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A mix of magic, darkness, Halloween, Christmas, the jolly guy, and an interesting skeleton you have a masterpiece
Kristine19 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Nightmare Before Christmas is such a classic movie that will always hold a special place in my heart, even if the new emo generation is claiming hold of it, they do realize that this film was made years before, right? Moving on, this is one of my favorite movies of all time, it's a wonderful and charming movie that is original, funny, and moving. I think the reason this movie still stands the test of time is because this was a personal treasure of Tim Burton's. You can tell the love that was put into this film, it's incredible the way that it was made and the soundtrack is one of the best albums of all time. All the characters are lovable and a pleasure to watch as they bring this dark comedic tale to life.

Halloween Town is a dream world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Jack Skellington leads them in a frightful celebration every Halloween, but he has grown tired of the same routine year after year. Wandering in the forest outside the town center, he accidentally opens a portal to "Christmas Town". Impressed by the feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his understanding of the holiday to the Halloween Town residents. They fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything he says to their idea of Halloween. He reluctantly decides to play along and announces that they will take over Christmas. Every resident is assigned a task, while Sally, a rag doll woman who is created by the town's mad scientist, begins to feel a romantic attraction towards Jack. However, she alone fears that his plans will become disastrous. Christmas Eve he begins to deliver presents to children around the world, but the gifts: shrunken heads, Christmas tree-eating snakes, only terrify the recipients. Realizing what damage he did Jack attempts to fix what he has done, but has to make sure to make Santa safe and happy again.

People who do not enjoy this movie, I don't understand how you could not honestly. It's such a charming movie and very unforgettable, I was 10 years old when I first saw this in the theater in 1995, I still watch it every year for Halloween and even Christmas. My sister and I are grown women, but if I slip in the soundtrack, we become kids again and start singing to The Boogey Song. I do admit that Spencer's Gifts and Hot Topic have over blown on the Nightmare Before Christmas memorabilia, but everyone wants something from this movie because it's just that memorable and you can't help but fall in love with it. It's positively magical, Jack Skeleton is awesome and can steal any holiday any time, I loved his ideas personally, Easter is next!

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Wonderfully imaginative animation, fun & intelligent songs make for a great family film for all but the youngest children
bob the moo2 November 2004
Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King – the creative genius behind the holiday of Halloween, designing each year to be scarier and more horrible than the one before. However deep inside he longs for more than the horror and scares of Halloween Town, a longing he cannot understand until he stumbles into Christmas Town and sees happiness and cheer the likes of which has evaded him all these years. Having finally worked out what Christmas is all about, Jack decides to kidnap Santa and make himself the new king of Christmas Town so that he can have the happiness of Christmas all the time. But the others in the towns realize the significant consequences that this disruption of the norm will have as Jack's evil nature proves harder to overcome than he thought.

With Pixar currently dominating the world of 'animations that please both children and adults' it is easy to forget that over a decade ago Tim Burton delivered this delightful family film to the cinema using a much more traditional animation and a huge amount of imagination. The basic plot is a great little fantasy fairytale with a very dark heart to it that make it much more enjoyable for having that edge. Too often kids films (especially at the time and animated) are soaked in a sweet sentiment that simply forgets that kids are not stupid and indeed often prefer a bit of darkness in the story. The only downside of this darkness is that younger children might not 'get it' and just end up being scared by the Halloween images and imaginative images. Despite this the material will play equally well to adults and children because it neither panders to nor excludes one group over the other at any time. Regardless of the material, the film still manages to come off as charming and enjoyable thanks to a well-written script that never plays for the basic laugh or easy sentiment. Some viewers may come to this with Pixar in their minds and bemoan it for not being hilariously funny from start to finish, but they are missing the point and

The songs reflect this approach and are very clever throughout; whether it is the sorrowful longing of Jack at the start or the Cab Calloway-inspired song from Oogie Boogie Man, generally they are inventive and fun. The same praise can be laid at the door of the stop-motion animation, which is inventive and fun to look at from start to finish. All the characters have a great deal of effort put in and they add to the dark feel of the film. The voice cast may not feature a load of well-known voices in the same way as Pixar films generally do, but they still do a great job. Sarandon and Elfman combine to do a good job with Jack; Page is fun as Oogie Boogie; O'Hara is good as Sally despite not having as fun a character to work with but for my money it is Hickey (as Dr Finklestein) and Shadix (Mayor) that make the biggest impression, mainly due to having the most enjoyable characters.

