Before revisiting “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 3D form, you must put out of your mind everything negative the original has spawned since its release in 1993. Unfortunately, the goth-emo culture found itself the most able to relate to the twisted freaks of Halloween Town, and they quickly became the film’s cult following. Since its release, every one of them has bought at least one black hooded sweatshirt from Hot Topic embroidered with Jack Skellington’s face. It’s, like, totally the non-conformist thing to do.
Despite the fact that “Nightmare” is now associated with kids who really need to cheer up, the film itself stands the test of time as a true wonder of animation and storytelling. Inspired by the scrawled poems and scribbles of the quirky Tim Burton (“Edward Scissorhands”) and directed by stop-motion pioneer Henry Selick (“James and the Giant Peach”), “Nightmare” tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town.
After yet another terrifyingly successful Halloween, Jack finds himself wanting more than the tired screams he hears year after year. On a long walk of reflection, Jack stumbles upon the gateway to another holiday city, Christmas Town. He is transported into a world where he is shocked to see children (actually, elves) laughing and playing instead of screaming and crying. He scoops up a sack of shiny Christmas things and trucks them back to Halloween Town.
After studying the strings of lights and pine trees he’s brought back, Jack decides that he and his fellow undead citizens will assume the responsibilities of Christmas this year. He kidnaps “Sandy Claws” and begins toy production with a Halloween twist – delivering toys that bite, sting or chase the children who have been looking forward to Christmas morning all year. Jack soon realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. A climactic battle unfolds involving Jack, his zombie love interest, Santa Claus and the evil Boogie Man.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is artistically brilliant in every way. Before the time of “Toy Story” or “Finding Nemo,” the title characters are masterfully sculpted out of clay, rather than pixels, with a perfect balance of creepiness and humor. The film’s best moments are undoubtably its musical numbers, where the dancing skeletons, ghouls and vampires will have you tapping your feet: “Hal-lo-ween! Hal-lo-ween!”
The 3D effects that supposedly warranted the re-release of “Nightmare,” however, are slightly less entertaining, and nowhere near worth the $2 “convenience” (translated: bullshit) charge tacked on to your already overpriced ticket. You forget that you’re even viewing a 3D movie after about 10 minutes.
The jury is still out, but 3D films are hovering somewhere between cheesy and innovative, and the only people who will actually pay extra to see “Nightmare” pop out of the screen will undoubtedly be wearing black fishnet, studded leather jewelry and pants with too many zippers. The movie itself, of course, is an undisputed classic, so be sure to rent the DVD as we all make the transition from Halloween to Christmas.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The Nightmare Before Christmas: 3D
At the Showcase