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Even though there have been several follow ups to this delightfully ghoulish classic, TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS ($40) remains one of the greatest achievements in stop motion animation. In fact, TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a film of such meticulous craftsmanship that the word masterpiece doesn't do it justice. With this film, creator/producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick (as well as their production team) have created a wondrous world of imagination where anything seems possible, and the animated characters almost seem real. Additionally, Danny Elfman supplies TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS with all of its delightful music and songs, which greatly enhance the sweetness and vulnerability of the bizarre looking characters, in ways that dialogue cannot achieve.

In the universe of TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS each holiday exists in its own separate world, without any one holiday knowing of the existence of any other. On the day after Halloween, Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King and leader of Halloween Town, becomes bored with Halloween and wanders far away from his kingdom. In the forest that exists outside his kingdom, Jack discovers a grove of trees with ornate doors. Jack opens the most beautiful of these doors and falls into the wondrous world of Christmas Town. Jack becomes overwhelmed by the world of Christmas and decides to take over the Christmas holiday. What follows is ghoulish good fun as the citizens of Halloween Town, not understanding the differences from one holiday to the next, put their own macabre spin on all the usual niceties of Christmas.

Chris Sarandon supplies the speaking voice of Jack Skellington and Danny Elfman does his singing. Catherine O'Hara supplies the voice of Sally, the only truly sane and logical resident of the insanity that is Halloween Town. Oogie Boogie is the only real villain in the film, and Ken Page supplies his blustering voice. William Hickey lends his voice to that of the Evil Scientist; somehow Hickey's grating, but slightly daffy voice manages to steal just about every scene in which it appears. Other vocal talent for TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS includes Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory, Susan McBride, Debi Durst, Greg Proops, Kerry Katz, Randy Crenshaw, Sherwood Ball and Carmen Twillie.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation will come as a true revelation for long time fans of this stop motion animation classic, as the level of clarity displayed on Blu-ray is truly amazing. For the first time one is able to appreciate the all of the detail, texture and intricacy contained in each of the stop motion characters, as well as the world the inhabit. Also, there is a great sense of dimensionality to the hi-def image, which one certainly could not appreciate at the SD level. Colors appear a purposely drab and subdued during the Halloween Town sequences; however, they absolutely pop when Jack pays his visit to Christmas Town. Blacks are absolutely pitch perfect, whites are pure, while to contrast and shadow detail are truly terrific for the filmís little world. The elements from which TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS has been mastered appear very clean, but an occasional blemish does show up from time to time. Grain is exceedingly mild, but the image never appears digital or over-processed.

TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. This is a wonderful soundtrack that is highly directional with sound effects and voices popping out of all the channels. Fidelity is marvelous; Danny Elfmanís songs and music have never sounded better than they do here, plus one can truly appreciate all of the intricate orchestrations. Additionally, the songs and music make terrific use of all the discrete channels; having been given a wonderful spread through the soundstage. The bass channel provides depth and weight. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some terrific supplements. Starting things off is a brief Tim Burton Movie Introduction extolling the virtues of the Blu-ray presentation. Writer/producer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick, and composer Danny Elfman are on hand for a running Audio Commentary that has been edited together from separate sessions. Jackís Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour offer a look at the revamped theme park ride. Tim Burtonís Original Poem Narrated By Christopher Lee- is a new video program the poem written by Burton with mildly animated versions of his artwork for the characters.

Next are Tim Burton's black and white short films VINCENT and FRANKENWEENIE. VINCENT is a weird and clever stop motion film about a boy obsessed with his film idol, Vincent Price. Price narrates the film, which makes it a genuine oddball treasure. FRANKENWEENIE like VINCENT, isn't a mainstream short film. It too, is a bit too weird to be a "Disney" film, but is more "upbeat" than VINCENT. Burton's FRANKENWEENIE is a gentle homage to the Universal Frankenstein films of the thirties. The plot concerns young Victor Frankenstein's resurrection of his beloved dog, who was killed in a traffic accident. Burton places the tale square in suburbia, but recreates the atmosphere and situations of the Universal Frankenstein films with loving detail. FRANKENWEENIE is both hilarious and touching as it gently sends up the "horror" of the monster that science has created. Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern appear as the parents of the young mad scientist. Side note: FRANKENWEENIE is presently in production as a stop-motion animated feature and this presentation of the original short features a new Introduction By Tim Burton. Both VINCENT and FRANKENWEENIE have been making the rounds since the Laserdisc release of TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and each could do with a fresh transfer.

The Making Of Tim Burtonís The Nightmare Before Christmas offers a look behind-the-scenes at the complex filmmaking process. The Worlds Of Tim Burtonís The Nightmare Before Christmas offers pre-production conceptual artwork and rough animation for Halloween Town, Christmas Town, and The Real World. Deleted Scenes, Storyboard Comparisons, a Poster Gallery, A Theatrical Teaser, Theatrical Trailer and a digital copy of the film close out the supplements.

I have been a huge fan of TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS since it first appeared. Having owned every disc based home video release of this particular film; I can say without hesitation that TIM BURTONíS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS has never looked of sounded as spectacular as home, as it does on this fantastic Blu-ray release. Absolutely recommended.



The Nightmare Before Christmas [Blu-ray] (1993)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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