Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)

“Attacked by Christmas toys? That's strange, that's the second toy complaint we've had.”

I watched this on Christmas Eve and it’s now 20th January. Still, better late than never, eh? After all, it’s not as though people are sick and tired of all things Christmas at this time of year, right?

I now fully realise how culturally impoverished I was not to have seen this gothic, glorious little jewel of a stop motion animated musical before now. The first of the songs, I learn, eventually found its way into Marilyn Manson’s set list, while Henry Selick’s stop motion animation is the best since Ray Harryhausen. The art is not yet dead. And yes, I know, it’s yet another musical. I seem to be losing my credentials as someone who doesn’t like them.

This is a Henry Selick film; he directs and does the stop motion animation. Yes, Tim Burton supplied the storyline, but it’s not the storyline that makes this film so extraordinary. It isn’t a Tim Burton film, however close it may be to his sort of aesthetic.

The whole concept is completely mad, of course, and bizarrely abstract. Halloween and Christmas are both towns, naturally, with appropriately weird inhabitants, and Halloween decides that it’s going to do Christmas instead, with unfortunate results. That’s it. But around all this we get set pieces and visual treats galore, making this short film a piece of Christmas Eve perfection.

All the characters look great. There’s Jack, of course, but I particularly like Sally, created out of cadavers by the superbly named Dr Finkelstein. Best of all, though, is Oogie Woogie. He’s the coolest, the best singer, and made out of insects. What’s not to like?

So, yeah, good film. The next review might not be so gushing. It certainly won’t be so much of a wait…!

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