The Telluride Horror Show, Colorado's oldest horror film festival, brought Henry Selick to town for a special screening of his classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, and they brought me to host a Q&A with him. It's been a blast - not only was the Q&A great, but Selick is a really funny and smart guy to hang out with.
The Q&A ended with a terrific question, as a little girl in the crowd raised her hand and asked "Is this a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?"
Leave it to the kids to cut right to the heart of the matter! This is a question that has tugged at film fans for more than 20 years, and here we had the director himself, the man who had taken Tim Burton's germ of an idea and made a masterpiece out of it, to answer.
After the question was asked Selick looked a little surprised, and he said, "Oh boy," likely knowing that whatever answer he gave would be controversial.
"It's a Halloween movie," he said, definitively. He acknowledged that a lot of people liked the Christmas Town stuff waaaaay better than the Halloween Town ("They love Santa and say he's all-powerful," he said), but he had to tell the truth: this is a movie about Halloween, and the people of Halloween, and how they react to something like Christmas.
Of course the declaration of the director will not do much to calm the raging tempest of this debate. Each side has their own logic - the Christmas people point to the fact that the movie takes place leading up to and on Christmas, for instance - but when it comes to the people who made the movie, there's only one answer: this is a Halloween movie for people who realize Halloween isn't just one day out of the year.