Overall this is a very short but very enjoyable film that will please both children and adults at the same time (with the same material) and never ignores or panders to one side of the audience over the other. Both groups will appreciate the dark fairytale, the clever songs, the darkly imaginative animation and the comic sense of humour, making this a family film that deserves to be remembered even as kids movie get smarter and fancier.
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Burton's "Nightmare" is a dream come true
dee.reid10 December 2004
By 1993, director Tim Burton was such a successful filmmaker in Hollywood that he was able to return to one of his most beloved early projects, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." It's certainly an inspired movie, as it is also very weird, and when I say "weird," I mean it's distinctly Burton.

Even though it was directed with enough competency by Henry Selick, this groundbreaking stop-motion animation film is Burton all the way, as it contains ample "esque" qualities that make this "Nightmare" uniquely his vision.

As the film opens in the twisted, "Burton"-esque village of "Halloweentown," Jack Skellington, who is dually voiced by Chris Sarandon and longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman, is celebrating another "horrible" Halloween. You'll be shocked and amazed at some of the town's inhabitants, who include jazz-playing zombies, Four Tenor-like vampires, a wolf man, and a wheelchair-bound scientist who occasionally opens up his cranium to (literally) scratch his brain; his creation, a Frankenstein-like scarecrow named Sally (Catherine O'Hara), yearns for contact with others and is quite fond of Jack Skellington.

But Jack's quickly growing tired of the same old routine year after year, and because he's so downtrodden with boredom, he ventures into the dark forest outside the town's borders, and accidentally stumbles onto the wondrous, jolly world of "Christmastown." Enticed by its splendor, he decides to bring back his discovery to the residents of Halloweentown, who of which are just as shocked by Christmas as he is. Jack gets the brilliant idea to pose as Santa Claus but hires three mischief-makers to kidnap the real Santa so he can share his own, misguided vision of Christmas with an unprepared world.

Painstakingly and meticulously crafted, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a beautiful and wonderful film from start to finish. The most famous image of this film is the cover art, which features Skellington eerily silhouetted against a full moon while he stands atop a coiled hill that overlooks a desolate graveyard.

Burton is such a wonderful director, who had already brought us one unique "esque" vision after the other, especially with the first two "Batman" films and "Edward Scissorhands" behind him as of '93 when "Nightmare" was made.

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One of the best films of 1993, highly re-watchable
MisterWhiplash14 December 2003
I was a kid when I first saw Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, but I wasn't scared by it in the slightest - this world is one entirely of the imagination, and in a sense saying that the film is scary for younger children is something of a compliment. 'Nightmare' is both a horror film and a musical, and fantasy and a suspense film, and like most Burton effort, comedy is thrown in at just the right moments.

With Henry Selick as director and Michael McDowell & Caroline Thompson as the screenwriters, Burton has fashioned the worlds of Halloween-town and Christmas-town as real originals, working on the cliches that are in each holiday and surrounding the worlds with a host of terrific and terrifying characters. While Halloween-town has a mayor (appropriately with two faces, one smiling one distressed), the real leader is Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon voices with a great Danny Elfman as the singing Jack) who orchestrates Halloween every year for its citizens. But he's grown weary over the years, and after stumbling upon Christmas-town, loaded with good will towards men and a large man in a red suit, he gets his town riled up to overtake the joyous holiday. Despite one protest by Sally (an amazing Catherine O'Hara), the doll-girl who loves him, the town goes on creating Jack's vision. The results are hilarious and, indeed, spellbinding.

Much credit is given to Burton and Selick for their work on the film, but a lot should also be attributed to Denise Di Novi (co-producer and co-designer), Rick Heinrichs (visual consultant), Pete Kozachik (D.P.), and of course Danny Elfman for his perfectly fitting score and song creations. Along with the talented voice actors, Nightmare Before Christmas ends up a triumph of artistic ingenuity. Some could construe it as too weird or too stylish, but for the cult audience it has garnered over the past ten years it remains of of Burton's finest accomplishments. A+
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A true must see for all Halloween fans
CheshireCatsGrin12 December 2004
I am not a big Tim Burton fan, but this movie is in my top 3 of all time. Perhaps the fact that Halloween is my favorite holiday influenced my opinion, but I doubt it. The more I hear and read about this movie, the more I love it.

Based on a parody of the famous "Night before Christmas" poem by Moore that Burton wrote and illustrated while employed at Disney, this idea was stagnant for many years prior to filming. In many ways this was a good thing, technology was able to catch up to Burton's ideas.

In NBC, we see our hero Jack Skellington, aka The Pumpkin King, depressed as another Halloween passes. In the background we hear the residents of Halloween Town celebrate another wonderful holiday. But Jack is sad. The only one who notices is the Rag Doll-style woman Sally.

