The Nightmare Before Christmas (also known as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas) is a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy Halloween-Christmas film directed by Henry Selick, and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of "Halloween Town" who stumbles through a portal to "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday. Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score, and provided the singing voice of Jack. The principal voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.
The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem written by Burton in 1982 while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation. With the success of Vincent in the same year, Burton began to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute television special to no avail. Over the years, Burton's thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Walt Disney Studios. Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco; Disney released the film through Touchstone Pictures because the studio believed the film would be "too dark and scary for kids".
The film was met with both critical and financial success, grossing over $76 million during its initial run. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a first for an animated film. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures, and was re-released annually in Disney Digital 3-D from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D.
Halloween Town is a fantasy world filled with monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, zombies, demons, mummies, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Jack Skellington, the "Pumpkin King," leader of the town, and main protagonist leads them in organizing the annual Halloween celebrations. However, privately Jack has grown weary of the same routine year after year and wants something new. Wandering in the woods the morning after Halloween, he stumbles across seven trees containing doors leading to towns representing various holidays, and opens a portal to Christmas Town. Awed by the unfamiliar holiday, Jack returns to Halloween Town to show the residents his findings, but they fail to grasp the idea of Christmas and compare everything to their ideas of Halloween, although they do relate to one Christmas Town character; a red lobster-like king who flies at night named "Sandy Claws". Jack sequesters himself in his tower to study Christmas and find a way to rationally explain it, but cannot. He ultimately decides that it's unfair for Christmas Town alone to enjoy the holiday and announces that he and the citizens of Halloween Town will take over Christmas this year.
Jack assigns the citizens of Halloween Town Christmas-themed jobs, including singing carols, making presents, and building a sleigh to be pulled by skeletal reindeer. Sally, a beautiful rag doll woman that is secretly in love with Jack, feels that their efforts will end in disaster, but Jack dismisses this and assigns her the task of sewing him a red coat to wear. He also tasks Lock, Shock and Barrel, a trio of mischievous trick-or-treating children, to abduct Santa Claus and bring him back to Halloween Town. Jack tells Santa he will be bringing Christmas to the world in his place this year. Jack orders the trio to keep Santa safe, but the children instead deliver Santa to Oogie Boogie, a gambling-addicted bogeyman, who plots to play a game with Santa's life at stake. Sally attempts to rescue Santa so he can stop Jack, but Oogie captures her as well.
Jack departs to deliver presents to the world, but the Halloween-styled gifts terrify and attack the populace. As concerns over "Santa's" behavior grows, the military takes action and shoots down Jack, causing him to crash in a cemetery. As Jack bemoans the disaster he has made of Christmas, he finds he enjoyed the experience nonetheless, reigniting his love of Halloween. Jack returns to Halloween Town and finds Oogie's lair. Oogie tries to kill Jack, but Jack pulls apart the thread holding his cloth form together, revealing a massive pile of bugs that fall into Oogie's cauldron and are killed. Jack apologizes to Santa for his actions, and Santa assures Jack that he can fix things and returns to Christmas Town.
As Santa replaces the Halloween-style presents with genuine ones, the townspeople of Halloween Town celebrate Jack's return. Santa then visits Halloween Town and brings them a snowfall for the residents to play with. In the graveyard, Jack and Sally declare their love for each other.
Sound Effects Used
- DANNY ELFMAN VOICEOVER
- Hollywoodedge, Bell Tower Three LowP PE191101
- Hollywoodedge, Bounce Boing Drum CRT016901
- Hollywoodedge, Bounce Jews Harp CRT015804
- Hollywoodedge, Head Bonk Wbell Drum CRT031901 (Heard a couple times.)
- Hollywoodedge, Short Bulb Horn Honk CRT020701
- Hollywoodedge, Single Frog Croak Cl CRT013001
- Hollywoodedge, Slide Whistle Up Dw CRT2028301 (5th slide up heard once in the song "What's this?")
- Hollywoodedge, Sm Heavy Metal Door Sl PE185001
- Hollywoodedge, Springy Boinge Long CRT016202
- Pro Sound Effects, Rooster, Short, Single
- Sound Ideas, BOINK, CARTOON - TIMP DOINK
- Sound Ideas, CARTOON, POP - BIG POP 02
- Sound Ideas, CARTOON, SQUEAK - SEVERAL RUBBER SQUEAKS, STRETCH
- Sound Ideas, SIREN, AIR RAID - AIR RAID 01
- Sound Ideas, WHINE, CARTOON - SHELL SCREAMING WHINE DOWN (Heard when the bullet is about to hit Jack.)
- Sound Ideas, WOLF - LONG HOWL, ANIMAL 01 (Used for Wolfman's howl.)