Please welcome Vermillion Phoenix to this year’s Halloween Horrors roster! While this is indeed her first appearance in our annual Halloween series, it is NOT her first appearance on our website, having contributed a review for the 2008 film Dark Floors to our site a couple of years back. Her gap in appearances has been more than justified as Vermillion has kept herself insanely busy over that time.
In addition to writing two novels, Vermillion is also a music reviewer for PureGrainAudio.com. If that weren’t enough to keep her occupied, she is also the bass player for the band Road2Mayhem. Despite all these other commitments, she still managed to provide a quality entry for this year’s series, despite only signing up just days before the submission deadline. And here I am reading excuses for why others couldn’t meet that deadline.
For her debut, Vermillion has claimed 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, easily one of the most popular Halloween themed films of all time, as well as one whose popularity shows no sign of decreasing. I too have been a longtime fan of this film, all the way back to collecting the promotional watches that Burger King gave out during the film’s initial release. However, this piece isn’t about my fandom for the film. So, here’s Vermillion to cover the rest…..
The Nightmare Before Christmas is the captivating Tim Burton dark fantasy musical classic that never truly gets old. Though it was made a full 25 years ago now, it is wholly timeless. Telling the tale of the charming Jack Skellington of Halloween Town– brought to life by Chris Sarandon – who has grown tired of the same old Halloween routine every year and needs a new direction to head into.
He discovers the magical and colourful world of Christmas Town, to which his own home pales in monotonous comparison, and takes it upon himself and his citizens to commandeer this holiday for their own. Together, they kidnap Santa Claus and create their own creepy take on Christmas, with vampire duck toys, present-eating sand-worms (a hint to Beetlejuice mayhap) and a skeletal pack of reindeer; but sadly it all goes wrong and the military end up blasting Jack out of the sky. He then sets things right with the one and only Sandy Claws, who saves Christmas in the nick of time.
The look of this movie never dates, the songs are never repetitive – the magic is always there. Tim Burton is a true visionary in this respect, with his popular films, such as the aforementioned Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and of course Nightmare Before Christmas, held in such high regard within both the cult world and mainstream alike.
As I watch it now, it still continues to enthral me, with the gorgeous stop motion animation, jaunty off-centre camera angles, and superb soundtrack by the extremely talented Danny Elfman. It is unnerving and endearingly creepy, but undeniably adorable in its composition and style.
Each viewing has me hooked, in awe of that stupendous haunting aesthetic, and the songs that one can never avoid singing along to, not to forget the amazing and most frightening character of them all – the heavy set bogeyman Oogie Boogie, voiced by the great Ken Page.
Ever since I managed to obtain it in 3D Blu-ray, it has taken on another phenomenal lease of life – the marionettes virtually indistinguishable as ridiculously complex puppets, all the hard work involved in the movie’s creation shining through the screen, oozing charm and nostalgia from every pixel. I recall how in awe I was of seeing this beautiful and haunting animation in literally another dimension. Although the movie was not shot in true 3D, it has actually taken to conversion very well indeed, and adds yet another fantastical layer on this visually striking movie; the characters and colours popping out of the screen in a dynamic and awe-inspiring display.
Regretfully, I was a late adopter of the Nightmare Before Christmas mania (“Heathen!”, I hear you cry), but since my discovery I have been a stoic fan ever since. I sing along, knowing all the words, wear my Jack bathrobe, drink from my ‘Jack and Sally’ mug, and Hell, I write this whilst wrapped in a Jack blanket from Spencers – it is cold here in the British Isles as usual, with the Harvest moon shining bright as the Halloween season draws near. It is a tradition in this household that Nightmare goes on the television at least every Halloween and Christmas, though it is often spinning in the Blu-ray player on many other occasions also.
However, now that I have earned my stripes as a dyed-in-the-wool, die-hard Nightmare fan, I have tried to obtain as much memorabilia of the film as possible. One of my memories of the movie includes having to queue for some hours with some of my Florida friends on my first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando in order to ‘meet’ Jack and Sally. Now, this year, I will be finally be getting to Disney California in order to see one of my favourite rides, Haunted Mansion, converted into the realm of Halloween Town for their Halloween celebrations and leading up towards Christmas.
In the UK, the movie did not seem to be overly popular, and thus we potentially lost out on many years of Nightmare viewing. Having been released under Disney’s more adult-orientated company Touchstone Pictures – Disney thinking people would find the title “too dark and scary for kids” under their family-friendly image – it is however difficult to find a British person who does not love the movie in one way or another, or has at least some recollection of it once upon a time in their lives. Even my nieces of 9 and 11 love it as much as I do for its creepy look and heart-warming tale; showing just how truly timeless this beloved animation is – as even 25 years after its first release, it is still capturing the imagination and hearts of both the next generations and the present generation.