In the Philippines, we haven’t really celebrated Halloween until fairly recently. Typically, the only reason why we find October 31 so special since the next couple of days are non-working holidays over here. So, the concept of dressing up in costumes and going door to door looking of treats is a foreign concept to most people here.
However, we do celebrate the heck out of Christmas! In fact, department stores and shopping complexes would start putting up Christmas decorations as early as September. It’s actually commonplace to see Halloween decorations side by side with Christmas ornaments over here! This is why, when I watched The Nightmare before Christmas, I didn’t find it extremely odd.
The Nightmare Before Christmas comes from the wonderfully twisted mind of Tim Burton. It’s definitely not your typical Christmas tale, to say the least. The movie has Jack Skellington (the Pumpkin King and the Spirit of Halloween) accidentally visiting Christmas Town and falls in love with the holiday. Although he doesn’t fully understand the idea of Christmas, Jack takes it upon himself to take control of Christmas and “improve” upon it.
The story itself is pretty ingenious. The idea of mixing up two holidays that are total opposites from each other has a lot of potential. While it does manage to pull it off sometimes, there are some times when it felt like they could have done a lot more. I’m not saying it doesn’t get crazy (the scene where Jack Skellington starts delivering gifts to the children all over the world is a prime example). But some of the earlier parts (like when Jack conducts various experiments as to how Christmas works) should have benefited from more wackiness.
The animation is not going to be for everyone. I personally love stop motion animation; the jerky movements look great and give the film character. It also makes the film look kind of frightening (which is good for the scenes in Halloween Town). However, in this age of CGI graphics and animation, I’m not sure if kids (or current audiences) will feel about the obviously choppy motions.
The sets and appearance of the characters are great. Jack Skellington moves like some kind of stick insect, which matches his character. They make use of Sally’s “rag doll” look to great effect. Halloween Town and Christmas Town look like fantastic places to visit as well. The only character designs I didn’t like belong to Lock, Shock and Barrel. While the other residents of Halloween Town are based on monsters, the trio are just ordinary children in Halloween costumes. They just seem out of place.
The music of The Nightmare Before Christmas, for the most part, are enjoyable. Songs like “This is Halloween,” “Oogie Boogie’s Song,” “Town Meeting Song” and, of course, “What’s This?” are great little ditties and memorable. Sadly, there are some songs that don’t match their quality. “Sally’s Song” is just grating. It’s not a bad song and is actually necessary as it conveys Sally’s thoughts but the singing isn’t that great.
The Nightmare of Christmas may not be a good choice to show very young kids as they may actually be scared of the idea of mixing up Halloween and Christmas together. But it’s a great film to show kids when they do get older. It could have been a little more insane but it’s possible making it too crazy may make it too much for its target audience.
It’s actually something I watch every year on Christmas (even if it is technically a Halloween film). It’s the first movie I got on Blu-Ray (the collector’s edition, no less!) and I still enjoy it even 10 years after its release in 1993. The Nightmare of Christmas is an excellent film and something that you need to watch at least once in your life. Not just because it’s a great film but because it’s a great thing to experience.
Have you watched The Nightmare of Christmas? What did you think of the film? Let me know what you think of it by filling up the comments section below!