The Nightmare Before Christmas

Bored with his perennial role as Halloween Town's frightening Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington discovers the cheerful village of Christmas Town. Determined to shake things up in Halloween Town, he schemes to kidnap Santa Clause and takes over the job of delivering gifts to the children himself. When his plan goes awry, Jack attempts to restore Santa to his rightful place, but he must first rescue him from the evil clutches of Oogie Boogie.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is an unusual film that improves with multiple viewings. Burton cleverly mixes Halloween and Christmas with fabulous set designs and stop-motion photography, creating a whimsical world in which to tell his story. I have grown to love Burton's twisted imagination and consider him one of the best filmmakers in Hollywood today.

Burton's vision comes to life on Blu-ray with a spectacular 1080p AVC encode. Detail is breathtaking, from the characters' facial expressions to the intricate backgrounds. Halloween Town highlights the excellent shadow detail and depth in an otherwise colorless image, but when Jack ventures to Christmas Town, colors jump off the screen with reference-quality saturation and detail. Some rare instances of moiré creep into the picture, but otherwise this is a near-flawless presentation.

Disney has delivered some of the best audio soundtracks on Blu-ray, and the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track on this disc is no exception. Imaging is wide and deep, and Danny Elfman's award-winning score shows off a full-bodied midrange along with crisp highs and taut bass. The surround channels produce an all-encompassing ambience with many discrete effects creating the illusion of characters moving about the room, which had me turning my head on many occasions thinking a creature had sneaked into my viewing room!

Befitting a Collector's Edition, this Blu-ray is loaded with bonus material, including some new featurettes presented in HD. Newly produced items include a tour of Disneyland's "Holiday Haunted Mansion," and Tim Burton's original poem, "The Nightmare Before Christmas," comes to life with original concept art and narration by Christopher Lee. Also included is a new commentary featuring Burton, director Henry Selick, and composer Danny Elfman, as well as a new uncut version of Frakenweenie!, a short story directed by Burton in 1984, which is currently under production for a theatrical release utilizing stop-motion animation. Other supplements include some behind-the-scenes "making of" documentaries, deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons, theatrical trailers, and Tim Burton's complete short film Vincent.

The Nightmare Before Christmas has a cult-like following, and this Collector's Edition should be a welcome addition to anyone's movie library. The spectacular audio and video presentation makes this an easy recommendation, and the newly produced featurettes are just icing on the cake.

Release Date: August 26, 2008

Film: 9 out of 10
Picture: 9 out of 10
Sound: 9 out of 10

Review System

Panasonic DMP-BD30

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Pioneer Elite SC-09TX THX Ultra 2 AVR
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector