit it was later re-released under Disney’s banner.
The original score was done by Danny Elfman. He did ten songs for the film. Danny also did the singing voice for Jack Skellington. He said it was one of the easiest jobs he’d ever had. He stated that he had a lot in common with Jack. He’s right. He was awesome. Chris Sarandon was cast as Jack Skellington’s speaking voice because his voice matched the singing voice of Danny Elfman.
Patrick Stewart recorded narration for a prologue and epilogue. While not used in the final scene of the film, the narration is included on the soundtrack album.
It took a group of about 120 people three and a half years to complete this movie. For one second of film, up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made. The creators completed about one minute of film per week.
This movie was a delight. The characters in Halloween Town cover just about every horror creature I’ve ever seen in films. Everything from your basic vampires, witches and werewolves to creepy kids, clowns and in-bred hatchet wielders. The array of Halloween creatures is dazzling. A lot of detail went into the creatures as well as the look of Halloween Town itself.
The main question, of course, is whether “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. It is pretty much guaranteed that it is enjoyable for either holiday.