Save Watching ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ for October

As the holidays approach us, the age-old debate regarding “The Nightmare Before Christmas” returns: Is it a Halloween movie? Or is it a Christmas movie? Everyone seems to have an opinion.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a stop-motion movie that was originally released in 1993. In the film, Jack Skellington grows weary of his life in Halloweentown. When he uncovers the realm of Christmas, he becomes infatuated with the holiday and attempts to recreate it. 

Although many channels air this movie twice a year, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is most definitely a Halloween movie. 

One doesn’t have to look very far to see the Halloween elements of this movie. Not only does it take place in Halloweentown, but the town’s monstrous residents are undeniably the stars and heart of the movie. 

The movie also contains three anti-Christmas songs where the characters express their confusion over Christmas traditions–showing a big lack of Christmas spirit. After all, the protagonist’s name, Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King, doesn’t have much of a Christmas ring to it. 

Additionally, the movie doesn’t shy away from bloodshed and murder. The Oogie Boogie, the main villain in the film, seeks to kill Jack Skellington to become the scariest monster of Halloweentown.

 Instead of facing Jack directly, Oogie turns his growing anger towards the captive Santa and Sally. To kill them slowly and painfully, Oogie decides to drop them in a pit of lava. And if not for assistance from the Pumpkin King, the plan would have proven successful. 

Even after Santa and Sally are safe, Jack and Oogie battle to the death. But ultimately, Jack prevails, unraveling Oogie and crushing to death the insects that fall out of him. Typical Christmas movies definitely do not contain this much, if any, murder. 

However, some argue the movie is Christmas-themed because the main character, Jack, uncovers the joy of Christmas and spreads it to those around him. 

That said, this isn’t truly what the movie’s about. The plot focuses more on how the Halloweentown residents react to Christmas, and how their perception of the holiday is influenced by Halloween. 

For example, the “joyous” presents they give to others aren’t joyful at all, rather shrunken heads and poisonous snakes. 

Additionally, the Christmas figurehead Santa isn’t even Santa. He’s “Sandy Claws.”

Further, by the end of the movie, Jack realizes he never needed Christmas all along, returning to Halloweentown with a newfound love for his original realm and holiday, Halloween. 

Besides, the movie’s director, Henry Selick, said so himself in a 2015 interview at the Telluride Horror Show film festival. 

If you do decide to watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” this December, I won’t stop you. But consider watching it in October next year.