Other characters, including many town-monsters, are introduced. We meet the wonderful mayor with two faces, the evil scientist and his assistant, three local children and our evil boogie-man.

After an accident, Jack develops a plan to kidnap "Sandy Claws" and give presents out for Christmas in place of Christmas Town. You will have to view this movie to discover the rest.

The claymation is not what I expected, it was of a high quality and the movements are not jerky like the old Christmas Specials. Danny Elfman's music has little resemblance to his work with Ongo Bongo and "What's this?" (which Jack sings when he discovers the colorful world of Christmas Town) is closer to a tune mixed from Cabaret and The Music Man. The voices match the mouth movements nearly perfectly. This was a project from the heart and all the little touches to make it 'just' right show this fact.
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Textbook example proving the old adage, "The grass is always greener in someone else's yard."
Robert Reynolds15 November 2000
This film, while far from Burton's masterpiece, is a delightful musical that in the end shows that, sometimes, we have things far better than we think we do and the other side of the fence sometimes looks better just because it's different, but that doesn't make necessarily wise to pursue someone else's dream because we mistakenly think we may like it more. Tim Burton's fingerprints are all over this film. Excellent casting of vocal talent, the score is great and the animation is marvelous. A very good film and worth watching more than once. Recommended.
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One of the most memorable holiday classics of all time. A visual masterpiece. ***1/2 out of ****.
Movie-1214 March 2000

Starring the voices of: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Ken Page, Ed Ivory, and William Hickey Directed by Henry Celiac. Written by Michael McDowell. Running time: 76 minutes. Rated PG (for horrific images and some animated violence).

Tim Burton seems like the only being on the planet who could come with characters such as the ones found in "The Nightmare Before Christmas." The feature is literally a tale likely to be found in a child's dreams. It creates a world of its own, inhabiting unforgettable characters and events that should be shared with generations. This film is a visual masterpiece; a movie that deserves to be a holiday favorite for some time to come.

The atmosphere director Henry Celiac captures in "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is truly breathtaking. The cities and setting in which these characters live are visually perplexing, yet descriptive and develop the production's mood perfectly. We, as audiences starving for originality and imagination, are able to enter a scope so believable and unrelentingly convincing we lust for every last minute of it.

The movie's protagonist is Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of the holiday town of Halloween. Jack is the role model for much of the cities population. The only problem is that Jack has been around for ages, parked in a town where every single year builds up for a conventional holiday, Halloween. This character has grown depressed and saddened by the routine living style he inhabits. We learn of his passion for new events and a and new life through a musical number that is both effective and engaging.

Later on that vary night, Jack wonders off into a nearby woods and stumbles upon an area surrounded with magical doors leading to specific holiday worlds. Jack, blooming with curiosity, enters Christmas town: a joyful, happy place with snow, glitter, children singing, and colorful lights decorating the village in its entirety. Jack is mystified by the glamorous atmosphere, and rushes home to tell the Town of Halloween about his adventures.

We realize the internalconflict is Jack's boredom of routine. This becomes more complex when he tries to figure out the meaning of Christmas. The external problem comes later in the plot, where we predict an uneasy disaster upcoming due to his intentions of recreating Christmas in Halloween style.

Other key characters are Sally, the puppet-like creation of an angry professor, the city's Mayor who has a head for both his good and bad personality, the Oggie Boogie, the film's villain who is everything we ever dreamed of regarding a diabolical animated bad guy, and the inevitable character of Santa Clause.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is not necessarily a children's movie, it might be too strange or fanatical for the very young. It is certainly a musical production, and at times, I felt that the songs replaced essential development. However, the musical numbers are challenging and memorable, containing passion and emotion. The picture is a walk into the mind of some of the most wildly imaginative filmmakers of our time. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is titled wonderfully, although the film is truly not a nightmare, but a dream--a dream brought to life on the big screen.

Brought to you by Touchstone Pictures.
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Wonderful movie!
jaime_lich7724 December 2004
This movie has always been a favorite of mine. I never like holiday movies, because i always find them to be full to bursting with slapstick comedy, or way too sugary-sweet and dramatic. both of these things are okay in moderation, but most Christmas movies seem to go to one side of the spectrum or the other. this wonderful fairy tale is perfect for someone like me, who likes a little bit of a darker movie, but expects a Christmas movie to have a good message. the darkness in the movie is not without cause-it shows the joy of Christmas in great contrast to the scariness of Halloween, and it made me love both holidays all the more for that reason. i don't know, maybe that's just because Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays, but i really feel that this movie is great for older children and adults. younger children (up to 5 or 6 years) may find this simply frightening, but older children would find it wonderful.
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When You Don't Want the Traditional Christmas Movie.
nycritic10 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Thank God for stop-motion animation and the creative genius that is Tim Burton because any other technique would have diminished its surrealistic landscape. But, however kid-friendly THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE Christmas appears, this is a somewhat disturbing tale that children under the age of ten may not like because of some of its subject matter, specifically a scene in which Santa Claus gets tortured by the Boogeyman and children have a frightening experience with Christmas presents that turn deadly.

Relying heavily on HOW THE GRINCH STOLE Christmas, the story tells of how Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown is in a rut because every Halloween is the same old thing. By accident he stumbles onto what seems to be a portal embedded unto a tree which lands him in magical Christmastown -- a place which enchants him, a place where "Sandy Claws" is revered as its gift-giver. Here he gets an epiphany of an idea: he decides that he wants to celebrate Christmas the Halloween way, all in good spirit, and decides to kidnap Santa Claus, but Sally, the rag doll who loves him, has a strong feeling that this will not turn out well and must find a way to stop him, particularly when Oogie Boogie, the Boogeyman, enters the scene with nasty intentions.

This is, quite simply, a beautiful film despite its dark and borderline disturbing tone which arrive late into the story once Jack Skellington decides to go on his frightful crusade to bring Halloween into Christmas unto an unsuspecting world. However, the film is really in good cheer and even a ghoul as mean as Oogie Boogie proves to be quite harmless. I do believe, though, this is a film to be watched closely and with a child spirit in order to appreciate its technical wizardry: Jack Skellington's eyes say it all: when has a skeleton looked so childlike and full of wonder? And who but a child could create the havoc stemming from a prank instead from meanness? Like I said -- this is a stunning film, and one the family can view on not one but two holiday seasons. If you like your Christmas a little iconoclastic and retch at the thought of singing another Christmas carol, this is the film for you.
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What does it mean? What does it mean?
Ben Larson2 November 2014
How appropriate that I start holiday viewing with a film that bridges Halloween and Christmas.

Now, I am not a fan of animated films, but this isn't the usually animation you find in Disney films.

It is call stop-motion animation, and it looks very realistic.

Now, Jack Skellington from Halloweentown (voiced by Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman (the singing), is really getting bored with Halloween - the same thing every year, and he goes walking in the forest and enters the door for Christmastown.

He gets excited about Christmas, and tries to institute it in Halloweentown. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand the concept and it turns out badly. They even kidnap Santa Claus (voiced by Edward Ivory).

And, can you believe they even wove a love story in here.

The film is full of interesting characters, of course, and some really good music. It is a visual feast.
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A True Tim Burton Film
bbSouthstreet2 August 2001
I was five years old when I saw this movie and after that the words Tim Burton rang in my ears as one of Hollywood's most eccentric directors. Whenever I hear that a Tim Burton film is coming out I think of The Nightmare Before Christmas and how wonderful it is. The story is very original, the scenery is wonderfully Gothic and the characters and animation is to scream for.

Another thing about this film are the songs. They're so twisted and funny that I can't help but hum, whistle or just sing them word by word and musical note by musical note.

So in conclusion, The Nightmare Before Christmas is what you would get if you were to put the minds of Edgar Allen Poe and Dr. Seuss in a blender. You get a beautifully dark and wildly bizarre film about Santa Claus, dancing skeletons and what goes bump in the night.
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Enthralling film, but more Lock, Shock and Barrel needed!
Shock-133 January 2001
The Nightmare Before Christmas has captivated me with its crazy and sinister animation, its haunting soundtrack and its horrific yet enchanting characters. When it was first released in the U.K., the trailers terrified me and I refused to go and see it. However, I have now aquired deeply sadistic humour and so relish in such brilliant and infectious songs like "Kidnap the Sandy Claws". My friends and family now get exceedingly annoyed by my attempts to recite the musical score on car journeys etc. The sets and props are amazing and painstakingly detailed-just take a look at Santa's list and the Halloween/Christmas plans. I only have one complaint; there should have been more appearances from Lock, Shock and Barrel: a thoroughly malevolent trio.
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Superb Gothic animation with a thin plot
The_Void7 November 2004
Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas is a visually spectacular tour de force of Gothic styles and themes, bound around a simple children's tale. The story follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, who one day while walking in the woods stumbles upon Christmas Town; a town where, you guessed it, every day is Christmas. Jack doesn't quite understand the concept of a celebration where nobody is frightened or killed, but he decides to have the celebration in his town regardless. While plotting, he also decides to kidnap Santa and deliver Christmas Town's gifts himself this year...much to the dismay of the local children, who aren't too pleased about receiving the gifts that a skeleton from Halloween Town brings them...

