Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas or Halloween Movie?


Lindsay Uba, Dedicated Writer

This has been a long debated question: is the spooky, yet festive The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas movie?

The Nightmare Before Christmas Synopsis

Before we start, some of you might not know what The Nightmare Before Christmas is — TNBC for short – so let me help you out.  According to the Google synopsis, “The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the ‘real world.'”

Jack then stumbles into Christmastown, a place full of colors, cheerful, and cozy spirits. Inspired by this jolly place, he plans to take over Christmas by kidnapping and impersonating Santa Claus. But some things just never go to plan. This fantasy stop-motion animation is a little over an hour long and has an 8/10 rating from IMDb, 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, 82% from Metacritic, and 92% liking from Google users.

You may recognize the writer, Tim Burton, as he has also contributed to making Edward Scissorhands, the 1989 Batman, Alice in Wonderland, and the revamped version of Dumbo, which was released last year.

So which is it? Halloween or Christmas?

We asked some members of the Westlake community (and beyond) if they think TNBC is a Halloween or Christmas movie. Or both! The results were pretty much split.

Those who said the movie fits with BOTH seasons stated that the movie had a fair amount of both themes.  One of the “Both-ers”, eighth-grader Emma Vasquez, backed up her position by saying, “The movie is festive and Christmas-like but the characters are Halloween.” Another “Both-er”, Emily Hogan, an eighth-grade science teacher at Westlake, explains, “It’s a fabulous movie that incorporated two much loved holidays that bring two different types of spirits.”

Those who said Halloween said that TNBC had more of a “Halloween spirit”.  Sixth-grader Jazmine Gonzales says it’s both but mostly a Halloween movie because “…the movie has more things to with things like death, Halloweentown, skeletons, etc. I personally think that all of those things are Halloween themes!” Eighth-grader David Roszel agrees, saying that, “For the most part, the first act is about Halloween and the full movie is really about the Halloween spirit. It may not be scary, but it’s supposed to be dark — not all light and happy like a Christmas movie.”

And those who sided with Christmas justified that TNBC was more Christmas-y.  Amanda Griffin, Executive Sous Chef at Fire Restaurant, points out that you can watch the movie from Halloween till Christmas but it’s mainly a Christmas movie because of the values TNBC portrays. Another “Christmas-er” from Cherry Creek High School, Ben Singh, says, “It is all about someone discovering the ‘magic’ of Christmas for the first time. It’s also a story of redemption for Jack Skellington. Those two things make me classify it as a Christmas movie.”

Is the "The Nightmare Before Christmas" more of a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

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So What Is It Really?  Who decides?

Now, what’s the final verdict? Halloween or Christmas? Well, in the Q&A at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show Film Festival, the director, Henry Selick, states that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie. Not only that, but it was released on October 13 — the well-known spooky month.

But believe what you want to believe. It could even be a Thanksgiving movie, if that’s what you think!

Cast your vote! Halloween? Christmas? Both? Neither?

Anyway, happy holidays!