This Is What Famous Director Tim Burton Wore On Halloween, 1967
You'd think that Tim Burton likes Halloween. Burton is the auteur who brought us Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Batman He also wrote and produced the greatest Halloween/Christmas movie ever, The Nightmare Before Christmas. And when you look at his Halloween costume from 1967, you don’t have to squint too hard to see a proto Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
His Mother Actually Made The Costume
While Burton is a talented director and artist, he’s not known for his sewing abilities. His mother created the suit by combining a skeleton costume and a snowman decoration for the head. The effect of adding a head on top of where Burton’s head should be is not only unsettling, but it’s right in line with the visual aesthetic he would utilize in his feature film work. Even though you know that Burton’s eyes are actually at the top most white stripe, you can’t help but want to look into the eyes of the snowman. The work is rudimentary but it feels as if it sprung fully formed from Burton’s mind.
Jack Skellington 1.0
Jack Skellington has clearly been in Burton’s subconscious for quite some time. Not only has the character appeared in multiple Burton films outside of The Nightmare Before Christmas (Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice), but his skeletal visage is being worked out in this costume. The bulbous white head, the body shape, and the strange mouth are all aspects that Burton worked into the final version of the character when he produced The Nightmare Before Christmas. Burton’s never said where the idea came from, but he has mentioned that he liked to hang out in a cemetery as a kid, so that probably has something to do with it. He told Entertainment Weekly:
It didn’t quite feel morbid, although people probably think it is. It felt more exciting and lonely and special and emotional. I guess it was a good place to think.
He Loved Monsters As A Child
It’s no surprise that Burton loved monsters when he was growing up, be they Universal’s stable of creepies or the bloody creatures who could be found in England’s Hammer Horror films. He told The Hollywood Reporter:
I grew up watching the Universal horror movies, Japanese monster movies and pretty much any kind of monster movie. That was my genre. I think I knew [Ray Harryhausen’s] name before I knew any director or actor names. He was probably the person that got me more interested in animation than any other form of filmmaking.
This love of monsters, ghouls, and all around spooky creations definitely fed into his art and directly inspired this costume, whatever it is. At the moment we’re calling it “Lanky Skeleton Fellow”
The Suburbs Weren’t The Right Place For Burton
Even though he looks like he stepped straight out of Victorian England, Burton was actually born in Burbank, California, one of the most normal places a person can grow up. Burton has said that he never really fit in with anyone. He spent his time watching horror movies or hanging out in a wax museum, something that made him feel isolated like a monster in a castle.
He started creating art at a young age, and each of creations were influenced by everything from atomic age advertising to the comics he read and the movies he watched. The costume in question does have a kind of strange logo quality to it. In another life this could be the mascot for the world’s scariest supermarket chain.
Costumes Like This Were How Burton Expressed Himself
Where does someone come up with a costume like this? It wasn’t from anything that Burton saw out his bedroom window, that’s for sure. He told the Independent that when he was growing up his windows were boarded over, something that must have forced him to using his imagination about what was happening in the outside world:
Growing up, I had these two windows in my room, nice windows that looked out on to the lawn, and for some reason my parents walled them up and gave me this little slit window that I had to climb up on a desk to see out of. I never did ask them why. But my parents are dead now, so I guess the question will remain unanswered as to why they sealed me in a room. I guess they just didn't want me to escape. I don't know.
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