OK, so 20 Things I Love About The Nightmare Before Christmas would’ve been really top title to mark the 20th anniversary of what is still a bloody wonderful animated film, even by today’s standards. But seeing as I surmised all I needed to in 9 solid points to convey its brilliance, it looks like you’ll have to make do, won’t it.
Firstly, The Songs
This is undeniable. It’s a fact. No, don’t argue. This Is Halloween, What’s This? and Kidnap the Sandy Claws are ace, as is the entire collection of songs and Danny Elfman hauntingly excellent score. You’ll sing along, you may even dance, but the more you hear ‘em, the more you’ll fall head over heels.
That Opening Scene
The narration, the eerie score... then This Is Halloween kicks in. Oh yes.
You Can Watch It At Halloween Or Christmas
Usually I save my Christmas flicks exclusively for the week before the big day, naturally. You can get away with watching NBX a few months earlier in October, then seven weeks down the line on Christmas Eve. Boom.
It’s Not Even Directed by That Quim Tim Burton
A misconception by many, but NBX is directed by Henry Selick. Not that I’ve anything against Burton per se, I just think that, nowadays at least, he’s a bit shit. It is inspired by his original ideas, mind, which is fine. Selick does a neat job of forging a scary, whimsical and massively inventive world, with a Burton-y aesthetic. So it’s the best of both, really.
The Animation Is (Still) Wonderful
Some films age terribly, especially when it comes to animation or SFX. While NBX is not on par with, say, Toy Story 3 animation-wise, its age and rough-around-the-edges look give it a rich, comforting appearance and subsequent ooze of charm. Nostalgia plays a part, too, but its stop-motion still impresses, and as one of the earliest examples I’d seen, still wows me with its prowess.
It’s Massively Accessible
Something that Disney and Pixar are renowned for is broad accessibility. NBX is amusing and morbid enough to appeal to those adults with a darker sense of humour, yet frivolous enough to entertain younger viewers. That said, it’s probably more suited to the higher end of the PG crowd, as it’ll likely freak the shit out of pre-school audiences.
There’s Nothing Else Quite Like It
Other animation shy away from actively scaring kids, a la Disney. This is often 90% fluff with a dash of a devastation (often the death of a parent (see: Bambi or The Lion King)). But this has some creepiness to it and is oddball and unsettling throughout. While Burton’s recent stuff has a stylistic weirdness (see: Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie), kid-friendly animation generally isn’t as ghoulish or dark as this. Another massive plus, if you ask me.
It Never Gets Old (Figuratively Speaking)
Yeah, it’s probably as old as half of the internet folk reading this, but as a chap who’s just hit 30, I’ve probably watched it a dozen times and it’s still as fresh as ever. In fact, I’ll be revisiting in a few weeks and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
Jack Skelington’s An Icon
He’s one of the most distinct of animated characters. Sure, there’s Mickey and every other animal under the sun in Disney’s catalogue, but a giant-headed, loner-weirdo in a Beetlejuice-esque apparel batters them all. He’s kinda loveable too, in an unnerving sorta way.