top of page

Editor analyzes a spooky classic


     Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, released in 1993, is regarded by many as an incredible movie and an absolute classic. This movie applies a beautiful claymation style with many unique, charming characters and songs that give so much life and charm. These features, combined with some genuinely chilling scenery and songs with sharp minor chords and dissonant tones, make this movie eerie but also intriguing to all viewers. There has been a lot of debate, however, around this movie on whether it is a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie. I am here to give my opinion on this widespread argument and provide reasoning why “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween, not Christmas movie.

     The movie opens with the spooky song titled “This is Halloween”. This has become one of the classic anthems for the Halloween holiday and is an amazing opener to this film. It sets the mood with some terrifying imagery and the eerie


Photo contributed by Creative Commons

theme of the song itself. The entire opening scene of this movie is incredible and likely one of the clips kids remember most from watching the movie. I love the wild visuals of it and the mood it sets. It introduces many of the important characters of the film and then, in a very flashy display of animated fire and swooping camera movement, the main character Jack Skellington is introduced. After the Halloween celebrations have concluded, Jack is seen growing tired of the repetition of Halloween, year after year. From here he wanders off into the forest and, after walking through the night, he finds himself at a mystical crossroads with trees engraved with doors representing each popular holiday. He finds himself drawn to the Christmas door, a solid tree with a door in the shape of a Christmas tree and painted with bright red and green colors. He is then pulled into the door by a flurry of snow, beginning the Christmas themes of the movie and the debate that many discuss relating to this film.

     Once Jack enters the door into Christmas Town, he is wowed by the brand new sights and sounds he has never encountered before in his dark and dingy Halloween Town. He is inspired by these sights, and returns to Halloween Town with the decision to make his own Christmas. Even though there are obviously themes of Christmas within this movie, they are added to the movie to show the disparity between the stereotypes of the two holidays and the themes revolve much more heavily around Halloween. As Jack uses the citizens of Halloween Town to create a strange, unorthodox version of Christmas, he finds himself in a wild identity crisis, feeling much happier in Christmas than he ever did in Halloween. He kidnaps Santa Claus and claims that he will be taking over his role for this year’s Christmas. Santa objects, of course, but is dragged away into Oogie Boogie’s lair where some unseen torture is performed on him after an eerie musical number. From here Jack enacts his Christmas plan, guided by his ghostly dog Zero. I think this whole premise is so cool and unique, it does something that no other Halloween movies do.

     Jack’s plans for Christmas don’t go as planned; there are invasions of Halloween in everything he does, with haunted toys and shrunken heads being given to the children. Even though he has good intentions, the humans get angry and shoot his sled out of the air. This disaster makes Jack realize that what he does best is Halloween and he longs to go back to it. He returns to Halloween Town, sets things right with Santa, and ends the movie off on a happily ever after for both Christmas and Halloween. 

    This movie is undoubtedly a Halloween movie. While there are clearly many mentions of Christmas within it, it is all in a very new and spooky manner, one that leans much more toward Halloween. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a beautifully done work of art that puts a new spin on the classic halloween movie with a creative, hand-crafted world filled with unique characters and many amazing songs. It employs a perfect mixture of comedy, joy and Halloween terror. This movie should be welcomed into the ranks of one of the absolute greatest Halloween movies out there and I recommend it for anyone looking for a wonderful movie this time of the year.

bottom of page