Hitting store shelves today is the Blu-ray re-release of Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation classic The Nightmare Before Christmas (Blu-Ray + Digital Copy), complete with its treasure trove of extras. So, if you’re one of the many fans of Jack Skellington’s Christmas tale then you’ve got an awful lot to look forward to. Thanks to the Hi-Def Digest here’s a run-down of what you’ll get for your hard earned dollar:
The Special Edition DVD that was released in 2000 contained a bounty of supplemental material. The Blu-ray retains almost everything from that disc.
- Frankenweenie (SD, 30 min.) – Tim Burton’s 1984 short film stars Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern as the parents of a young science whiz who brings his recently-deceased dog back to life through the miracle of electricity. The local townsfolk don’t react well to the discovery. The black & white short is a little stilted in pacing, but is a clever tribute to 1930s classic horror films and demonstrates the promise of Burton’s developing visual sensibilities. The Blu-ray contains the extended director’s cut version of the film. The piece is preceded by a new video introduction in which Burton plugs his upcoming animated remake.
- Vincent (SD, 6 min.) – Another chestnut from the Disney archives, this early stop-motion animated short by Burton illustrates a poem narrated by Vincent Price. The influence on ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ (as well as Burton’s short-lived animated series ‘Family Dog’) is abundantly clear. In fact, keep an eye out at time codes 1:20 and 4:45 for a prototype version of Jack Skellington making his first appearance on celluloid.
- Deleted Storyboards (SD, 3 min.) – Storyboards for three deleted sequences (including an alternate ending) are presented with brief commentary by Burton explaining why they were dropped. All three scenes have temp music and dialogue (not by the main cast).
- Deleted Animated Sequences (SD, 5 min.) – Three scene extensions and one entirely new scene made it all the way through to completed animation but were eventually cut for time.
- The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (SD, 25 min.) – A fascinating documentary that explains the stop-motion animation process and gives a good overview of Burton’s designs, the music, storyboards, art direction, lighting, and how the puppets were manufactured. Unlike most “making of” featurettes available on home video, this one has some real substance to it and isn’t just EPK filler material.
- Halloween Town – This section of the disc is devoted to still galleries filled with character designs and concept art, as well as some short animation test videos. The categories are: Jack; Sally; Oogie Boogie; Evil Scientist Igor; Lock, Shock & Barrel; and the Citizens of Halloween Town.
- Christmas Town – Designs and concept art for Santa and his Helpers.
- The Real World – More still galleries devoted to the poor townspeople Jack terrorizes with his Christmas shenanigans.
- Storyboard-to-Film Comparison (SD, 4 min.) – A breakdown of the Town Meeting sequence.
- Posters – A brief still gallery of five poster art designs.
- Trailers (SD, 4 min.) – One teaser and one full theatrical trailer. The teaser plays up the Disney tradition for innovation in animation and reveals that the film was originally planned for release under the Walt Disney Pictures banner.
Additionally, the Blu-ray shares the following new bonus features with the 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD being released simultaneously:
- Audio Commentary by Tim Burton, director Henry Selick, and music producer Danny Elfman – This track has been edited together from three separate recording sessions. Selick’s participation sounds to have been culled from the commentary on the prior DVD. Nevertheless, this is an interesting listen with a lot of solid information about the making of the film. Elfman’s comments about the music are particularly interesting. Burton has been hit-or-miss in past commentaries. He’s pretty focused here, perhaps benefiting from his session being heavily edited.
- What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour – On Track Version (HD, 7 min.) – This promo for the theme park attraction based on the movie can be viewed either with or without a pop-up trivia track. The trivia jumps on and off the screen far too quickly. The exhibit itself looks kind of neat, but this short ad for it is pretty lame.
- What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour – Off Track Version (HD, 37 min.) – Much more interesting is this extended version of the promo, which incorporates numerous interviews from the Disneyland “Imagineers” explaining how they convert the traditional Haunted Mansion ride to a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ theme each year. (Note that the pop-up trivia is not available during the “Off Track” version.)
- Tim Burton’s Original Poem (HD, 12 min.) – The poem that served as the inspiration for the film is narrated by Christopher Lee and illustrated with brand new animation based on Burton’s original concept art. In this version of the story, Jack is much more of a Grinch-like character. This is a very cool feature.
- D-Box Motion Code – Viewers with D-Box equipped furniture can load the disc into a PC drive to synchronize the shaking and jostling movements with the action on screen. The codes are also available for download from D-Box directly if you don’t have a Blu-ray drive in your computer.
- DisneyFile Digital Copy – The second disc in the set provides a portable video version of the movie compatible with either Windows Media or iTunes. The file can be downloaded from the disc with an activation code provided in the packaging.
Amazon.com is offering the Blu-ray edition at 30% off the cover price, so at ~ $28 dollars that’s a heck of a steal. Heck, make it an early Christmas present & have yourself some happy nightmares!