6 Not So Scary Films to Watch This Halloween
It’s spooky season, but if you can’t make it out to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, fear not! There are plenty of creepy, kooky things to watch on Disney+. Of course, we all know about films like The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Hocus Pocus, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, but there are lots of other, lesser-known films too. Like Mickey’s annual party at Walt Disney World, these films are more “spoopy” than truly frightening (with one notable exception).
Here are a few of our favorites.
Mr. Boogedy (1986)
Mr. Boogedy brought together a diverse set of talent to create a truly unique Halloween viewing experience. Starring Richard Masur (who previously appeared in John Carpenter’s The Thing), David Faustino (later to star in Married…With Children), Benji Gregory (who would go on to star in Alf), Kristy Swanson (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) and John Astin (best known as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family television series) it tells the story of a family who moves into a haunted house. But this is no ordinary family. The father sells practical jokes and gags. And they aren’t haunted by a normal ghost. It’s the soul of a former Puritan settler who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a magic cloak. If that description doesn’t hook you, I’m not sure what will.
Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)
As we mentioned at the outset, most of the movies on this list are not altogether that frightening. However, the general consensus is that this doesn’t apply to Don’t Look Under the Bed. An article in Entertainment Weekly referred to it as the “scariest kids TV movie ever,” and horror magazine Bloody Disgusting even referred to it as “terrifying.”
In fact, audiences were so startled by the movie’s scary content, that the Disney Channel received a horde of letters after its first broadcast, with parents upset that it was far too frightening for the network.
Ty Hodges gives a delightful performance as Larry Houdini, and Steve Valentine makes a truly creepy Boogeyman. This one is great but may be a bit much for younger viewers.
Odds are you’ve at least heard of Disney’s 2012 animated film Frankenweenie directed by Tim Burton, and starring a veritable Murderer’s Row of talented actors like Wynona Rider, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Landau.
What you may not know is that it was Burton’s second take on the movie. The first was a live-action featurette filmed in 1984 and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It starred Barrett Oliver (best known to fans as Bastian in The NeverEnding Story), Shelley Duvall, and Daniel Stern.
It only runs 29 minutes, and is as entertaining as it is conceptually goofy. It’s also a fascinating look at Tim Burton’s creativity before he became a household name.
Runaway Brain (1995)
Mickey Mouse is no stranger to haunted happenings. After all, he is the star of 1937’s animated classic Lonesome Ghosts. That said, you’ve probably never seen Mickey Mouse quite like this.
Runaway Brain begins with a classic premise. Mickey is attempting to make some money to buy Minnie an anniversary present (after having presumably forgotten). Desperate to come up with cash, he sees an ad from a “Dr. Frankenollie” promising significant pay for a “mindless day’s work.”
That’s when things go sideways, and the story slips into a tale inspired largely by Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. Mickey’s brain is swapped with that of a monster (in the form of Big Bad Pete), and mayhem ensues, as the monster (in Mickey’s body) becomes smitten with Minnie.
It divided audiences on its release given the somewhat macabre plot (I mean, who expects a reference to The Exorcist in a Mickey Mouse cartoon), but earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
Ghoul Friend (2013)
In June of 2013, Disney’s Mickey Mouse series debuted. The series represented a return to Mickey’s slapstick roots and was produced and directed by Paul Rudish, best known for his work on series like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory.
Ghoul Friend is the 10th episode of the first season and features Mickey Mouse’s car breaking down near a cemetery. As he attempts to fix his car, he is approached by a zombified version of Goofy. Or Ghouly rather. Despite clearly being an undead version of everyone’s favorite dippy dawg, he is credited as a character named “Ghouly.” He’s surprisingly ghastly-looking, but it doesn’t keep the short from remaining hilarious.
Can of Worms (1999)
Though it is technically a science fiction comedy, take one look at the aliens in this Disney Channel Original Movie and you’ll see exactly why we’re including it on this list. The alien featured on the promotional poster for the film looks like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch fever dream.
Need any other reason to watch? The great Malcolm McDowell stars as Barnabus, an alien that resembles a dog. Plus, the film’s soundtrack was written by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh. One reviewer called it the “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians of Disney Channel movies.” Whether or not you consider that a ringing endorsement is all a matter of perspective.