The Nightmare Before Christmas Collectors Edition

Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
I am a huge fan of drawing. This cover puts a smile on my face. What more do you want to know? The standard DVD cover has a 3-D effect going on with some more artwork, but I like the Blu-Ray version with the metallic touch.

The menu has all the touched of the movie so it’s appropriate and fun to navigate. Not much more to say about it really:) It’s a good package all the way around.

Features: 10/10

  • What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour – Can you say ‘commercial for Disney’? That’s what this is. If you are a fan of the Haunted Mansion ride you will appreciate it. I was interested in it a tiny bit, but other than trying to get you to come to the land of Disney, this doesn’t have much substance. The camera is too shaky, the edit it too quick, I was ready for it to be over. My husband has been on the ride, so he was more into it than I was.
  • Frankenweenie (Uncut Version) With New Introduction By Tim Burton – I enjoy film shorts, most of the time. I am not a fan of this one. It’s a 90’s twist on the old 50’s TV shows with the added bit about a kid bringing his dog back to life. Oh, the family name is Frankenstein and we get the obligatory mob chasing the beast, etc. I totally get what Burton was trying to do, I just found it a bit pretentious and boring. As an extra, FABULOUS!! I mean that. Anytime we get that kind of bonus track on a DVD, I’m impressed whether I like it or not:)
  • Vincent Short Film – THIS is a short film I really enjoyed!! The story of a boy who thinks he’s Vincent Price? Love it. It’s a story/poem by Burton read by Vincent Price himself. The story is sweet and enchanting and charming all rolled into one. The stop frame animation is cool. Another fabulous extra to have on a DVD!!
  • Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated By Christopher Lee – Did I mention that this DVD has some fabulous extras? Here is another one. The original poem that inspired The Nightmare Before Christmas as read by Christopher Lee. The images are based on original Burton concept art for the story so it’s a true fan delight.
  • All New Audio Commentary By Tim Burton, Henry Seliick & Danny Elfman – Burton is an excitable guy, but he’s kind of dry sometimes. it’s nice to hear more about the making of the movie, however, it feels a bit forced at times for some reason.
  • Behind The Scenes Making Of – Stop frame animation has come a long since the early days of film making, but let’s face it, it’s still move the model, take a picture, move the model, take a picture, move the model, take a picture…etc. The people behind the scenes are amazing for sure. They are innovative and creative. It’s an extra from long long ago so beware of some late 80’s hair.
  • The Worlds Of The Nightmare Before Christmas – There are a lot of little tid bits here, again from the original DVD from years ago. You can check out tons of concept art, story boards, art direction ideas…etc.
  • Deleted Scenes – When you are making stop frame animation you don’t want much on the chopping block, so we don’t much in the way of deleted scenes.
  • Storyboard To Film Comparison – We all know what this is by now, hopefully. It’s a good thing to study if you are a film maker headed into animation or stop frame photography.
  • Original Theatrical Trailers & Posters – The posters are pretty cool, but let’s face it, by now these things are not EXTRAS, they should be standard DVD far ingredients.

Movie: 9/10
Halloweentown, Christmastown, it’s right up my alley. I wish I had had this movie when I was a kid. It would have been one of those movies that inspired me to imagine all sorts of alternate realities. Just like those Christmas classics like Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I’ll throw Wizard of Oz in there even though it’s not stop frame animation, it was one of those things I watched over and over and over and could get lost in them all so completely.

Nightmare has a touch of dark humor mixed with a completely childlike look at fantasy and belief in things. The story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown mixes some deeper life lessons with such a collection of visual treats..yes, I said visual treats! It is the best way to describe this movie for sure. Jack is not sure he’s doing what he should in life, lacking something, wanting  something new. He stumbles upon Christmastown and wants to bring the essence of the holiday to his own world.

We therefore have a stop frame animated skeleton dude, living in a macabre town surrounded by ghoulish figures, going to happy snow covered Christmas town full of semi-creepy characters including the one and only Sandy Claus. It’s all so much to describe I just can’t do it. Seriously, you have to see this movie to appreciate it fully. The story I can summarize, but you won’t get the whole experience until you turn down the lights, pop in the disc and enjoy.

