30 years after it hit theaters, Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS still stands as one of the most visually stunning animated films ever made.
Burton's choices as creator and producer of this modern classic are flawless. Legendary film composer Danny Elfman created quirky songs to match the visual madness and he also supplies the singing voice of Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King.
"What's This?", "This is Halloween", "Sally's Song" and my favorite "Oogie Boogie's Song" get in your ear and hold on like one of Burton's creepy crawly creatures that populate every frame of the film.
Jack (speaking voice provided by Chris Sarandon) is growing bored as the leader of Halloween Town. After stumbling into a portal in the forest that leads to all holidays, he announces his plan to give "Sandy Claws" a break and take over yuletide duties for a year.
What could go wrong?
Catherine O'Hara (Best in Show) delivers great singing and voice work as Sally, a female frankenstein created by mad scientist Dr. Finkelstein (William Hickey from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation").
She seems to be the only citizen that sees just how bad Jack's idea is.
Ken Page (Dreamgirls) delivers as Oogie Boogie and the set piece in which he holds the real Santa Claus hostage in a massive glow in the dark, voodoo casino set is a jaw dropper. Page stops the show and Burton's visuals reach their peak.
Listen for the voice of Paul Reubens as Lock, a member of the nastiest kid trick or treat trio on record.
As I watched the film again, I kept laughing at the amount and intensity of dark content that Burton crams into the film, perfectly balanced by the musical score to keep it fun.
What other family film can you think of loaded with skittering cockroaches, a character with an axe buried in their brain, a female lead who has to keep re-attaching her limbs and terrifying creatures hiding under your bed.
Somehow, some way, Burton has pulled it off for multiple generations and families that come back to revisit this holiday classic year after year, including ours.
A timeless blend of stop-motion, traditional animation and puppetry, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS gets an A.