Thursday, October 14, 2021

31 Days of Scary Movies: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

 What is there to say about Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” that hasn’t been said? Of course I would watch it as part of my 31 Days of Scary movies. The Disney film has become such a cultural touchstone and juggernaut that it has become synonymous with the holiday it was created to celebrate. Tim Burton has famously said that he took inspiration from the film when he was Halloween merchandise in a store being mixed with Christmas merchandise; and the story that image sparked has become the ultimate love letter to Halloween. 

The characters, created to represent so many of our spooky greats—the skeleton, the Frankenstein’s monster, the trick or treaters, the boogey man—are used in such brilliant, character driven ways. It is no wonder that the film has become immortal and holds such a special place for people. There isn’t a limit to how many times I can watch skeleton Pumpkin King Jack Skellington become disenchanted with his holiday and life, and wonder if there isn’t something more—and watch as he goes along on his journey to find what he was looking for was all in front of him the whole time. On their own, Danny Elfman’s score and songs are brilliant. With so many Disney movies having been turned into Broadway shows—especially ones that needed more songs to be stretched out to a full length musical—it’s always astounding to me that this has not yet been, with its perfect songs and score that are already the length of a full size musical. Not to mention even, the boundless creative opportunities to bring these characters to life. And, perhaps most of all, such a show can be popularly run throughout the Halloween and Christmas seasons.

 This time, as always, I was struck at the versatility of Catherine O’Hara in her multiple roles in this film—and how good her take on Sally, the film’s Frankenstein’s monster is. I love that she is finding new scores of fans from her work on TV series “Schitt’s Creek.” 

 “A Nightmare Before Christmas” will always be the right nightmare to have on Halloween, and before the Christmas season.

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