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"The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 31

Old 09-23-13, 02:25 AM
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"The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 31





The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)



Selected by mrcellophane



IMDB ENTRY

NETFLIX WATCH INSTANTLY
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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 10-27-13, 08:00 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Okay, I will go ahead and state that I know I will likely be the only person to bash this film. I know it is beloved for some reason and maybe it is just because I didn't see it as a kid. Disclaimers: I am not a Tim Burton fan and I fucking loath Danny Elfman and his horrible scores.

There. The good stuff first. I can appreciate the animation and imagination of this movie. The story is interesting and the production of all the unique characters is impressive.

But wait...this is a musical first and foremost, correct? Well, since musicals are going to be judged upon their music more than anything, this musical fails horribly. The lyrics are insipid, the tunes generic and dull, and the voice acting is over the top (which is typical of most musicals but annoying all the same). I have given this movie its share of viewings over the years thinking I would come around since so many people consider it a classic, but alas...no. I saw it in the theater when it was released and I was 20 at the time. Didn't like it. Gave it another chance on video years later and even went to the special 3D release in theaters a few years back.

The only reason I watched this again was because my 9 year old son wanted to see it and I thought maybe this would be a chance to see it through a child's eyes. His opinion: "It was okay. Too much singing." Not a rousing review but better than mine at least. When the music is getting in the way of a decent story, dump the music.

So in summary...screw this movie and fuck Danny Elfman. He is the worst well known score composer out there and I have felt this way through every awful, bland, non-memorable score he has done over the years. Why he gets work is beyond me when there are so many better composers out there. This movie not only has him doing a bland score but also paint-by-numbers bland lyrics. And he sings them too. Ugh.

Spoiler:
Directors, please hire someone else to score your movie. Just because Burton decided to give him a voice doesn't mean you have to hire him also.


My rating: ** out of *****. The only reason this movie gets a extra star is do to the excellent animation and imagination it contains.
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Old 10-29-13, 11:27 AM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

The animation is really great and it's refreshing to see something in practical stop motion animation instead of CGI. My wife couldn't believe it was now so old because it still looks fresh with a great visual style. There's a lot of creative on display here but much of it seems restrained - it's more a collection of sight gags than a full on adverterous oddity.

I agree NBC is over-rated, there's some potential there and parts of it are cutesy enough for be marketable. I wonder how much of NBC's cult appeal and fan following isn't just the Disney marketing machine.

I'm inclined to give NBC a bit of a pass on the harsher criticism just for trying something different at an earlier point in time; however, with films like Paranorman, Hotel Translyvania, or even Burton's own Frankenweenie the ante has been raised on seasonal family movies.
Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
...The lyrics are insipid, the tunes generic and dull...
I agree, the musical aspect isn't very strong. Nothing about the dialog really shines. I've had the Santa Claus song stuck in my head but I think that's just because it's so sing songy. I wish someone would make a REAL horror musical (because no one's ever done that, right?) instead of this questionable stuff (also looking at Devil's Carnival and Repo).
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Old 10-31-13, 09:47 AM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Haven't seen this since I was a kid, no idea how it will hold up. I really wish we were ending the challenge with a scary subset film. I've really enjoyed a few of the subset movies, but there were too many goofy selections, especially since some of us only have time to watch the subset pick most nights. I mean this will be the second animated family film we'll be watching for a horror movie challenge, seems odd to me.
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Old 10-31-13, 06:46 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Maybe it's because I like Halloween so much, but I have always liked this one. I watch it every year on Halloween the way some people watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I particularly like how the monsters try to recreate Christmas from their Halloween points of view and get it all wrong. I need to get a set of those skeleton reindeer for my yard for trick-or-treaters some year!
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Old 10-31-13, 09:42 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

I love this movie. I watch it at least once a year. For me this movie is the start of my holiday season!
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Old 10-31-13, 10:45 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by shellebelle View Post
I love this movie. I watch it at least once a year. For me this movie is the start of my holiday season!
I usually watch it again in December to bookend the holidays.
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Old 10-31-13, 10:57 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

I completely forgot this movie was the subset movie of the day [whoosh!] I'm clueless...

anyhow, I really try to watch this every October and it never gets tired.

unlike UndeadCow's and Spidebite's opinion I think the music is great. and the bluray's DTS lossless audio is simply gorgeous. [different strokes for different folks]
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Old 10-31-13, 11:03 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Somehow I knew Spiderbite was going to bash it.

