Thumbs up to the Nightmare Before Christmas 3D conversion
We have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off this week, thanks to Screamfest. The upshot is that we did not get out to Thursday's opening night presentation at El Capitan Theatre of the retooled version of Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, now in 3D. That was a hard disappointment, but we console ourselves by thinking of all the great independent horror movies we've been seeing at festival in the Chinese Theatre across the street.
Anyway, Dan Schoen - who is one of the few people on the planet who qualifies as being possibly a bigger fan of Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS than we are - did make it to the screening, and he was kind enough to file a report, which whet our appetite to see the film again, now that it's been digitally upgraded into the third dimension.
As in past years (Disney annually screens THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS for a couple of weeks at El Capitan around Halloween), the opening night included a panel of filmmakers discussing behind-the-scenes details. Apparently this year's installment failed to live up to previous. Fortunately, the film more than made the evening worthwhile.
The panel was a bit of a disappointment compared to previous NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS events, and the fact that I can't even remember the names of most on the panel attests to that fact. It was hosted by Frank Thompson, author of the definitive book on the movie, who has hosted many such events in the past and is an excellent moderator because of his knowledge and long time association with the film. The panel included one of the animators, a camera operator, someone involved with the Disney Digital 3-D process, and the only name I remember...Ken Page, who provided the voice of Oogie Boogie. I have seen Ken on stage before and he is always fun to listen to as he describes how he created the voice as a combination of the Exorcist and the Cowardly Lion. He completely stole the show with a live performance of "The Boogie Song" after the panel discussion concluded. The discussion itself was short but interesting, highlighted by an explanation of the 3-D conversion process and how they left mistakes in the film rather than correcting them digitally, referring to them as "charm". There was also a two-minute video clip originally shot with a camcorder on the set during production, showing the puppet vault and some of the filmmakers watching dailies of the opening sequence.
Before THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS a series of trailers were shown, including one in 3-D. There was a very cool new 3-D Nightmare animation of the Jack-o-Lantern in the Box letting you know when to put on your glasses. Also shown was a new 3-D rendering of the fun Pixar short "Knick Knack."
As for the film itself, the new presentation is absolutely stunning in clarity, and the 3-D effect is wonderful. It is not obtrusive or distracting; in fact, it feels very natural. To me it brought out more details than I have ever seen before in the film, almost like seeing it for the first time. Since the film was not originally shot for 3-D, there are none of the usual poke-you-in-the-face sort of gags. In fact, nothing really comes out of the screen exactly, instead it is an illusion of depth INTO the screen. I would say it was like looking through a huge window into the original sets. Overall, I was quite impressed, and I fully intend to see it again before it retires for the year.
Thanks, Dan. I'm sure all the NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS fans out there (like me) wish we could have been there, too.