At the peak of his career, Tim Burton was the master of unlikely hits. Films as dark and strange as Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands enjoyed mainstream box office success, while his reinvention of the Batman franchise set the standard for comic book adaptations to follow. In 1993 he turned his singular vision towards another pop culture standard; the Christmas movie.
The Nightmare Before Christmas wasn’t directed by Burton, but he produced the film and conceived the original story idea. The film was shot in stop motion and featured the musical talents of frequent Burton collaborator Danny Elfman – who composed the soundtrack and provided the singing voice of Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town who foolishly attempts to branch out into the Christmas market, kidnapping Santa and terrorising children in the process
Like the best Burton films of the era, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a visual feast, the stop motion animation style allowing his twisted imagination free reign, resulting in a number of memorably creepy creature designs – from the two-faced mayor to the villainous Oogie Boogie, essentially an evil sack-cloth filled with bugs.
As a child I seem to remember the movie intriguing me more than it scared me – the message is deceptively wholesome and there isn’t much real sense of peril in its 70 minute runtime. But there are certainly moments that are burned into my memory, making it a rare pleasure to revisit in 2019.
In this week’s podcast, we dig into the great Halloween vs Christmas movie debate, discuss the pleasure of terrorising small children (onscreen) and ponder the disturbing implications behind Thanksgiving Land. We also brainstorm some drinking games, share our favourite listener comments and pitch our own sequel ideas for this twisted classic.
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Next week, two special guests return to trade notes on a modern Netflix… classic? We’ll have that debate next week, until then, happy listening and remember, you can’t beat the Boogie man…