The Nightmare Before Christmas was very prescient. Years before Christmas creep became ever present, Tim Burton‘s classic film blurred the lines of when Halloween ends and Christmas begins.
This week before Halloween, wander the aisles of your favorite store and you’ll see discounted ghosts next to freshly faced snowmen. It’s no longer “wait til US Thanksgiving,” or “wait til after Remembrance Day,” no, Christmas starts in the shops as soon as possible.
So The Nightmare Before Christmas eerily predicted this blended season of red and green and black and orange in a brilliant way. We sat down for a family Netflix movie night this week and watched the film for the first time (I know, I’m 20 yrs late) and while the boys were into it at first, they soon started to complain.
“This is a Christmas movie!,” Charlie declared.
“At the start it was mostly Halloween,” Zacharie would clarify after the film. “But then, after 5 minutes, when Jack went into the Christmas area, after that, it was all Christmas.”
So is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas one? Let’s examine the facts:
Thematically, It’s About Christmas
With storylines about generosity, and giving, and the entire Christmas ritual forming the foundation of the storyline, the movie has a full Christmas feel to it. In fact, Tim Burton wrote the original poem that became the base of the story as a response to … Christmas movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. It’s a CHRISTMAS MOVIE.
It Was Released On October 29, 1993
This is typically a little late for a traditional Halloween scarefest. Most Halloween-y movies will try to get 2 weekends of haunting in at the box office before the 31st. The Saw franchise went back and forth between Halloween weekend openings, and 2 weeks earlier.
Christmas movies typically come the weekend of American Thanksgiving, or at least late November. A pre-Halloween release makes it: A HALLOWEEN MOVIE
Most Of The Story Is About Christmas
Fed up with recycling Halloween in a Groundhog Day-esque eternity, Jack breaks the routine by visiting Christmas-land. He becomes obsessed with the happiness and sharing of that season and weaves back into a Halloweentown storyline. From a kid-napped Santa to a red-nosed dog leading a skeleton sleigh of reindeer, the storyline makes it A CHRISTMAS MOVIE
The Director Says
At The Telluride Horror Show, the film’s director, Henry Selick, was invited for a screening and a Q&A with fans. The end of the session was perfect, when a little girl came forward and asked the question we all want answered. “Is this a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?,” she asked of Selick. “It’s a Halloween movie,” he said. Mic drop.
Really It’s Both
The film tackles the Christmas storyline with Halloween imagery. From presents that are spooky, to Jack Skellington costumed in a red coat and beard, The Nightmare Before Christmas perfectly walks the line between the two seasons.
Which, perhaps, suggests that it’s not an either/or question, but rather a neither one. The Nightmare Before Christmas is not a Halloween movie, and it’s not a Christmas movie – it’s a November movie. It’s a film that you can watch with Halloween decorations still up around the house while you get ready to anticipate the Christmas season to come.
So how about “it’s a Thanksiving movie?” Actually, it’s not that either. There was talk of Jack opening the other doors in that wood for various sequels, but Burton has been very protective of his original story and characters.
It’s a Halloween movie you can watch at Christmas. It’s a Christmas movie you can watch at Halloween. It’s a wonderful classic treasure for us all. And it’s on Netflix now whether it be before Halloween or after Halloween, before Christmas or after Christmas.
Disclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team.