"And now, with your permission, I'm gonna do my stuff."
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm gonna do the best I can."
Ken Page, who played Boogie, described his voice as being more "intimate" when he sings closer to Santa's face. Make of that what you will.
Adaptation Displacement: Most people aren't even aware of the poem the movie was based on. Which is understandable, since it wasn't published in book form until after the movie came out, and was only sporadically available for a good 20 years. Now that it's received a big re-release for its 20th anniversary and has generally stayed on bookstore shelves in the years afterward, it's become a bit more well-known.
Dr. Finklestein, big time. Did he create Sally to be his daughter? His Sex Slave? An emotional companion? A servant? All of the above? Who knows! And what of the mother-like figure he's with at the end?
Tim Burton has said that he doesn't consider Oogie Boogie evil.
Lock, Shock, and Barrel: mischievous friends who work together and happen to have similar names, or siblings?
Are any of the characters actually "good" or "evil" in the sense that we understand it? Their homes are the origins of our Holidays, so it's not hard to imagine that they're all mythological archetypes. This would pretty much make them all amoral, since free will wouldn't be a thing for them.
Lindsay Ellis once described Jack rather unsympathetically (albeit jokingly) as a "well-meaning idiot who uses his position of authority to impose his midlife crisis, willing or no, both onto his polity and of a sovereign foreign nation." Basically, Jack is a cultural imperialist!
Author's Saving Throw: For a long time, there was some fan confusion about why Oogie Boogie seems to be alright with torturing and murdering innocent people when the denizens of Halloween Town are explicitly supposed to be an example of Dark Is Not Evil, only existing to scare people (while drawing the line at actually hurting them). The licensed video game sequel The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge explains that Oogie isn't actually from Halloween Town, but is in fact the exiled representative of a forgotten holiday called "Bug Day"; humankind doesn't remember that "Bug Day" ever existed because it was banned by the other Holidays after they realized Oogie's monstrousness.
Creepy Awesome: Oogie Boogie. Sure, he's the Big Bad of the series. But dang it, does he stand out! His Villain Song is probably the most well-known of the songs in the film, and it's really hard to not find him at least somewhat amusing. Add to that he's actually a Colony Organism made of bugs wrapped in burlap, and you have yourselves the Boogie Man!
Oogie Boogie tends to get this a lot, often making Jack into a bully to do so. Also, Jack is probably one of the rare heroes (if not the only one) who gets this. Fans bash the military for shooting Jack down, despite the fact that they were justified in doing so.
Lock, Shock and Barrel have quite the popular fanbase, despite them being three homicidal, malicious, violent children. Although they do undergo a HeelFace Turn later...
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: You've uncovered a new passion in life and yearn to express this newfound aspect of yourself? Well, think long and hard before you do — you may be making a terrible mistake. Perhaps you should just stick with what you know, instead.* Although your new source of inspiration can help you rekindle an old passion if things have been feeling stale lately.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Apart from the already canon couple Jack/Sally, people often prefer Lock/Shock as well.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The Mayor ends up falling down the stairs of Jack's house trying to get Jack. This is hilarious until you realize that the Mayor's voice actor Glenn Shadix died because of blunt trauma to the head following a fall at his Birmingham condo.
Jack himself looks like a distant relative of Slenderman.
The movie ending with an epic throw-down confrontation between Santa Claus and the Boogeyman. Sounds familiar...
Take a look at the curtains in Town Hall◊. Now take a look at the logo for KingdomHearts. And yet ironically, the interior of Town Hall isn't accessible in any of the KH games.
A few of the headstones◊ in the Halloween Town cemetery resemble ghostly versions of the famous Edvard Munch painting, The Scream. Three years after this film came out, another film gave us Ghostface, who not only fits that same description as those headstones, but has also become the best-selling Halloween costume of all time, making his appearance in Halloween Town highly appropriate.
Ho Yay: Of all the citizens of Halloween Town, the Mayor appears to be the most worried for Jack when he goes missing — and it doesn't look like just as a professional and/or as a friend, either. In his defense, there are only 365 more days until NEXT Halloween.note 364! It helps that his actor, Glenn Shadix, was openly gay.
On the first day of October, expect social media (especiallyTumblr) to be flooded with references to this movie. Quoting the opening song (often in full) is very popular.
"There's only three hundred and sixty five days 'til next Halloween!" "Three sixty four!"
"Jack, please, I'm only an elected official here ! I can't make all decisions by myself"
Is this a Halloween or Christmas movie? Explanation Given both Holidays are featured prominently in the movie, many like to jokingly ask if they should be watching this on Halloween or Christmas. Generally the opinion seems to be 'why not both?'.
Clever though she may be, it's unfortunate that most of Sally's dialogue is an expository reminder to the audience about the state of the situation, or other obvious thoughts to herself.
"Jack has been blown to smithereens!" Okay, Mayor, we know you're understandably upset, but could you have said that any less hilariously?
Paranoia Fuel: Invoked with some of Halloweentown's residents, like The "Who" When You Call "Who's There".