This movie was actually directed by Henry Sellick, but it is obviously Tim Burton's film. His style is rampant throughout the film, and it is clear that this could only have come from his mind. The animation on display here is magnificent; the style is very unique and it blends very well with the Gothic theme. Where the film falls down, however, is on the story side and, more notably, the delivery of the story. The story is very linear; I understand that this film is predominantly aimed at children, but even children's films can be more expansive than this; the film also really should be more expansive as Tim Burton has created a whole world with many unique and interesting characters, yet only a handful are allowed to shine. Burton (and his composer, Elfman) seem far too keen to pack the movie with songs. I have no problem with this, but the songs here are really rather dull. The majority of them have little more than one or two lines that are sung over and over and considering that the film is packed with these songs; it gets old fast and more dialogue would have worked better.

Overall, Nightmare Before Christmas is a nice film. The animation and style are amazing and it has lots of nice moments; but it is let down by a thin story and poor delivery. Horror fans will have fun spotting the tributes, and I don't doubt that many children will love this film, as will many adults; but it could and really should have been a lot better, and I have to say that it left me cold.
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A great achievement but could had been way more entertaining.
Boba_Fett113816 October 2005
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a perfectly professionally made movie with almost flawless looking stop-motion animation. However as entertainment this movie is flawed, due to its simple story and a pace that is a bit too fast for the movie.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" has some highly fun and amusing characters in it and that also is the strongest thing of the movie. Jack Skellington is a nice and memorable main character but it is the Mayor that mostly steals the show in this movie. The movie is filled with tons of odd looking- and acting monstrous characters. Oogie Boogie is a cool villain but he unfortunately doesn't get an awful lot to do in this movie. The characters are fun but the movie itself isn't halve as much as fun. There are just a few laughs in it and in general the movie is simply too short. Because the movie is so short all of the scene's come and go too fast after each other. The story is told too fast and because of that things aren't always build up nicely or correctly. Because of this there also are some plot holes in the movie. The movie should had been maybe at least 10-15 minutes longer. It makes "The Nightmare Before Christmas" a bit of a movie that is most certainly not bad but has many missed opportunities in it.

Even though the movie isn't directed by Tim Burton himself, it still has 'Tim Burton' written all over it. The visual style and characters are definitely Burton material. There is plenty to enjoy for his fans, in this movie. The music and songs by Danny Elfman are also what gives this movie a 'Burton' kind of feeling and atmosphere. The music by Elfman is good and the songs, even though no Oscar material, are enjoyable and quite memorable as well.

It certainly is a professionally made and good looking movie but the story could had used some more work and the movie should had been longer, to build up the scene's and characters better. It still is an enjoyable movie to watch but it could and should had been way more entertaining.

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Visual feast
rbverhoef2 November 2003
Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is one of the nice animated movies not from Disney. It is about Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who lives in Halloweentown. One day he goes through a door in a tree and arrives in Christmastown and sees how happy and beautiful it is over there. When he is back in Halloweentown he shows his friends what Christmas is like, and he suggests to do Christmas this year instead of Halloween. Things do not go as planned.

Everything is beautifully animated and although the story is not that great it is entertaining the whole way through. I liked all the songs in the movie and there are some good laughs as well. Definitely worth watching.
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A ghoulish tale with wicked humour....
Jessica Carvalho25 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king of Halloween Town. He is very famous in his city and also the object of Sally's affection, a doll that was made by Dr. Finkelstein to serve him. Jack is tired of doing the same presentations every year for the Helloween,and he tries to think about something new, but the inspiration never comes. One day, while walking with his ghost dog, Jack stumbles into Christmas Town by mistake. He stays amazed with what he sees, and decides to copy the idea to do in Helloween town,even kidnapping Santa Claus. He tells the people of his city about his idea, and spite of the fact that they don't get very well the Christmas idea,they help to produce the most strange and bizarre 'toys' for the human kids,like bats,spiders and Gothic dolls. But things are not the way he imagined....
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Artfully combines two very different holidays
calvinnme19 October 2010
Who would ever think that a musical about the overlap between Halloween and Christmas would work? However, it does work with the songs not exactly being Christmas - or Halloween - classics, but fitting the dark mood of this film perfectly.

