In 2001, Walt Disney Pictures began to consider producing a sequel, but rather than using stop motion, Disney wanted to use computer animation. Tim Burton convinced Disney to drop the idea. "I was always very protective of [Nightmare] not to do sequels or things of that kind," Burton explained. "You know, 'Jack visits Thanksgiving world' or other kinds of things just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it."
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Tim Burton has said the original poem was inspired after seeing Halloween merchandise display in a store being taken down and replaced by a Christmas display. The juxtaposition of ghouls and goblins with Santa and his reindeer sparked his imagination.
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Danny Elfman found writing Nightmare's 10 songs as "one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. I had a lot in common with Jack Skellington." Having created demos of all the songs in the movie for the director's approval, Elfman had gotten really attached to Jack, since he could relate to being loved and famous (as he was lead singer of his band Oingo Boingo), but like Jack, he was no longer happy with his situation. Elfman mustered up all his courage to ask his friend and producer Tim Burton if he could voice Jack, but before he could finish, Burton simply told him "Danny, don't worry about it, you got the part."
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(at around 13 mins) It is stated in "The Making of..." book that the most difficult shot to film in the entire movie is the shot in which Jack is reaching for the doorknob to Christmasland. Viewers can see the perfect surround reflection of the forest around Jack in the background.
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While Danny Elfman was chosen to voice Jack Skellington, it was felt that his singing was great, but his speaking voice was too wooden and stiff. Chris Sarandon was then cast as Jack's speaking voice because he closely matched Elfman's singing voice.
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It took a group of around 100 people three years to complete this movie. For one second of film, up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made.
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Patrick Stewart did the original introduction for the movie, which can be heard on the film's soundtrack.
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According to Henry Selick, Vincent Price was originally cast as Santa Claus. However, after the death of Price's wife, his own health began to fail and his voice performance was very frail and weak. The tracks were deemed unusable which led, much to Selick's regret, to the role being recast. The film premiered at a film festival on October 9th, only 16 days before Price's death and was released on a limited basis four days later. The film's first United States wide release was October 29th, four days after Price passed away.
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Zero's nose is actually a tiny glowing jack-o'-lantern.
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In the scenes with the street band, especially inside the town hall, there is a small man inside the bass that is based on Danny Elfman.
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There is something of a controversy over exactly who has the rights to call the story and film their own. Henry Selick is the director and spent more time on the set and production than Tim Burton. However Burton has often claimed he is the owner of the story as it was all his idea. He wrote the original poem and most of the script, created the characters, served as a producer, and even wanted to direct but was simply too busy at the time to do so. Popular culture has long accepted the film as Burton's as the film heading is "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas". Burton does reinforce the fact that Selick directed the film, and is often annoyed that people don't remember him for that. On the direction of the film, Selick reflected, "It's as though he [Burton] laid the egg, and I sat on it and hatched it. He wasn't involved in a hands-on way, but his hand is in it. It was my job to make it look like 'a Tim Burton film', which is not so different from my own films." When asked on Burton's involvement, Selick claimed, "I don't want to take away from Tim, but he was not in San Francisco when we made it. He came up five times over two years, and spent no more than eight or ten days in total." Walt Disney Feature Animation contributed with some use of second-layering traditional animation. Burton found production somewhat difficult because he was directing Batman Returns (1992) and in pre-production of Ed Wood (1994).
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Oogie Boogie was originally intended to be Dr. Finklestein in disguise. Reportedly, Tim Burton was so infuriated by this idea that he literally kicked a hole into the wall.
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In the extended ending to the film heard on the soundtrack album, many years later, Santa Claus returns to Halloween Town to visit Jack, and finds that Jack has about four or five skeleton children.
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Tim Burton wrote a three-page poem titled The Nightmare Before Christmas when he was a Disney animator in the early-1980s. Burton took inspiration from television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. He also started writing a story and making sketches for a movie adaptation, while sculptor Rick Heinrichs made 3D images of Burton's drawings. However, Disney believed Burton's style was too dark for their usual output, so he pursued his career elsewhere. When Batman (1989) turned out to be a big box office hit and Burton tried to buy back his story and ideas from Disney, they were eager to work with him, and gave him $18 million and free reign to develop Nightmare Before Christmas. Because he was contractually obliged to do Batman Returns (1992) for Warner Bros studios, he asked Henry Selick, with whom he had worked at Disney, as director while he stayed on as producer. Heinrichs was pulling double shifts as he was doing Batman Returns while also working on Nightmare over the weekends. Burton's original poem can be heard on the 2008 Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD release, narrated by Christopher Lee with a new animated visual accompaniment.
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(at around 1h 10 mins) In a test shot of the end where the vampires play hockey on the frozen lake, they originally used a head that resembled the head of the film's creator and producer Tim Burton. However, one of the producers told director Henry Selick that Burton probably wouldn't like that, so it was changed at the last moment and re-shot with a jack o' lantern instead of a head. Selick later said that he believed that Burton would have liked the idea, and regretted not asking the man himself.
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The "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" music is heard in The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride at Disneyland California and Disneyland Tokyo as an instrumental version.