I really enjoy the music, but agree that it could be stronger. I think I enjoy the story more each time I watch it, which is at least once a year since it involves my two favorite days.
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Old 11-01-13, 07:19 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
Okay, I will go ahead and state that I know I will likely be the only person to bash this film.
Nope, Spider--I'm not a fan, either. I've been trying for almost 20 years to love this movie, and I keep falling short. I admire a whole lot about it (and I actually really love the neon/black light look to Oogie Boogie's first song), but all the various parts just don't coalesce into a worthwhile whole for me. I must admit, though, that "What's This?" has been running through my head ALL. DAY. LONG. Oy vey, what an earworm that song is!

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
I really wish we were ending the challenge with a scary subset film. I've really enjoyed a few of the subset movies, but there were too many goofy selections, especially since some of us only have time to watch the subset pick most nights. I mean this will be the second animated family film we'll be watching for a horror movie challenge, seems odd to me.
I also agree with you, DaveyJoe--my favorite part of the challenge is finding new favorite films through the subset choices, and this year's bunch was the worst in my four years of participating. Generally speaking, if something comes out as a direct-to-video release, it's not going to be very good. Yes, there are exceptions, but there were at least half a dozen DTV movies as subset picks this year that ranged from sort of crappy to intensely crappy. Couple this with the vague feeling I have that most people these days think that horror films are supposed to be funny in some way, and we have the makings for an unremarkable Challenge. Out of the 23 subset picks that were first-time views for me this year, only two gave me any kind of chills. Two. I can't help feeling at least a little disappointed.

I got a friend to join the Challenge last year, and he bemoaned the dearth of good horror films in the subset then. This year, he refused to participate at all. Here's something he wrote in an email to me:

"Holy shnikes they make ya'll watch a lot of silly stuff, though. Who counted Paranorman as a horror movie, and do they have lapels which I can grasp for a vigorous shake while I shout abuse? How are the people running this thing supposed to watch 100 horror movies in a month when so many of them apparently have a bedtime of 8:30? Why not just throw Finding F'n Nemo in there 'cuz after all, that shark... he's... he's pretty scary! His teeth were all bitey and gave me bad dreams, I hope they went back and rounded off the points on 'em a little bit when they re-did it with 3D, 'cuz that's just brutal! Good lord."

So, I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes, and I'm sorry for the sour persimmons, but I needed to get this out. Thanks, DaveyJoe, for opening THAT can of worms!

One last question, though...does anybody else feel this way? Surely DJ and I aren't the only two? If so, I'll shut up and deal with it. If not, maybe we can rethink things a little before next year to bring horror back to the Horror Challenge.
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Old 11-01-13, 08:36 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

It was a bit out of our norm to have two animated family films, but different strokes for different folks.

We could have a subset list that you think is the 31 best darn scary films of all time; and twenty others may hate half the list.

I think the whole point of the subset list, and the themes, and the checklist is to get us out of our comfort zone and trying new things and discussing diverse opinions.

You know all that of course, but I felt like typing anyway.
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Old 11-01-13, 08:43 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
Nope, Spider--I'm not a fan, either. I've been trying for almost 20 years to love this movie, and I keep falling short. I admire a whole lot about it (and I actually really love the neon/black light look to Oogie Boogie's first song), but all the various parts just don't coalesce into a worthwhile whole for me. I must admit, though, that "What's This?" has been running through my head ALL. DAY. LONG. Oy vey, what an earworm that song is!



I also agree with you, DaveyJoe--my favorite part of the challenge is finding new favorite films through the subset choices, and this year's bunch was the worst in my four years of participating. Generally speaking, if something comes out as a direct-to-video release, it's not going to be very good. Yes, there are exceptions, but there were at least half a dozen DTV movies as subset picks this year that ranged from sort of crappy to intensely crappy. Couple this with the vague feeling I have that most people these days think that horror films are supposed to be funny in some way, and we have the makings for an unremarkable Challenge. Out of the 23 subset picks that were first-time views for me this year, only two gave me any kind of chills. Two. I can't help feeling at least a little disappointed.

I got a friend to join the Challenge last year, and he bemoaned the dearth of good horror films in the subset then. This year, he refused to participate at all. Here's something he wrote in an email to me:

"Holy shnikes they make ya'll watch a lot of silly stuff, though. Who counted Paranorman as a horror movie, and do they have lapels which I can grasp for a vigorous shake while I shout abuse? How are the people running this thing supposed to watch 100 horror movies in a month when so many of them apparently have a bedtime of 8:30? Why not just throw Finding F'n Nemo in there 'cuz after all, that shark... he's... he's pretty scary! His teeth were all bitey and gave me bad dreams, I hope they went back and rounded off the points on 'em a little bit when they re-did it with 3D, 'cuz that's just brutal! Good lord."

