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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 88
Fresh: 83 | Rotten: 5

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.

96

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 1

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.

audience

91

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 961,939

My Rating

Movie Info

Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job and feels that life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. Then he stumbles upon Christmastown and promptly decides to make the Yuletide his own.

Dec 2, 1997

$8.6M

Walt Disney Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (88) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (5) | DVD (38)

Part avant-garde art film, part amusing but morbid fairy tale, it is a delightfully ghoulish holiday musical that displays more inventiveness in its brief 75 minutes than some studios can manage in an entire year.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This full-length animated movie was shot in stop motion, with all the febrile, twittery fascination that the medium exerts; it has a magic-toy shop feeling, with unexpected objects stuttering into life.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Burton and his collaborators present a movie musical that's like nothing you've ever seen.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Visually a macabre knockout, this 75-minute fantasy boasts some of the wittiest, most vigorous stop-motion animation effects in the history of the process.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Burton, the man who gave us Batman, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, is incapable of a conventional idea. His take on the holiday fairy tale is delightfully off the wall.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas has a grotesque charm, a pie-eyed magic.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A well-realized and weirdly amusing animated treat.

December 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Pure enchantment, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas creates a unique and wondrous world. This awesome movie is in a class by itself for its use of stop-action animation.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Nightmare Before Christmas cleverly refashions its yuletide characters into Edward Gorey refugees.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Disney's sophisticated stop-motion animation (an advanced version of techniques used to create Gumby) creates a truly breathtaking visual landscape.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Animation is a wonderful medium, but it's almost too compatible with Burton's uninhibited approach. When literally anything goes, even the most original idea can get lost in the creative shuffle.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Macabre and astonishing.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

So Burton-esque is this world that it remains baffling that he didn't direct, megaphone duties instead falling to Henry Selick.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Only the deliciously demented imagination of Edward Scissorhands director Tim Burton could have come up with such a dark vision of the holiday season.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Adults, despite being wowed by the dazzling, geez-how'd-they-do-that animation, will find their attention wandering to Christmases past.

December 3, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

In the 13 years since it was released to a predictably puzzled family audience, Tim Burton's macabre stop motion musical has wound its way through cult affection (and survived mall-Goth appropriation) to earn its rightful place as a genuine classic.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

Tim Burton magic with just a touch of scariness.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

...endlessly delightful, even as it deals in icky bugs and severed limbs.

October 21, 2009 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

Audience Reviews for The Nightmare Before Christmas

the most magical film ever created by the mind of tim burton. It truly captures your imagination, you feel magic, wonder, and fear while watching it and you come back to the real world satisfied at the end truly one of the best
January 29, 2014
michael e.
Michael Edwards

Super Reviewer

With an impeccable production design, a deliciously ghoulish, German Expressionist feel to the story and an excellent soundtrack replete with well-inspired songs, this very amusing movie is even more surprising for the perfect way it combines animation and stop motion.
December 25, 2013
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

It's been twenty years since The Nightmare Before Christmas was released and ten years since I first saw it. I remember seeing the trailers in front of some of the Disney VHS tapes I owned as a kid and that is how I became interested in it. I remember my mom taking my sister and I to the video store to rent it. I remember liking the movie the first time I saw it but I will admit, it did creep me out a bit. As the years went by and the more times I saw this movie, the more I grew to enjoy it. Now, The Nightmare Before Christmas is not only one of my favorite films to watch on the holidays, it's one of my favorite movies ever.

The film is the brainchild of Tim Burton and is directed by Henry Selick. The film starts off in Halloween Town, a home to many ghouls and monsters. Jack Skellington, the king of the pumpkin patch, grows tired of the Halloween festivities and longs for something new. Jack soon discovers a portal to Christmas Town, a bright and cheerful place where Santa and his elves live in. Jack is amazed by the concept of Christmas and attempts to get the citizens of Halloween Town to celebrate it. Jack also plans to take the role of Santa Claus and deliver toys to children. However, these plans backfire on Jack and the results are unforgettable.

There are many things I enjoy about this movie. First of all, I love the premise. Christmas and Halloween are two of my favorite holidays. Seeing a movie that combines the two is such a treat. There is enough spooky content to make this film appropriate for Halloween and enough bright colors and merriment to make it a Christmas movie. As for the story, it's very original. It's simple, straightforward, and imaginative. Tim Burton creates a cast of memorable characters here. It never gets boring. Every second of the film gives you something wonderful to look at. As for the story, it's very original. I just love the idea of a creepy guy like Jack Skellington discovering such a happy holiday and putting his own spin on it. As for the writing, it's pretty good. There's some good humor in this film.

