I’m putting this out there right here and now, The Nightmare Before Christmas is definitely the ultimate Halloween movie. It’s not a Christmas film.
The clue’s in the name, really – The Nightmare BEFORE Christmas.
My colleague saw me pitch the idea of writing this feature and decided it was so ludicrous to suggest this was a Halloween film and not a Christmas film, he said he’d take some of his own valuable time writing the counter-argument. Watch out for that one.
Watch the Halloweeny trailer here:
Directed by Henry Selick, and produced by Tim Burton, the film tells the story of a skeleton, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King.
For those of you who are unfortunate to have not seen this masterpiece of a film, I’ll explain briefly what it’s about.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is set in a place called Halloweentown, a fantasy world full of things like monsters, ghosts, goblins, zombies, vampires, mummies, werewolves, and witches – all things suspiciously Halloween, I’m sure you’ll agree.
As the leader of the town, Jack is responsible for organising the town’s annual Halloween celebrations, but having grown bored of the same tedious routine every year, he decides he wants to do something new.
Wandering into the woods, Jack stumbles across seven trees, each of which contain doors leading to towns representing various holidays of the year, and he opens the portal to Christmastown.
So yes, this is where the Christmas confusion begins to take place. I can see that, but it doesn’t change my opinion on this being a Halloween film. I’ll continue.
Jack returns home to tell the residents all about his experience of Christmas, but they fail to grasp the concept and compare everything to their own ideas of Halloween.
He tries his best to find a way to explain it, but can’t, so he decides Halloweentown will take over Christmas instead.
The Halloweentown residents are all handed Christmas-themed jobs, such as singing carols, making presents, and building a sleigh – which will be pulled by a reindeer skeleton.
Jack has good intentions when he hires three trick-or-treaters to kidnap Santa, but this goes wrong when Santa’s delivered to Oogie Boogie, a gambling-addict bogeyman.
In Santa’s absence Jack delivers presents to the world, but his Halloween-inspired gifts, instead of Christmas presents, leave everybody frightened.
Concerns over ‘Santa’s’ behaviour begin to grow and the military take action and shoot down Jack, causing him to crash land in the cemetery of Halloweentown.
Jack is left upset over the disaster he’s made of Christmas, which reignites his love of Halloween.
Now I’ve explained the plot, here’s my case for it being a Halloween film.
If you take the concept of Christmas out of the film, it will still stand as a movie and there’s still a plot. The film simply would not exist without its darkness, and it’s spooky Halloweentown folk.
And not only is it a Halloween film, it’s the ultimate Halloween film.
It’s a world away from the typical horror genre, it’s fun, warm and spooky, and has stood the test of time. Not to mention the fact it includes some great Halloween songs as well.
And now to put this to bed once and for all, a trump card if you will…
The film’s director, Selick, was asked the question during a Q&A at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show film festival, reports Birth.Movies.Death.
He said, in these exact words:
It’s a Halloween movie.
Selick acknowledged a lot of people liked the ‘Christmastown stuff’ but said the movie is ‘about Halloween, and the people of Halloween, and how they react to something like Christmas’.
There you have it, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie. It’s for people like me, who know Halloween is something to celebrate for longer than just the one day it falls on.
‘This is Halloween, This is Halloween.’
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