The movie opens with Jack Skellington, AKA the Pumpkin King, facing an identity crisis of sorts. Halloween has just ended in his hometown of Halloween Town, and he has been receiving kudos from everyone in town for making this year's Halloween the scariest ever. But Jack is seeking purpose in his life, and scaring people to death once a year just isn't doing it for him anymore. He takes a walk in the woods and he discovers a group of trees each with doors and different symbols on each door. He opens the door with the tree symbol on it, and finds himself in Christmas Town. While there, he is fascinated by the contrast of Christmas Town with his own world. Jack returns home, along with a sampling of trinkets from Christmas Town, to contemplate the meaning of what he has found there. Ultimately he decides that this year, Halloween Town is going to take charge of Christmas. Jack has also decided that he will replace "Sandy Claws" on his yearly sleigh ride, delivering presents to all of the children of the world. All of the citizens of Halloween Town are enthused by the idea except Sally, a creation of Halloween Town's mad scientist, who coincidentally is also looking for something new in her life. She alone sees the danger of Halloween Town hijacking the Christmas holiday.

While the Grinch tried to destroy Christmas and came away with a true understanding of the meaning of the holiday, Jack Skellington, with the best of intentions, is on the road to ruin Christmas. In preparation for the big event, he enlists the townspeople to help make toys, and they just can't get the hang of making or doing anything that is not designed to terrify. In fact, when Jack makes his Christmas ride and the town hears on the radio of the terror Jack is causing, they actually see this as a sign of success. To them, horror equals happiness.

Like most good films designed for all age groups, the movie is actually weaving a tale on two levels. The story itself is very straightforward so that children can easily follow it. On a second level, there is deft humor and one-liners that are obviously aimed at adults, such as the mayor's plea to Jack -"I'm only an elected official here! I can't make decisions!" Or when the scientist who created Sally gets tired of her running away and builds a new creation to replace her. This one turns out to be just a female version of the mad scientist himself to which he has endowed half of his own brain. His conclusion is "You will be a decided improvement over that treacherous Sally. We'll have conversations worth having." You'll see quite a bit of similarity between the style of art design here and that done in some of Tim Burton's other films, such as "Beetlejuice". You'll also probably recognize Danny Elfman's style of score that has come to decorate so many of Burton's other films. I highly recommend this film as great entertainment for the whole family.
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Warning - it's kind of a musical!
roger-1341 January 2013
My wife and two kids, boys aged 9 and 12, settled down together to watch this and at the halfway point we all agreed to bail on it.

Part of the problem is that much of the explication is given in song, so unless you're on top of interpreting screechy singing voices you will be a bit lost.

And I didn't really care about any of the characters ... there was a girl who was important somehow but I had no idea of what her motivation was. Her creator was a pretty good evil guy, though.

My kids thought it was creepy, so I guess the film had some power, but just not the kind of power that would make us want to watch it.
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It's the music!
david-19766 November 2006
I love Tim Burton movies in general, but I think that this one is something special. Not only do I like the characters and the story, but since there are already a bazillion comments about those things, I'd like to point out the prodigious gifts of Danny Elfman, who wrote the songs and the score for this film. He's amazing.

Of course, anyone who loves "The Simpsons" as much as I do is already an Elfman fan... and as Jack Skellington you can hear just a hint of the singing voice of Sideshow Bob!

But it's the music that just blows me away. It ranges in style from the 1920's Kurt Weill- Bertolt Brecht adaptations (right down, on occasion, to the rhythm banjo and mournful alto sax), to the Russian composers, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, all done with a sense of humor and homage that keeps it fresh, unlike, say, Kander and Ebb, who keep writing Weill-Brecht material to the point that there's more of their music in that particular style than there is by Weill, who figured out by the 1930's that it would only go so far, and who wrote some of the great tunes of the American theatre, as well as the incredible and underrated opera "Street Scene."

Elfman is a film composer whose work ranks with the best of (and this is high praise, indeed, coming from me) John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Even if this weren't a wonderful movie to watch (and it is) it would be a wonderful movie to hear.
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Magic, Tim Burton Style
jhclues21 January 2002
With the advent of video/DVD, certain movies lend themselves to annual viewing during specific holiday seasons, especially Halloween (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'), Thanksgiving (`Home for the Holidays'), and of course, The Big One, Christmas (Insert your own favorites here); specific films that for whatever reason manifest the spirit of their respective times of the year, and they generally match up one season per film. Filmmaker Tim Burton, however, has the distinction of having created a singular film to add to this category, unique in that it is suited equally to both Halloween AND Christmas. And it tops the entire list of the titles of which that can be said; in fact, it IS the list-- there simply are no others. Burton's brainchild, which had a gestation period of many years before at last being realized in 1993 is, indeed, in a category of it's own. It is, of course, `The Nightmare Before Christmas,' directed by Henry Selick.

Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, can put the scare on like no one else. But after years of doing what he does best-- scaring the wits out of children of all ages, everywhere, every Halloween-- he's bored; depressed, even. There's just no `rush' in it for him anymore. So, after a particularly unfulfilling Allhallow's Eve, Jack wanders off alone into the night to contemplate his circumstance and his future, whereupon he inadvertently stumbles into `Christmas Town,' and discovers something new (`What's this? What's this!')-- a different holiday, as well as the celebration that accompanies it. Most importantly, though, he also discovers his counterpart, the one who is to this holiday what he is to Halloween. `And they call... him... San-Dee CLAWS!' And Jack, his eyes and ears filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas, is more excited than he's been in a long, long while. He doesn't know, yet, what all of this is about, but he's going to find out; and he's already made up his mind: Whatever it is, it's going to be his! Sandee Claws, step aside-- Jack Skellington is here!

Through the magic of stop-motion animation, Burton's vision-- his story and the characters who populate his `nightmare'-- comes vividly to life, the process of which is guided along nicely by director Selick. And what a bunch of characters there are! Besides Jack (who is, without question, the star of the show), there is the two-faced (literally) Mayor (Glenn Shadix); Dr. Finklestein (wonderfully voiced by William Hickey); Lock, Shock and Barrel (Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman), the unholy trio who work for the dreadful Mr. Oogie Boogie (Ken Page); and, last but not least, gentle and compassionate Sally (Catherine O'Hara), who cares for Jack and so badly wants to help him find whatever it is he's looking for. Intriguing characters for a highly original story, imaginatively drawn and presented with care and an expertise that really makes this one work.

Another element that sells it is the engaging score and original songs by Danny Elfman (who also supplies Jack's singing voice). And Selick uses the music wisely to create an appropriate atmosphere and mood conducive to the storyline. The songs, especially, are haunting, hypnotic, upbeat and theatrical, and combined with the magic of the splendid visual content, helps set the tone for a rich and thoroughly entertaining experience.

The supporting cast includes (the voices of) Ed Ivory (Santa), Susan McBride (Big Witch), Debi Durst (Corpse Kid/Corpse Mother/Small Witch), Greg Proops (Harlequin Demon/Devil/Sax Player), Kerry Katz (Man Under Stairs/Vampire/Corpse Father), Randy Crenshaw (Mr. Hyde/Behemoth/Vampire), Sherwood Ball (Mummy/ Vampire), Carmen Twillie (Undersea Gal/Man Under the Stairs) and Glenn Waters (Wolfman). There's a decidedly dark side to this film that may be disturbing to younger viewers, but for those to whom the monster-in-the-closet no longer appears, `The Nightmare Before Christmas' is good for TWO of your favorite holidays (or actually, for any time of the year, for that matter). Unique, to say the least, this is a fun foray into fantasy that can be enjoyed time and again. The story, the characters, the images, the songs; it's all magic. It is, in fact, the magic of the movies. Tim Burton style. I rate this one 10/10.
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The triumph of stop motion
Spleen30 July 1999
There's life in stop motion yet. Burton and Selick's film is a fine retort to `Toy Story'; or at least it would have been if `Toy Story' had been made first. Fluid, three-dimensional animation in a completely designed world - that's what the two films have in common, but `The Nightmare Before Christmas' looks undeniably better. Partly it's the more imaginative art direction. Partly, also, it's just the fact that there's something enervating about digital effects, and something special about using real, physical artwork, and photographing it. I don't know how well the world of Halloween will stand up over the years, but no-one will forget what it looks like.

The plot alarmingly resembles that of a Rankin/Bass TV special, but with more teeth. Jack Skellington, ruler of the land of Halloween, falls in love with the land of Christmas, and decides to conquer it. The difference between `Nightmare' and its dismal TV cousins is that the land of Halloween really is a grisly place. (Gorgeous, but grisly.) Jack Skellington is a gentle ruler with an imperfect hold on power. (Santa Claus, by contrast, is not quite the innocent he appears to be.) It all ends a little too soon: I would have liked to see more attention paid to the story after all the fun scene-setting. Still, it's a delicious movie.
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The biggest fun a movie can give you !!!
Coventry2 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I hate myself...This movie has been out since TEN years and I never bothered to watch it earlier. "Totally not my style" I thought. Well, I've seldom been more wrong...This movie is everybody's style !!! I think I'll start watching it every year now on the 24th of december...( What can I say, I'm a traditional person :-D )

No seriously, I loved this movie. It gave me a warm feeling, plenty of laughs and a good old portion of sentiment. Heck, I even almost caught myself on singing along. I can assure you this means something !

