With Halloween having come to an end, the Christmas season is quickly approaching. We’ll be making the transition from buying candy and costumes to buying eggnog lattes and special gifts for family and friends. We shift from Halloween horror movies and spooky thrillers to films that warm our hearts for the festive season, like Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer and Miracle on 34th Street. However, there remains one grey area in terms of seasonal films: Tim Burton’s beloved film The Nightmare Before Christmas.
For those who haven’t seen the film, the plot follows the tale of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. Jack stumbles upon a place he did not know existed:
Christmas Town, and entranced by the wonder that is Christmas, Jack tries to take part in the holiday as well. Unfortunately for himself and those in Christmas Town, he doesn’t fully grasp the concept and instead twists Christmas into something dark and evil by accident. At first glance there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the film is a Halloween movie at its core. First of all the film was released on Oct. 29 in 1993, two days before Halloween.
Add to this fact the more horrific elements of the film and the evidence really starts to make a case for Halloween. For example, the majority of the characters are from Halloween Town and thus are made up of monsters, ghouls, and other spooky creatures. Also, the film is largely premised on the Halloween Town citizens’ destruction of Christmas through horrifying perversions of Christmas traditions such as gift giving. Although these things may not hold the same fear factor as some horror movies they still maintain the base elements of a Halloween movie throughout the film. This is not the whole story though.
Despite the Halloween features in the plot and its visual elements as well, at the heart of the film lies an old fashioned Christmas movie. It is a common tale of Christmas stories to have the main character miss the true meaning of Christmas in the beginning which leads to a tragedy of some kind occurring. However, by the end of the film, just as all seems to be lost, they discover the true meaning of Christmas which allows them to save the day on behalf of the Christmas spirit.
This happens in just about every typical Christmas movie from A Christmas Carol to Christmas with the Kranks. Such is also true for The Nightmare Before Christmas. So, the question still remains. When should we watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, for Halloween or for Christmas? I propose that not being entirely rooted in Halloween and not entirely rooted in Christmas, one can reason that it should be watched between the two. The film can be used to fill the grey period between the black and white of Halloween and Christmas. It functions as a cure for the Halloween withdrawal as well as a placebo for those impatient souls who can’t wait until Christmas. So with that in mind, now that the Halloween season has drawn to a close, I suggest you watch The Nightmare Before Christmas for this purpose if not just for the simple fact that it is a wonderful film that’s easy to enjoy.