The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Jack is as thin as a candlestick.

The visually-arresting style and visceral imagery of The Nightmare Before Christmas, coupled with a dark and memorably haunting soundtrack and a uniquely imaginative story, is so far removed from the normal approaches to holiday-themed movies that the typical “Hey, that movie did well… let’s copy it!” parasitical Hollywood game never stood a chance. Like a kaleidoscopic, rainbow-hued quantum snowflake, it has stood the test of time and can be imitated, but not duplicated. That was 100% bullshit, by the way, that “kaleidoscopic, rainbow-hued quantum snowflake” line. I don’t know what that means, I just wanted to say something that sounded absurdly grandiose. Seriously, snowflakes are not all that unique. But The Nightmare Before Christmas? Totally unique.

The animation is, at times, vaguely crude. At all times, really. That’s just how stop-motion photography looked, so no worries there. The plot of the film is not very complex. It’s just a storybook tale – simple, engaging, and great fun to look at.

Jack Skellington, the loved-by-all “”Pumpkin King” (he’s a skeleton) of the ooky town of Halloween, enters a sort of mid-life crisis when he finds himself growing bored and disinterested in his profession of organizing Halloween every year and scaring the fucking flesh right off of your fucking face. Despondent, he goes for a long walk one day (which, apparently, no one ever does. The townsfolk are pretty one-dimensionally obsessed with Halloween and setting it up each year, which is only natural since their town only exists because of that holiday). Jack is surprised to see the entrances to the other holidays in the forest he ends up in, and sneaks a peek inside Christmas-town. Since the experience of everything inside of that place is wholly new for him, he is terribly excited by the prospect of changing things up and quickly slips down the slope towards complete holiday domination! Things go awry when Jack tries to play the part of Santa (a few hijinks are involved, but only really creepy ones fortunately or this would be a more traditional type of movie), though, and he learns some sort of valuable lesson since he’s really not a bad sort of chap.

It is, however, fortunate that Mr. Skellington picked the Christmas-themed town to visit first. The movie would suffer a bit if he’d ended up trying to lead Valentine’s Day instead of Cupid (or a Hallmark card), or Easter as the Easter Bunny (or Jesus). Also, Kwanzaa. St. Patrick’s Day and Channukah would be bad candidates as well, really. OK, fine, so EVERY other holiday would have resulted in a bad movie. We really need to pick up the mythos-building pace for those, I guess?

Well, there you have it. I really like this movie. It’s a cinematic jewel with dark and lustrous qualities that won’t be soon forgotten, nor easily overshadowed by any other gem-cutter’s work. Perhaps never, in fact.

Haha, now they can release a new DVD version or something and use nothing but quotes of mine on the back. I think I drooled four or five case-worthy quotables onto this review already, but let’s try for one more:

It’s a rollercoaster ride of pure entertainment, pulled along the rickety tracks by ghostly phantom horses with flaming hooves and horrible breath!

Unfortunately, it all sounds like nothing more than self-absorbed bullshit. I guess quotes usually do. At least I have good intentions and meant to suggest that the movie is really quite good, you should watch it wherever I spewed that sort of overbearing nonsense.

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