The Nightmare Before Christmas: Why It’s the Definitive Halloween Movie

Greetings, foolish mortals! In preparation for Halloween this week, we’re taking a special look at one of Disney’s most famous and beloved Halloween (or Christmas?) movies ever made, and that is of course, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which for the record, was directed by Henry Sellick, and not Tim Burton. Regardless, this movie is a delight, and there’s a strong reason why its cultural relevance continues to grow, making it a definitive part of most holiday preparations. So today, we take a look at the many things that make The Nightmare Before Christmas such a great film and appreciate the amazing work that makes it so beloved.

Tim Burton has no shortage of familiarity with stop-motion and puppetry in general (in fact, one of his first theatrical role was as an additional puppeteer on The Muppet Movie in 1979!), so it’s no surprise that a film that Burton worked on in stop-motion puppetry looks pretty spectacular. But as The Nightmare Before Christmas was Burton’s first theatrical stop-motion feature film, it is truly impressive as to how stunning the film looks. Each scene is bursting with beautiful color and painstaking detail to bring the odd and unusual characters to life, and the end result is a mesmerizing array of beauty and visual artistry.

So much of what makes The Nightmare Before Christmas so utterly unique and mesmerizing likely could not have been possible without the visionary director role of Henry Sellick, who would later go on to direct other critically acclaimed stop-motion films, including James and the Giant Peach and Coraline. Sellick shows his ability to balance a multitude of themes, story elements, emotions and of course, musical numbers to make up the elements of this film that make this film so special. Sellick’s crafting of the world within Nightmare Before Christmas is stunning and jaw-dropping, and Sellick’s vision for the world of this film and his films afterward make him a visual mastermind in the medium.

Of course, one could not forget about the movie’s memorable music, with a wonderful soundtrack from the one and only Danny Elfman, which has created some of the holiday’s catchiest tunes. The Nightmare Before Christmas boasts memorable characters filled with motivation and emotion. There’s a reason why Jack Skellington is now one of Disney’s most popular merchandisable characters, and part of that reason is because audiences connected with Jack Skellington’s desire and his passion for both holidays, and his inner desire to provide the members of his town with a balance of both holidays, even if that puts his role as The Pumpkin King at stake. Of course, Jack’s inner desire’s cause for some more exciting climactic moments, and in great fashion to the film’s strength, this movie delivers a wonderful heartfelt finale. Just like the story itself, The Nightmare Before Christmas manages to balance its Christmas and Halloween themes expertly, making it a clever balance between the two, and the definitive movie to watch on repeat from October until January.

Finally, The Nightmare Before Christmas is endlessly fun and charming. It boasts gorgeous visuals, wonderful music and great characters, and all amount to a truly charming and memorable treat that respectfully earns its place in pop culture, and a major part of the Halloween and Christmas festivities. For that reason, this film deserves a re-watch probably at least once a year, and we’re glad it’s a technological feat that The Walt Disney Company remains proud of, as a testament to innovation and the excitement of trying new things. Disney has invested in ideas such as this before,  like the recent production of Burton’s Frankenweenie in 2012, but Nightmare is a nice throwback to a time in which innovation was driving the company in many new frontiers. We hope that the company’s valued dedication to this film will be a reminder to the ability that innovation can accomplish and hope that the film’s legacy will live on as it has to this day.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to do so yet this season, be sure to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas at least once, and or purchase it online for a friend for the perfect stocking-stuffer.