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The Nightmare Before Christmas – Halloween or Christmas Film?

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Halloween or Christmas Film?

Every year without fail, there’s a question that I can’t seem to answer. To this day, it remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in the world of cinema: is THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS a Halloween film or a Christmas film?

To some, it’s obvious. “It’s both, isn’t it?” they say. This stop-motion animated classic (usually associated with Tim Burton, although actually directed by Henry Selick) tells the story of Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who grows bored of his usual holiday and decides to take over Christmas instead – so of course it’s both.

I’ll admit that this answer may be right, but it doesn’t help because it doesn’t tell me when I should be watching the film. Do I watch it at Halloween or Christmas, or at some strange midpoint on November 27th? Which set of celebrations should it be a part of?

This year felt like the year to try to resolve the issue. With WriteMovies running our first ever Horror Award and announcing the winner on Halloween, we’ve read lots of scripts and watched lots of films that made us think about the Pumpkin King’s holiday, whether they be scary and violent or more light-hearted like THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

And after some thought, I think I’ve finally figured it out. I think I’ve finally found an answer to the question…

Because I genuinely believe now that it’s a Christmas film.

Even writing that out now, it still looks strange to see. After all, this is the film that still, 25 years since it’s release, is most emblematic of Tim Burton’s visual style – a style that has been embraced by goths, outcasts, and lovers of the weird and spooky ever since.

It’s a film which has a skeleton as its main character, which opens on shots of ghosts and pumpkins, and which sees Santa Claus (or “Sandy Claws”, as the residents of Halloween Town call him) kidnapped by a misbehaving gang of trick-or-treaters. To call it a Christmas film therefore sounds strange even to my own ears.

But I’ve decided that it is – because thematically, it shares much more with Christmas films than anything else. Fundamentally, it’s the message a film conveys that determines where it belongs. Christmas films generally have a focus on family and community, and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is just the same.

After all his (mis)adventures, at the end of the film Jack comes to realize the folly of his mistakes. By turning his back on his friends and the town that loves him, disaster has followed. It’s only by returning to where he belongs, embracing his community, and accepting the love of the ragdoll Sally that he finds happiness again.

Nobody would ever accuse THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS of being a horror film, but I believe this shows that it’s not even a Halloween film either. It belongs firmly to the realm of Christmas, and that’s why I’ll be watching it as part of my holiday celebrations this year.

Of course, give it another twelve months… and I’ll probably change my mind again.

From all of us here at WriteMovies, a very Merry Christmas. Oh, and I supposed a Happy (belated) Halloween, too!

Introducing the WriteMovies Horror Award 2019 Winner!

Horror Award 2019: Why you should be writing horror…

There’s just one week to go until our inaugural Horror Award closes for submissions – meaning your chance to become the first ever winner of this new award is nearly over! But what are the advantages of writing in this genre?

There’s a good reason why we picked horror as the second genre to celebrate in our new series of awards. It’s a fantastic proving ground for new filmmakers to achieve success – and that includes writers! Here are some of the reasons why you should be writing horror…

  • It’s almost always in high demand, giving you a better chance of getting into production than some other genres! Here at WriteMovies, we get plenty of interest in horror scripts from producers and companies. And that’s because…
  • It’s often cheap to produce. A lot of classic horror tropes use a small number of locations and a small cast, and the use of suspense also cuts costs compared to all-out action! But even if your horror script doesn’t look so cheap, that might not be a problem–
  • Because there’s a strong core audience for horror. Some people just can’t get enough of it, meaning that horror films have a good chance of recouping their budget and then providing profits!

So make sure you submit your script to our Horror Award by this Sunday, September 29th! The winner will receive two sets of Development Notes, guaranteed pitching to industry, and further advice on script development…

Plus all submissions get free entry to the Fall 2019 Screenwriting Contest, and the chance to win the Grand Prize of $2000!