So, I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes, and I'm sorry for the sour persimmons, but I needed to get this out. Thanks, DaveyJoe, for opening THAT can of worms!

One last question, though...does anybody else feel this way? Surely DJ and I aren't the only two? If so, I'll shut up and deal with it. If not, maybe we can rethink things a little before next year to bring horror back to the Horror Challenge.
can't please everyone can we ??
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Old 11-01-13, 10:10 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Reading back over my post (after stepping away from it for a couple of hours), I realize that it would be best for me to shut up and deal with it. I also now realize that maybe certain stressful situations that I'm involved in with work and my Ph.D. program have made me a bit of a negative Nancy. I think that Chad has done a wonderful job of hosting (as he always does), and I also think that the subset film discussions were in many cases quite illuminating.

I guess that I'm just bemoaning the state of horror in general, and I certainly don't want to appear that I'm pinning that on anybody in particular. Trevor, I appreciate your input--thanks! And Giles, thank you for taking a me back down a notch. I think that maybe next year I'll try to rein in my OCD tendencies and watch exactly what I feel like watching--if I do, I'll have only myself to blame for any disappointing first-time views. And if someone has a suggestion for a subset film that looks interesting, I'll definitely try to watch it...but I won't feel beholden to HAVE to watch things that I know I have a real good chance of not liking.

I apologize for the rant above, and thanks for being kinder in your responses than you had to be.
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Old 11-02-13, 12:52 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

You basically said what I was going to say, rbrown498. These daily films are optional. No one is required to watch them, including you and your friend. All that being said, I will agree that I was underwhelmed with this year's picks on a whole. I blame a couple of things: (1) theme days getting increasingly narrow and restrictive (2) insistence on (nearly) all films being available for streaming. In the past, the streaming consideration really wasn't there. We expected people to make the necessary arrangements if they wanted to participate. I realize there's a great deal of "tough shit" in that for some participants, but it made the choices more varied and I think more personal. They were films that people felt a greater attachment to. Streaming availability is a good consideration, but when you have themes like Splat Pack, Ice Terrors, Aquatic Horror, Killer Monkeys, Native American/Westerns, Harvest Horrors, Telephone Terrors and Musicals, then try to enforce the streaming requirement, you reach a point where there may not be a lot of films to choose from, which results in people choosing more based on what's available versus what they may really like. As for the inclusion of ParaNorman, well, it was family friendly horror theme day. What do you expect? Whatever was picked on that day likely wouldn't have been blood curdling. As for Nightmare Before Christmas, I can understand its inclusion, though I agree that it would have been nice to end things on a scarier note.

I think I'm going to post most of what I just said in the discussion thread for next year's challenge, and I would suggest others with those type of concerns do the same. That's what it is there for, after all!

As for this movie, I like it a lot and seem to gain a little bit more appreciation of it each time I watch it. With that being said, there's something about it for me that doesn't completely come together as a whole movie. It's like the whole isn't quite equal to the parts, but the parts are great. I decided to splurge and purchased the 3D Blu-ray for this, and I was pretty impressed with how good it looked. No, it isn't the type of movie that was popping out of the screen, but I thought it had pretty good depth and the style loaned itself pretty well to 3D. I'm sure I will revisit this again next year for the challenge, but it will probably be earlier in the month.
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Old 11-02-13, 01:49 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
I wish someone would make a REAL horror musical (because no one's ever done that, right?) instead of this questionable stuff (also looking at Devil's Carnival and Repo).
What's not "real" enough about Repo! or RHPS or Little Shop of Horror..?
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Old 11-02-13, 01:53 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
I really wish we were ending the challenge with a scary subset film. I've really enjoyed a few of the subset movies, but there were too many goofy selections, especially since some of us only have time to watch the subset pick most nights. I mean this will be the second animated family film we'll be watching for a horror movie challenge, seems odd to me.
Just to give an opposing view, I've been quietly very grateful that most of the subset weren't over-the-top gore or utterly terrifying. It seems as if that's many people's forte - and you're right: it IS the "Horror" challenge - but I appreciate the range and that the subset films have perhaps been kept at the 'lower' end. I don't even like the idea many horror films, so to have close-to-31 that were both watchable and not too 'nasty' was a great thing for me.

