DVD Review: 15th Anniversary Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

Disney didn’t truly hit their marketing stride with NIGHTMARE until the 10th anniversary, a few years ago, when they realized the kind of fan base the film had generated; then of course it was a marketing onslaught like any other Disney film in existence. This was in unison with the opening of the Haunted Mansion Holidays version of the Haunted Mansion ride in Disneyland where Jack Skellington and friends take over the mansion and it becomes a NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS ride.

Now, for the 15th anniversary of the movie, the DVD is being re-released in a new deluxe 2 disc (three if you count the digital copy) format with all new special features, commentary, and even a virtual ride through the Haunted Mansion Holidays ride at Disneyland.

TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (that’s its full title) is an amazing achievement in stop motion animation that looks as great today on the big screen as it did 15 years ago. This is a truly timeless classic, that Burton has only done one other film in a similar vein, Warner Bros. THE CORPSE BRIDE.

NIGHTMARE is the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King and undisputed leader of Halloweentown where Halloween comes from. You see in this story each holiday has its own town that is the physical embodiment of that particular day. Jack has a slight problem, in that the holiday that he helps create is no longer fulfilling him the way it used to.

In his disparaging wanderings, Jack comes across the entrances to the other holiday lands, and ends up in Christmastown. Completely taken with Christmas, Jack decides to rally the denizens of Halloweentown around him to do their own Christmas. As the ride at Disneyland says, “this is what happens when two holidays collide.” Needless to say, Christmas created by Halloween is a dark disturbing mess ending with Jack shot down by the military and the real Santa Claus being held captive and tortured by the number two big bad in Halloweentown, Oogie Boogie. Jack realizes his mistake and puts everything right in the end, and the movie has a very touching finale.

The musical numbers, written and performed (at least Jack’s) by Danny Elfman, are absolutely phenomenal and get stuck in your head the minute you hear them. This is always true no matter how many times I see the movie. The voice cast is one of my favorite assembled, headed up by Chris Sarandon as Jack, Catherine O’Hara as Sally and Shock, Glenn Sahdix as The Mayor, Ken Page as Oogie Boogie, Paul Ruebens as Lock, and the late William Hickey as Dr. Finkelstein. No other cartoon has such a fantastically talented voice cast.

DIGITAL TRANSFER
The picture and sound on this new transfer of the movie is a lot crisper than the original release or even the 10th anniversary release of the previous DVD. The film doesn’t seem quite as shadowed and dingy as it has when I’ve watched in the past, and this is a truly excellent new copy of the movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES
“What’s This?” is perhaps one of the best features on this DVD. This is a virtual tour of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion Holidays ride. The Haunted Mansion Holidays takes place every year before Halloween in Disneyland and lasts until January. I’m not completely certain but this might be the first time that this has been available on DVD (in a non-bootleg format). This is a great way for people who can’t make it to the park during that time of year to see the way that the Haunted Mansion gets transformed.

FRANKENWEEINIE is available, as well, on this DVD in an uncut version of the movie short that Tim Burton did many moons ago. There’s a new introduction with Burton talking about the stop-motion version of this same movie that is currently underway at Disney.

VINCENT is also on here, which is another excellent stop-motion Tim Burton movie that was a predecessor to NIGHTMARE.

Another of the best special features on this DVD is Tim Burton’s original poem narrated by Christopher Lee. This is a kind of flat 2D stop motion version of the original poem that the movie was based on. This single special feature makes this set completely worth having to NIGHTMARE fans.

There is also all new commentary from Burton, Danny Elfman, and Director Henry Sellick, which is an added bonus and current retrospective on the making of the movie.

Some of the features that were on the previous release are also present in this release; such as the Behind-the-scenes feature, and the worlds of TIM BURTON’S NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Also included are deleted scenes, storyboard to film comparison, and original theatrical trailers and poster.

WRAP-UP
This is without a doubt the best DVD version of this movie that has ever been released, and the digital copy included with this set allows you to take NIGHTMARE wherever you go on your ipod! This is definitely one set you will want to add to your Disney library.

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