Written by Jonathan Wojcik
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Bona-Fide Halloween Decorations!
We're half-way through October, and I don't care if you've seen the opening to The Nightmare Before Christmas a hundred million times in your life; just take a moment to watch it one more time. Just re-appreciate it. The direction, the animation, the lyrics, the character designs, every single second of this sequence is still as beautiful, fun-filled and completely wicked-awesome over two decades after its debut, and the film's global popularity has seemingly never stopped growing. The Nightmare Before Christmas is practically an entire fashion aesthetic and subculture all of its own. All year round you can probably find something for sale in your nearest mall with Jack Skellington's face on it.
...So why, exactly did it take so, so long for the obvious to finally happen?
I refer to this:
At Walgreen's pharmacies across America, a display stand devoted entirely to Nightmare went up as early as mid-August this year, featuring mostly what we've come to expect from movie merchandise; throw pillows, plush toys, figurines, snowglobes, tote bags, socks and character mugs are all on offer, and they're all quite nice, but I should hardly have to point out the star attractions here. That's an almost life-sized Jack Skellington and Sally, designed to hang in your home or yard alongside your giant, dangling grim reapers, zombie groundbreakers and those witches that look like they crashed into a tree.
The king and queen of Halloween town, beloved by children and adults for over two decades, are only just now available as REAL, certified, full-sized Halloween decorations to greet your trick-or-treaters, and that's just such a long time coming, it's as if the last 20-something years were just a meaningless blur. A quarter of a human lifetime, utterly wasted without a six-foot Jack to dangle from your front porch.
So of course I bought one. One, because they're $25 apiece, and I'm not about to spend fifty on only two items from a Walgreens, so, sorry Jack, but Sally belongs to us now. She's already strapped into the back seat of our car for a trip back to our home state. I went with Sally because she always had the more striking design of the two - as cool as Jack's stick-figure proportions may be - and a giant rag doll made of corpse flesh and stuffed with leaves is a pretty damn cool concept for a monster, not something I've ever really seen before or since but so perfectly Halloween all over.
So, what kind of quality does 25 bucks get you? Your typical giant, hanging Halloween monster most commonly consists of only a head, bendable arms and a long, empty cloth robe, but they couldn't get away with that for either of these characters, so they're definitely a little more elaborate than the average dangling sheet ghost, cutting just a few corners where it really keeps the price down without ruining the illusion.
Sallys shriveled arms, little more than tubes of cloth, are the only part that looks really cheap at a glance, but they are bendable, and they look exactly like they would if all her stuffing fell out of them, so she's probably just having a bit of an off day, you know? Maybe you could actually fill them out with something yourself, if you were brave enough to slice open something you paid almost thirty dollars for, though the fabric has no elasticity to it, so they're going to be stick-thin no matter what you do. Her body looks a little deflated as well, and her waist a little pinched, but she's not drastically off-model.
The heads and torsos of these decorations are a single piece of hollow, molded plastic, and flat on the back to save some extra cost, which is fine, since you're most likely going to hang them against a wall, a post or a tree trunk anyway. Sally's hair is also a bit on the bargain-bin side, made of a sort of flimsy plastic tinsel material, but it looks great regardless, and won't get nearly as messed up over time as actual fake hair might have, though a combination of plastic sculpt (for the front) and a piece of fabric (for the back) would have worked pretty well too.
Finally, we have the filthy, disgusting photo you've all been waiting for, and I'm glad nobody drove by the exact moment I shoved a camera up Sally's ass. As you can see, she has absolutely no body below the waist, her plush legs dangling from her torso by a pair of crude, cloth strips. It's a clever way to cut the price down even more, avoiding any extra material where you're never normally going to see it anyway. The legs are weighed down by plastic feet, and surprisingly, they don't get too tangled or twisted up while she hangs around. They do a pretty decent job staying in place.
Compared to movie Sally, decorative Sally is as good a likeness as you could have honestly hoped for within the limits of a dangling yard monster. Her colors are all more intense, but it makes her stand out nicely wherever you set her up, and the plastic bust is an almost perfect likeness, except that the decoration's mouth is flawlessly symmetrical. It wasn't consistent throughout the film anyway, but the cutest thing about Sally was definitely how her face wasn't stitched together quite evenly.
I'm apparently not the only one who thought she was the cooler choice, because I'm still seeing a Jack or two hanging around Walgreen's here in mid-October, while most Sallies seemed to disappear by the end of September. It actually seems as though a given Walgreen's only gets about four or five of these for the season, and usually more Jacks than Sallies.
Of course, the moment I first saw giant, hanging Jack and Sally, what immediately crossed my mind was the potential for a giant, hanging Oogie Boogie, who would need only be one big bag of fabric anyway, right? How hard could it be? I realize we were lucky enough to get more than just a Jack, but I figured, if these sell well enough, maybe they'd consider an Oogie for 2016?
Well, as it turns out, Oogies actually were made for this line, which is impressive for such a new product, but I've been in and out of over a dozen Walgreen's across at least two different states for medication and snack food alone. I haven't seen a single trace of these anywhere but the internet, though a few people claim to have spotted them in the wild.
Unfortunately, Oogie is also said to be the shoddiest of the three, and you can already tell that from the photo. He IS just a big bag of fabric, but word is it's extremely flimsy, easily tears, and translucent enough that you can see where the glue holds him together. He would also look a whole lot better in his neon green, blacklit mode, and the plastic face leaves a little to be desired. Granted, you could spruce him up a little yourself, spray him down with glow-in-the-dark paint, hang a spider off his head, stuff him with cloth and glue an assortment of rubber bugs pouring from his seams, but at that point, you may as well just make the whole Oogie Boogie yourself. I'd obviously appreciate owning this one anyway, but I'm sure my own glue, burlap and paint would cost a little less than the twenty to twenty-five bucks they ask for these.
Maybe they'll come out with an improved Oogie next year, or maybe they'll just give up and move on. Maybe, if they sell enough Jack and Sallies, they'll at least consider even more "life size" Nightmare items? A hanging Zero would be easy, as would Lock, Shock and Barrel as those "porch greeters" or child-height candy-bowl holders. Full sized skeletons stylized like the ones in Boogie's dungeon would also be killer, but I'm probably getting a little far-fetched here. What about a Doctor Finkelstein whose head opens up to offer treats? Or a mayor you prop up in your yard and his head spins around when people pass by? What about a bag of little skeletons and a plastic face to turn any tree in your yard into Halloween town's hangman tree!? OH MAN. The possibilities are endless, though likely to go more or less untapped.
For now, let's scour Ebay and Amazon for a moment and look at the most interesting Oogie Boogie items you could already buy...at least in theory.
BONUS: Top Six Oogie Boogie Items!
Oogie Boogie Plant Pin
Oogie Boogie Yahtzee
Oogie Boogie Mini Figure
Oogie Boogie Lenticular Painting
Oogie Boogie Operation
Actually...maybe this actually takes place before the events of the film. Maybe Jack and Oogie used to be friends, or at least friendlier rivals? This is kind of sad. What if this operation is what sent them down the path to such a bitter rivalry?
Oogie Boogie Angry About Sally's Leg, as a Pin
I'm sure as hell not.
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