Holiday Movie or Spooky Film

Debated question about The Nightmare Before Christmas finally answered


Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Attendees dressed as characters from the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” pose during New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.

From catchy songs to beautiful stop-motion scenes, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 movie that is still raved about today. However, one debate follows the beloved production wherever it goes: is it a Christmas or Halloween movie?

With this looming question, The Nightmare Before Christmas could be considered the Die Hard of animated films due to the holiday genre it falls under being so controversial.

Many people note that The Nightmare Before Christmas has elements of Christmas and Halloween, but to answer the question truly, only one option should be chosen. Saying that it falls under both holidays is the easy way out, so I have chosen the only rational answer. The Nightmare Before Christmas is undoubtedly a Halloween movie.

To shed light on this truth, it is vital to pick out when exactly the film is watched during the year. I for one have never watched The Nightmare Before Christmas during the month of December; I always watch it as a fun October movie and I think most people can agree with that timing. When a person is gathered with their family in December looking for a cozy Christmas movie to watch, The Nightmare Before Christmas is never chosen. To get into the Christmas spirit, warm and fuzzy movies such as The Polar Express or How The Grinch Stole Christmas are viewed, not a story about a skeleton replacing Santa Claus.

Next, looking at the contents of the movie is also of high importance. While there are a few heartwarming scenes, most of them are based around spooky topics. In one instance, the characters Lock, Shock, and Barrel kidnap Santa Claus and hand him over to the villain Oogie Boogie (who is a literal sack of bugs may I add). Another example is the moment when Sally, a ragdoll monster, jumps out of her window, because her controlling creator refuses to let her leave, and has to stitch herself back together. To me, these scenes don’t sound like ones you would see in a Christmas classic, if anything, the sequences are frightening to witness.

Some may argue that the songs within the film point it to being a Christmas movie. However, I must disagree. The song “What’s This?” is sung by Jack Skellington as he discovers the Christmas town. While it does seem to be a quite joyful song, Jack’s exploration of the village is the reason he decides to replace Santa Claus which brings on sound like a holiday tune but the screen depicts creatures creating toys made out of snakes and spiders. That does not sound like an exciting Christmas activity to me but more of a Halloween project.

During the climax of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack delivers the toys to boys and girls around the world but quickly things go sour. The toys attempt to attack and eat the children, a clearly traumatizing situation to be in. This scene is not meant to be a funny mess-up, instead it reads as a moment of horror.

The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t the only movie set during the holiday season while mostly having horror aspects. Krampus, for example, is a movie about a demon punishing naughty kids during Christmas.

People don’t watch Krampus during Christmastime or consider it a holiday movie so The Nightmare Before Christmas, a film set in Christmas but following a scary cast of characters, should not be considered a Christmas movie either.

Not every movie set during the holidays is considered a Christmas movie and The Nightmare Before Christmas is a prime example of this. Whether you decide it is a holiday movie or spooky film, it is agreeable that this classic is an enjoyable story to follow.