Director Henry Selick clearly has a soft spot for the spookiest time of year, having brought The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, and now the new Netflix animated adventure Wendell & Wild to the screen. But here’s his favorite part of Halloween these days: getting to see trick-or-treaters in familiar costumes while distributing candy at his home.
“I was delighted when more and more kids start showing up as Nightmare Before Christmas characters and then some Coraline characters,” he tells Consequence. “That’s my favorite, is kids dressed up as characters from films that I’ve worked on.”
The best part is that the kids don’t know whose house they’ve arrived at, and, says Selick, “I’ve got a lot of puppets and memorabilia from all the films. So if the kids are dressed up like Nightmare Before Christmas characters and they’re with their parents, I say, ‘Hey, I’ve got stuff to show you.’ And then right inside, I’d show them Jack Skellington in his sled, with the skeleton reindeer, and then Zero. And they would just scream. They were amazed. They didn’t ask, ‘Why do you have that?’ But they were really happy to see it.”
Selick is one of the notable pioneers of stop-motion animation, with Wendell & Wild marking his fourth full-length animated feature. The story focuses on Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross), a 13-year-old orphan whose arrival at a rundown school for girls leads to her encountering two demonic brothers (voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key), who might be able to help her bring her parents back from the dead.
The casting of Wendell & Wild led to Selick finding a new collaborator on the project: Inspired by their long-running sketch series Key & Peele, Selick approached Peele and Key to play the title characters of the film, and Peele turned out to be a huge fan of stop-motion animation (as you might guess from Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions company branding).
Peele ended up not just joining the project as an actor with Key, but also co-writing the film and serving as an executive producer. “It’s just one of those things where he wanted to work with me, he loves stop motion animation, and he’s not just incredibly good at comedy, he turns out to be an amazing horror film director as well,” Selick says. “So yeah, I’m really fortunate to have made that connection with Jordan.”