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In 2013, Catherine O'Hara participated in "Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton" to perform "Sally's Song" from this film. She received a standing ovation when she entered the stage, as well as when she left.
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The character of Dr. Finklestein is listed only as "Evil Scientist" in the cast credits.
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(at around 3 mins) In the song, "This is Halloween," the lyrics "... tender lumplings everywhere..." refers to "Tender Lumplings," a song done by composer Danny Elfman when he was with Oingo Boingo.
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This is the first stop-motion animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA.
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Originally, in the movie, Oogie Boogie was going to be revealed to be a disguised Finkelstein. Finkelstein, upon defeat, would admit that he was doing this because he was jealous that Sally chose Jack over him. This hints that Sally might have, originally, been more of a love interest of Finkelstein's rather than a daughter. This ending was changed as it came out of nowhere with a serious lack of any set-up. The producer, Tim Burton hated the idea so much that he kicked a hole in a wall after hearing it. The hole was later cut out and framed by the crew. When screenwriter Caroline Thompson later suggested that she could still write a better ending, Burton reportedly lost it and went into a screaming fit, so the matter wasn't addressed again.
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(at around 21 mins) A model of the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be spotted briefly in the back row of the Town Meeting scene.
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The teaser trailer stated that the film was originally intended to be released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner, playing the movie heavily as the next generation of filmmaking following in the proud tradition of Walt Disney. However, Disney was worried that the movie would not be suitable for children, so it was first screened for an audience of school kids, who were confused by it. By the time the theatrical trailer was released, Michael Eisner, then-CEO and Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, had decided that the film was 'too dark for kids'. It was moved to Touchstone Pictures, Disney's sister company, marketed under the new title 'Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas' to reach an adolescent audience. This has led to a longtime misunderstanding that it was directed by Burton rather than Henry Selick. In October 2006, the film was re-released in 3-D under the Walt Disney Pictures banner.
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Sally originally was supposed to have trouble walking, however, the filmmakers changed this because they thought Sally looked drunk while walking. However, it is shown that Sally walks more stiffly than other characters.
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Two items were invented to facilitate the filming of the movie: One was a "light alarm" which would warn the animators if any of the stage lights failed to come on. The other was a system that enabled a puppeteer to seamlessly switch to a replacement puppet if a puppet broke during a shot. Prior to this, either situation, a light failing to come on or a puppet breaking would destroy a shot.
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In the first few seconds after the title is shown, you can see that there are actually 7 Holiday Doors. Going counter clockwise, the doors are: A Pumpkin (for Halloween), A decorated Christmas Tree (for Christmas), A turkey (for Thanksgiving), A brightly colored egg (for Easter), a green four leafed clover (for St. Patrick's Day), a red heart (for Valentines Day), and a red and white and blue firework that can only be seen at the very beginning for just a few seconds. This door could be for American Independence Day or British Bonfire Night.
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This film along with the Live Action/Traditionally Animated Hybrid film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) are the only Films under the Touchstone Pictures label that are considered as Official Disney Films.
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In the original poem written by Tim Burton, the only characters that existed were Jack, Zero and Santa. All the other characters were made up for the movies, although he describes some of the presents which were given out, including in some cases the names of the children.
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There are four shots in the entire film that were filmed at normal speed (24fps), one is the opening overhead shot of the trees in the forest, the fog coming out of the fountain, the liquid poring through the holes of Sally's spoon, and the other is the bugs falling into the molten pit in Oogie Boogie's lair.
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Tim Burton and Danny Elfman experienced "creative differences" during filming. For this reason, Burton chose Howard Shore to write the film score of Ed Wood (1994).
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Originally, a longer version of Jack trying to get to the true meaning of Christmas through science was fully animated. Some of the best gags, including a scene of Jack doing illustrations of Santa and his "monster" form, were cut simply due to time purposes.
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At one point, Tim Burton considered making this a TV special rather than a feature film.
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According to Ken Page, Oogie's vocal performance was a mix between Bert Lahr's portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film adaptation The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Mercedes McCambridge's performance as the demon, Pazuzu, in the 1973 film The Exorcist (1973). He was also greatly inspired by Cab Calloway, as songwriter Danny Elfman was inspired by "St. James Infirmary Blues" when writing Oogie's song.
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The first fully animated Disney film to not be traditionally animated.
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Despite pushback from Disney, Tim Burton and Henry Selick fought against animating Jack Skellington with eyes. According to a 2018 Mouseplanet report, Burton said, "The first rule of drawn animation is that you have to have eyes for expression. I thought it would be great to give life to these characters that have no eyes." He added, "Disney really fought for us to give Jack these friendly eyes instead of dark holes but we wouldn't budge."
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Despite being considered a villain by many fans, Tim Burton himself does not consider Oogie Boogie evil. Nevertheless, Oogie is still marketed as a villain and is considered one due to his heinous actions against Santa, Sally and Jack throughout the movie.
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(at around 30 mins) The Christmas tree in Sally's vision that catches fire is the same tree in Jack's house.
