Note: This is a review of the 2008 DVD release
What's this? A new "Nightmare Before Christmas" DVD package? Actually there are three versions: this two-disc set that includes a downloadable digital copy, a Blu-ray version, and a collector's edition that comes with a bust of Jack Skellington with a detachable Sandy Claus beard and hat.
Though this version is billed as a two-disc set, it actually has three discs. The third one contains the digital copy. An instruction sheet spells out in clear steps how to download the file to an iPod or similar device.
The movie itself is a feast for the eyes, ears and imagination. A delectable witches' brew of stop-motion animation, catchy show tunes and a seriously warped creative license, it always stays true to its timeless message: to be happy, be yourself. Devilishly nonconformist, it's an enduring holiday musical for the whole Addams family.
Well, almost. Though all of its fright gags are played entirely for laughs, some of the imagery is downright creepy, especially for small children. Anyone older than say, 6, however, should enjoy every minute. Teenagers will love it.
The story -- the citizens of Halloweentown attempt to annex neighboring Christmastown -- comes from the macabre mind of producer Tim Burton, who wrote it in his spare time (as a poem!) while working as a Disney animator in the 1980s. The movie blends the tastiest bits of Burton's earlier Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands with a sprinkling of the stop-motion magic first found in Disney's 1961 Babes in Toyland.
The imaginative cast of characters includes:
* Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), a mischievous misfit who believes his purpose in life is to merge the holidays of Halloween and Christmas.
* Jack's faithful dog Zero, a ghost with a glowing, jack-o'-lantern nose who, like the hound in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, eventually pulls a sleigh
* Rag-doll heroine Sally (voiced by Catherine O'Hara), Jack's love interest, who sews herself back together when she loses a body part
* Oogie Boogie (Broadway veteran Ken Page), a slimy, singing bag of bugs who channels the cartoon version of Cab Calloway in the old Betty Boop cartoons
* Lock (Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens), Shock (O'Hara) and Barrel (Danny Elfman, the film's composer), a trio of evil trick-or-treaters who "kidnap the Sandy Claws"
* Wheelchair-bound evil scientist Dr. Finklestein (William Hickey), a duckbilled quack whose flip-top head lets him scratch his brains for inspiration
* A mayor (Glenn Shadix, the interior director Otho in Beetlejuice) who is literally two-faced.
Blessed with the ability to bring adult minds back to child's level, Burton dwells in dark mischief. In fact, some of Nightmare's best scenes include the kidnapping of Santa Claus and Jack's hilarious attempt to replace him on Christmas Eve, when the skeleton gleefully delivers presents such as tree-devouring snakes and severed, shrunken heads.
Director Henry Selick painstakingly created the film over three years. Though he had a production crew of over 100, each minute of footage took a week, as each second required 24 ever-so-slightly different shots.
This 2-disc DVD package has a nice collection of extras:
* An audio commentary with Burton, Selick and Elfman.
* A downloadable digital copy of the film, which you can transfer to an iPod or similar device.
* Burton's first short, 1982's 6-minute "Vincent," a black-and-white stop-action film about a boy who dreams of being Vincent Price, who narrates.
* Burton's 1994 Disney live-action short "Frankenweenie." This 30-minute black-and-white film re-imagines the Frankenstein story as the tale of a young boy and his car-struck pet dog in suburban America. A recently taped introduction by Burton shows some working sketches being used for his full-length version now in development.
* A reading of Burton's original "Nightmare Before Christmas" poem by actor Christopher Lee
* A promotional film for the annual "Nightmare" makeover of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.
* Promotional and making-of featurettes, a storyboard to film comparison, deleted scenes and theatrical trailers and posters
on October 16, 2010
Nightmare Before Christmas [Blu-ray]
Since there are a number of reviews listed on previous releases of this movie which describe the storyline of The Nightmare Before Christmas, I will just mention that I saw it when it was originally released in the movie theaters and have been a fan ever since. After being unable to find out sufficient details about the technical specs of this 2010 release on the Amazon and Disney websites, I decided to find out the information by visiting a "Big Box" store so that I could physically look at the Blu-ray/DVD cover. This version contains one Blu-ray disk and one DVD disk. The Blu-ray specs listed on the box are 1080p, with a 1:66:1 aspect ratio. The DVD specs are shown as "original theatrical format" with a 1:66:1 aspect ratio. If you do not already own a Blu-ray player, this version will work best.
After considering this information, I decided to order the Blu-ray + Digital (2008 release) from Amazon since I did not have any use for another standard DVD in my collection, and the Blu-ray disk has the same aspect ratio of 1:66:1. The Nightmare Before Christmas [Blu-ray] + Digital Copy The picture quality on this Blu-ray shows a vast improvement over the DVD Special Edition released in 2000.
