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Sunday, March 3
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: Is 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' a Christmas or Halloween movie?


Halloween films are an October tradition usually famous for their suspense and gory themes, typically consisting of horror flicks such as “Friday the 13th,” “Scream,” “Halloween” and the like. However, the classic 1993 Tim Burton film, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is still often viewed this time of year.

If this film sounds unfamiliar, then this may seem to be a very confusing part of the lead up to Halloween. There is a slight controversy on whether everyone deems this a Halloween film. 

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a film named for the iconic December holiday, which occurs almost two months after Halloween. So why is it included in some folks’ list of Halloween flicks? The answer lies within the visual themes of the film.

The film’s main character is Jack Skellington, a skeleton who is the king of Halloween Town. After the holiday is over, Jack finds himself bored of doing the same thing every year and wants to mix things up. 

The plot takes off when he discovers a door to a fantasy land of Christmas. Jack and his fellow Halloween creatures decide to take over the winter holiday, with Jack in the role of Santa Claus. Antics ensue as the characters do their best to celebrate Christmas from their own Halloween-esque perspective.

The first hint is the term “Nightmare” in the title. This automatically tells the viewer this may be something a little different than the average Christmas flick.

The next clues involve the plot, settings and characters of the movie. 

Despite the name, this film fits as a Halloween film more than a Christmas film. Even through this brief plot synopsis, several things are clear on what makes this movie a Halloween one.

The characters are all Halloween-based, including witches, vampires and ghouls, as well as the skeletal protagonist. The main setting of the film is Halloween Town, an aptly named October-themed environment. Despite the movie spanning from Halloween to Christmas, thematically and visually the movie sticks to its Halloween themes throughout, with much of the film being set in the dark Halloween setting.

Even during Christmas, the movie still manages to have a Halloween vibe. Since the characters in the film are trying to recreate Christmas through their own Halloween-based lens, the typical festive cheer of Christmas is interlaced with the scary iconography of Halloween.

Films can consist of two holidays, but even so, this movie invokes more of the Halloween spirit than typical Christmas cheer. It would be a smart addition to the Halloween watchlist before the holiday occurs, but if that goes by too fast it can always be viewed in December as well. I won’t tell.

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