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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.49%
Average: 5.88%
Pretty Bad: 1.68%
Total Crap: 2.52%

3 reviews, 101 user ratings

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Nightmare Before Christmas, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Halloweentown as you've never seen it before."
5 stars

When it first came out in 1993, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" struck me as the ideal Tim Burton project in all the wrong ways: no humans, no actors, just spooky design and easily manipulable stop-motion figures. Time, however, has bestowed more charm on this macabre but ebullient musical fantasy. It's a Rankin-Bass holiday special filtered through Burton's manic-depressive sensibility; as such, it offers a wealth of offbeat pleasures, many of which are magnified by the film's new upgrade to "Disney Digital 3D."

After a newly 3D-ized version of John Lasseter's 1989 short "Knick Knack" (about a snowman trying to escape his snowglobe to get near a fetching femme figurine), the movie proper kicks in. What's nice about the new Nightmare Before Christmas is that it isn't fundamentally new at all; it hasn't been tarted up with new shots of things poking out at the audience (although when an object or character does make a move towards the "camera," the 3D remastering makes the most of it). Mostly, the technology adds an enchanting depth to the gothic landscapes and the shots teeming with bizarre characters. And the polarized glasses, much more advanced than the old red-and-blue cardboard things and big enough to fit over your own glasses if you wear them, won't leave you with a souvenir in the form of a headache.

The movie itself remains the same dark-and-light fable beloved by so many goths during the last thirteen years. Jack Skellington (speaking voice by Chris Sarandon, singing voice by Danny Elfman, who also composed the music and songs) is the "pumpkin king" of Halloweentown, the man responsible for bringing the very best in the ghastly and the morbid to the eager townspeople. Jack has grown weary of his job, though; he wants something more than the same old thing every October. He discovers a doorway to Christmasland, where Santa Claus prepares for his own yearly blowout. Jack decides to co-opt Christmas for his own purposes, over the objections of stitched-together Sally (Catherine O'Hara), who's infatuated with him.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is almost wall-to-wall songs, realized by Elfman in his usual bombastic mode; the former lead singer of Oingo Boingo is not your go-to guy when it comes to soft, subtle melodies (Sally's wistful number is the only real disappointment), but let him loose on the gleefully mischievous "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" ("Throw him in a box/Bury him for ninety years/Then see if he talks") or the rambunctious "Oogie Boogie's Song" ("Well if I'm feelin' antsy/And there's nothin' much to do/I might just cook a special batch/Of snake and spider stew") and Elfman's grinning-skull showman side pops out. Director Henry Selick, who later made James and the Giant Peach (let's pass over his live-action disaster Monkeybone in silence) and is now adapting Neil Gaiman's Coraline, gives the stop-motion characters as much heart and soul as they'll hold. The only thing sorely missing is a vocal cameo by the likes of Christopher Lee or Vincent Price (who died a couple of weeks after the film's October 13, 1993 premiere; I like to think Burton showed him a print beforehand).

The movie is a perfect Halloween perennial, just short enough not to wear out its welcome and just long enough to brushstroke its pagan vs. Christian subtext (the clear winner is neither — suggesting that the denizens of Samhain and Yule should stick to their specialties). It's been available on a nicely tricked-out DVD (which includes Burton's superb short films "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie") for years.

So should you make the trip to see it, again or for the first time, in 3D? Well, the other thing about the remastering job is that the digital projection makes this the sharpest version of "Nightmare Before Christmas" you're ever likely to see. This is a fine way to see the film for the first time, or with new eyes.

