The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas

Ashe never got to see a ton of modern classics from his youth, so we’re making him watch them all as a nostalgia-less adult. Check out the inaugural article for more info. Halloween is over, so my Halloween movie mini-marathon is at an end. And I saved the best (by which I mean my wife’s favorite film) for last: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Yes, I’ve been with her for seven years and somehow managed to never see it. I am a good husband. (I love you, honey!) What’s weird is I’ve tried to watch it before, but something would always happen right after I started it. Someone would call with an emergency. The power would go out. One time I got insanely sick and passed out. (It turned out to be a really bad stomach flu.) This time, nothing horrible happened! That I know of. Anyway, let’s talk about the first impressive thing about this film — it looks totally beautiful. For a movie that’s old enough to drink now, it still looks like it was made last week. Now, I have seen Corpse Bride, Coraline and ParaNorman, so I was already familiar with the style, but I expected this one might look a little dated in 2014. Not at all. If anything, the look of Henry Selick‘s films (Yeah, I know, Corpse Bride and ParaNorman weren’t him) was pretty much perfect the first go ’round, and they’ve just kept it up since. The German Expressionist influence just adds to the effect. This film is, essentially, timeless.

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nightmare-commentary1

When it was released twenty years ago, The Nightmare Before Christmas was not an immediate success. However, over the following two decades, it has become one of the most beloved holiday movies, and composer Danny Elfman admits that autograph seekers inevitably have The Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise for him to sign above all other films he has worked on. When the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD was released in 2008, Elfman joined in with producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick to record a commentary track. This track, along with many of the other bonus features, is also included on the 3D Blu-ray, which was released in 2011 (and likely all other annual releases as Disney moves forward). Seeing as we’re at the half-way point between Halloween and Christmas, and since it is the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, it seemed appropriate to revisit the film and hear what the filmmakers had to say about the production.

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IntroMadGenius

Crazy science is so embedded in movie-making that it’s been with us since the very conception of film with such classics as Frankenstein and Dr. Caligari. While the best stuff was almost exclusively from the time of black and white – the 1980s and beyond have seen their formidable share of folks with PhDs in crazy. See for yourself…a lot of mad doctorates have been handed out recently.

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Over Under - Large

By the time 1993 rolled around, Tim Burton already had projects like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands under his belt, and had firmly established himself as an auteur director of quirky, weird films. It was probably that year’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – a movie that Burton produced and didn’t even direct – that firmly established him as being a filmmaker with a cult of personality following, and has become his most enduring work, however. A stop-motion animated feature directed by Henry Selick (with strong creative input from Burton) and produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, The Nightmare Before Christmas mixed up Halloween and Christmas imagery in iconic ways (Mickey Mouse has his fingers in all the holiday pies), it captured the imaginations of an entire generation, and it can still be seen advertised all over the backpacks and binders of eyeliner wearing teenagers to this day. That same year another Halloween-themed family film came out of another wing of the Disney conglomerate called Hocus Pocus. But, despite that fact that it starred a trio of actresses who were fairly big names at the time, it hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much attention over the years as Nightmare. And, unless you happen to be a devotee of the movie Newsies (which I know some of you are), chances are you’ve never heard of its director, Kenny Ortega. Sure, Hocus Pocus still gets played on the Disney channel around Halloween every year, as it’s probably cheap programming for the company, but […]

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Merch Hunter - Large

With news coming through that John Carter has surprised absolutely nobody by losing Disney a bucket-load of cash, despite hitting the top of the box office in my own dear country and hanging around the top three of the U.S. box office, the fact that the Mouse House have apparently chosen not to try and take fill advantage of the merchandise buck looks all the more baffling. This is just one more step in a disastrous extra-release marketing campaign that saw one of the poorest cinematic trailers I have ever seen, underwhelming posters, and a generally underwhelming, unprestigious release for a film which actually deserved an awful lot more. Merchandising dollars can mean a massive financial return that can often sweeten a box office failure, as well as setting up better home release sales on the back of the brand reinforcement that toys, clothes and the usual assorted accouterments can bring. So why exactly isn’t my local Disney Store awash with John Carter branded products? And why is the online Disney Store stocking mouse mats, hoodies, mugs and smart phone covers as the primary lines for the merchandise campaign?

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Boiling Point

John Carter lightly transported itself into theaters this past weekend, securing a relatively meager $30m opening domestically, though it managed to secure another $70m internationally. While I will eventually make a defense of the economics at play here, it is hard to argue that John Carter isn’t a domestic failure, considering it came in second to The Lorax, which debuted a full week earlier. On top of that, John Carter has a suspected $250m budget with marketing costs guestimated in the $100m range, for a total investment of around $350m. The critics have been somewhat kind to the civil war veteran’s debut – while the average review seems to be “it’s alright,” there have certainly been some hyperbolic highs and very few hyperbolic lows. Consensus is you’ll probably think the movie is okay, but you might want to wait for DVD. Scattered among those are bold claims that film will live on with your children as a classic, which are probably a bit off the reservation. There is little doubt that in at least several ways John Carter failed, ways that were easily avoidable and ways that make me fairly angry with the system.

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How to Catch Santa Claus

In schoolyards around the world, the debate continues to rage: Is Santa Claus real? Or is he just some concept concocted by parents to keep kids in line year-round? Even us adults can remember having knock-down, drag-out arguments over this. Our parents told us that if we waited up for Santa on Christmas Eve, we’d be quickly relegated to the dreaded “Naughty List,” and we’d get nothing but coal in our stockings. As a public service, this installment of the Holiday Survival Guide will help you win those arguments. Keeping up with the tradition of every child’s desire to capture jolly old St. Nicholas, here are some tricks we can dish out, courtesy of the big entertainment machine called Hollywood. Use them wisely, and be sure to only target the real Santa Claus. Failure to do so may result in injury or even death.

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Severed heads, bondage-inspired costumes, sinister creatures doing terribly evil things: there’s no better way to get in the holiday spirit than to spend an afternoon wandering through the twisted psyche of the master of the macabre, Tim Burton.

Whether or not it’s possible to actually get into the mind of a man fixated on eccentric social outcasts; confused man-children; torture and torment, scarecrows; skeletons and striped clothing is debatable. But one thing is certain; this exhibit will get you closer than you’ve ever been and possibly closer than you’ve ever wanted to be.

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The fine folks over at ComingSoon spoke with producer Christopher Melendandri who confirmed that, yes, a stop-motion version of The Addams Family was definitely headed down the pike, and that, yes, Tim Burton was involved and looking to direct. A fifth grader could have predicted that Burton would be interested in directing, but he’s the wrong man for the job.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews the movies the studios didn’t allow him to see early this week: Pink Panther 2, Coraline and Push.

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2008review-dvd

As part of our Year in Review, we’ve asked our resident DVDologist Brian Gibson to lay down his 15 favorite releases from 2008.

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Selick is bringing a perfect world to life with Coraline, and Focus Features has got the first trailer for us to feast our button eyes on.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Brian Gibson loves to buy DVDs. Come with him on his weekly journey into the depths of credit card debt as he tells you what to buy, rent and avoid.

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The Ten Cutest Animated Couples in Movie History

Over the years, there have been quite a few cute animated couples, and these are the ones that top the list.

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published: 11.19.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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published: 11.18.2014
B+
published: 11.14.2014
B+


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