“The Nightmare Before Christmas”: A Mediocre Film Steeped in Nostalgia 


“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” 1993, directed by Henry Selick, is a stop motion animated musical film. The story is about Jack Skellington (Chris Sanderson), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, feeling dissatisfied with his life as the Pumpkin King. He discovers Christmas Town and tries to take over Christmas despite the uneasiness of his friend and secret admirer, Sally (Catherine O’Hara). 

Overall, this film has an incredible aesthetic. The unnatural proportions of the characters, like the long limbs of Jack or the small hands and feet, fit into the world seamlessly. Jack’s black and white striped suit and Sally’s colorfully patched dress are still iconic nearly 30 years after the film’s release. The animation still holds up as well. While the animation is choppy and some of the puppets don’t have very intricate facial expressions, the movements still fit into the world so well that it’s hard to believe that the film is animated with puppets. 

The film’s music is also very well done. “This Is Halloween,” the film’s opening number, has become many people’s unofficial anthem for Halloween. Other songs from the film, even if they’re not as popular, also hold up. “Oogie Boogie’s Song,” sung by the film’s main villain, Oogie Boogie (Ken Page), is an incredibly fun song and very clearly inspired by American singer, Cab Calloway. The style of the song, the dance moves and the fact that Oogie Boogie’s layer is filled with gambling machines, are all references to Calloway’s life. 

However, the eerie aesthetic and fun songs do not make up for the fact that the characters in this film, especially Jack, are extremely annoying and careless. Jack Skellington is so blinded by his supposed cure to his midlife crisis that he only hears what he wants to hear. When he is handing out tasks to the people of Halloween Town to do for Christmas, Sally tries to warn him that she had a vision of his Christmas ending in flames. Jack refuses to listen and tells her to make his Santa Claus costume. Then when Jack finally meets Santa Claus (Edward Ivory), after kidnapping him, he refused to listen to Santa’s protests. It is extremely frustrating watching Jack be so blinded by his midlife crisis that he refuses to listen to reason. 

Overall, this is a fun Halloween (or Christmas) film, but the main characters are extremely aggravating. The unique look of the film and the music makes the film an enjoyable annual watch, but it is far from the best film to watch during Spooky Season.