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originally posted: 10/23/06 08:05:37
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good visuals but overrrated imho 3 stars
1/17/16 Alexis H It's the creepy things that go bump in the night, finally brought into the light. 5 stars
6/12/15 stanley welles concise, elegant and endlessly delightful 5 stars
1/06/15 Mario is the Best I like the claymation and that stuff but too reliant on Halloween. 3 stars
5/28/12 Stefani K One of my favorite movies. Love watching it at Christmas. 5 stars
8/04/10 Lana Favorite movie ever. Clean and fun, dark, funny and full of heart. 5 stars
4/29/09 Stephen Classic movie in my opinion 5 stars
2/20/09 Anonymous. a good christmas movie but isn't great IMO, like alot of people say. 4 stars
3/24/08 KES This movie was awesome 5 stars
1/28/08 Pamela White origional and great animation 4 stars
10/20/07 Jiz 14 years later, this is still one of the best movies ever and true proof of Burton's genius 5 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega This worked very well because the creators know what to do. A masterpiece in animation. 4/5 4 stars
12/19/06 David Pollastrini very funny 3 stars
12/18/06 Fiq Gag's from heaven!!! 5 stars
12/08/06 verdania may it was awsome 5 stars
12/06/06 Sharon I really liked this movie. 4 stars
11/11/06 Kristina Cooney I love watching this movie anytime of the year 5 stars
11/04/06 becky this is destined to be polayed from halloween to christmas in our house 5 stars
11/02/06 KAREN MATLOCK Another classic 5 stars
10/28/06 DIANA LOVED THIS MOVIE 5 stars
10/27/06 Tiffany Losco When it first came out, I was alot younger, So it scared me. Now I think its funny. 4 stars
10/26/06 Jazmin Great movie! 3D version is okay. The snow at the end was cool but thats it. 5 stars
10/25/06 David Pollastrini very funny 3 stars
10/24/06 Drew G Great film, love the songs 5 stars
10/24/06 Pritchett Absolute genius. A classic in every way imaginable. 5 stars
10/24/06 michael classic flix 5 stars
10/11/06 Kevin Awesome Movie, I've known every line since I was 3. No animated films of today compare 5 stars
10/10/06 JH Simply Marvellous! 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Tim Burton is an artistic genius!!!!! 4 stars
6/16/06 Lauren abosolutly amazing for any huge Tim Burton fan like myself. 5 stars
5/18/06 Oceania Excellent; everyone must see this, and I don't care how sad that sounds! 5 stars
2/22/06 Laura Simply an excellent film! 5 stars
12/14/05 Cristina I love this movie 5 stars
12/11/05 chris a brilliant movie i loved every minute of it!! 5 stars
10/18/05 HL This is one of those 30 movies you keep forever. 5 stars
10/12/05 Spider I LOVE IT=^-^= 5 stars
9/25/05 D Buckley I thought I loved it, but it's actually kind of boring 3 stars
8/06/05 Zack Animated masterpiece! 5 stars
8/02/05 sbpat21 a masterpiece 5 stars
7/28/05 Wc vary imaginative and creative 4 stars
7/24/05 C Vega An alternative xmas movie but without a doubt Burtons masterpiece 5 stars
7/22/05 Jordan NBC(nighmare before christmas) was a great Tim Burton film 5 stars
5/06/05 Indrid Cold Weak plot compared to modern Pixar extravaganzas, but fast-paced and visually stunning. 4 stars
4/01/05 failingloser 5 stars
2/24/05 ELI underrated!!! Saw it 10 years ago and I still love it 5 stars
2/04/05 Mark D Fulwiler A wonderful film 5 stars
12/01/04 lolalaloca13 1 of 5 top fave films 5 stars
10/30/04 HL Holy Moly. I can't stop watching this! A Classic! 5 stars
10/22/04 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Tedious, overrated cult classic 2 stars
9/23/04 Brent manns A must for us each XMas 5 stars
9/04/04 T.B. It Great animated horror,fantasy and muscial film 5 stars
8/20/04 DM Good movie but geez guys, it's not THAT good 4 stars
5/29/04 Echo Loved it since '93! Shock's so cool! LOL 5 stars
3/23/04 Brandy LUV THIS MOVIE WATCH IT LIKE 10 TIMES A WEEK O.0 5 stars
2/08/04 ladeela of course its great, tim burton made it 5 stars