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When the movie was planned out, it became apparent that the $18 million budget would be insufficient for what the animators had in mind, so they had to make a list of scenes that they could let go off. However, producer Kathleen Gavin then took what they had already finished (with storyboards in place of the missing scenes), and screened it for Disney executives, who loved what they saw. After notifying them that to properly finish the movie would cost $24 million, Disney begrudgingly added $6 million to the budget. Still, several scenes never made it to the screen: in Oogie Boogie's Song, there was a storyboarded sequence where bugs came out of Oogie's eye and danced on his arm before he belches them off. It was removed from the film because it was considered difficult to make miniature armatures for all the bugs. Another scrapped scene involved his shadow dancing on a rotating orange background and was traditionally animated but ended up being cut for timing. Despite this, the lyrics during these scenes were included in the film's soundtrack.
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There has been debate over whether or not the "Shadow in the Moon" character seen during "This is Halloween" is the same character as Oogie Boogie, as they bear a striking resemblance to one another. However, in Villains Unleashed, Oogie Boogie calls himself "The shadow of the moon at night", confirming the speculation, further emphasized by a similar reference in the 2015 theme park show, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. If Oogie is indeed the shadow in the moon, then this seems to indicate that his banishment is lifted on occasion of Halloween in order for him to participate. He also fights in the form of the shadow in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.
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During the "Making Christmas" song, there was a storyboarded sequence after Mr. Hyde and his two little copies sang, in which Jack inspects more of the citizens' work, followed by the singing of the Man Under the Stairs and the Behemoth. The scene would have revealed that Behemoth has a funny high-pitched singing voice. This was the only bit of the song that was trimmed from both the film and the soundtrack, however it is included among the deleted scenes of the film's DVD.
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Despite generally being considered antagonists, The trio consisting of Lock, Shock and Barrel is meant to emulate how real children their age act (although obviously, with an increased fascination for the morbid and the macabre, being citizens of Halloweentown).
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(at around 29 mins) A crossed-out calculation on Jack's blackboard seems to equate 3 times the square of pi multiplied by 12 to Christmas Day (a Santa hat). The true numerical answer is approximately 355.31. If the decimal portion is dropped, this then equates to December 21st, the 355th day of the year--hence the crossed-out equation. December 21st however is the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere (winter solstice). It is also the birthday of Jeffrey Katzenberg, the film's executive producer and most often credited for turning Walt Disney Studios and its animation division around after joining in 1984.
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Behemoth is based on B-movie actor/Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson.
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Since October 2001, a seasonal overlay of the Disneyland Park California and Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion attractions called Haunted Mansion Holiday which combines the characters and setting/theme of the ride with the characters and storyline of this film. In order to achieve this the ride is closed for two and a half weeks in late summer so it can be decorated for Christmas then is reopened before closing again in January to dismantle the ride back to its original format. However the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World in Florida is not rebranded as Haunted Mansion Holiday.
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While no sequels have been produced, the worlds and characters are featured in the Disney and Square Enix video game series "Kingdom Hearts," including a boss battle between the game's heroes and Oogie Boogie.
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Henry Selick and his team of animators began production in July 1991 in San Francisco, California (conveniently away from the studio) with a crew of over 120 workers, utilizing 20 sound stages for filming, under the supervision of Disney producer Kathleen Gavin. Joe Ranft was hired from Disney as a storyboard supervisor, while Eric Leighton was hired to supervise animation. At the peak of production, 20 individual stages were simultaneously being used for filming. In total, there were 109,440 frames taken for the film. The work of Ray Harryhausen, Wladyslaw Starewicz, Edward Gorey, Etienne Delessert, Gahan Wilson, Charles Addams, Jan Lenica, Francis Bacon, and Wassily Kandinsky influenced the filmmakers. Selick described the production design as akin to a pop-up book. In addition, Selick stated, "When we reach Halloween Town, it's entirely German Expressionism. When Jack enters Christmas Town, it's an outrageous Dr. Seuss-esque setpiece. Finally, when Jack is delivering presents in the 'Real World', everything is plain, simple and perfectly aligned." Vincent Price, Don Ameche, and James Earl Jones were considered to provide the narration for the film's prologue; however, all proved difficult to cast, and the producers instead hired local voice artist, Edward Ivory.
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Hidden Mickey: on the table where Jack is doing his experiments.
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(at around 7 mins) The song "Jack's Lament" can, in some way count as the classic "I Want" song common to the Disney Princesses, since it represents Jack's life-long wish of experiencing something new and straying away from the repetitive traditions of Halloween. However, it could also count as an "I Am" song associated not just with princesses, but also other characters, as Jack also describes how much he is adored and well-known by many for who he is and what he can do. With these aspects found in the song, it would make "Jack's Lament" a unique combination of the two song types. During the line "I have swept the very bravest off their feet", a statue of The Scream by Edvard Munch can be seen. Also at one point during the song, one of the lines Jack says alludes to the William Shakespeare play Hamlet.
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Jack rides across the sky under a Christmas Eve full moon. Between the end of World War II and the end of 1993 (year of the film's release) there were only five Christmas Eves with a full moon, or as close to full as no matter: 1950, 1958, 1969, 1977 and 1988.
