Seven Spooky Disney Stories to Watch on Halloween!

Are you having trouble getting into the Halloween spirit?  It happens to the best of us.  So here’s a list of Disney movies or specials to watch that can help.  Most are Halloween-themed, but not all, starting with:

7. The Haunted Mansion

Okay, I understand why a lot of people don’t like this movie.  It has some cringe moments, namely things like the villain summoning the powers of Hell and everyone but the screaming housekeepers reacting with puzzled, “Huh?” looks that do NOT fit the situation at all.  I’ve also previously discussed on this blog that I don’t think the “workaholic husband” plot works well here when both parents are supposed to be business partners.  There’s never a point where they discuss why the mom is able to have a career and provide emotional support her family while the dad can’t seem to manage it.  It’s a shame because that could have been a very interesting idea to explore.

Still, I enjoy watching this movie.  I like the Haunted Mansion, the backstory for this movie with Mr. Gracey and Elizabeth, the ghost characters of Ezra, Emma, and Ramsley, the set design, and some of the ideas in the movie.  It’s a creepy, gorgeous house and the special effects are nice.  While I am looking forward to Guillermo del Toro’s reboot (whenever it comes out…), I recommend giving this movie a try, just for fun.

6. Toy Story of TERROR!

Although this was advertised as Pixar’s first Halloween special, it doesn’t really have anything to do with Halloween other than to poke fun at scary movies.  That said, it was made by Pixar, so of course it’s quality entertainment.  It didn’t make me laugh as hard as I expected, but I like how they had an explanation ready for why the toys were getting snatched by an unseen monster.  It’s great that they made Jessie the protagonist this time around and Combat Carl is one of the best parts of the special.

If you haven’t seen it on TV yet, don’t worry!  It’s available on DVD.

5. Mickey’s House of Villains

This is another entry that’s a little iffy, quality-wise.  The advertisements made it look like a fun adventure where the Disney villains would try to take over Mickey’s night club, the House of Mouse, and Mickey and co. would team up to do battle with them.  Instead, it was more of a collection of Halloween-themed Disney cartoons with Jafar’s plan being an excuse plot to tie it all together.  So that was pretty disappointing.

Yet, it IS a collection of Halloween-themed Disney cartoons, so it’s actually done a better job of getting me into the Halloween spirit in past years than other films on this list.  So if you liked the House of Mouse TV show, or if you just want to watch some good Disney cartoons, you might like it.

4. “Summerween” from Gravity Falls

You could probably watch this episode of Gravity Falls without watching the rest of the show and be able to follow along and enjoy it.  But if you love supernatural shows that can be funny, scary, intriguing, and emotional, you ought to watch the entire series.  It’s amazing.

Technically, this episode doesn’t take place on Halloween because the show occurs during the summer months.  The kids’ Grunkle (Great-Uncle) Stan explains that in Gravity Falls, everyone loves Halloween so much that they also celebrate it in the summer and call it Summerween.  Apart from doing things like changing pumpkin jack o’lanterns to watermelon jack o’lanterns, it’s basically the same holiday.  The opening scene where the Pines Family wrecks havoc in the Summerween Superstore is one of my favorite openings in the whole series.  It’s funny and the story is all about the dilemmas that can come from celebrating Halloween as we grow up.  This makes it a great episode to watch on Halloween.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas

I know this one is really, really obvious, but I can’t not mention The Nightmare Before Christmas!

It’s lower on the list because it’s a bit of a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie.  It begins just as Halloween has ended for another year and the story is about Jack Skellington’s plot to take over Christmas.  I guess I think of it as more of a Halloween movie because most of it takes place in Halloween Town, not Christmas Town.  So it doesn’t really look like a Christmas movie even as they talk about it.

It’s a great movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, now’s a wonderful time of the year to try it!

2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The whole movie’s good, but I’m only talking about one half.  Mr. Toad doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween, as funny as his story can be.

First of all, when I first watched this Disney movie, it surprised me because I’d read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving, and the cartoon was a very faithful adaptation of the short story.  In the book, Ichabod Crane is a selfish jerk, and he’s selfish in the cartoon too.  Katrina Von Tassell doesn’t act like a sweet Disney love interest; she openly manipulates Ichabod and Brom Bones to get their attention.  The whole short is basically the book in animated form with some songs and slapstick comedy.

Although it doesn’t start out on Halloween, it does end with a Halloween party at Mr. Von Tassell’s house and then with the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod through the woods.  He may be one of the scariest villains that Disney has ever animated.  He’s so memorable that he leads the parade every year for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Disney World!  Plus, Brom’s song, “The Headless Horseman,” is very catchy and I love listening to it on my Halloween playlist in October.

1. Hocus Pocus

Yeah, I know.  Of course.

Believe it or not, I only saw this movie for the first time a couple of years ago.  I hadn’t even heard of it before until I watched the Nostalgia Chick’s review of it.  So I really shouldn’t have liked it because it’s such a silly movie made for kids.  But for some reason, I did and it really does get me excited for Halloween.  I think that’s mostly because it actually takes place on Halloween, unlike most of the other movies on my list here.  So there’s many scenes that take place while kids are trick-or-treating or adults are having Halloween costume parties.  The setting of the story in Salem, Massachusetts also adds to the ambience.

The Sanderson Sisters are mostly fun villains, although they can also be pretty creepy too, since their goal is to eat the children of Salem and they almost succeed.  I absolutely love Bette Midler’s version of “I Put a Spell on You” and Sarah’s creepy song, “Come Little Children.”  I really wish Disney would release those songs on iTunes already.  (But I highly recommend buying Erutan’s cover of “Come Little Children” as an excellent substitute for the original.)

Although it’s a goofy movie and the constant jokes about Max’s virginity are weird and uncomfortable, Hocus Pocus does a good job of capturing the fun of Halloween.  It’s a perfect movie to watch every October!

Honorable Mention: Halloweentown

I hear that this is a great Disney Channel movie that a lot of people remember from their childhoods.  Unfortunately, I cannot confirm or deny that, because I’ve never seen it.  But if so many other people like it, it’s probably good.