"I Feel Like Louise Bourgeois is Orgasming Somewhere."
Not to worry, friend, because that's what holiday weekends are for (or any weekend, really). And there are few better ways to celebrate Halloween than by watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. A beautiful labor of love, this stop-motion classic was beloved by many creepy children who grew up in the 90's. With its catchy songs, its breathtaking animation and its unique take on Halloween AND Christmas, it earns its title as a holiday staple.
Perhaps you don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe you've never seen this movie, but wondered what the fuss was about. If you haven't, it's about time you've begun.
"The Hangover Before Christmas": The Rules
1. Drink for Title Drops: For easy mode, that's the full title, "The Nightmare Before Christmas".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues. Sally has a fraught relationship with her creator, Doctor Finklestein. This totally counts.
4. Drink when a character in the movie gets scared.
5. Drink for dismembered body parts, or when someone loses a body part.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink whenever someone says the word "Christmas" or "Christmastown".
2. Drink for song title drops. This is either an easy rule or a difficult rule.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone says the word "Halloween" or "Halloweentown".
2. Drink whenever a character is blissfully unaware of the current situation.
Krissy Pappau: Sang along the whole time (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Questions the physics of the holiday universe (Medium)
Seb: Used to hate this movie. Then she learned. (Medium)
Bride of Buggerlas: NOT the bride of Frankenstein (Easy)
Big Moose: Can only see phallic imagery (Medium)
The Fuzzy Masked Man: Would like his own evil laboratory (Medium)
Velma Jenkies: Is concerned that we never see a single human adult face (Medium)
Shirley Whiskas: Wants her own Oogie Boogie Man (Hard)
Making drinking games, making drinking games is so fun. Almost as much fun as playing them. Join us, won't you?
What about its merits as a movie that tells a story?
"I don't know what I don't like about it," remarked Moose about twenty minutes in. He wasn't the only one who felt that way; Bride of Buggerlas felt the same resistance, and Seb admitted to hating the movie for years. I've met plenty of people who've seen this movie who just don't find it charming. It's not that they actively dislike it, either. They're ambivalent, or disinterested. THAT'S more indicative of the movie doing something wrong than about personal taste.
So we discussed: what exactly is it about this movie that makes it hard to love?
"Well, Sally kind of sucks," put in Seb.
"They don't know each other," Bride of Buggerlas said. "They're not friends."
"But you know those crushes you have when you're thirteen, where you never even speak to the person but you create a relationship between the two of you?" Seb countered. "It's like that."
This, I think, hits on the core problem and strength of this movie: It is a story that is told in a way that is immature. The film is filled to the brim with childlike wonder and hope and promise, but it doesn't quite know what it's saying or how to say it. The fact that all of its characters act on emotion rather than logic is a dead giveaway. Even Sally, who's supposed to be the "smart" one, is acting on fear; her pleas to Jack to stop his present course of action don't come from any evidence that it will turn out bad, but from a vision she had of impending doom. Nobody listened to Cassandra, and nobody listens to Sally either.
Nowhere in the movie is this immaturity more apparent than in the song "Poor Jack".
We start with "Don't reach beyond your own abilities," which is a weird thing for a children's movie to tell us. But it kind of evolves into, "Stick to your convictions," and then later into "Don't fear failure."
"It's saying commit fully to what you do," elaborates Shirley, "and if you fail, take the lesson."
On the one hand, this is cool because very few children's movies talk about artistic integrity and what happens if you DO fail. Failure is so often not an option for heroes. We always assume they'll succeed. Jack fails in a big way, but by doing so rediscovers himself and returns to his first love: scaring people. Burton and Elfman probably went through this many times in their artistic careers, and this movie is more about finding what you're good at than anything else. But it doesn't come across clear enough. The message doesn't come across on a first viewing, which may be another reason it's a difficult film to connect with.
One thing we could all agree on was that the iconic "Jack on a hill against the moon" shot is brilliant. Even if some of us thought the hill looks phallic in retrospect.
Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself
Fear is a pure emotion. When you mix fear with any other feeling it can become anxiety, nervousness, jealousy, even awe. Some of my comrades didn't want to drink for some moments I considered sipworthy because the characters were "shocked" rather than afraid. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but especially in a town where scaring others is a recreational sport, "shock" is a good enough substitute for fear for me. These characters ENJOY feeling scared, and that pleasure shows in their faces in a way that it doesn't when the people in OUR world are terrified by Santa Jack and his mechanical reindeer. For an example, let's take a look at the "Town Meeting Song", where Jack regales his neighbors with stories about his trip to Christmas Town.
In any case, you should DEFINITELY drink when the Mayor's head whips around to his paler side. It's the side of his face that's TELLING you he's worried about something. That's a gimmie.
Some Light BDSM
"Children's interpretations of bondage have informed large portions of my sexuality," chimed in Big Moose. Not sharing this fetish, I felt as though I was hit with a startling revelation. Seeing as a lot of children's entertainment involves seperating good guys from bad guys, and good guys get captured a lot, and the easiest way to hold somebody captive is to tie them to a post or train tracks or something, it's a logical connection to make. Just not one that springs to everyone's mind.
Oh man, tons of the stuff I watched when I was little had SOME elements of BDSM ... Dudley Do-Right ... The Great Mouse Detective ... Toy Story?
Please send us more examples. This might be fun to explore.
In the meantime, here's some extra rules.
Drink once for each song title that doesn't get dropped
Danny Elfman titles his songs like he's writing an opera. For every "This is Halloween," there's a "Scheming Song" or "Jack's Lament". And we wouldn't want to waste the opportunity to take a swig.
Drink every time a character is confused
You can substitute the "scared" rule for this, because it happens twice as often and is much more uniformally presented.
Drink for group celebration
The people of Halloween Town know how to party. To the point where they make up spontaneous choreography in the thick of it.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "Nightmare Before Christmas" related footage is owned by Touchstone Pictures and Walt Disney Studios.