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(at around 22 mins) When Mr. Hyde asks Jack if the stocking still had a foot in the Town Meeting Song, two smaller copies appeared from his hat. This was a homage to Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, when the Cat released twenty-six smaller cats (Cats A-Z) to get rid of pink stain from the snow.
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In the soundtrack, an epilogue poem is included that implies that Jack had "4 or 5 skeleton children" several years after the film. The mother of said children is unknown.
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(at around 34 mins) The scene in which Lock, Shock and Barrel remove their masks to reveal similar faces beneath was based on a season five episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) called The Twilight Zone: The Masks (1964) which had a huge impact on Tim Burton as a child.
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Jack Skellington's sleigh only has 3 reindeer, rather than the 9 found on Santa's sleigh. This is because the book originally shown to the doctor in order to make the reindeer only showed 3.
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This is the first of Disney's animated films to be scored by Danny Elfman.
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(at around 55 mins) In the first home Jack visits, there appear to be two commemorative Elvis Presley plates on the living-room wall. This is likely a reference to Presley's 1964 song "Blue Christmas" (and its apropos line "I'll have a blue Christmas without you").
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Jack was listed #22 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating as his stroke of genius the song "What's This?", as Jack - accustomed as he is to the dark, twisted Halloween Town, tries to get his head around the sweetness and light of Christmas Town. Jack Skellington has become a recurring theme in Gothic-style clothing and accessories, mostly due to his character and nature (as well as the nature of the movie in general).
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Sally's mouth movements "were animated through the replacement method. During the animation process,...only Sally's face 'mask' was removed in order to preserve the order of her long reddish-brown hair. Sally had 10 types of faces, each made with a series of 11 expressions (e.g. eyes open and closed, and various facial poses) and synchronized mouth movements."
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Having his color palette consist only of black and white (not counting when he's wearing Santa's outfit or when he's wearing the Pumpkin King outfit), Jack is the first (and so far only) character in Disney history to be completely colorless despite coming from a technicolor film. All other black-and-white characters before and after him came from black-and-white films.
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Although Jack is the hero/protagonist of his film, in some stores in the Disney Parks (most notably Walt Disney World) his merchandise is seen alongside that of the Disney Villains. This may have something to do by the fact that Jack is a bit antagonistic early on the film when he resolves to kidnap Santa Claus to take over Christmas while being oblivious to Santa's opinion.
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The pudgy ghoul boy in a striped t shirt is likely a nod to Pugsley Addams.
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The fact that the Mayor has two faces is a play on the term "two-faced politician."
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Jack's doorbell is a nod to a similar contraption in the Addams Family original TV series.
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(at around 14 mins) Jack's first glimpse of Christmas Town looks a bit like the original animated Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).
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The sewing machine Sally uses has a spider spinning its web. The web is the thread for the machine.
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(at around 11 mins) Jack breaks off one of his own rib bones for Zero to fetch.
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(at around 8 mins) When Jack removes his head "to recite Shakespearian quotations" due to his dead status, he is referencing Hamlet, in particular a famous scene where the title character finds the skull belonging to a deceased Court Jester named Yorick, with whom the titular character is familiar.
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(at around 42 mins) The guillotined doll during the preparation for Christmas scene is a nod to Wednesday Addams.
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Oogie Boogie's blood red "bones" (pair of dice) that he first tosses have a Beetlejuice-like sand worm in one of them.
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(at around 3 mins) The half-obscured gatekeeper in bowler hat seen in the musical opening appears to have the head of an ibis. This might be a reference to the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth. Though Thoth was anything but a gatekeeper, he was considered a deification of the moon, and controlled his own domain in the underworld.
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The Wolfman is shown wearing a nightgown cap that resembles the one worn by the granny in the classic fable 'Little Red Riding Hood'.
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The back of Doctor Finkelstein's wheelchair resembles stretched out human skin.
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Lock, Shock and Barrel's names as a whole are derived from wordplay of the phrase "Lock, stock, and barrel," a phrase meaning 'everything', which in turn was derived from the components of a musket.
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Marilyn Manson did a cover of the song "This Is Halloween."
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The Japanese version of "Sally's Song" was covered on Nightmare Revisited by an American artist known as Scott Murphy, who is popular in Japan.
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(at around 33 mins) Finkelstein is only referred to as the 'Evil Scientist' in the credits. His true name is only mentioned in the movie when the Mayor calls him up to the front of the line for his Christmas assignment and when Jack calls on him for science equipment.
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Several quotes from the melody of the "Dies Irae" are heard in a few musical sequences such as "Making Christmas" and Oogie Boogie's Song.
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Jonathan Davis of Korn did a cover in his own metal styling of "Kidnap the Sandy Claws". He did it live via webcam at his own home studio so that the fans could watch it as he produced it.
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The Italian rock band Lacuna Coil used "This is Halloween" as part of the opening to their concert set on their "Comalies" tour.
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Jack says "What's this?" 18 times.
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(at around 51 mins) When the Mayor gives a speech before Jack flies off to Christmas Town, he's holding a piece of parchment paper in his hands. If viewers look closely, they can see that the speech is actually written out, word for word, on the paper.
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Finkelstein looks very duck-like in appearance. However, when portrayed at the Disney theme parks, he is more human-like, and the costume has no duck-like features.
