Disney: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is the Perfect Halloween Movie

Screenshot from Henry Selick’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. Copyright goes to Touchstone Pictures, Skellington Productions, and Walt Disney Productions.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re finally into spooky season and, of course, that means I’m going to talk about my favorite movie of all time. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is a masterpiece that is absolutely essential to both the Halloween and Christmas holidays. I’ll probably make a post closer to December about why you should be watching this movie around Christmas time, but today I’m going to cover why this should be on your “must watch” list of Halloween movies. On top of that, I’m not just going to keep this post focused on it’s obvious Halloween themes. There are some things I’ve come to appreciate about this film that really can be enjoyed at any part of the year. So let’s get into why this “kids” movie deserves to be up there with all the rest of the best Halloween movies.

The Animation: Stop motion animation is very rarely used in animated movies. That’s because it takes a very, very, very, long time to complete a film of this nature. Between creating actual sets and moveable figures, and then moving all of these things a miniscule amount before having to immediately rearrange a scene, it isn’t difficult to imagine how long and painstaking a process like this is. The thing is, it pays off. This film is gorgeous and the stop motion quality adds a creepy effect to the way the characters move. It’s almost unbelievable that a place like Spiral Hill was actually hand made, but there’s also a realness to it that other animated films lack. The audience really feels like they could travel to Halloweentown. The careful detail that goes into everything, even something as small as the fabrics in Sally’s dress, transport the audience. This especially works for the little creepy details in Halloweentown, like all of the bat or spider bowties worn by some of the characters. This animation never fails to bring me to a spooky place every time I watch it.

The Music: Danny Elfman is a musical genius. He’s known for composing all kinds of movie soundtracks. That being said, he is by far best known for his spooky soundtracks. He was the front man for the creepy band Oingo Boingo as well as the main composer for most of Tim Burton’s films. It really is a joy to hear both his music and his singing throughout the entire film. While it would have been nice if he had been allowed to do the speaking voice of Jack, it’s still nice to hear him when Jack is singing (He IS the singing and speaking voice of Barrel, however). And let’s be honest, no Halloween playlist is complete without “This is Halloween”. Ok, no Halloween playlist is complete without this movie’s entire soundtrack. It’s the perfect amount of creepy and fun with some incredibly heartfelt moments thrown in there. There’s no way you can listen to any one of the songs in this movie without having a good time.

The Main Character: Jack is a skeleton. What more can you want? The Pumpkin King is both creepy and relatable. He has everything in his life that could possibly make him happy and yet, he isn’t. He still struggles with thoughts that what he’s doing isn’t enough. He also desires a difference from the general monotony of his life, which, with all of us in quarantine, who hasn’t experienced this? The thing that makes Jack Skellington truly special, however, is the fact that he is his own villain. Oogie Boogie is definitely a threatening presence, but he doesn’t create any of the major problems in the film. Jack does. Jack’s desire for more turns into a single-minded obsession that ends up harming more people than it ends up helping. While Sally tries to help him avoid the inevitable catastrophe he creates, she’s only one voice in a sea of supporters. He truly believes what he’s doing is right. By the end he discovers his wrong-doings and rights them. But he also notes that his mistakes caused him to learn how to love himself. Jack is both able to acknowledge his mistakes and love himself for them, regardless. It’s an important lesson many of us still need to learn.

It’s a Halloween Movie: There’s a lot of debate on whether or not this movie is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. As someone who likes to watch this movie as many times as possible throughout the year without being judged, I’m in the camp that says it’s both. But if we’re looking at this from a storytelling standpoint, the movie spends most of it’s time in Halloweentown. All of it’s main characters are Halloween themed with Santa being the only exception. The movie opens with the characters celebrating Halloween, and while we experience Christmas as well in the movie, Jack’s creation of his own Christmas happens in Halloweentown. The final battle and end of the movie takes Jack back to Halloweentown. So it should definitely be pointed out that the story spends most of it’s time celebrating the Halloween characters and locations. I have an equally valid explanation for why this is a Christmas movie, but you’ll have to wait for December to hear that one.

I appreciate all of you who are still with me at the end of this post. I honestly would have gotten so excited to watch this movie I would have left halfway through. But now that you’re finished reading this: What are you waiting for? Don’t just leave this movie for October 31st. It’s a great movie to help you get into the spooky mood. And you can, and should, revisit it on Halloween night. There’s no better movie to celebrate Halloween! So let’s all thank the lovely Henry Selick for this amazing movie, because we all know he doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for this movie, and enjoy this movie as it should be enjoyed. With something pumpkin flavored to eat and loud, obnoxious singing.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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