It seems like the preparation for Halloween is starting earlier and earlier every year. By the end of August, stores were already displaying Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. And the dreaded-by-many pumpkin spice flavored items were beginning to pop up. As a huge fan of Halloween, I couldn’t be more thrilled at the growing anticipation of my favorite holiday. And if I’m thrilled, then the Pumpkin King himself, Jack Skellington, must be ecstatic!
So Jack Skellington may not be up to Santa Claus proportions when it comes to holiday representatives. But for many of us, he is our Halloween mascot. The long-limbed skeleton figure, the main character of the Disney/Tim Burton film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, reminds us that it can be fun being scary. As well as to always try new things, even if they don’t quite go as well as desired.
That theme may hold well for the movie itself. A story about the creepy characters who lived in Halloween lane taking over Christmas practically by force did not seem like your typical Disney animated feature. Especially since Tim Burton parted ways with them many years before since his dark vision of Frankenweenie didn’t quite work for them. (But that, too, would find life many years later.)
But Tim had established himself as a master storyteller, starting with Beetlejuice. It was dark and twisted, but underneath it was a love story and a story about family. Tim’s heart was more apparent with Edward Scissorhands. And his ability to go big budget was proved with Batman. So Disney was smart to take a chance on this unusual movie.
The film was a success both at the box office and with critics. Lots of the praise came from the wonderful design and stop-motion animation. The soundtrack, featuring Danny Elfman as the singing voice of Jack Skellington, was a gift that keeps on giving. And being Disney, there of course was some merchandising produced.
And then an interesting thing happened. As the years went on, the demand for merchandise grew and grew. Jack Skellington and his Halloween Town friends showed up on anything you can imagine. I honestly don’t recall any other Disney movie that’s merchandise grew in popularity years after its release. It appealed to both Goths and fans of Christmas.
Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released in 2006 in 3D. Here in LA, the movie is shown every year at the Disney owned theater, The El Capitan. More recently in 4D, with lots of fun special effects, including snow inside the theater.
And the biggest treat was in 2015 when the film was shown at the Hollywood Bowl on Halloween weekend. Danny Elfman performed the songs live, along with the orchestra. It was actually the first time an entire original cast was brought together years later to perform a movie soundtrack live. (And yes, Elfman did perform his Oingo Boingo hit “Deadman’s Party). It was repeated again in 2016 (sadly, not happening this year).
For almost quarter of a century, Jack Skellington has been a familiar face at Disney parks and on various merchandise. And with Halloween approaching, he’s taking over The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, and this year, Disney’s California adventure, too.
And though we take pride in our Jack Skellington t-shirts during the holidays, most of us show them off all year. And if you’re like me, you just can’t have one. So I’ve dug up some cool Jack Skellington t-shirts, for everybody’s favorite bone daddy!