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The bathtub has human feet.
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(at around 4 mins) At the very end of "This Is Halloween," a cloaked bald figure sings Jack's praises for a brief moment. It's a nod to Uncle Fester from the original The Addams Family (1964).
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(at around 3 mins) "This is Halloween" has the "shadow of the moon at night" taking the form of Oogie Boogie. This is later confirmed to be his shadow in Oogie's Revenge. Also, if you listen closely to the instrumental part when the Shadow sings, it almost sounds like the opening to Oogie Boogie's Song.
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(at around 12 mins) When the Mayor goes to Jack's house to discuss plans for next Halloween, he becomes increasingly agitated when Jack doesn't answer the door. At one point, he exclaims, "I'm only an elected official here. I can't make decisions by myself." This, combined with the Mayor literally being "two-faced," adds to the satirical nature of the character.
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The reason it's Sally's left arm that detaches after she jumps out the window is because her right arm was more recently stitched up, making it more secure to her body.
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While in the actual film and in some video games (e.g. Kingdom Hearts series) Oogie's burlap sack's color is brown grey, in most promotional material, games, merchandising, and the Disney Parks his color is neon-green, which he only appears as when his casino lair is lit up in black light. Oogie Boogie was originally going to reveal to be Dr. Finkelstein in a costume, who fabricated the Oogie Boogie persona to get back at Jack and Sally, but this ending was scrapped.
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(at around 48 mins) A close look when Lock, Shock and Barrel shove Santa through the chute to Oogie Boogie reveals that Santa Claus is wearing underwear with holly all over it.
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Henry Selick was the reason Jack's signature suit was adorned with thin white pinstripes, according to the movie's 15th-anniversary DVD commentary track. The decision was made in order to have the character stand out on an already dark-colored set.
Because the film was stop-motion it took animators about three years to complete the film. "I was on the film for three-and-a-half years. The stop-motion animation took about 18 months, but with pre-production, where you storyboarded every single shot, it did add up," director Henry Selick told the Daily Beast in the 2017 interview. "At its peak, it was about 120 people working on it, and we had between 12-17 animators on the job," he added.
Composer Danny Elfman wrote the songs for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" before there was a script to go off of, as the hired screenwriter Michael McDowell was still working on it without much progress. Elfman wrote the iconic songs after Tim Burton described bits and pieces of the story to him. "Tim would show me sketches and drawings, and he would tell me the story, describe it in bits of phrases and words and I would say, 'Yeah, I got it.' Three days later, I had a song," Elfman told the Los Angeles Times in 2015. In the end, McDowell had to be fired because of a cocaine addiction. Burton's search for a new screenwriter turned out easier than expected: Elfman was living with his girlfriend Caroline Thompson at the time, who already knew Burton as she had scripted his Edward Scissorhands (1990), and was deeply absorbed by the film due to hearing Elfman sing the songs all day long. Her biggest contributions were to link Elfman's songs together, and re-develop the Sally character, who had initially been intended as a femme fatale character, so she based her on herself.
Glenn Shadix, who provides the voice of the Mayor of Halloween Town, commented: "This is one project I felt was a classic the first time I saw a rough cut. Tim created the world and Henry brought it to life. I got involved when I was in Tim's pool and he was in the Jacuzzi nearby one Sunday in the summer of 1991. He yelled down to me, 'Hey Glenn, you got a big voice. Wanna do the Mayor in Nightmare?' I wasted no time yelling back 'Sure!' And that was that."
Oogie Boogie was the toughest character to animate because of his big size and pretty shapeless form, Henry Selick told the Daily Beast in 2017. "Ultimately, Rick Heinrichs had to re-sculpt it, and then, when he gets his skin pulled off and he's filled with bugs, that took some years off a few animators' lives -it's three or four killer shots and took about four months," he added.
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Though they appear to have reformed at the end of the movie, all appearances after the movie have Lock, Shock, and Barrel reverting back to being antagonists.
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The Harlequin monster is modeled and named after a classical form of clown known as a harlequin. Harlequins were distinguished by dressing in clothing covered in diamond color schemes of orange/red and green/black which the feathers of the Harlequin Demon channel. They are also portrayed as having jester hats which the three tentacles of the Harlequin Demon resemble. In classical tradition, Harlequins were trickster characters who often played demons or the devil in story performances, hence the nature of the Harlequin Demon.
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According to the Disneystrology book, Sally's birthday would be on February 8th.
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(at around 1h 8 mins) When Santa finally leaves Oogie Boogie's den, he first lays a finger to the side of his nose, as in the original poem "The Night Before Christmas."
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(at around 10 mins) There is a homage to the original Frankenstein (1931). Both doctors (Henry- The Monster, Finkelstein- Sally) talk about making their creations "with my own hands", then stare intently at their hands.
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Oogie Boogie was not present in Tim Burton's original poem that inspired the movie.
In Russia, the trio is voiced by an all-male rock band; because of this, Shock (who is female) is voiced by a man.
A minor key version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" is played by the band as Jack makes preparations for his departure. And, of course, Zero's red nose is homage to the original Rudolph.