12/31/03 lauren b it is my favorite movie. jack rocks 5 stars
11/13/03 graffitty it's the best movie i have ever seen 5 stars
11/11/03 k SUCKED~ 1 stars
11/07/03 rosana totaly rocks my fave film 5 stars
10/28/03 me what a perfect movie 5 stars
10/20/03 Lauren I think that the nightmare before chrsitmas was a great movie and id love to see it again! 5 stars
10/18/03 Amechi Okoh I have seen this Movie it's the Bomb!!! 5 stars
8/21/03 Cooler_Queen Such a cute movie........ 5 stars
7/24/03 Kit Loved this movie from the first time I saw it.. 5 stars
4/23/03 Sven Was great 5 stars
2/26/03 Amanda Pichler Wow!!!! This movie is soooo good. I LOVE JACK SKELLINGTON!!! He's the coolest!!!!! 5 stars
1/05/03 Punk_Ass This is a cool movie. It suprised me, I didnt expect much but I ended up really loving it. 5 stars
11/04/02 CVJ Burtons done it again!! 5 stars
10/14/02 Holly Ludwick I love this movie. It has become something that will be a double holiday tradition. 5 stars
9/23/02 .Choadushouse. Absolutely stunning. This'll be one I keep to have my kids watch ritually! 5 stars
9/07/02 Matt Thats is the best movie of all time!!!! Tim Burton is the best. 5 stars
8/14/02 Interrog8 A real classic at any age. Tim Burton rules! 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Perfect for Halloween. 4 stars
12/05/01 wiggy 'kidnap the sandy claws?' the movie rocks, the puppets are great... amazingly original 5 stars
12/03/01 Jackie Skellington "Keep the Nightmare alive!" One for all and all for Boingo!!!!!!!! O.O 5 stars
11/25/01 Mathias Österman It's tht nicest puppet film I have seen, it kept me in suspence one Xmas some years ago. 5 stars
11/14/01 Zizzerzazzerzuzz It's a unique and strangely compelling world - wish he'd visit it again. 5 stars
11/03/01 Andrew Carden Some Of It Very Extremly Well Done, but Overall It's Very Dull. 3 stars
9/09/01 Melissa Great movie! Looks and sounds fabulous 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve I normally don't like musicals/holiday movies but this.... this... wow... "Fucking Awesome" 5 stars
7/04/01 the scarecrow STEVEN IN PRAUGE is an idiot, this is a classic Burton flick 5 stars
5/21/01 Ray McCoy It was a little too macabre for my tastes (and I'm a Burton fan!) 4 stars
2/25/01 Steve in Prague stupid movie, danny elfman sucks, tim burton should die already 1 stars
2/14/01 Richard Wright Incredible animation and really original, but story doesn't hold up after a second viewing. 4 stars
1/31/01 .Rhiannon. amazing. it literally opened my eyes to the world of tim burton. he's a filmmaking god. 5 stars
12/02/00 The Evil Penguin Boy in the Designer Bubble has no brain cells. This is one of Burton's finest works 5 stars
10/31/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Sorry, but I hated this movie. Rent Mad Monster Party. Way better flick. 1 stars
10/29/00 Jed An alright movie for old burton but not quite "Ed Wood" or "Pee-Wee" 4 stars
10/16/00 Brandon The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard 5 stars
10/16/00 TIM So incredibly creative.... one of my faves 5 stars
10/12/00 bob gray this movie kicks ass! 5 stars
9/17/99 Jason Kinsey pretty good film, I like Tim Burton's work 4 stars
5/18/99 hum looks great, but come on! those awful songs! 3 stars
3/08/99 Ben Timms TERRIFFIC film!! great for kids and adults. 5 stars
1/02/99 MFGIT Makes you laugh, cry, think and get laid. Yep. 5 stars
12/05/98 Scion of Sailor Jupiter Tim Burton is the Bizzar-Comedy GOD! 5 stars
11/17/98 Jules Even brilliant animation aside; original and cool and very imaginative 5 stars
10/29/98 Silent Rob 100% pure imagination.Burton crawled into the kid korners of the brain and sent a postcard 5 stars
9/28/98 jasper it's a cartoon for fucks sake 2 stars
9/08/98 Young Einstein A pretty darn good film. Pity Burton doesn't do them anymore. 4 stars
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  29-Oct-1993 (PG)



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