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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington, the lead of The Nightmare Before Christmas and his true love Sally dancing with pumpkins in the background.

A film that reaches over multiple holidays. A twist on a conventional Christmas movie that can fill your heart with warmth and touch the dark side of Christmas through the light of Halloween. The Nightmare Before Christmas is widely known as a Tim Burton cult classic, but many may not know that Tim Burton did not direct The Nightmare Before Christmas. Below are 10 more crazy facts about The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington, the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas, standing on the curled mountain top next to his home.
Photo: altpress.com

1. The Star Of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, Resurfaced In Henery Selick’s Later Films

Selick made his debut in The Nightmare Before Christmas and his career was catapulted into the film industry. He continued his work through the stop motion films Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach in 1996 and his film Coraline in 2009. In these cameos, we see Jack in a single, short but spooky scene. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas's Jack Skellington appearing in James and the Giant Peach, as a pirate captain
Photo: James and the Giant Peach

2. The Plot Of The Nightmare Before Christmas Was Inspired By The Recurring Collision of Holiday Store Decorations 

In a couple of interviews and a DVD commentary, Tim Burton discusses how witnessing the constant clash of Halloween and Christmas decorations during the holiday-inspired the twisted concept behind The Nightmare Before Christmas

3. Tim Burton Originally Imagined The Nightmare Before Christmas As A Television Special

To the surprise of many fans, including myself, Burton originally wanted this holiday movie to be a television special. Similar to that of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, it would have been an annual special that people would have to wait a full year for. But later it was decided to be a full-length film. 

Jack Skellington and Zero, his ghost dog, walking around the cemetery in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
ibtimes.com

4. Shooting Began Before The Script Was Completed 

Essentially, the shooting and development of the film were rolled out before the script was finished. Who knows how the story would have ended or been changed if everything had been predetermined compared to decisions made on a need to need basis. 

Jack Skellington, the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas singing and holding a snowflake.
The Nightmare Before Christmas, Touchstone Pictures

5. Tim Burton Was Supposed To Have A Cameo 

I personally would have loved to see a Tim Burton cameo. One could compare that missing cameo to the many Stan Lee cameos in his Marvel films. It would have been an amazing Easter Egg for the hoard of fans behind the spooky holiday film. 

Portrait of Tim Burton.
screenrant.com

6. The Set Was Built With Secret Passages For Animators

Claymation is a very lengthy and detailed process that requires hours of time to ensure that every move is perfect and accurate for the organic movements of the characters. To achieve this within the sets that were built, the builders had to add “secret passages” for the animators to move the characters and scenes. I would love to explore the “underworld” of the sets of The Nightmare Before Christmas. 

On the left, Tim Burton and on the right, Henry Seilck, on the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The Nightmare Before Christmas, Touchstone Pictures

7. 400 Heads Were Used for Jack During Filming 

For those who know claymation, they know that every reaction on a character’s face requires a new model. But for those who don’t know, for each emotion or movement, a character does require hours of planning and each emotion or reaction requires a different set of models to produce said emotion or reaction. For Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas, it took 400 heads!

12 claymation heads of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas
altpress.com

8. One Minute Of The Movie Required An Entire Week Of Filming 

Overall, The Nightmare Before Christmas took three whole years to be produced because for one minute it took a week to film.

Tim Burton with Jack and Sally on the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Walt Disney Pictures

9. Patrick Stewart Did The Original Intro For The Movie

The original plan for the opening scene to The Nightmare Before Christmas was for an opening monologue spoken by the smooth-talking Pattirkc Stewart. It was supposed to be the poem the film was inspired by. 

10. Disney Found The Movie “Too Scary” For Kids To Be Released Under The Dinsey Animated Features Banner 

This is a shock to a horror devotee, such as myself, who found The Nightmare Before Christmas to be a childhood classic. That Disney should find it to be “too scary for children” when the entire film is based around children and the impact the holidays have on them. But it does make some wonder what makes the protagonist and antagonist so scary?

One of Disney logos, including Cinderella's Castle.
Walt Disney Pictures

Why You Need To Watch or Rewatch The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween/Christmas classic for millennials and Generation Z. Being in Generation Z, I can confidently say we as children needed to be scared at points in our childhood to fully respect what it means to experience actual fear. But The Nightmare Before Christmas is nothing to be scared of, but rather something to worship.

A musically sound masterpiece that tackles controversial topics, including identity issues, the holiday blues, and the feeling of belonging. Jack struggles to find his purpose in life and in turn questions who he is and why he is here, which leads to his desperate need to feel like he needs a place to belong amongst the positive holidays such as Christmas.

Jack and Sally singing on a mountain top at night.
Walt Disney Pictures

This then connects to how people can experience the holiday blues because even though it is the most wonderful time of the year for some, it is the most painful and difficult time of the year for others. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a twisted, raw, and authentic holiday everyone needs to see. Plus it is filled with an abundance of Easter eggs and crazy facts that are worth a double take!

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Samantha Grimwood
Samantha is a curious being. She wonders about all things, she enjoys diving into the unknown and attempting to put it into words. But she also likes to listen and learn. The fruit of knowledge is what fuels the world. Samantha plans to obtain that knowledge through the creative process.

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