Monday, December 01, 2008


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. We are pleased to welcome you to The MonsterGrrls' 25 Days Of Christmas, and while I understand that some people may be bothered by the idea of monsters presenting Christmas... well, take a look at the current newsmedia bollocks involving whether or not to even call the holiday "Christmas." Quite honestly, there are some people, aren't there, who aren't presenting it so well, don't you think?

So we'll kick off the holiday season with something that is, for the other Grrls and myself, a bit close to
home--Tim Burton's delightful animated opus The Nightmare Before Christmas. This film, directed by Henry Selick with music and songs by Danny Elfman, was originally released in 1993 under Disney's Touchstone Pictures banner (due to the Mouse Factory's fears that the movie would be too scary for the little ones). It has garnered much critical and financial success and inspired many other filmmakers and artisans (see our own Mad Doctor's review of this film for possible spawning of same). Inspired by a Burton-penned Christmas poem, this film was completed by director Henry Selick in the time-honored yet time-consuming method of stop-motion puppet animation. This same method would be returned to again in another Burton film, The Corpse Bride (reviewed during Halloween by our Punkin), but Nightmare remains a catalyst for much creative inspiration.

Bored with creating mad Halloween fetes each year for the citizens of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and sung by Elfman), stumbles by accident into Christmastown. Attracted by the beauty and joy he sees, Jack returns to Halloweentown to tell the others of his find, but fails to make them understand his new feelings (which is compounded by the fact that he doesn't really understand Christmas himself). As Jack's obsession grows, he decides to take over Christmas, even going so far as to kidnap Santa Claus with the aid of Lock (Paul Reubens), Shock (Catherine O'Hara) and Barrel (Elfman), three trick-or-treaters who also serve as henchmen of the evil bug-munching bogeyman-gambler Oogie Boogie (Ken Page), who has plans of his own for poor Claus. Despite warnings of great danger by rag-doll Sally (O'Hara), who secretly loves him, Jack careens off in a coffin-sleigh led by eight bony reindeer and his faithful ghost-dog Zero to deliver well-meaning but hellish gifts for what he believes will be a joyous Christmas, with disastrous results.

This skewed Christmas fable can be viewed as the perfect remedy if you are suffering through having your holiday taken over by well-meaning yet ill-mannered PC watchdogs who fear mention of religion in an historically religious holiday, and it has just been re-released on DVD in a treat-packed double-disc package that allows for a digital copy for your computer, iPod, iPhone or similar electronic media output. Including many behind-the-scenes features, a tour of Disney's special Haunted Mansion Holiday celebration, and Tim Burton's first stop-motion experiment Vincent as well as a new uncut version of his infamous short film Frankenweenie, this new release of a humbly created holiday underdog fully deserves the title of modern Christmas classic. Do yourself a favor, darlings, and pick up this wonderful treat.

We delight in entertaining you for this festive season, and do hope you shall return tomorrow for the next installment of The MonsterGrrls' 25 Days Of Christmas. Just remember, you'd better watch out...

Bethany Ruthven

For a backward look at the impact of Nightmare, click here to read an essay by John Scalzi, who reports on genre films and other oddities for the AMC Television Channel's weblog.