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The 13 Creepiest Characters From The Nightmare Before Christmas

Imagine a town mayor handing out an award for the most blood drained in a single evening. Only in the world of Halloween Town do such macabre celebrations occur. And let's be honest, the vampires probably win that award every year. 

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is, by all accounts, a holiday classic. This Disney feature, envisioned by the strange mind of Tim Burton, weaves a tale of holidays colliding. The story is told from the perspective of the monsters residing in Halloween Town. Their job is simple: deliver the most frightful All Hallow's Eve year after year. From what we can see, it seems they deliver on that promise.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a Disney film, but it's layered with dark and twisted themes only fitting of a Tim Burton adventure. While most of us could probably sing along to the music, we can't deny that there are some grisly images portrayed in the film, both visually and in songs. How can we possibly forget a tune like "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," where three young trick-or-treaters plot to cook the big man in a pot, blast him with a cannon, and "chop him into bits." Despite the fanfare over the film and the catchy soundtrack produced, there's a certain creep factor that still remains after all these years. Some of the most disturbing elements are the very citizens that populate Halloween Town. Let's take a look at some of the creepiest characters.

Clown with the Tear-Away Face

Do you suffer from coulrophobia? Coulrophobia is the intense fear of clowns. Nearly 8% of Americans suffer from it, according to a 2016 Survey of American Fears from Chapman University. In the realm of horror, clowns have often been a staple of the genre. Even if you don't have a debilitating phobia of clowns, there are some clowns that are just undeniably creepy. Within the world of cinematic horror, Pennywise, the Terrifier, and the Killer Klowns from Outer Space have all wreaked havoc and horror on unsuspecting populations.

So, leave it to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to include their own horrific clown. This circus acolyte glides through the streets of Halloween Town on a unicycle. While we don't know if he's actually got a name, the opening song "This is Halloween" identifies him as the "Clown with the Tear-Away Face." Why? Well, because he can tear off his face. It's not as gross as it sounds; his face just pops off like a LEGO brick. But what is just as terrifying as a clown with sharp teeth? A faceless clown with a demonic voice. It's a package deal that could give anyone chills.


At first blush, Behemoth seems like a chill fellow — a bit unsightly, but chill. He kind of gives off Sloth vibes from "The Goonies." But just ask the Easter Bunny whether this guy is as cool as a cucumber. Turns out, he's prone to shouting and outbursts. We see him get excited when the Easter Bunny inspects him. He shouts "bunny!" and startles the poor critter back into the bag he was trapped in. Sure, one might argue that there could be a loveable oaf underneath this lumbering zombified exterior. But you have to wonder, what's this guy's story after all?

For starters, he's got an axe firmly planted in his head. Therefore, he's the literal embodiment of an axe murder victim walking around on the screen of a Disney film. He's clearly dead, or undead, as indicated by his cold, blue complexion. And, perhaps, he is a few cards short of a full deck, thanks to that wedge in his head. But let's not pretend like this fellow isn't designed to come from a violent background. As far as horror films are concerned, Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" feels like the closest parallel because he's someone who lacks social intellect but is a beastly and violent man. Whether Behemoth is the monster chasing victims or he is a victim himself, it doesn't matter. He has something darker going on beneath his childlike facade.

Hanging Tree

Trees aren't so terrifying, are they? After all, the hobbits of Middle-Earth find allies in hulking, living trees. But on the flip side, trees have also betrayed humankind, specifically in the horror genre. In "Poltergeist," an enormous tree attempts to eat a small child, and in the grisly Sam Raimi original "The Evil Dead," trees commit unspeakable acts to lost souls – or at least one in particular. But the Hanging Tree of Tim Burton's world in Halloween Town is simply a walking, talking giant.

What's particularly eerie about the Hanging Tree is that he is walking around with five skeletons who are hanging from his branches. The idea that five souls lost their lives on the branches of this tree has sinister implications. Traditionally, bodies hanging on trees imply a lynching took place. And while not all lynchings were racially charged, most of them were. Having a tree stomp around Halloween Town with an accompanying musical quintet of skeletons hanging from its branches might seem like a fun idea for ghoulish haunts, but the imagery it invokes is horrifically evil by its very nature.

