Jack Skellington (voiced by Sarandon), the pumpkin king of Halloweentown, has grown bored with his lot in life and the repetitive nature of giving people a scare each Halloween.
A chance visit to neighbouring Christmastown provides Skellington with a tantalising prospect: why not kidnap Santa Claus (Ed Ivory) and hijack all his little elf helpers and replace them with his band of ghouls and goblins to deliver his own variation on Christmas.
From an original fairy tale poem and the fertile and febrile imagination of Tim Burton (the film was also known as "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" in the hope of lending it some extra commercial cachet) comes a wickedly dark and decidedly alternative look at every child's favourite day of the year. From a script by Caroline Thompson, director Selick moves the action along at a brisk pace but it's Burton's characters and superb production skills (as one would expect, the confection is a truly visually sumptuous affair) that really delight. Each and every creation is realised to delicious perfection, from Skellington's besuited, brittle frame, to the frankly frightening Oogie Boogie.
Likely to appeal to grown-ups of all ages - while putting the fear of God into kids - it's a perfect antidote to standard festive fare and evidence of the rich and varied possibilities of stop-motion animation. In a word, wonderful.