In 2008, Evanescence's frontwoman Amy Lee covered "Sally's Song" for the cover album Nightmare Revisited. Jack and Sally are mentioned in the song, "I Miss You" by Blink-182. "Sally's Song" was covered by European Gothic-Neo Classical band, Dark Sanctuary, on the album Exaudi Vocem Meam Part II. "Sally's Song" was covered by Californian Gothic band, London After Midnight on the compilation album Oddities.
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Though it seems that Lock, Shock and Barrel are not completely loyal to Oogie, seeing their supposed reformation, they went as far as to bring him back to life, suggesting they enjoy working for him more than being good.
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Amy Lee did a cover of "Sally's Song".
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In November 2002, when asked about a development of a sequel being utalized with CGI instead of stop motion, Henry Selick mentioned "The movie is "99.9% handmade. If I were making it again, even with all the advances in CG, I would definitely go stop motion. The built-in flaws give it a charm and there's a tactile quality. I think there will always be some stop motion films, but it's not like everyone's going to get involved. It's too difficult. It takes too long. I'm a little disappointed with Aardman taking so long to get their next feature up and running after Chicken Run (2000). I think they're going through the Jeffrey Katzenberg story development hell. He's going to make sure it's absolutely perfect, work it to death. This past spring, for a few days, I was talking with Disney about a sequel. We got down the road a little bit. I was disappointed that even Disney wanted to do it CG and that didn't feel right to me. I think probably they thought of it as a way to modernize it, to make it sexy and new. A big mistake. [A sequel] will really be up to Tim Burton, if he's in the mood."
At the time of release, the film received mixed reviews and did only middling business, making about $50 million on a $24 million budget. It grew in popularity over the next 10 years, and became a cult classic due to strong VHS/DVD rentals and sales. The makers were later surprised to learn about the vastness and popularity of the movie's merchandise.
The Melting Man effect was achieved by using a hot-air blower on the puppet to melt his face a little bit before each take so it would droop a bit.
Marilyn Manson made his cover of "This is Halloween" in 2006 for the film's special edition release of the film's soundtrack. Panic! at the Disco also made their cover in the 2006 reissue.
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Mabel Scott's 1948 hit "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" might have helped inspire Oogie Boogie's song to Santa. The number is performed on a large, macabre roulette wheel, too.
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Henry Selick commented that "it's a full-blown musical. Most of the movies at the time had maybe four or five songs max and this one has 10 songs. I think it's close to an operetta. So I guess musically speaking, it was aimed at an older audience. There was only one thing in the entire film that Disney asked me not to do. It was the clown with the tear-away face. The first design, when he tore his face away, was bloody and awful. I didn't have a problem changing it because it never quite felt right. And there were other things, like where Sally gets her arm pulled off. I stuffed leaves in there where some of the guys working on it wanted to make her like Frankenstein, made of real body parts. A big thing was the ending of the movie. I spent a long time planning the battle between Oogie Boogie and Jack. The point where Oogie Boogie gets skinned alive and there's all these bugs, that wasn't seen [by Burton] until it was finished and it was too late to change it. That was the biggest risk in the movie--whether we'd gone too far or not."
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The slot machines are literally "one armed bandits" (the number 7 that is typically part of a slot machine is replaced with the number 13).
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Sally is somewhat similar to Frankenstein's monster and the monster made in the Bride of Frankenstein, as she was a sewn-up monster created by a mad scientist.
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The responses to Jack's poem about Christmas sound very Dr. Seuss-esque.
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(at around 27 mins) When he's trying to understand Christmas scientifically, Jack attempts to cut a paper snowflake and finds that he's made a spider. The rest of the same scene, his attempts to understand the paraphernalia of Christmas, only result in the items of his experiments being destroyed. "Jack's Obsession" also ends with him smashing several Christmas ornaments, and causing a string of lights to explode.
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Jack's puppet used for the film is made out of clay.
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Though Jack is usually shown with white stripes on his clothes, his 2D artworks usually have them absent (or largely absent, some white can sometimes be seen).
Though Lock is the leader of the trio, it was not until Kingdom Hearts his leadership was actually confirmed.
When he first appears, Jack's dog, Zero, has a glowing orange nose. At the beginning of the movie, this appears to just be a part of his appearance. However, when fog makes it impossible for Jack to take off on his sleigh on Christmas Eve, Zero guides it like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This was actually foreshadowed earlier in the movie when Jack was reading the "Rudolph" book.
Looking at simply his face, the Harlequin demon looks very similar to The Monster Under the Bed. Albeit with green eyes instead of red.
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In addition to acting as Skellington's singing voice, Danny Elfman provided the voices of Barrel and the Clown with the Tear-Away Face in "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
Despite the colorful cast of characters in the film, Tim Burton's original poem only featured three characters: Jack Skellington, Zero, and Santa Claus.
Jack's sleigh, like the podium seen earlier at the town meeting, is shaped like a coffin. The top has an opening, and viewers can even see that satin-looking fabric inside resembles that of most real coffins. The front of the sleigh also features metal teeth, and it's being pulled by reindeer skeletons.
