THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
THE GIST: Jack Skellington may be the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown – where ghouls, goblins and various garish creatures creep around, obsessively preparing for the day after Devil’s Night – but his removable skull head (excellent for reciting Shakespearean quotations) is filled visions of sugarplums. You see, after taking a philosophical stroll in the graveyard one night, he stumbles upon a door which leads him to Christmastown. Having grown so tired of the same old scary things, Jack instantly falls for the heartwarming holiday and decides to take over it himself!
NAUGHTY OR NICE?: Naughty and nice. Although it’s definitely suitable for the Santa-loving set with its sweet underlying message and endlessly quotable songs, it’s still a Tim Burton film. In other words, it’s the Kanye West of Christmas movies. It’s a beautiful dark twisted fantasy – filled with creepy crawlies – and clowns with tearaway faces.
WHY IT GETS US IN THE SPIRIT: There’s a reason why this film made it on both our Halloween and Christmas lists. It manages to represent both holidays in a awesomely original way. Whereas it brings some new lighthearted loveliness to everyone’s favourite candy and costume fest, it infuses Christmas – the most sacredly saccharine holiday ever – with some brilliantly bitter dark humour. The result is like hot cider and freshly baked sugar cookies after a day of outdoor decorating to horror fangirls (and Burton buffs!) like us.
MAGIC MOMENT: The scene where Jack discovers Christmastown. Totally taken aback by the winter wonderland, its cheerful residents and their peculiar traditions (“There’s children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads! They’re busy building toys and absolutely no one’s dead!”), Mr. Skellington bursts into the film’s best song, “What’s This.” As he investigates the sights, sounds and smells of the festive season, he begins to feel a warmth brewing inside of his lanky, lifeless bones – and so will you.
SANTA SIGHTING: In order to take full control of Christmas, Jack kidnaps the jolly old soul, who he genuinely believes is named “Sandy Claws.”
ACCOMPANYING CAROL: There are a stocking full of sweet songs in this stop-motion seasonal fave but”What’s This” really is the one to put on your Christmas playlist.
PERFECT PRESENT FOR: Your friend who prefers All Hallow’s Eve to Christmas Eve. If this gothic take on the holiday doesn’t get them in the spirit, we don’t know what will.