Actually, it's one of the few times the singing in a movie isn't annoying. Tim Burton's style is well presented in this story. Only he can tell a fairy-tale in such a macabre and morbid way. The atmosphere comes very close to that other masterpiece of his, Edward Scissorhands. The coorporation with Danny Elfman only makes the whole finished project more terrific.

SPOILERS !!!!!!!!! The story is about Jack Skellington. The pumpkin-king of Halloween town. In this cute little world, a large amount of horrible creatures prepare the celebration of Halloween. After the annual holiday, Jack is a bit disappointed and takes a long walk. He ends up in Christmas town. This village is similar to Halloween town only they're responsible for the preparation of Christmas. Jack is so enthusiast about this that he wants to introduce this idea in Halloween town. Jack is set to replace "Santa Claws" and he will ride out to give presents to the children on Christmas evening! END SPOILERS !!!!!!! The characters in this wonderful story are very memorable. The wicked Dr. Finklestein on top. He looks like an evil version of Duckman and he opens his metal skull to scratch his brains. Very funny ! The female he created, Sally, is adorable and she's the greatest tribute to "The Bride of Frankenstein" I've ever seen. Many other great references to classic horror films and I always appreciate things like that. The Boogieman, the Mayor, the witch...all these characters deserve their share of credit but I think I'll just stop here and finish by saying that this movie is highly recommended.

Favorite "rewind"-scene: Jack tries to explain the concept of Christmas to rest of his town through a song. They don't see the whole point of it and wonder why this whole thing doesn't involve death or horror. Hilarious !!
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Elfman takes on Phantom ... and Wins!
A_Different_Drummer1 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Part of my mission on IMDb is to identify films that are not given their due ... this pretty much qualifies. Danny Elfman, in the single most astonishing work of his career, takes on PHANTOM OF THE OPERA .. and beats it. I have seen Phantom both in live theatre and on film. It is brilliant but flawed. There are gaps in the story. Some of the songs don't work. None of that applies here. Plus, Sir you-know-who did not actually sing his own songs in Phantom! Here, Elfman did! Not only is this Elfman's best work but (this is a tougher call, given the quality of the man's output) this could be Burton's as well. Mesmerizing from the first frame to the last. It is a story about hope and ambition, a cautionary tale, a lesson in fixing the messes you make, and even a love story. Catherine O'Hara steals every scene as Sally, a tribute to her voice actressing and to the animation also. Kindly note that TWICE AS MANY IMDb users have penned a review as there were ACTUAL REVIEWERS in the mainstream who tackled this. This should be a high 9+ on the IMDb. For me it is a one-of-a-kind film that defies comparison, and all it knows is how to entertain. Rating 17/10
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A Classic
Scars_Remain2 September 2008
Henry Selick did an amazing job adapting Tim Burton's original story of this Halloween/Christmas classic. I just bought the new two-disc set and am very happy to own it. I am a very big Tim Burton fan and this is definitely a Burton film so fans will not be let down. Watch it as soon as you can!

The singing is amazing as well as the songs themselves and all of the characters are brilliant. The story is the driving force and easily the best part of the movie but the amazing visuals and stop motion animation would be a very close second. I was blown away by how this film looked as well as everything else.

If you grew up on this film like I did, you owe it to yourself to get the new DVD set. It's like experiencing the film for the first time all over again. Give it a chance!
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A masterpiece of highly imaginative proportions, and arguably Tim Burton's best film to date.
maxcitywarrior124 August 2008
'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is one of those films that is a true one of a kind release, and a genuine benchmark for it's genre. The Nightmare Before Christmas has truly pushed the creative limits of the staid yet classic art form of stop motion clay animation, and truly highlighted to us the creative genius that Tim Burton has been internationally renowned as.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a film that uses it's music and general style of film-making to create a character's thoughts and mind. Such as when Jack Skellington sings about a longing feeling that he cannot find, he stands on top of a hill, in the night, and the moon reflects on his figure moving around in the scene. Danny Eflman's moody but arguably deep lyrics and musical score truly emulate Jack's feeling. Both the dark atmosphere of the shot, and decidedly gloomy music makes Jack's mind lost, unclear and cannot see what he truly desires for. The Nightmare Before Christmas therefore becomes a truly iconic and deep experience for any moviegoer to witness.

Overall, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the best films I have seen in a long time, and one of my best as well.
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