By AMY NICHOLSON
By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By STEPHANIE ZACHAREK
By R. Scott Moxley
While Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (to give the film its complete, clunky title) hardly did Little Mermaid business in 1993, it absolutely charmed the striped tights off a certain disaffected demographic (Goth kids, people with their hair dyed crazy colors, Edward Gorey fans and Hot Topic shoppers of every variety) who responded to the picture with a rare display of unadulterated delight. Disney has rarely been accused of undermerchandising a movie, but for the first few years after Nightmare's release, the fans had to content themselves with chintzy Burger King promo watches and the like. Eventually, their constant and strident demands for Nightmare stuff reached the Mickey Mouse ears of the boys at Disney HQ, who must have been astonished to discover they could slap a Jack Skellington face on jars of expired mayonnaise and it would sell out by week's end. Soon the nation was awash in Nightmare shirts and buttons and cookie jars and every goddamn thing you could ever imagine. As the years have passed, wholesome suburban folk with jobs and kids noticed all this Nightmare swag cluttering up the malls, went back to check the picture out for themselves and found that it was actually pretty amazingly neat. And so this lost classic is suddenly no longer lost—in fact, it's teetering on the brink of overexposure. This new, 3D version is easily Disney's most crass, exploitive plan yet to wring a few more bucks out of the fans. I'll save you a place in line. Edwards "Big One" Megaplex IMAX, Spectrum, 65 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 450-4920. Opens Fri.; call for show times. $7.50-$10.
The Cat and the Canary. A wily old coot sets up his will to pit his greedy relations against one other, and mayhem ensues. The simple premise of John Willard's 1922 horror/mystery play proved surprisingly durable, and there was an absolute flurry of film versions early in the 20th Century. First, there was this one, in 1927, which was then remade in 1930 as The Cat Creeps (with a concurrent, Spanish-language version, La Voluntad del Muerto). A nine-year drought followed, and the Cat and the Canary mania seemed to die out . . . until yet another remake followed in 1939, this time a more comedic version, starring Bob Hope. Many decades passed, and it seemed America had truly, finally seen the last of The Cat and the Canary. But not so! The film was remade yet again, in 1979. So, presumably we can expect the next remake in 2019. Short subjects, cartoons and other goodies are also on the bill. Long Beach School for Adults Auditorium, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000, ext. 7198. Fri., 7 p.m. $1 materials fee.
A Caged Bird's Song. This documentary shot in 2003 follows the daily struggle of Palestinian students to get through military roadblocks and other hazards on occupied Palestine to reach their schools. There will be a panel discussion with former Palestinian students Lina Shalabi and Tarek Baker. The film screens as part of the symposium and photo exhibit "Struggle for Education in Occupied Palestine." Cal State Fullerton, Titan Student Union, Pavilion A, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (909) 260-4389. Mon., 1:30 p.m. Free.
Conversations With God. The Goddess Temple of Orange County presents a sneak preview of the upcoming film based on Neale Donald Walsch's best-selling book. Goddess Temple of Orange County, 17905 Sky Park Circle, Ste. A, Irvine, (949) 651-0564. Sat., noon. $10.
Halloween. A young Jamie Lee Curtis takes on a homicidal freak in a William Shatner mask (we swear! Google it!) in John Carpenter's 1978 horror blockbuster. Could be fun . . . but does anybody think this sounds like a strange movie for a restaurant screening? I wouldn't order anything red and goopy. DiPiazza's Restaurant, 5205 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 498-2461. Wed., 10:30 p.m. Free.
The Haunting. Oh, Santa and Jesus and all that stuff is fine, but here in Special Screeningsland, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year, as Halloween approaches and the local revival houses at last stop screening the dopey surf movies of summer and instead treat us to dark classics such as Robert Wise' The Haunting. If you had the misfortune to see the 1999 remake and have been trying to purge the thing from your memory ever since, please don't hold that against the original picture; the remake was based on the original the same way that Barb Wire was based on Casablanca, which is to say: just enough to really piss off fans of the original, but not enough to forever taint the original by association. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Sun., 6 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m.; Wed., 6 p.m. $6-$8.
The Little Mermaid. Come for the cute, schmaltzy Disney blockbuster, then stick around to enjoy the fishy wonders of the Aquarium of the Pacific! Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, (562) 590-3100. Fri., 2, 4 & 6 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. & 1 p.m. $5, plus cost of museum admission ($9.95-$17.95). Limited seating; advance reservations required.
The Lost Boys. Kiefer Sutherland, younger than you can believe and sporting an impressive, new wave mullet, stars in this high-camp, supremely '80s tale of big-haired, Goth vampire teens. Featuring both of the Coreys—and lines like, "My own brother, a shit-sucking vampire! You just wait until mom finds out, buddy!"—this is either a nostalgic must-see or an absurd curio from your misspent youth (you decide). Just go in knowing that it's a lot, well, gayer than you remember. I mean, that's cool an' all. But, seriously, we're talking way, way gay. Director Joel "Rubber Nipple Batman" Schumacher fills the film with lots of long, lingering scenes of broody pretty boys brooding prettily at one another. So, if you're looking for homoerotic, '80s vampire camp, this is your lucky week! Pierside Surfcity, 300 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-3151. Tues., 7:30 p.m. $7.
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