Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is quite possibly the creepiest children's movie of all time. Even now, at 30-years-old, the movie makes my skin crawl when it ends up on the television, but can you expect anything less from the creative mind of Tim Burton?
But what you may not know is that Tim Burton based the movie off a poem, he wrote while working for Disney in the early 1980s. What ended up being a three-page poem was inspired by classic children's Christmas shows: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Burton also drew inspiration from the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas.
I am going to guess that Burton got some of the creepier ideas after watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, because otherwise I question how someone could conceive such a horrifying concept of Christmas.
The poem has some rather dark elements within it. The idea that Halloween and Christmas can be intertwined in such a way is rather unnerving, but in reality, both Christmas and Halloween are based on pagan traditions that both have their own darker aspects.
In the poem itself, when Jack Skellington finds himself lost in Christmas Town he sneaks around the town and steals decorations and gifts in order to prove to his friends in Halloween Town that this place existed. Here is a snippet from the town describing when he finds Christmas:
Jack didn't know it, but he'd fallen downIn the middle of a place called Christmas Town!
Immersed in the light, Jack was no longer haunted.He had finally found the feeling he wanted.And so that his friends wouldn't think him a liar,He took the present filled stockings that hung by the fire.He took candy and toys that were stacked on the shelves,And a picture of Santa with all of his elves.He took lights and ornaments and a star from the tree,And from the Christmas Town sign, he took the big letter C.
Here is the scene in the movie representing this stanza from the poem.
For those of you that have seen the movie in its entirety, you will remember that Jack facilitated the kidnapping of Santa Claus by three twisted little Halloween Town kids so that he can take over the duties of Santa.But his goal is not to bring cheer, it is to bring fear and sadness to children everywhere.
Possibly the most cringe worthy part of the film is when children are opening up their presents on Christmas morning only to discover an array of gifts that would cause an international incident in real life.
There were screams of terror, but Jack didn't hear it,He was much too involved with his own Christmas spirit!Jack finally looked down from his dark, starry frightsAnd saw the commotion, the noise, and the light."Why, they're celebrating, it looks like such fun!They're thanking me for the good job that I've done."But what he thought were fireworks meant as goodwill,Were bullets and missiles intended to kill.Then amidst the barrage of artillery fire,Jack urged Zero to go higher and higher.And away they all flew like the storm of a thistle,Until they were hit by a well guided missile.And as they fell on the cemetery, way out of sight,Was heard, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
Will you be watching The Nightmare Before Christmas this year? If so, do you play it for Halloween of Christmas?