Believe it or not, Tim Burton‘s twisted vision of a Halloween/Christmas mash-up, The Nightmare Before Christmas, first danced and sang its way into theaters 25 years ago this Halloween. While it will of course be airing this holiday season on Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween, you can get your hands on a brand new copy of the stop-motion animated classic even earlier with this new 25th anniversary Blu-ray.
In addition to the gorgeous presentation of director Henry Selick‘s original theatrical version of the Oscar-nominated film, this new Blu-ray version comes with a Sing-Along Edition that makes for the perfect family viewing experience. While the songs from legendary composer/lyricist Danny Elfman are super-catchy and easy to sing along with as they are, this version makes things even easier by displaying the lyrics across the screen, karaoke-style. And after you’ve watched the 76-minute classic for the hundredth time, there are a ton of Bonus Features to enjoy. There’s both the newly added Song Selection function, which lets you sing along with whatever song you want without skipping through the whole movie, plus a fantastic collection of Classic Bonus Features.
The Nightmare Before Christmas 25th Anniversary Blu-ray is available now (along with Movies Anywhere and Digital) for those who already know they want to add it to their collection, but if you need a bit more convincing, read on!
- Original Theatrical Version – As good as you remember it, but probably in a much better quality than you’re used to!
- Sing-Along Edition – This is a super-fun way to watch the movie with fantastic, karaoke-styled sing-along versions of the movie’s songs. Great way to sing along with friends and family, and do spooky voices for the kiddos, but it also reveals some lyrics you might have been singing wrong for years (if you’re anything like me.)
Here’s the synopsis if you haven’t seen the film before:
In “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Jack Skellington (singing voice of Elfman and speaking voice of Chris Sarandon), Halloweentown’s beloved Pumpkin King, is bored with the same old annual scare-and-scream routine and longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his newfound obsession puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere. Jack is surrounded by a creepy and captivating cast of characters, including Sally (voice of Catherine O’Hara), a resourceful rag doll that has trouble fitting in, like her good friend Jack; mad scientist Dr. Finklestein (voice of William Hickey); the two-faced Mayor of Halloweentown (voice of Glenn Shadix); Oogie Boogie (voice of Ken Page), a rambling, gambling bag of bugs; and Lock (voice of Paul Reubens), one in a trio of trick-or-treating troublemakers.
- “This Is Halloween”
- “Jack’s Lament”
- “What’s This?”
- “Town Meeting Song”
- “Jack’s Obsession”
- “Kidnap the Sandy Claws”
- “Making Christmas”
- “Oogie Boogie’s Song”
- “Sally’s Song”
- “Poor Jack”
“What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour” (40 minutes) – A Nightmare Before Christmas takeover of Disneyland’s classic ride, Haunted Mansion. Steve Davison, the VP of Disney’s Imagineering, walks viewers through the special Christmas treatment with a Nightmare-twist. Brian Sandahl, the art director, illustrator Tim Wollweber, and original ride/attraction designer Frank X. Atencio also offer commentary. Plus, for folks who can’t attend it in person, there’s a nice walkthrough of its elements, piece by piece.
Elements include the scarecrow, a Christmas carriage, a countdown clock, hundreds of jack o’lanterns and “a million” candles, Jack’s version of Santa’s sleigh (which crashes through the mansion later on) and his Christmas recipe. The tour continues through the Stretching Room with the movie-specific portraits placed over the originals and “breaking” stained glass designs; the “Loading Room” with its Merry/Scary Christmas signs (which includes a sort of advent calendar that opens a new present every day to reveal a new figure); Zero floating in the Endless Hallway, complete with his pile of dog bones (all the décor here is done with a bone motif); the Vampire Teddy Bears seen throughout the Mansion (See how many you can find!); the Killer Wreath and choirs of man-eating plants throughout; Madame Leota’s 13 Days of Christmas tarot cards featuring movie characters and their presents for the medium; the “Hidden Mickey” made of fake snow where Jack’s sleigh has crashed and another made of plates on the table; a themed “100% real” gingerbread house that’s new and different every year and placed on the table in the banquet room—the Imagineers partner with the foods department for this attraction every year.
In the ballroom, there’s a haunted tree decoration with one live, green branch near the top, there’s a library behind a drawn-back curtain with books spinning in the shape of a Christmas tree (which is only there for this special three months out of the year), and Zero playing with the dueling portrait ghosts; the production staff members on the naughty Christmas list in the snake’s mouth and the terrifying wrapping paper for the presents, which were put together by the entire Entertainment Department staff; Sandy Claws and Zero replacing the graveyard keeper and his dog, surveying the snow-covered graveyard; the Santa hat-wearing pop-up ghosts and band members; the singing busts replaced with singing jack o’lanterns; now-iconic crystalline ice angels (which were originally supposed to blow cold air on guests); the snow-covered and decorated headstones; and the biggest part of the attraction, Pumpkin Snow Mountain.
Tim Burton’s Early Films:
- Frankenweenie – Burton’s 30-min short from 1984 starring Shelly Duvall, Daniel Stern and Barret Oliver. Burton would go on to turn this idea into a feature-length animated adaptation of the same name in 2012.
- Vincent – Burton’s 1982 stop-motion animated short that was an homage to Vincent Price, who also narrated the piece.
Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee (~10 minutes) – Burton himself offers commentary for the inspiration behind this poem and, eventually, the movie itself. As a bonus, Lee’s narration is accompanied by illustrations based on Burtons’ original concept art.
The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (~25 minutes) – Throwback featurette with Burton, director Henry Selick, composer/lyricist Danny Elfman, and co-producer Kathleen Gavin commenting on the three-year production process for the stop-motion animated film. Lots of detail here from writing, to music creation to storyboarding, art direction, and much more.
- The Beginning
- Art Direction
- “Behemoth Singing” – (Never animated.) From the “Making Christmas” sequence, the Behemoth character (the hulking giant in the overalls with an axe in his head) once had a rather nice part in the song.
- “Oogie Boogie with Dancing Bugs” (Never animated.) Too many dancing bugs requiring miniaturized armatures, proving too difficult for the animation sequence at the time.
- “Alternate Identity of Oogie Boogie” (Never animated.) This alt version sees Oogie Boogie revealed to be Dr. Finkelstein in disguise!
Deleted Animated Sequences
- “Vampire Hockey Players” – Rather than a jack o’lantern as a hockey puck, they used Tim Burton’s severed head.
- “Lock, Shock and Barrel” – The trouble-making trio had a bit more animation around the time they descend in the cage to Oogie Boogie’s lair after Jack’s gone missing.
- “Oogie Boogie Shadow Dance” – This brief section, 17 seconds, was removed for time purposes. Originally done with cel animation, it was then projected on a 3D surface.
Storyboard-to-Film Comparison – Not the full film, but an example of storyboard-vs-finished animation with Jack describing Christmas Town to the residents of Halloween Town.
Audio Commentary – Feature-length commentary from Buron, Selick, and Elfman.
Posters and Trailers