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The Nightmare Before Christmas Review (Christmas Special)

The third of Advent is upon us and that means, another Christmas movie review. Today I will be talking about my favourite winter holiday film, created by Tim Burton.

Genre: Animation/Christmas/Music

Director: Henry Selick

Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, Ken Page, Edward Ivory & Glenn Shadix.

Run Time: 76 min.

US Release: 29 October 1993

UK Release: 25 November 1994

German Release: 08 December 1994

Welcome back to my third Christmas review on this third Advent Sunday, while I am taking a short break of my Star Wars Special. Today’s review I am really excited about, since it is one of my favourite movies of all times. I am talking about Tim Burton’s infamous The Nightmare Before Christmas, the movie that brought horror and joy to children and adults during Christmas time and at the same time managed to capture the Christmas spirit perfectly.

Burton’s beautiful and grotesque gothic X-mas vision was created during his time as a Disney animator, in form of a poem. Disney stalled the project believing it to be too dark and quirky, but after Burton’s success with Beetlejuice and Batman the project was picked-up again. With Selick as director and Rick Heinrichs as the character sculptor, the stop-motion animation took two years to make.

The Nightmare Before Christmas received worldwide critical acclaim, praising the film for it’s delightful visuals and stunning looking stop-motion effects. The movie’s originality was also a factor for the high praise.


The film takes us into a mystic and imaginary new world, where each holiday has an own world. The story revolves around Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, who is suffering a depressive episode from doing the same thing over and over again on Halloween and starts questions his existence. One day he stumbles accidentally into Christmas Town and is overwhelmed by the idea of Christmas.

He soon concocts a plan to take over Christmas that year, going as far as “kidnapping” Santa, but his plan fails. Instead of joy and happiness he brings horror and nightmares to the people in the real world and he soon realises that being what he is not as bad as he thought. But is there still time to save Christmas?

Tim Burton is known for his dark and gothic style, which are always represented in his movies and it is that atmosphere that made A Nightmare Before Christmas so original. This film was one of Tim Burton’s most personal stories, as it is a metaphor for his lonely feelings as a child and his fascination for the holidays.

One of my favourite aspects of the film is how mature the story of Jack Skellington is, who is saddened and bored by doing the same thing every year and is feeling alone, since no one shares his opinion. Sally, who has a secret crush on him, is the only one that somehow understands what he is going through.

This animation had a very grown-up tone, from the topic of depression to the toned down sexual implementation. I also really enjoyed the horror aspect of Halloween meshing with the warmth and festive Christmas decorations. This movie truly created a completely new and fantastic world.

Jack Skellington was a great character, which showed that even horrifying and creepy figures are just “human”. He lost his way and is searching for his purpose, as he doesn’t feel that being the pumpkin king is his true calling. It surprised me at how relatable this walking and talking skeleton was, when re-watching this animation as an adult. We all went through such a phase, searching for our true calling in life.

Oogie Boogie was a great villain, he is just hinted at through half the movie and is slowly build up until we finally got to see him and although he was just a bag full of maggots, it was Ken Page who lend Oogie Boogie the voice that gave him that menacing vibe.

During its time The Nightmare Before Christmas had been revolutionary in the genre of animation, especially given the fact that stop-motion was considered a dead form of art to be replaced with the computer animation that was taking over. Burton and Selick proved everyone wrong and the effects still look brilliant today.

Jack Skellington and co. jump, dance and move as in any computer animation, but through the three dimensional sculpturing the characters get more of a realistic touch.

I’m normally not a big fan of musicals, there are only a few movies in this genre I can watch without being bored or annoyed by the singing and eventual dancing, and this is one of them. Composed and partially sung by Danny Elfman, it contains some of the most impressive and memorable songs I heard in a movie.

Verdict: The Nightmare Before Christmas is my absolute favourite Christmas movie, even topping the classic Home Alone. The characters are well developed and portrayed, the animation was beautifully spooky and still holds up today and the songs are scary and memorable. I give this amazing and dark Christmas tale a 9.5 out of 10.

Are you a fan of Burton’s magical Christmas film? My next Christmas review will be next week Sunday, on the new Michael Dougherty movie Krampus. I hope you enjoyed my Christmas special this week and as always, thank you for reading!

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