The Nightmare Before Christmas manages to comfortably dance between being gruesome and wholesome, playing with creepy ideas but never really diving into scary territory. One joke that got cut from the film goes pretty far into nastier territory—but it’s so funny that the director regrets letting it go.
In an interesting interview for the Hollywood Reporter reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the film, Selick reveals the circumstances behind cutting one of the film’s most infamous almost-gags.
“There’s a shot — and I really regret replacing it — at the very end of the film when Jack comes back and then Sandy Claws flies overhead and there’s snow and Christmas comes to Halloween Town. We show a lot of Halloween Towners enjoying winter sports and snow and you see the vampires playing hockey and they hit the puck right at the camera — and originally it was Tim Burton’s head,” says Selick.
Unfortunately, the shot got cut, but Selick thinks it was probably not necessary.
“And it was really funny. And Denise Di Novi or one of the Hollywood producers told me, ‘I don’t think Tim’s going to like that.’ And I feel so stupid for not just asking him. But that’s one of the shots that we reshot and we put in a pumpkin instead. I don’t know if that shot still exists, but I’d love to replace the one in there and I’m sure Tim would love it,” Selick continues.
There’s an irony in that: cutting a gruesome gag because one of the most self-conscious lover of all things spooky in films might have possibly been offended. If that shot still exists, they should restore it. For Tim, and for everyone. Though, uh, maybe not for the kids who probably watch this movie. Sorry, kids.