I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas when it was released in 1993 at the Penhorn mall movie theatre. I remember there was hardly anyone else there and I also remember not too many of my friends being interested in seeing it. I’m not sure who I ended up seeing it with, I’m thinking my friend Jenn and that would explain why I saw it in Dartmouth. I don’t think Nightmare was a big hit when it was originally released and that it’s fan base has grown over time. I however loved it from the get go. I was already a big Tim Burton fan having enjoyed Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice and I loved Batman and Edward Scissorhands. The weirdness of it all spoke to me, a Christmas movie starring a skeleton posing as Santa Clause and filmed completely with puppets. It’s no wonder that it wasn’t a huge mainstream success at the time as I just don’t think most people knew what to make of it. This is one of the first movies that opened my eyes up to what goes into making a movie. I understood that a movie like this would probably never have been made had Tim Burton not made a ba-jillion dollars on Batman. The quirkiness of this movie and Edward Scissorhands before it really made me realize the importance of a director’s vision and that movies like this didn’t just happen without someone really paying their dues and taking chances. Burton was a huge influence on me creatively and he was my favorite director for many years.
I think it’s great how he can take established stories like Alice in Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow and put his on stamp on them but he truly impresses me when he’s working from his own original concepts. I think Nightmare Before Christmas is probably the closest we’ll get to peering into his brilliantly twisted mind. The character designs are so unique and they were brought to life incredibly by the puppeteers. I think the Mayor is one of the funkiest and funnest designs from the film. His spinning head, bulbous body and little legs somehow all come together to create a very memorable supporting cast member. Movies like this and Toy Story lend themselves really well to toy production because the characters are themselves toys. An action figure is never going to look exactly like a real person or a 2D cartoon character but it can look exactly like a 3 dimensional puppet. This figure of the Mayor is a prefect miniature representation of the actual puppet used for filming. His proportions are spot on and the detailing is top notch. He’s got a slew of wicked accessories and he even retains the spinning head feature shown in the movie. My only gripe is displaying this guy is tough as his itty bitty legs have a hard time supporting his weight. 9 out of 10.