When Jack delivers presents in Christmas Town, some adults' faces are blocked in creative ways. For example, one mother's head is cut off by window shades, and a radio announcer's face is completely out of frame. However, when Jack first arrives, a grandmother can be seen reading to children in front of a fire, so there appears to only be a certain generation of adults who get blocked.
Tim Burton insisted that there would be no magic in Halloween Town.
Oogie Boogie was conceptualized as an animated character from 1927. The puppet was extremely thick and covered in a lot of rubber, so the production had the strongest animators pose it.
Writer/producer Tim Burton rejected art director Deane Taylor's first designs of Halloween Town, stating that he only wanted the colors black, white and orange, and there should be no right angles. According to a Slashfilm report from 2017, Disney wanted to create a ride dedicated to the film and even created sketches of what it would look like, but it never came to be. For now, fans can enjoy Halloween Town when The Haunted Mansion is transformed each Halloween season.
Henry Selick told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that he really regrets replacing a scene from the end of the movie, when Christmas comes to Halloween Town. "We show a lot of Halloween Towners enjoying winter sports and snow, and you see the vampires playing hockey and they hit the puck right at the camera and originally it was Tim Burton's head," said Selick. "And it was really funny. And Denise Di Novi or one of the Hollywood producers told me, 'I don't think Tim's going to like that.' And I feel so stupid for not just asking him." He added, "But that's one of the shots that we reshot and we put in a pumpkin instead."
Looking back at the project in October 2002, director Henry Selick commented: "Making Nightmare Before Christmas was the smoothest filmmaking experience I've ever had. I'll probably never have another filmmaking experience like it in my career," says director . "To have Tim as your godfather on a project like that is a real gift. It was very labor intensive, of course--at the height of production we only produced 70 seconds of finished film per week--but every day we saw miracles and it was very rewarding. Nightmare was truly a hand-made movie: Every frame was crafted by an artist. Tim and I never disagreed except once. I proposed a completely different ending to what Tim wanted. I sprung it on him--a big surprise--all storyboarded, temp voices and music and everything and I thought I was going to hit it out of the park. He looked at it, his jaw dropped and he walked outside and kicked a hole in the wall."
While Burton was designing Sally, he was currently working on Batman Returns (1992) by this point, and took Catwoman's costume as inspiration. Burton mentioned in a interview, "Sally was a relatively new character; I was into stitching from the Catwoman thing, I was into that whole psychological thing of being pieced together. Again, these are all symbols for the way that you feel. The feeling of not being together and of being loosely stitched together and constantly trying to pull yourself together, so to speak, is just a strong feeling to me. So those kind of visual symbols have less to do with being based on Frankenstein, than with the feeling of pulling yourself together."
Danny Elfman drew tongue-twisting inspiration for "What's This?" from Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from "The Pirates of Penzance."
The film was developed over the course of 20 years, during which Tim Burton pitched it to TV stations as a stop-motion holiday special as well as book publishers. He always wanted to make it using stop-motion animation in honor of Ray Harryhausen and the Rankin/Bass specials.
Henry Selick turned down a job working with MTV on a series based on his short film Slow Bob and the Lower Dimensions in order to direct this film.
Danny Elfman, who provides the singing voice of Jack, compares Jack's struggles to his own coming to terms with being the "king" of Oingo Boingo but wanting to do something more, leading him to composing scores for films.
The origin of the story dates back to when Tim Burton worked at Disney as an animator for The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985), which was around the time he was coming up with his short films Vincent and Frankenweenie. He was also inspired by the Rankin/Bass holiday specials aired on television. Burton eventually developed the idea into a poem, which can be found on the DVD and Blu-ray, read by Christopher Lee.
Tim Burton's original drawings for Jack Skellington had him wearing a black suit. Henry Selick changed this to a pinstripe pattern because in early screen tests, Jack's body seemed to disappear in the dark background of Halloween Town.
Henry Selick requested that Danny Elfman rework the song "Making Christmas" so the film could cut back and forth from Halloween Town to Christmas Town, in order to show a difference in tone of the music and imagery.
Vincent Price was originally set to play Santa Claus, but he had recently lost his wife and Henry Selick felt he had too much sadness in his voice at the time. The part eventually went to San Francisco actor Edward Ivory, who delivered a more traditional Santa voice.
All the clouds in the flying sequences are hand-made from cotton.
Late Pixar animator Joe Ranft worked as a storyboard supervisor on the film, and he was known for always wanting more gory and grotesque imagery.
All of the characters have very small feet. This is because they are based on Tim Burton's drawings, and he always draws characters with freakishly small feet.
The flying vampire left as a Christmas present was designed to slightly resemble Mickey Mouse. Even though this was a Disney film, the studio only approved it if it didn't look too much like its mascot.
Because stop-motion animation was (and still is) a very limited field, Tim Burton and Henry Selick were able to have their pick of the best animators for the film. Aside from a new Gumby TV series, there was no other stop-motion animation film in competition during production.
Because Oogie Boogie was made of hundreds of individual bugs, any member of the crew who had down time was given the job of building bugs for his final unraveling scene
The herb garden Sally visits early on contains hen bane and deadly nightshade, two plants traditionally associated with magic.
Jack is in Sony's LittleBigPlanet 2 (2011), as a DLC costume.