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Harlequin Demon

This fella looks a bit odd, but it's clear he means business. He has two rows of sharp teeth and weird, tentacle-like horns protruding from his head. The Harlequin Demon pops up multiple times throughout the film, providing the town with a dreadful character that is rather unique. Halloween Town has a lot of the standard fare for a Halloween-themed setting, including vampires, a werewolf, a mummy, a devil, goblins, and ghosts. But the Harlequin Demon is special because it represents Tim Burton and the wacky worlds that originate from his mind. If you really think about it, the Harlequin Demon could easily have appeared as one of the crazy, undead characters in "Beetlejuice."

As far as scares are concerned, the Harlequin Demon has one thing on the brain: torment. A good example of this is when Jack organizes a town meeting to share the mysteries of Christmas with his fellow Halloween Town residents. Jack educates the monsters on gift-giving, and the first thing the Harlequin Demon thinks of is how a present could be filled with "pox." If you're not sure what that is, it's essentially a viral illness, like chickenpox or smallpox. Who wouldn't love getting the gift of disease for Christmas? 

Later, when constructing gifts for Jack's trip as Santa Claus, the Harlequin Demon makes a hat out of a dead rat. Gross. The Christmas spirit sure seems like a difficult concept for the Harlequin Demon to grasp.

Withered Winged Demon

This critter doesn't do a whole lot in the film, but he does happen to be skulking in the backdrop on a few occasions. The Withered Winged Demon is a little imp that walks around using his wings, which are twice his size. His tiny body is suspended in the air, even when he is technically walking on the ground. He doesn't do anything dreadful or terrifying, he's just genuinely creepy by design. The little imp is often seen hanging around the Corpse Kid, and the two share a little duet toward the end of "This is Halloween."

With piercing red eyes and spikes lining his head, this little beast somewhat resembles a gargoyle. But his large dome and strikingly tiny body also make him feel akin to a hellish toddler. Perhaps, that's where the creep factor comes in. After all, evil children are the center of some of the scariest horror films.

The Corpse Family

Halloween Town has its fair share of undead residents. Between Jack Skellington, the vampires, Behemoth, and the Corpse Family, all the boxes involving the living dead have been checked. The Corpse Family is a family of zombies that includes a father, a mother, and, of course, the Corpse Kid. How these three folks wound up as walking, talking corpses is a complete mystery. At one point, the zombie father gets himself eaten by a giant snake. But apparently, the snake doesn't like rotten meat, seeing as how the Corpse Dad is seen later in the film.

Perhaps the Corpse Kid is the creepiest element of this family. He's a short and rotund fellow who is always wearing a striped shirt, which makes it clear that he resembles Pugsley from "The Addams Family." However, the Corpse Kid apparently has his eyes sewn shut. He has a haunting, high-pitched voice. And, despite being blind, he always manages to find his way into the spotlight. Basically, he's the creepy child you find waiting behind you as you look over your shoulder.

Creature under the stairs

Do you remember being five years old and being afraid of monsters hiding in the dark? At nighttime, you would do the whole routine. First, you turn on your night light. Then, you close your closet door and do a quick glance into the darkened abyss under your bed. If you heard the creaking and groaning of the stairs, you might think there's a monster living in the house or hiding right below where you sleep, which makes it hard to sleep at all.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" presents its own horrifying realization of this monstrosity — a man with snakes for fingers and stringy black hair with spiders. Yeesh! This big boy is enough to make anyone's skin crawl. Just seeing him makes you want to send mom or dad into the dark space under the stairs before checking it out yourself. Hopefully, this guy won't be lurking around the corner.


If the Prince of Darkness had to pick his favorite holiday, what would it be? No, we're not talking about Ozzy Osbourne. We're talking about Lucifer, Satan, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, or whatever name you give to evil itself. Whatever the devil's name is, they would likely feel right at home on the one night of the year filled with tricks, frights, and mayhem. In the mystical world of Halloween Town, we see one such evil character joining in on the festivities. Is he the devil? Maybe. Merchandise for the film refers to him as "Devil" — not "a devil." So it seems likely. 

He definitely fits the bill with his pointy horns, sharp teeth, blackened goatee, and a pitchfork to boot. There's not much else to say here. We are all familiar with the Devil. He hails from the darkest depths of spiritual abandon, where he oversees the eternal torment of all who find themselves there. He needs no introduction, yet he apparently is counted among the population of Halloween Town. There's nothing good that comes from the Devil walking among us. Just wait until he meets up with Lock, the trick-or-treater dressed as him. Maybe the little tike would give up his servitude to Oogie Boogie to be the Devil's right-hand man. He seems to be a fan after all.