No idea which of us is in the minority, but... I think I appreciate exactly what you didn't!
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Old 11-02-13, 01:57 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I got a friend to join the Challenge last year, and he bemoaned the dearth of good horror films in the subset then. This year, he refused to participate at all. Here's something he wrote in an email to me: "...Who counted Paranorman as a horror movie..?"
Was your friend at least aware that ParaNorman was chosen for the FAMILY (Friendly) Horror pick..? Because it's perhaps unfair to single out the one film that was picked to be deliberately watchable by even the fairly-easy-to-scare rather than criticise some of the other choices that (some would say) were potentially dubious.
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Old 11-02-13, 02:08 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
Reading back over my post (after stepping away from it for a couple of hours), I realize that it would be best for me to shut up and deal with it...
Personally, as long as everyone remains largely polite, I like that the differing opinions can be aired freely and openly.

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I guess that I'm just bemoaning the state of horror in general, and I certainly don't want to appear that I'm pinning that on anybody in particular.
You're welcome to try and pin something on me if you like! I joined this challenge last year despite not really enjoying many horror films, just to try and see if a) I could change that a bit, b) at least leave my comfort zone a little and c) watch some "horror" films that aren't necessarily HORROR FILMS.

So this year's subset was appreciated by me at least in part because it wasn't "pure" horror.

However, the sub-argument here is going to boil down to "What is "a Horror film"? which is both a can of worms, largely indefinable and differs over time and opinion. Zombies = horror: so ParaNorman, Dawn of the Dead, Zombie Strippers, Warm Bodies and The Walking Dead are all equal... Vampires = horror: so Dracula (1931), Blood for Dracula, The Littlest Vampire and Van Helsing are all equal... Slashers = horror, while many would fit better in "Crime" and so on and so forth.

Watching the silent Universal Horrors I was surprised how few even passingly resembled horror films, for instance! On some level, all versions of Jekyll and Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame are "horror" which is either reasonable or ludicrous depending on your definition.

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I think that maybe next year I'll try to rein in my OCD tendencies and watch exactly what I feel like watching--if I do, I'll have only myself to blame for any disappointing first-time views. And if someone has a suggestion for a subset film that looks interesting, I'll definitely try to watch it...but I won't feel beholden to HAVE to watch things that I know I have a real good chance of not liking.
Maybe if there is a drive to get the subset worked out early, there could also be scope to either give alternates, or maybe only 'require' 20-or-25/31 or something similar...? It is (sometimes) good to feel pressured (that's not the right word) to watch something you wouldn't necessarily pick yourself, though. So there's that side of things.
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Old 11-02-13, 02:19 PM
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Re: "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day

Originally Posted by clckworang View Post
As for this movie, I like it a lot and seem to gain a little bit more appreciation of it each time I watch it. With that being said, there's something about it for me that doesn't completely come together as a whole movie. It's like the whole isn't quite equal to the parts, but the parts are great.
I feel tempted to draw a loose and under-explained comparison between Tim Burton (films) and Grant Morrison (comics): both seem to have great ideas that aren't always executed as well as they theoretically could/should be. Both have a massive following that appears from the fringes to be 70% appreciation and 30% apologists. There are certainly "fans" of both who seem to be unable to take any kind of comment or criticism on face value - something does not become lesser because it is criticised; someone having an alternative opinion doesn't negate your own* and so on and so forth.

I watched this for the first time and enjoyed it. Not as much as I'd expected to, but more than I feared I might after not really enjoying Frankenweenie last year. I'd somehow managed to avoid knowing parts of the plot, accidentally read the back of the Library DVD cover but because that write-up seems to be so odd, didn't actually get spoiled much. The music wasn't wonderful, but it certainly wasn't awful. Cliche or awkward lyrics are standard for many musicals because they need to communicate non-musical thoughts and plot ideas through music. But I didn't find these any worse than many Disney films (which can be taken whichever way one likes!).

The plot was interesting, and reading the book shortly after was unlike the original story in almost every way... which was probably a good thing. The book, I found, with an often fairly painful rhyme structure was mildly amusing a couple of times, but otherwise fairly forgettable.

The film was not forgettable. The character designs were odd and interesting and the main idea - Halloween taking over Christmas - was quite a clever one. The execution was often childish in several senses (there were a couple of times when characters seemed to switch between never having heard or read about Christmassy stuff to simply just not seeing it much or often, for instance), but I will look forward to watching it again at some point.




*Unless, perhaps, you're open-minded enough to reconsider your own. Which some seem unable/unwilling to do... and it can be a slippery slope if someone actually manages to find a fatal flaw in something you otherwise were able to enjoy before knowing it...!
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