The Nightmare Before Christmas  [DVD]
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Nightmare Before Christmas - Artist: Danny Elfman
For those who never thought Disney would release a film in which Santa Claus is kidnapped and tortured, well, here it is. The full title is Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which should give you an idea of the tone of this stop-action animated musical/fantasy/horror/comedy. It is based on characters created by Burton, the former Disney animator best known as the director of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and the first two Batman movies. His benignly scary-funny sensibility dominates the story of Halloweentown resident Jack Skellington (voice by Danny Elfman, who also wrote the songs), who stumbles on a bizarre and fascinating alternative universe called ... Christmastown! Directed by Henry Selick (who later made the delightful James and the Giant Peach), this PG-rated picture has a reassuringly light touch. As Roger Ebert noted in his review, "some of the Halloween creatures might be a tad scary for smaller children, but this is the kind of movie older kids will eat up; it has the kind of offbeat, subversive energy that tells them wonderful things are likely to happen." --Jim Emerson
On the DVD: This edition is a must for all Burton fans with the biggest gem to be found on a DVD release--"Tim Burtons Early Films" which holds his first two works. Vincent is clear predecessor of Nightmare before Christmas using the same stop-animation style and voiced superbly by Vincent Price himself; and Frankenweenie--a B&W live-action flick--takes you back to early B-movie territory seen through the eyes of a boy. Added to these films is a great special-features menu including a short documentary offering an interview with Burton, which exposes the inspiration for this magical animation and presents the three-year task of making the "Nightmare". On top of this is an in-depth commentary by director Henry Selick and Art director Pete Kozachik and layer upon layer of "character development" offering an insight into the intensity of thought that went into making these animated figures real. You also get a great selection of storyboards along with the sequences they manifest into, deleted storyboards and an animated sequence with a surprise alternative ending. The menu is beautifully animated in keeping with the style of artwork in the film. With a 1.66:1 widescreen format and Dolby digital transfer this charming DVD is perfect for Halloween, Christmas and beyond! --Nikki Disney