The characters are one of the most memorable aspects of the film. Jack Skellington, is one of my favorite movie characters ever. I'm not ashamed to admit that I own a few pieces of memorabilia with his face on it. I just love his optimistic and curious attitude. Even when he gets emotional, you kind of feel bad for him. We've all been there before. We want to try something new and sometimes the outcome isn't pretty. You can pretty much relate to Jack. Sally is also a good character as well. She's a ragdoll with a crush on Jack who feels for him. She's another character you can relate to. I'm pretty sure we've all longed to be with someone and hope that our feelings for them are reciprocated. Oogie Boogie, the antagonist of the film, is a great villain. He's creepy, bloodthirsty, and I love the design of the character. Lock, Shock, and Barrel are some of the most sinister children ever created. They may be mischievous but I think they are pretty cool. And who forget Jack's beloved dog, Zero? Gosh, I love that adorable ghost dog. All the characters in the film are cool and the designs for them are awesome.

Chris Sarandon voices Jack Skellington and he brings a lot of energy to the role. He is able to show many of Jack's great traits through his performance. He is perfect for the role. Catherine O'Hara also does a good job as Sally. She is sincere and sweet. William Hickey does a good job as Dr. Ficklestein. His voice fits the grotesque look of the character. I can tell that Ken Page was having a blast playing Oogie Boogie. Like Chris Sarandon, he is full of energy. The voice acting in the film is solid. All the actors do well with their roles.

Like nearly every animated Disney film, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a musical. I personally love the music in this movie. All the songs are memorable. The opening number, "This is Halloween", is a perfect introduction to the Halloween world of the film. I love how each character is introduced. It's a great way to start the film. Another song I like is "What's This?", which is sung by Jack when discovers Christmas Town. I love the lyrics in this song and how Jack compares Halloween to Christmas. I also like seeing Halloween and Christmas come together in the song, "Making Christmas". I also like the song, "Kidnap the Santa Claus", because we get to see how devious Lock, Shock, and Barrel can be. "Oogie Boogie's Song" is also great as well. I love the music in this movie. Danny Elfman wrote some great lyrics and catchy music for this film. Elfman also provides the singing voice for Jack and he does a great job. Danny Elfman's songs and score for the film is just plain awesome.

After twenty years, the animation in the film holds up very well. The Nightmare Before Christmas was the feature length film done in stop motion. Stop motion is one of my favorite forms of animation. It always impresses me. The animation in the film is simply marvelous. The backgrounds are detailed, the sets are wonderfully crafted, and the characters move so smoothly. I just love the look of the movie. It's pure eye candy.

The Nightmare Beofore Christmas is such great film. It has an original, imaginative story, great characters, unforgettable music, and spectacular animation. I love how this is a film you can watch on both Halloween and Christmas. Heck, I even watch it when it's not the holiday season! The Nightmare Beofore Christmas is truly wonderful film. It's a classic film that I will enjoy watching for years to come.

♫There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads.♫
December 13, 2013
Movie Monster
Bentley Lyles

Super Reviewer

It may have been directed by Henry Selick, but this is a Tim Burton film through and through.

Based on a long poem Burton wrote while working at Disney as an animator, this is a lively, creative, and imaginative cross holiday, stop-motion musical fantasy.

The story concerns a world not all that different from ours, but where each holiday has there own little world separated by ours through a portal. Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, and, though he consistently delivers the goods each year, he starts growing tired of his life and falls into a bit of an existential funk. After stumbling into the wonderous world of Christmastown, Jack becomes excited and amazed by what he sees, and decides to try his hand at being Santa Claus. Despite his good intentions, Jack's limited grasp on Christmas traditions ends up spiraling out of control, and, if something drastic doesn't happen, then holidays could be forever altered, and not necessarily for the better.

Two decades after its release, and this film holds up remarkably well, and basically comes off as timeless. Its a loving tribute to both Christmas and Halloween, and, despite some mildly intense and spooky images and moments, makes for a delightful family film to be enjoyed during multiple holiday seasons (especially), if not all the time.

The art direction, set and character designs, and stop-motion animation are brilliantly conceived and executed, and I am never not impressed by how this was all done. These elements are classic Burton, and, for better or worse, this film is one of the main reasons why Hot Topic is still around.

Danny Elfman's score and lyrics are great, and his performance as Jack's singing voice is awesome too. The music is a nice blend of Halloween and Christmasy types of music, and the blend works pretty well. There's even some nice blues/jazzy moments thrown in as well.

As Jack's speaking voice, Chris Sarandon puts in some nice work, and Burton regulars Catherine O'Hara, Glenn Shaddix, and Paul Reubens also deliver some fine work.

Clocking in at a mere 76 minutes, this is a perfectly paced romp that is heartwarming, has some nice messages, and really delivers the goods where entertainment value is concerned. It's an all around brilliant affair, so yes, if you haven't yet seen it, you really must.
October 21, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (UK)
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