For anyone who is a fan of this movie and is considering purchasing a Blu-ray version, I would tell them that it is definitely worth the upgrade.
on December 10, 2001
If you think the best movies are the ones that show you a world you've never envisioned before, then you will LOVE Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas". A benchmark in stop-motion animation, this incredibly difficult-to-make film (24 individually posed frames were needed to produce ONE SECONDS's worth of action) is a masterpiece of art direction, set design, and good old-fashioned storytelling. The plot revolves around Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloween, and his attempt to run Christmas in place of Santa Claus. "Sleigh" becomes confused with "slay"; "stockings" become "stalkings"; and spirits go from joyous to ghostly as the two holidays clash together like oil and water, or fire and ice. One of the great surprises of the movie is that although it dances around material that could easily careen into cynicism, it remains refreshingly sweet and light throughout. Which is not to say that some of the comedy isn't a little dark and perhaps geared more towards older children and adults; for example, the brief scene in which a python puppet is shown swallowing a Christmas tree whole is hysterically funny, but not especially appropriate for the very young.
The special edition DVD is unquestionably the version of this classic to buy. Included are a wealth of extras: the teaser and theatrical trailers; a documentary on "The Making of ..."; deleted scenes and storyboards, etc, etc. The best bonuses are two short films by Burton: "Vincent", a poetic tribute to the magnificent Vincent Price, narrated by the subject himself; and "Frankenweenie", a canine send-up of "Frankenstein", starring Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern, and a cast of talented character actors. This DVD is one that you can spend HOURS exploring happily! Highly recommended as both a Halloween and Christmas treat.
on December 8, 2011
POST-PRODUCTION 3D (converted from 2D to 3D)
My ratings are based mainly on the QUALITY OF THE 3D, not the video content.
There are about 23 out of screen effects that extend about 10% of the way, from the screen to the viewer but 6 of them are very quick. 2 made it to 15% and 5 more at 25%.
The 3D looked somewhat inconsistent from scene to scene and it lacked the crisp details normally associated with animated 3D. This is partly due to originally being a 2D stop-motion film vs. a computer generated animation like most. The lack of colors and the many dark scenes it includes also hampered the 3D.
Active Glasses Users: I detected 19 instances of crosstalk but realistically only 5 times the ghosting was easily noticeable. (on my system)
MY 3D RATING = GOOD (poor, fair, good, very good, excellent)
Note: As far as the percentages go, everyone's eyes are different. What I see at 25% you may see at 15% or 35%. To fully realize how far something is out of the screen for you, pause on an effect and direct a partner with an extended finger to the tip of what you are seeing. You may be surprised.
Click on `See all my reviews' for the lowdown on other 3Ds
on May 23, 2002
It's "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," of course. It was the movie that made the record of the first stop motion animated film. The story is of a character who has never heard of Christmas before and somehow "discovers" it. I think it is always worth view, unless your one of those... individuals who doesn't appreciate Tim Burton's "dark humor." The story is of Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, but lately, he's pretty much grown tired of the same old tricks and treats, deep in lamentation. (Hence the name of the song, "Jack's Lament.") One night, while he's wandering around in a forest, head filled with his thoughts of misery and woe, he finds a clearing where every tree is decorated with some holiday symbol. They all seem to interest him, but what fascinates Jack the most is none other than the Christmas tree. Danny Elfman, who provides Jack's gorgeous singing voice, is a master with "Nightmare's" music and songs. Who wouldn't mind going out on Halloween night, singing "This is Halloween" at the top of their lungs? (That's what my friends and I did last Halloween.) Anyway, you have ten songs to choose from. The cast of characters is awesome too. Sally (Catherine O'Hara) is sweet and sensitive and is always willing to help Jack, even it means literally risking an arm and a leg. Lock, Shock, and Barrel (Paul Rubeuns, Catherine O'Hara, and Danny Elfman) help make up "Nightmare's" interesting plot. Without this terrible threesome, Santa Claus (Ed Ivory) would have no place in the story. Now, every movie needs a villain, and who would be better than the notorious Oogie Boogie (Ken Page)? Overall, I think this movie deserves all five stars. One for animation, one for music, one for charcters, one for the story, and one for everone who pitched in and worked on this movie for three years.
on November 11, 2009
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON DIGITAL COPY:
The activation code that you need for the 2nd disc containing the Digital Copy of the movie expired already late August 2009; the disc will NOT work! Please don't be disappointed, nor shoot the messenger, nor Amazon, but email Disney instead.
I hope this is of help for some people out there that now prefer to buy the version without the Digital Copy disc (if cheaper).
on December 21, 1999
This is my favorite animated film and in my opinion the best to come out of the Burton/Elfman team. The plot is... well... "different": The denizens of Halloween Town kidnap Santa Claus and have their way with Christmas. i.e. make a complete mess out of it. The visuals are spectacular (if a little dark) and the music and songs are wonderful and fit right in with the action. Regarding the "family appeal" of this movie: just keep in mind that this is a Tim Burton creation (Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow) and therefore it is dark, a little scary and the humor is on the sarcastic side. Oh, and if you absolutely can't stand musicals, then this movie will either make you a believer (like it did to me) or will put you off.
About the DVD edition: I've seen this movie in the theater, on TV, on VHS and now on DVD and I must say that the DVD edition had the best sound quality. They could have included some bonuses (a "the making of..." type of feature is really missing) but the excellent sound and decent picture quality was good enough for me.