Periphery Demographic: Amongst the most cited favorites of young Perky Goths everywhere. Tellingly, the average Hot Topic location probably carries just as much Nightmare merchandise as the average Disney Store (if not more).
One-Scene Wonder: The Easter Bunny and Shrunken Head Kid both only appear for short scenes, but are among the most memorable characters. The latter was frequently used in the trailers.
Ron the Death Eater: Dr. Finkelstein does have a rather... questionable relationship with Sally. But if you went by only what fanfictions wrote of him, you'd think he was a serial rapist.
Sacred Cow: Zig-zagged. Some circles hate it just because Tim Burton was involved, while others consider it the only good movie (apart from Batman and Batman Returns) he was involved in. The fact that a lot of people grew up with it certainly helped.
Self-Fanservice: Lock, Shock, and Barrel get a lot of fanart where they're aged up into hot gothy teens rather than the gonkish little kids they are in the movie.
Signature Scene: Both of the major scenes taking place on the spiral hill — "Jack's Lament", specifically the part where he walks up said hill against the full moon, and the final scene where Jack and Sally have their Final Love Duet.
The border of the removable faceplate on the Mayor puppet's happy face is clearly visible.
The bats flying towards the camera during the "This Is Halloween" sequence are clearly held up by wires. In the remastered version, most of the wires were digitally erased, but they are still slightly visible in a few frames.
The Halloween Town citizens. Justified because they're supposed to be creepy.
A lot of the fans think the elves are creepy. They're too cheerful, dammit!
The human children are creepier than most things hanging around Halloween Town.
Have you ever seen fanart of Jack drawn realistically? Dear Lord, there's a reason why Jack is a cartoony skeleton!
Values Resonance: Quite a few critics writing in the 2010s have appraised the film as a satire of cultural appropriation, over twenty years before it became a hot-button issue. Jack, bored of his own holiday, fetishizes and hijacks that of another culture for his own sake without any understanding of the tradition behind it, to the detriment of the holiday as a whole and the people who practice it. Despite having the best of intentions, his actions still do palatable harm.
Vindicated by History: It was a modest hit in 1993, and well-received by critics, but it wasn't near as big as Disney's in-house fare at the time (Aladdin arrived the previous year, The Lion King the next). This was partially because Disney was nervous about the Nightmare Fuel; they initially released it under their Touchstone Pictures banner (which was reserved for mature films and the edgier Who Framed Roger Rabbit). But now it's arguably a much more popular film than any of Disney's post-Lion King animated efforts, and they've since allowed it to be released under the Disney banner itself.
Visual Effects of Awesome: The entire movie is absolutely gorgeous, and there are some really creative designs to be admired if you look at the citizens of Halloween. For a stop-motion film, it's very impressive.
There are small touches, such as motion blur for the sweeping camera movies, courtesy of a special camera invented solely for this film. If you know anything about stop motion, especially when it's shot on non-reusable film stock, this is extremely difficult and it does not show at all!
Special mention goes to Oogie Boogie. It can't be easy giving a burlap sack expressive animation, but they did it. The cloth movement is realistic, and the "My bugs!" scene was terrific. The puppet was one of the trickier ones to work with, but they did it!
All those who feel sorry for Henry Selick because he never gets any credit for this film, raise your hand. While he was a director-for-hire for Burton because he was away filming Batman Returns, he is still responsible for putting it all together. Luckily this seems to have changed a bit after his adaptation of Coraline was advertised as being from the director of Nightmare, causing some controversy over whether the studio was trying to falsely imply that Burton was involved and bringing a lot of attention to Selick. note This has had the unfortunate side effect of some people trying to downplay Burton's involvement and claim that it was all Selick, which isn't true. Burton wrote the poem the film was based on, was the one that decided to make it a musical, was heavily involved in the pre-production (contributing concept art, story boards, and co-writing the songs with Danny Elfman- though he declined a lyric credit), and handpicked Selick to direct the film. While it's good that Selick is getting more credit for his involvement, downplaying Burton's involvement ignores how significant Burton was in getting the film made. For the record, Selick himself acknowledges that the film was Burton's idea and that his job was to bring Burton's vision to life.
Sally. All the things she does for someone who doesn't reciprocate her feelings (at first) is heartbreaking. Though note that "not-reciprocate-Sally's-feelings" does NOT equal "hardly-notices-her". Moreover, until the very end of the movie, he didn't even know there were any feelings to reciprocate.
Jack. A guy who gets tired of his job might sound whiny, but not when you consider that he lives in a town where it's all about said job. Put that on top of the fact that a lot of the responsibility for Halloween is on his shoulders, and all you have to say is "That's rough." Also since Jack is all bones he might be Really 700 Years Old, who knows how long he was doing the same thing every year. 10 years? 50 years? 100 years? Since Halloween was created?
Given Jack is placed opposite figures such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny - who are the chief representatives and figureheads of their holidays - it could be easy to assume Jack has been doing that job since the concept of Halloween existed in a modern context.
The Easter bunny. Near the middle of the film, he gets kidnapped, and gets the dickens scared out of him by one of the Halloween residents. The only vocalizations we hear from the bunny are a startled yelp and terrified whimpering.