The Nightmare Before Christmas is more than just a movie. It’s an esthetic. A feeling. A vibe. The 1993 holiday-crossover movie from director Tim Burton has become such a staple for everyone, perhaps especially Millennials and their kids, that it’s managed to spawn an entire range of merchandise to keep that Nightmarish good feeling alive all year round. T-shirts, costumes, bedding, toys, you name it. Still, even with all the merchandise there’s only so much a person can handle. Sometimes you need a movie that is Nightmare Before Christmas Nightmare Before Christmas-adjacent.
Sure, there’s nothing exactly like the story of Jack Skellington and his pals in Halloweentown, but if you do a little research you can find movies just as quirky and fun. An, yes, slightly dark but not so dark that you’ll be lying awake at 3 a.m. terrified to leave your bedroom. Much like
The Nightmare Before Christmas, these movies offer a very specific kind of escapism combined with a particularly pleasing esthetic. And some of them weren’t even written by Tim Burton. Go figure. Corpse Bride (2005) Corpse Bride is very similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Some could almost call it a sibling movie. The 2005 stop-motion animated movie was also directed by Burton and starred the voice talents of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter, both of whom starred in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Corpse Bride tells the story of Victor, a hapless groom who unwittingly marries a deceased woman when he practices his vows on a tree. As he desperately tries to get back to the bride who is still breathing, he and Emily (the corpse bride) end up sort of bonding. Plus Victor gets reunited with his dog who passed away. The Addams Family (1991)
If you haven’t watched Angelica Huston as Morticia Addams and Raul Julia as her adoring husband Gomez in
, you are missing out. Based on the original television series from the ‘60s, this version features the story of the Addams family living their best lives in a creepy old mansion. They end up falling victim to a con artist pretending to be Fester Addams (played by Christopher Lloyd), long lost brother of Gomez. But is he a con artist... or really a member of the family? You’ll have to watch to find out. The Addams Family from 1991 Monster House (2006) of a departure from the Tim Burton era. The 2006 movie does feel a bit sweeter than Monster House is a bit The Nightmare Before Christmas, to be honest. A bit more relatable. Three friends who discover that the scary-looking house in the neighborhood really is haunted just as they’ve always suspected. But there is something about the look of Monster House that is simply so satisfying to watch for Halloween fans. Perhaps it’s the voice of Steve Buscemi as Mr. Nebbercracker, the owner of the house who hates children, or perhaps it’s the house itself. Either way, you will absolutely love it. And so will your kids. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Movie pitch: A crossover where the
Sanderson sisters from visit Halloweentown from Hocus Pocus The Nightmare Before Christmas. Imagine Winifred Sanderson, played by the incomparable Bette Midler, singing her heart out alongside sisters Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy)? That might give the children of Salem a bit of a break from the three witches trying to suck the souls out of them to make them look younger.
There’s a reason a
sequel to the 1993 classic Halloween movie Hocus Pocus is in the works. Everyone loves it. Truly everyone. Especially people who love all things Halloween. Coraline (2009) with Coraline has a lot in common The Nightmare Before Christmas. Both movies were directed by Henry Selick, both are stop-motion animation. Both have a similar esthetic that is at once dark but dreamy. And both deal with main characters trying to branch out to see the world beyond what’s right in front of their eyes. Jack Skellington longs to move beyond Halloweentown, and for Coraline, who is voiced by Dakota Fanning, she discovers a hidden world living behind a door in her family home. The difference being, Coraline wants to return to her own home once Other Mother, voiced by Teri Hatcher, tries to keep her in that parallel universe. Frankeweenie (2012)
Tim Burton movies seem to wobble between two categories, funny or dark, usually landing somewhere in between.
Frankenweenie from 2012 walks the line between funny and dark perfectly. The story follows brilliant young outsider Victor Frankenstein who has one best friend, his dog Sparky. When Sparky dies in a tragic accident, Victor brings him back to life after getting some advice from a clearly misguided science teacher, voiced by Martin Landau. The experiment works, and . Victor tries to recreate the experiment with other pets but it doesn’t go well. Frankenweenie is born
Think of this movie as a less terrifying
Pet Semetary. Also maybe be prepared to answer questions from kids about their pets possibly dying. Beetlejuice (1988) was Tim Burton’s first big movie after making Beetlejuice from 1988 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and it truly feels like the movie that set the tone for his style. A mad-cap villain named Beetlejuice (played hilariously by Michael Keaton) is summoned to help ghost couple Adam and Barbara (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) get rid of a human family who have moved into their home. Winona Ryder plays Lydia, the only member of the family who can see the ghost couple. The issue being that Beetlejuice is really tough to get rid of, especially if you call for him three times. The movie is funny and weird and colorful, classic Tim Burton. Casper (1995) Casper the friendly ghost has been around since he was first written about in a 1939 children’s book. The concept being that there’s this ghost named Casper who has no interest in scaring anyone and who would prefer to hang out with humans rather than other ghosts. The 1995 version of this story is perhaps the best. Bill Pullman plays a ghost specialist who is hired by a couple to get rid of a ghost haunting their house. That ghost is Casper, who is really just hanging out not bothering anyone. Until he meets Kat, played by Christina Ricci, and falls in love. She falls in love with him too despite the whole ghost thing, but things get complicated when his ghost uncles show up and start causing problems. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Talk about a reimagining. Christina Ricci also stars, just four years after Casper, in 1999’s
Sleepy Hollow, only this time her love interest has flesh. Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, the legendary victim of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s tale . It makes perfect sense that Tim Burton would find a new twist to one of America’s first ghost stories, and he does an amazing job with this one. This time around Ichabod Crane is an erstwhile detective trying to solve murders happening in Sleepy Hollow, only to find the murders are all connected somehow. Oh, and there’s a horseman hanging around without a head. A great movie but definitely for an older crowd. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow The Pagemaster (1994) The from 1994 starring a little-known child actor from the time named Macauley Culkin. Four years after he became a mega-star in Pagemaster is a fantasy movie Home Alone, Culkin got animated for this crossover live-action animated movie about a young boy hiding in a library from a storm. Little Richard Tyler is scared of everything, and when he gets stuck in a library with librarian Mr. Dewey (Christopher Lloyd), he slips and bangs his head and wakes up in a fantasy world populated by famous literary characters.
While the push to encourage reading is pretty obvious, but the movie is still pretty charming. And worth a watch for the trip down memory lane.