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3 decades of debate: What category does 'A Nightmare Before Christmas' fall into?


It's that time of year again.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As the Citizens of Halloween Town, singing) This is Halloween. This is Halloween. Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.

FADEL: And one movie that some consider required viewing in October is Tim Burton's 1993 animated classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas."


But is this a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? That is the question.

FADEL: Tim Haddock (ph) is from Santa Clarita, Calif. He went to the October premiere 30 years ago at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

TIM HADDOCK: We were all excited. We all kind of knew it was going to be the next Halloween classic movie.

MARTÍNEZ: And about when to watch it, Haddock says it doesn't exactly fill him with the Christmas spirit.

HADDOCK: It's aggressive. (Laughter) You know, it goes on the attack. It tries to take over Christmas. And that isn't what Christmas is about.

FADEL: For Jason Wells (ph) in Oakland, Calif., it's a different story.

JASON WELLS: It is a Christmas movie. And I will go to the mat for that position (laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: Wells says the answer to when it's the best time to watch - well, that's in the movie itself.

WELLS: The whole movie is about Jack taking over Christmas. It's as simple as that. It starts after Halloween is finished. So if you're watching it before Halloween, you're jumping ahead of the story.

FADEL: But like any other debate, there is a bit of a middle ground. And that's where Duke Smith (ph), who lives in Dallas, finds himself.

DUKE SMITH: Halloween and Christmas - it's kind of mixed up in "Nightmare Before Christmas." But I watch it whenever I want.

MARTÍNEZ: However, they all agreed on one thing.

DUKE: The way that they made the music, it sounds really good. I like it.


DANNY ELFMAN: (As Jack Skellington, singing) What's this? What's this? There's color everywhere. What's this? There's white things in the air. What's this? I can't believe my eyes. I must be dreaming. Wake up, Jack. This isn't fair. What's this?

FADEL: So whether it's October or the middle of January, happy viewing. Can we talk "Die Hard"?


ELFMAN: (As Jack Skellington, singing) What's this? There's people singing songs. What's this? The streets are lined with little creatures laughing. Everybody seems so happy. Have I possibly gone daffy? What is this? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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