Go ahead and give it a try, especially if you're a Burton/Elfman fan!
on December 12, 2000
The NightMare Before Christmas! My very favourite film. So what is it that makes the movie so incredible? Well first and foremost, it's visual beauty! This movie was filmed using a technique called stop animation - a technique that requires immense eye for detail and painstaking skill. The animators on this movie went all out to make sure this technique was used to it's full capacity - and the result is - perfect animation!! Such exsquisite attention to detail and some beautiful sets and angles make for many stunning shots as well. Secondly - it's story! That of the inhabitants of Hallowe'en Town deciding to take over Christmas for a year. The only problem is - THEIR idea of expressing love and spreading joy is frightening someone into a stroke - to their way of thinking giving out presents and decorating things with color is just weird, so Christmas is suitably warped to suit their esoteric tastes!!The result is ghoulishly funny, providing you like that kind of humour. =D Thirdly - the characters. An ecclectic collection of freaks, ghouls, witches, devil and skeletons each perfectly content within their little lives. One of the best things about NBC is the pure innocence of these characters and they warp Christmas - they truly believe they are improving the holiday - for what better way to show someone you care than by slipping a scorpion into their shoe? They have total faith in themselves and in their leader - the indomitable Jack Skellington. One of the things I love most about Jack is his refusal to give up - even when he realises he has ruined Christmas, he doesn't let it get him down - he just picks himself back up and tries to correct his mistakes.The ever sweet Sally - a rag doll who is stitched up at the joint and can stitch and unstitch herself back up - is a bizarrely gentle heroine. She of all the characters in Halloween Town has an idea that affection can be expressed in other ways than presenting your beloved with a severed head.She is also intelligent - she knows it is wrong for Jack to take over Christmas - and brave. Oogy Boogy Man, a swinging-jazz bad guy, Lock, Shock and Barrel and the Harlequin Demon are among my other favourite characters.I guess the characters follow what I call "The Addams Family Syndrome". That family adores one another and their friends and family, and will do anything for them, but at the same time they are, by society's standards, very bizaare. They do what most consider to be weird, and even at times, cruel things to each other - but they think they are doing the right thing. They have eternal faith in themselves and are bound by very strong feelings.It never occurs to them they might be evil.And they're not - they don't betray anyone, they don't corrupt anyone and they try to set a good example for their children, and everyone is welcome in their home. The characters of Halloween are very similar to that.
Finally,the music! Written by the brilliant Danny Elfman (who seems at his best when he teams with Tim Burton, who conceieved and produced this flick) the songs are witty,playful and very memorable.Some have a definite touch of the macabre,(Kidnap the Sandy Claws) some are intensely sweet (Sally's Song), some have definite malice to them (Oogy Boogy's Song) and some express the wonderment and general good nature of the inhabitants of Halloween Town (Making Christmas,Jack's Obsession, What's This?). All are cool! =D
NBC is just generally fantastic film for people of all ages! Whether you appreciate it's cinematic beauty,the story it tells or just everything in general, it's well worth the look!
on September 11, 2013
I haven't watched it yet in 3D, but the original movie is (of course) awesome.
But I just purchased the BluRay (non-3D) "Collector's Edition" a few years ago, and paid $32 for this 20th Anniversary 3D Edition at a local chain store. After getting home to look at the Special Features, they are the exact same as the one from a few years back. There is NO new content or special features, in fact I think the other non-3D discs are exactly the same printing.
I was hoping that the "20th Anniversary Edition" would at least have SOME NEW features, but the only thing you get extra is nicer packaging.
on December 22, 1999
It's no secret that the majority of Europeans see American cultural import as something highly entertaining but not very complex and sophisticated. The plots are simplistic, the characters lacking individuality,etc. I am not talking here about the well-known masterpieces but the everyday Hollywood produce make this opinion well-deserved. On the other hand today's European cinema is often anemic and uninspired. Of course I generalize but for the most part it's true.
Living in Moscow I try to get the best of both worlds and in The Nightmare Before Christmas I found something that can be called flawless. It's very entertaining, the music is the classic of the genre, the visuals are just unbelievable! It's complex, it's fun, it's perfect in form and content. Frankly, you can hardly expect all that from the American animation industry lately represented by Anastasia, The Hercules and other sodomizations of the world history. So the Nightmare's team did a great job of creating this surprisingly original piece of art.
The main idea are the perspectives of communication between the worlds that are so much different. What happens if one of them come uninvited to visit the other with the best intentions and gifts designed to please. The result is far from idyllic.
What happens if the extraordinary person is tired of his world and thinks that the real life is elsewhere. So he travels abroad and finally finds the happiness at home.
It's strange that some of the reviewers consider the Haloween creatures too violent. They are no more violent that Maurice Sendac's Wild Things or the monsters our children like to invent when they exchage the self-made horror stories.
The portrayal of children of the Halloween Town is very accurate - the little ones are unexhaustable, inventive and ready to do anything just to see what comes out of it- just like my 7-year old son.
So this DVD is an ideal investment and do not regret.