10 Must Watch Disney Films This Halloween Season
The Halloween season is here! Leaves are changing color, a crisp chill is creeping into the winds, and pumpkins will soon be dotting doorsteps. Fall decorations are already out and about Walt Disney World in abundance, and the parks are simply overflowing with “not-so-scary” delights. Since it’s not possible to live at the parks (or so Cast Members keeping explaining to me), here are some delightful Disney films and shorts that you can watch to keep you in the Halloween spirit.
The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!
Originally airing on October 8, 2017, this Mickey Mouse cartoon is an absolute gem that can now be found on Disney +. Released as part of the Emmy Award winning Mickey Mouse series, the short film features the one and only Mickey Mouse as he attempts to tell a story that will scare his nephews, as well as Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Unfortunately, Mickey is better at telling silly stories than scary ones. The short features Donald and Goofy, along with brief appearances by Daisy and Minnie, and a whole slew of Easter Egg references to Disney films past. In true Mickey Mouse fashion, it’s is both charming and hilarious. It also has just enough spookiness to fit the season, without being too scary for younger viewers.
Tim Burton and Halloween were made for each other. Frankenweenie is a perfect example of why. The animated feature, released in 2012, is a re-imagining of a live action short film Burton created in 1984, which itself was a riff on the classic Mary Shelley story of Frankenstein. Featuring the acting talents of Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Martin Short, and Winona Ryder, the movie tells the tale of young Victor Frankenstein and his attempts to reanimate his pet dog Sparky. This sets off a chain of event that brings a whole host of reanimated creatures to Victor’s hometown of New Holland. In classic Burton fashion, the movie finds beauty in the bizarre and tells a gripping story along the way.
Mickey Mouse’s House of Villains
While most of the year is made for Disney heroes, the spooky season is when Disney villains get to shine. Jafar, Iago, Captain Hook, Chernabog, Cruella de Vil, Ursula, and a whole horde of dastardly characters feature in this direct-to-video release. The Disney baddies descend on the House of Mouse and transform it into the House of Villains. Mickey and friends struggle to reclaim the abode, culminating in a sorcerers’ battle between Mickey and Jafar. Along the way, numerous Disney shorts are featured including Lonesome Ghosts, Trick or Treat, Donald and the Gorilla, and others. The villains are also given their own musical number, performing a song called “It’s Our House Now!” In the words of Mickey, “…it’s a Houseketeer Halloween! So grab your garlic and get set for America’s most haunted. He’s Count Mickey Mouse.”
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie
Any cartoon featuring Winnie the Pooh and friends is like a freshly baked pumpkin pie. It just leaves you feeling all warm and happy inside. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie is no exception. A direct-to-video follow-up to 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, this sweet little feature follows Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Lumpy (the heffalump) and the rest of the gang in the Hundred Acre Wood on a Halloween adventure. Tigger tells the group about a creature called The Gobloon who captures people and turns them into “jaggedy lanterns.” However, if he is caught first he will grant his captor a wish. Roo and Lumpy set out to find the beast, and encounter the Creepy Cave, Slimy Slide, the Tree of Terror and more. Of course, there’s nothing too spooky in the movie, so it’s perfect viewers who aren’t quite ready for bigger chills found in movies like Watcher in the Woods or Something Wicked This Way Comes.
There are certain films that defy explanation and categorization. Mere words fail to describe them. Blackbeard’s Ghost is one such movie. Released in 1968, this Disney live action film features Disney Legend Dean Jones and the extraordinary Peter Ustinov. Jones plays a track coach named Steve Walker who accidentally summons the ghost of Blackbeard the Pirate (played by Ustinov). The rascally pirate comes to the aid of Walker’s floundering track team. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a whole plot about the Daughters of The Buccaneers, an organization made up of the descendants of Blackbeard’s crew, who are attempting to preserve the historic Blackbeard’s Inn (made from the remains of his ship). Unfortunately for them, a local crime boss wants to tear the inn down and build a casino in its place. This only give you a passing idea of how delightfully bonkers this movie is to watch.
Escape To Witch Mountain
A 1970s live action gem, Escape to Witch Mountain is a sci-fi thriller that involves psychic powers like telekinesis and telepathy, a mysterious map, and a scheming millionaire named Aristotle Bolt. The titular Witch Mountain is a landmark where unexplainable phenomena regularly occur. The main characters are a pair of siblings who live in an orphanage before being pursued by the millionaire (because of their psychic powers) and accused of witchcraft by an angry mob. Then, there are the aliens. While I won’t say too much to avoid spoiling the plot, the movie is fully in the tradition of other wildly over the top Disney live action movies of the era (anyone remember Gus, the field goal kicking donkey?). Along with some mild frights, the movie delightfully features its plucky heroes getting the best of adults, meaning it’s sure to be loved by kids.
Return to Oz
Return to Oz, starring a very young Fairuza Balk, is a surprisingly unsettling movie. Filled with more menace than the original Wizard of Oz, the film features references to electroshock therapy, a near drowning, rocks with sinister faces, beheaded statues, creatures known as Wheelers (that are sure to haunt your dreams for the rest of your life), a palace full of animate disembodied human heads that, and a monster known as the Nome King. It is, of course, also whimsical and magical. It’s easy to fall in love with the characters of Tik-Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead, and you’ll be cheering Dorothy throughout every stage of her thrilling adventure, just be prepared to be pleasantly creeped out along the way.
Unlike some of the other films on this list, Coco is not a spooky movie. It’s a celebration of family and memory, as exemplified through the tradition of Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead (which begins the day after Halloween). A true masterpiece of storytelling and music, the 2017 Pixar film takes viewers into the Land of the Dead. The movie’s hero, Miguel, journeys through the Land, where he encounters ancestors, Alebrije (spirit guides), and even his life long idol: the musician Ernesto de la Cruz. Along the way, the film explores the importance of remembrance, forgiveness, music, and, above all, family. It is a true masterpiece.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
This film is a classic and one to watch over and over again. While there’s nothing particularly spooky about the story of Mr. Toad (from Kenneth Graham’s The Wind and The Willows), it’s hard to imagine a Halloween season without the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. The Ichabod portion of the film features narration and singing by Bing Crosby, who brings to life Washington Irving’s classic tale of the headless horror that haunts the woods around Sleepy Hollow and the bumbling music teacher doomed to encounter him in the dark. Brom Bones, the film’s secondary antagonist, is an icon who would go on to inspire the character of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
Muppets Haunted Mansion
The name alone should make you run to the nearest television to start watching the latest special featuring The Muppets. I’ll say it again: Muppets. Haunted. Mansion. Each of those word alone indicates something special. Put them all together and you’re approaching the transcendent. What could be better than taking the greatest dark ride ever created and peopling it with the Muppets? The answer: absolutely nothing. The film features Miss Piggy as Madam Pigota, Fozzy as Gauzey the Hatbox Bear, Dr. Teeth as a member of Madam Pigotas band, Kermit the Frog as a ghost, as well as all your other Muppet favorites. In true Muppet tradition, there are also a slew of cameos from actors like Will Arnett, Taraji P. Henson, Danny Trejo, John Stamos, and the late, great Ed Asner, among others. Goofy jokes, silly haunts, and spooky thrills? This is Halloween Heaven.
For more Halloween viewing, check out: https://celebrationspress.com/2021/05/10/10-haunting-films-to-watch-halfway-to-halloween/