The Great Debate

Is ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020
Bridget Kelley

More stories from Bridget Kelley



Though “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has some important Christmas themes and elements, it is — undoubtedly — a Halloween movie.

The movie’s main character is Jack Skellington. A skeleton. His dog is a ghost and his love interest is the female version of Frankenstein’s monster.

A majority of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and a majority of the characters — especially the characters with their own dialogue — are spooky in nature.

The concept for the movie was inspired by Tim Burton’s poem, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Tim Burton is known for his classic, gothic, darkly-aesthetic films and animation, such as “The Corpse Bride,” “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

If you ask me, Burton has never really seemed like the Christmas-movie type.

Henry Selick, director of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” confirmed it himself at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show, according to Birth. Movies. Death.

“It’s a Halloween movie,” he said when asked during a Q&A following the movie’s showing at the horror film festival.

Selick went on to explain how the entire premise of the movie was to demonstrate how the people of Halloween Town would react to the ideals and concepts behind Christmas Town.

And how did they react? They kidnapped Santa Claus, held him captive and tortured him. Very Christmas-y.

As for my final argument, I would like to point out one more thing: The movie is titled “The Nightmare BEFORE Christmas,” not “The Nightmare ON Christmas.”

And what’s that one spooky, dark, Tim Burton-esque holiday that comes before Christmas, again? You know, the one with the skeletons and ghosts? Oh, that’s right — Halloween.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected]

Madeline Fuerstenberg, Editor-in-chief



The Nightmare Before Christmas is very obviously a Christmas movie.

The title itself denotes that it is, in fact, a Christmas movie. Jack Skellington is trying to learn what Christmas is all about and bring Christmas to Halloween Town. The film itself centers on the holiday of Christmas and the festivities and traditions that go along with it. We don’t see them focusing on Halloween throughout the film.

In every debate I get into on this topic, my opponent tries to bring up the fact that this film is “spooky” and the title says that it’s a “nightmare,” to which I respond that I have nightmares year-round. In fact, spooky things happen all year-round. Murders are not just confined to October.

Just because something is spooky does not automatically mean that it belongs to Halloween. Not all Stephen King stories are Halloween stories, though they are quite terrifying.

Though the director of the film asserts that this film is in fact a Halloween film, I choose to disagree with him, in the same vein that I disagree with Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF, on how he says it should be pronounced.

Art is up to interpretation. And the folks at Rotten Tomatoes interpreted it correctly, listing the Nightmare Before Christmas No. 6 on their list of the best Christmas movies.

While the film is set in Halloween Town, the plot is very obviously, undoubtedly Christmas. I look forward to watching the film again once December rolls around, which is the only appropriate time to watch a Christmas movie.

Kelley can be reached at [email protected]

Bridget Kelley, News Editor