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In the game spin-offs and Kingdom Hearts series, Finkelstein's name is pronounced "steen" instead of "stein".
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(at around 22 mins) During Jack's presentation about Christmas, one of the audience members who asks a question is a witch. She pulls up her hat to reveal another witch who pulls off her hat to reveal yet another witch, and so on. Later, when the town members are shown making toys for Christmas (at around 43 mins), the same witch is making a set of nesting dolls, which is pretty fitting given her situation.
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(at around 8 mins) Jack implies in his song, "Jack's Lament" that he was effectively "born" from a cadaver located in Kentucky, which he considered unlucky, and that he had been publicly known in England and France.
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(at around 48 mins) When Oogie introduces himself to Santa he roles Snake Eyes (two ones). When he roles again to decide Santa's fate (at around 1h 6 mins) he once again roles Snake Eyes. The odds of rolling the same double twice in a row is 1/36.
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Oogie Boogie's henchmen, also known as Boogie's Boys, are named Lock, Shock, and Barrel. This is likely a pun on the phrase "lock, stock, and barrel," which informally refers to a complete set of something, but the phrase itself is also a reference to various parts of a gun. As the three characters are never seen without each other, and work together to cause chaos, their names suit them well.
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The Boogeyman's lair is full of spooky casino decorations. The floor itself looks like a roulette wheel, with unlucky symbols on the slotted spaces such as a black cat and the number 13. There are also skeleton dice with skulls on them, and the middle of the roulette wheel features an oversized eight ball as well.
When Oogie Boogie rolls a pair of "ones," snakes come out of the holes -- a clever visual representation of the common phrase "snake eyes."
Danny Elfman's first score for an animated film.
Because he grew up in Burbank, Tim Burton never really experienced seasons, which is why he tends to identify them with decorations for holidays. The inevitable colliding of Halloween and Christmas decorations in stores and other businesses helped inspire him for the story. Additionally, as a child, he would sneak Halloween decorations into the Christmas tree ornaments, which also inspired him to juxtapose the two holidays in the film.
All of Jack's songs start slow and in some form of emotional distress. He then has a change of heart and eventually becomes worked up into a frenzy and rallies himself by the end.
On the free online building game Roblox (2003), a hat entitled 'Halloween Monster' was released. It is essentially the Harlequin Demon's upper head.
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Oogie Boogie's encounter with the disembodied female leg is reminiscent of a scene in a Bugs Bunny cartoon between Bugs (in drag) and a shoe salesman. Coochie coochie coo!
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The yowling cat siren might have been inspired by a similar get up, using a chimp, in the Popeye animated short Wild Elephinks (1933).
(at around 29 mins) As Jack attempts to figure out what Christmas is all about, he writes out a "formula" that's full of typical holiday traditions. Viewers can clearly see the phrases "sugar plum visions" and "egg nog" at the top of the board, and underneath, he divides "chestnuts" over "open fire." The date "12.25.93" is also a reference to the year the movie came out.
Jack has metal frames on his windows that are shaped like bats and jack-o'-lanterns. This matches his gate, which has a jack-o'-lantern design on the top of it all, appropriately spooky features for the Pumpkin King's house.
From the poem, Tim Burton worked with Danny Elfman to develop the songs. Rather than a traditional musical, which often features characters stopping the story to break out in song, they wanted the dialogue to flow into the songs, making it more like an opera. Stop-motion production actually began (with the "What's This?" song in Christmas Town) before a script was completed.
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(at around 24 mins) When Jack reads a large stack of books about Christmas, most of the titles are just generic phrases connected to the holiday, such as "Santa," "Noel," and "Xmas." However, Jack also reads some recognizable stories from the real world, including "A Christmas Carol" and "Rudolph."
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(at around 21 mins) When Jack returns from Christmas Town, he asks the Mayor to call a town meeting so he can tell everyone what he's discovered. During the meeting, Jack speaks at a podium in the shape of a coffin. The curtain hanging behind him seems to be decorated with broken hearts that have been stitched back together.
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Joe Ranft: Igor, Dr. Finkelstein's assistant when he gives him the plans to create the skeleton reindeer. He appears in several scenes in the film, but only had one line. Despite this, Ranft was not credited for his role.
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Some of the presents Jack delivers to the kids are nods to Tim Burton films. The snake looks like a Sandworm from Beetlejuice (1988), and the shrunken head is from the afterlife waiting room in the same film. The Cat and Duck are both featured in Batman Returns (1992) - the Cat as the mascot for Shreck's department store, the duck resembling a vehicle driven by the Penguin.
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The only human adult faces shown are Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, a police officer, and a woman reading a book to elves in Christmas town, all others are only shown from the neck down.
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(at around 15 mins) During Jack's first visit to Christmas Town in the song "What's This?" we see him unintentionally smashing a snowflake, destroying a snowman and scaring a little sleeping elf - a taste of the unwitting destruction that Jack's curiosity in Christmas will bring.
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Oogie Boogey is reminiscent of the Boogeyman concept and old phrase "don't let the bed bugs bite" since Oogie is a pun on the Boogeyman and is composed of bugs.
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