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Great Debates: Is Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas Movie?

It is one of those Christmas debates that just did not exist a generation ago: is the 1993 stop motion animated classic Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie…or a Halloween movie?

The clever movie does little to settle the question by itself.

The movie tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. In that role, Jack organizes Halloween year after year to the great delight of the residents who just love the holiday of Halloween. But one year Jack tires of the routine and while on a walk in the woods he slips into a portal that takes him to Christmas Town — and Jack can’t help but liking what he sees:

Jack can’t wait to take his amazing discovery of Christmas back to Halloween town but when he does what he describes fails to spark much interest to the citizens of Halloween Town.

Frantically he tries to explain how wonderful it all is but in the end decides the only way to get everyone to love Christmas the way he does is to just take it over.

What ensues is a clever if bizarre mash-up of Halloween with Christmas elements that makes a mess of both holidays.

For the Halloween fan this movie is absolutely vital — as must see as White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life to Christmas fans.

Of all Halloween themed movies, this is the top of all top lists.

But there’s the problem. Halloween isn’t exactly mainstream movie watching. Nightmare Before Christmas and Young Frankenstein are the only two movies routinely associated with Halloween.

There are several horror flicks that many enjoy every Halloween season but those aren’t the kind of movies you watch with the kids. Simply put, movies to Halloween are not what movies are to Christmas.

So Nightmare before Christmas is thus a Christmas movie, right? It has Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and snow — that makes it Christmas, right?

Movie fans can’t seem to decide.

Do a quick Google search of top Christmas movies and Nightmare Before Christmas frequently ends up in the Top 25.

By all rights there is precedent in declaring this Halloween tinged musical a Christmas movie. After all, Die Hard, a male action movie featuring guns, violence and swearing terrorists frequently makes the Top 25 of Christmas movies, too. If Bruce Willis can be Christmas, why not Jack Skellington?

Nobody will ever deny that Nightmare Before Christmas is great Halloween movie watching. But can it rightfully be watched after October 31st?

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.
  • S
  • November 9, 2015
Its both if its a wonderful life is a Christmas movie and I say it is but my wife says it not that xmas is just a back drop. Is just having Christmas in the movie at some point make it a Christmas movie I say no. Die hard takes place at xmas time but its not a xmas movie. Holiday inn has all the holidays in it but one of the best xmas song ever in it but its not just a xmas movie. Nightmare before Christmas is both. It can be called a truly holiday movie hay Thanksgiving and Easter even make an appearance.
Yes, for me it is a Christmas movie. Christmas is a central and essential theme, so, although it is in a different vein than other Christmas films, it definitely wears the "Christmas movie" label proudly. "Die Hard", however, in my opinion (agreeing with commentor Steve, is very much not a Christmas movie. It's a great action thriller with Christmas as a setting/backdrop, but not an essential thread or element to the story. Just my opinion :)

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