Christmas Movie Smackdown: ‘Die Hard’ vs. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

To read more of Sharp’s Christmas Movie Smackdown, click here.

Every Christmas movie is a ghost story. While some are more overtly supernatural than others (any riff on A Christmas Carol, for example), at the very least they are all in the service of the intangible Christmas Spirit. Including, and especially, the biblical Christmas story. It’s not without its spooky elements: sure, angels might seem glorious, but really, what are angels except ghosts with wings? Luke even writes about how the Shepherds who were visited by a choir of angels were “sore afraid.” Chilling stuff.

So, Nightmare Before Christmas, a Tim Burton produced stop-motion wonder about Jack Skellington, a Halloween creature who becomes enamoured with Christmas, is not without precedent. It’s one of those films that gives you hope for mankind. It’s beautiful that there are enough weird, spooky, semi-twisted children out there to have made this movie an enduring classic. Theatre programs and design firms across the world are dependent on those kids; how wonderful that they have a Christmas movie for them.

Which isn’t to say that The Nightmare Before Christmas doesn’t have broad appeal. Before Tim Burton hooked up with Johnny Depp and they both put on their crazy hats, Burton proved that we all enjoy a little darkness now and then.

Speaking of darkness, you know what else we all enjoy? A shoeless John McClane taking out a group of terrorist/thieves, cracking wise while trapped in a highrise building. And maybe showing a bit of vulnerability, too.

Is Die Hard really a Christmas movie? Not technically. But, it is a perfect movie (we’ll say it. It’s perfect). And it takes place on Christmas Eve, so that’s something. The fact is, no matter how original A Nightmare Before Christmas is, how important it is to those who love it, if you’re honest with yourself, if given the choice you will always choose to watch Die Hard over…well, over almost anything. No movie has improved on what Die Hard did, especially not it’s own sequels.

And in that regard, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Because that’s the other essential component of every Holiday story: a miracle. That’s what Die Hard is, in content and form: a cinematic miracle. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker. Yippee-ki-yay to everyone.


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