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DVD Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas Collector’s Edition

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Jack Skellington is back and he’s ready, once again, to spread his scary brand of Christmas cheer to all the little boys and girls.

It’s been a long eight years since the last DVD release of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. This time around Disney is giving everyone a two-disc collector’s edition that doesn’t disappoint.

The Movie

Nightmare has thrilled audiences ever since it was released in theaters. It has garnered a huge cult following, and has since become sort of a status symbol for emo kids everywhere. But, there’s a reason why it has become so popular, dare I say “classic.” The word “classic” is thrown around a lot in referring to movies these days. But here it is well deserved.

Nightmare follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, as he tries to find out who he really is. Jack is sick and tired of scaring people, and wants something new to entertain him. When walking through the forest, full of angst about his current situation of having to think Halloween 24/7, he finds a few magical doors. These doors lead to other holiday lands like Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas. Jack is transfixed by the Christmas door, shaped like a beautifully adorned Christmas tree, and he enters.

He soon finds out that there’s more to the world than just Halloween. Jack sets in place a plan to take over Christmas, and do it his way. First order of business, kidnap Santa Claus.

Since quite a few people have already seen the movie, I’ll leave the synopsis there, and talk about why this DVD set was made for the fans. This isn’t one of those sets that companies put out with a little extra footage here and there just to pick up a quick buck. This is a fully comprehensive set that will immerse you in the world that Tim Burton made.

The Quality

The movie is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen ratio, and is digitally remastered. It looks stunning to say the least. The remastering is fantastic, and there isn’t any signs of it playing havoc with the original version.

It is presented in a very capable 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, so you can enjoy all those amazing songs.

The Packaging

To a DVD collector packaging is almost as important as the movie itself, especially if the price of the film is above that of a normal DVD.

When this set came in the mail I was very surprised. There’s a lot you can’t tell from the box art that’s all over the Internet. The set is encased in a clear plastic sleeve, which is nice, because it protects the original box and keeps that pesky Disney Movie Rewards star off the real case.

The DVDs are packed inside of a case that comes with a 3-D picture of Jack’s head on the front. The case opens like a book and is twice the width of a regular snap case. Inside you’ll find the film disc and the special features disc locked into semi-overlapping hubs. On the opposite side you’ll find the CD for the digital copy.

As soon as I was finished watching the film, I had to carefully rearrange my DVDs in order to place this package with its front facing outward for everyone to see. This case is truly presentation material for those of you that have just as much fun presenting your collection as watching it.

The Special Features

Here’s where this set goes extremely above and beyond the call of duty. Since this set contains so many special features, I’m going to talk in depth about the ones that are really special. Even though there is a disc specifically labeled for bonus features, there are plenty of great one contained on the feature presentation disc.

“What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour” takes you through the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland at Christmas time, and shows you how they decorate it using Nightmare as their inspiration.

This is a fascinating little bonus feature. You can take the tour with the original track that the visitors hear at Disneyland, a trivia track, or the “Off Track,” which is highly recommended. With “Off Track” you’ll be able to see exactly how the Disney Imagineers transform the ride. There are so many intricate details; you’ll most likely find yourself amazed like I was. Take for example the fact that they create a new, original, fully edible gingerbread house every year, which looks delicious.

Tim Burton’s original Nightmare Before Christmas poem is found on the feature presentation disc also. Here you’ll be treated to a fantastic, fully 2-D animated reading of the original poem about Jack and his adventures with his dog Zero. The animation here is almost like a pop-up book. It’s just as engaging as the stop-motion used in the actual film.

You can also watch the making of Nightmare, and watch how exhausting it is to make a film of this scope. Some people may think that Jack’s head, for example, was made out of clay and was just molded as the movie went on. In fact there were literally hundreds of Jack heads with each and every expression and mouth position that was needed for the film.

On the bonus features disc you’ll find other little gems like Frankenweenie with a new introduction by Tim Burton (which is very interesting because he says that Frakenweenie is in the early stages of becoming a full length feature). This is a short, live action, film by Tim Burton showing what Dr. Frankenstien might have been like if he were a kid living in America.

There’s another Tim Burton short called Vincent, which is stop-motion, and equally as fun as Frakenweenie. It’s about a young boy named Vincent, who makes everything as macabre as possible. It’s funny, poignant, and a little creepy at times.

Other special features include deleted scenes, storyboard-to-film comparison, and galleries full of still photos of the original concept art for pretty much all of Nightmare’s characters.

Ending Thoughts

Disney really got this one right. They didn’t skimp on the extras, the digital remastering looks fantastic, and the package is something you’ll want to show off to everyone who looks at your DVD collection.

This is a set for the fans, plain and simple. It’s got everything you’d ever want in a new Nightmare Before Christmas release. It’s worth the double-dip if you already own the old DVD release. Some people may not want to hear that, because it means paying out money for something they already own, but trust me, you’ll love it if you do.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go find a place on my mantle to display this set.

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