Halloween Town is rich in diversity. Creatures of all races, creeds, and origins are welcome here, in the most horrific town on the planet. Lycans, witches, blood-suckers, the walking dead, and the demonic are all represented. But if Mike Wazowski of "Monsters, Inc." fame were to visit, he might be shocked to see a fellow, much scarier cyclops that kind of looks like an undead version of himself.

Despite the comparison, the Cyclops of Halloween Town is a far cry from the loveable and endearing Mike Wazowski, at least in appearance. We know, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But let's be honest, this cyclops gives us the willies. He's a bit lanky and has skinny, long arms with similarly long fingers. He'd give the Slender Man a run for his money in that department. Just imagine the shadows he can cast on the walls of children's bedrooms! He also has an overbite that accentuates his horrifically pointy teeth. If history (and nature) tells us anything, it's that creatures with sharp teeth are usually carnivores. There are plenty of sharp chompers to go around in Halloween Town.

The Grim Reaper

Here's a character who doesn't have any lines and is not even in the spotlight for a single moment. In fact, most people would watch the entire film, read an article like this, and then wonder — "wait, there's a Grim Reaper in the movie?" Death incarnate is, indeed, in the film. Halloween really couldn't be celebrated properly without the specter of death stalking in the shadows nearby. But you might ask, "Well, if I didn't even notice him, what makes him so creepy?" Exactly. You didn't even notice him. He's just casually there. That's what makes him so terrifying.

The Grim Reaper doesn't need a ceremonious introduction. We all know exactly what a wraith, complete with a scythe in his bony hands, means. His presence is just one indicator that Death is a stalker, not some monster waiting to make you jump out of your tube socks. He plays the long game. Just knowing that he's there sends a chill down your spine. Life is unpredictable, and he's a reminder of that very idea.

Mr. Hyde

By the very name, you might be thinking of the iconic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But the Mr. Hyde of Halloween Town isn't anything like the character from the Gothic thriller novel "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" written in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson. Mr. Hyde isn't the transformed trouble-making version of some straight-laced man. Instead, he's an unsightly character who has two smaller versions of himself living underneath his hat. That's right, it's like a twisted version of "Cat in the Hat." Except for this time, equally creepy versions of Mr. Hyde emerge from his hat instead of the fun, whimsical character of the Dr. Seuss children's book. Mr. Hyde's eyes look as if they're about to pop out of his skull, which makes his blank stares all the more horrifying.

In the film, he ironically constructs a Russian doll — the type of doll made famous for having smaller dolls inside of it. The tiniest version of Mr. Hyde squashes a poisonous scorpion and stuffs it inside the smallest doll. What an excellent gift, a squashed scorpion within multiple Mr. Hyde dolls. 

Creature under the bed

The scariest monsters are the ones you can't see right away. They are lurking under the cover of darkness, just waiting to strike at the most opportune moment. At least, that's how young children envision the darkness. Why else would they be so afraid of it? During the daytime, their bedroom is a space of their very own, where they can read, draw, craft, play make pretend, or whatever else strikes their fancy. But at night, it becomes an untrustworthy haven, ready to betray them wherever darkness resides.

Of course, the darkest and most unholy spot in the entire bedroom is the space underneath the bed. After all, anything could be under there. But just imagine a small child peaking underneath their bed, only to see glowing red eyes and visible shiny pointed teeth staring back at them in the darkness. Of course, Halloween Town has its own version of this monstrosity. The creature is only seen once, in the opening moments of the film, but that's enough to get the picture.

Oogie Boogie

We can't forget the villain of the entire film, Mr. Oogie Boogie. His name is a play on the boogeyman, and for all intents and purposes, he is the boogeyman. From the very start, he's got nothing up his sleeve but trouble. When you think about it, he has no end goal, other than to sow chaos. When Lock, Shock, and Barrel bring him "Sandy Claws," Oogie Boogie concocts all forms of potential torment for the big man. If you listen carefully to the lyrics sung by Oogie Boogie, he fully intends to kill Saint Nicholas! What more heinous crime is there?

Let's also not forget Oogie Boogie's body makeup. This citizen of Halloween Town is essentially a giant burlap sack filled with bugs. Apparently, these bugs share a network and act as a hivemind to create the illusion of a singular being. But, once Jack unravels Oogie's world (literally), the bugs all fend for themselves individually, squealing and yelling as they die in molten lava. If you think about it too much, it's enough to keep anyone up at night.