Jack isn’t the only one who wants a different life, or at least find meaning in the life he has. Sally is a quilt work creation of the local mad scientist. She has grown restless and is looking for something in her life too. She’s my absolute favorite character, as I’m sure many people would agree. At one point she jumps out of a window, only to have her leg and an arm fall off, but never fear…she brought some thread and a needle along to mend her self. How poignant is that? Breaking free from the shackles of her life, knowing she might get shredded by her choices and yet she’s prepared to mend and move one. Excellent.

Every character is interesting and mesmerizing for me. Watching multiple times is the only way for me to thoroughly enjoy them all. Let’s not forget the world they all live in. It’s concept art come to life, for sure. I’m a huge drawing fan so the whole sketchy look is comforting and lovely to look at. I will say that watching it on Blu-Ray on a 9 foot screen makes it come to life completely!!! So many details, I might have to make it a Halloween tradition to watch over and over just to see every little line and detail.

The whole thing is sadly kind of short. I understand that stop frame animation doesn’t make it easy to make long drawn out films, but I am left a little hungry for more. I am ok to watch it again and again though.

The end is my only rough area. The story is told at a nice pace all the way through and then BAM we are flashed through and ending that just flies by too quickly. I love Oogie Boogie, don’t get me wrong. As far as bad guys goes, he’s a good one for sure. The problem is that I want the whole thing to be flushed just about 10 to 15 minutes more. That’s it, my only criticism is that the movie is too short…I love this movie. Can you tell?

Oh, I almost forgot, it’s a musical with some dialogue. I’m not even a fan of musicals, but this is one of those times it enhances the story completely.

Video & Audio: (By Ascully): 10/10
I have seen The Nightmare Before Christmas several times during my adult life, but I have never paid full attention to it (you know the drill HBO, Late Night reading email at the same time) and have always had a soft spot for it in my own little way. So, when the Blu-Ray & DVD of the new collectors edition arrived at Ascully Towers I was ready to give it my full attention. Long story short, as I said in the podcast, “I Loved It”. I am not here to discuss the story though, I am here to tell you about the amazing picture and audio quality that the Blu-Ray disc brings to the table with this new release.

Disney are fast becoming veterans in HD authoring and this might just be there best effort yet. The movie has a lot of dark scenes and every one of them is rendered in pristine detail. Some discs we take a look at fall to pieces when it comes to black levels, but The Nightmare Before Christmas excels with its dark but vibrant palette. Disney chose the VC1 codec at a average bit rate of 35mbps for the Blu-Ray release and I must say its flawless. They also chose the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This ratio is a little odd as it uses the full height of your screen but leaves some screen on the sides. It’s weird at first but you get used to it and at least you are seeing the movie in the shape the director intended.

Audio is brought to life using the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 codec on the Blu-Ray version, and the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on the DVD. Both are amazingly rich with full use of the surround speakers at all times. The musical scenes in particular are mixed to move around the room as the characters wander around. This isn’t a movie to rock your subwoofer, but it does show what Disney can do with a older movie.

Overall the Blu-Ray release is the one to get if you are a true movie aficionado as it’s the closest to the director’s vision. The truth is that the DVD is a great purchase for old fans of this movie or newcomers. I find the timing of the disc’s a little odd as they would be a perfect Halloween or holiday seller, but hey this is not one of the movies that will drop back into Disney’s vault anytime soon.

Value: 9/10
It’s an excellent addition to your Tim Burton collection for sure. The short films combined with all the older DVD behind the scenes extras makes for a great experience overall. I’m not a fan of the higher prices of Blu-Ray discs, so if you are wanting this desperately, pay the cash. If you wait a while I reckon they will drop the price a tad at a later day…wishful thinking. It’s a good value with the extra short films and poem added, I will admit that much. I still hate paying almost 30 bucks for a DVD. Maybe someday I’ll be properly brainwashed into wanting to hand over my money. Or maybe not.

Overall 9/10