Here’s the Best Spooky Stuff to Watch on Disney+
Sometimes, Disney+ officials have the same idea that I do.
A while ago, I decided to compile a list of the Disney+ movies you should watch this month to celebrate Halloween.
After all, Freeform hosts 31 Nights of Halloween, but you don’t have time to watch everything. Disney+ makes it easy to check out the best scary titles.
So, I filtered through a list of Halloween-related titles to suggest the best ones. Then, Disney+ thoughtfully added a Halloween Collection.
Everything I discuss here conveniently appears on this Collection.
So, here’s all the spooky stuff to watch on Disney+ for Halloween!
9) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
I usually go alphabetically, but I’m ranking options today for those of you pressed for time.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad satisfies completionists, but it’s only half-scary.
One part of the movie relays The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, wherein The Headless Huntsman chases Ichabod Crane.
This story plays perfectly for kids who need training wheels horror, although there’s some debate about whether Crane survives.
As for the first half of the film, fans of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride will love it. It’s just not very Halloween-y, unlike the attraction, which…has a dark ending.
This adorable story won a Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. Long before that, it also launched the career of a young Tim Burton.
The famous director created a short film about a boy’s love for his pet that led to a Frankenstein-type science experiment.
At the time, Disney executives fired Burton for wasting company resources on a kid-unfriendly film.
Once the director became a celebrity, Disney asked him to make a full-length, stop-motion version of the story they once rejected.
Frankenweenie is quite sweet and brimming with Burton’s verve. However, those of you who have lost pets may find the subject matter too sensitive.
Fifteen years ago, Disney bought the rights to an extremely successful Scholastic Press series called Twitches.
To an extent, the books read like Harry Potter knockoffs, but they had a killer concept.
Twins from a magical land called Coventry must flee for their safety, arriving in a mundane place named Earth.
Sadly, they get separated and raised by different families, only to encounter each other around their 21st birthday.
At that point, the sparks fly (literally), and the women put two and two together about their birthright.
Twitches re-introduced the world to the now-grown Mowry twins of Sister, Sister fame. Also, it proved popular enough to receive a quick sequel.
You can watch both flicks on Disney+, although I must admit that I don’t think they’ve aged well.
6) Haunted Mansion
Eddie Murphy has made a lot of movies, which theoretically explains why many of them aren’t good.
In truth, a disproportionately large number of Murphy films have bombed, are terrible, or both.
I think about this as I recommend Haunted Mansion, a movie that should be better than it actually is.
Disney fans know this, but we overlook the weaknesses for the most part because we love the ride so much.
Haunted Mansion the film careens between hysterical, charming, and insipid.
Ordinarily, I don’t recommend it, yet I usually watch at least part of it during October.
The aspects of the movie that mirror the attraction justify my time. However, I always lament that Haunted Mansion isn’t better.
Disney has tacitly acknowledged this by planning to make a new movie that will have no connection to Eddie Murphy’s flick.
Still, we all love Haunted Mansion the ride, and it’s Halloween time, so…
5) Girl vs. Monster
Confession: There’s only one film on this list that I like more than Girl vs. Monster.
However, I realize that I’m in the minority here. So, I’ve only slotted it fifth, but that tells a story in and of itself.
By watching one film a week until Halloween, you’ll be happy throughout October. Everything from here on is fantastic!
Girl vs. Monster nails the Joss Whedon/Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe. A teen named Skylar learns that the family trade involves monster hunting.
While playing in her band, Skylar accidentally lets loose an evil monster who could destroy everything she loves.
Skylar’s only choice involves taking up monster hunting and saving the day.
Yes, I know that this sounds cheesy, but I find the film charming. The IMDb score of 5.6 hints that I may be alone in this.
Still, fans of Olivia Holt and Katherine McNamara will love watching them fight evil. Well, Holt fights evil, as McNamara’s character acts evil.
PS: The soundtrack for this flick did exceptionally well for Disney.
Confession: At one point, I permanently kept multiple Halloweentown movies on my TiVo.
My wife would come home from work, notice that I’d watched a double- or triple-feature of Halloweentown, and know that she was in for a long night.
I’m a fan of Debbie Reynolds going all the way back to the first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain, and this film franchise reminded me of why I like her.
Over an eight-year period, Disney made four Halloweentown films, although the fourth one replaces lead actress Kimberly J. Brown with Sara Paxton.
I like Paxton as an actress, but she did several teen movies during this timeframe – Aquamarine, Sleepover, and Sydney White – and none of them was very good.
On the other hand, Brown delights in the title role of Marnie Piper, a teen born into a family of witches.
Halloweentown is corny and juvenile in just the right way. Its villains are cartoonish and unthreatening, but the characters charm.
Anecdotally, I’ve had multiple people tell me over the years that they watch the full Halloweentown series every October, even if they can’t explain why.
I…am in that group.
This movie franchise gives me a Cranberries/Bad Wolves earworm, but most of its fans have no idea what that means, as it’s a recent teen musical.
The ridiculous premise for ZOMBIES involves a radioactive accident that turns half a town into the shuffling (and dancing) undead.
The other group, the ones who don’t want to eat brains, avoid the new zombies for obvious reasons.
Then, a cheerleader named Addison falls in love with Zed, a star football player whose zombie-ism has turned him into quite the athlete.
Thanks to a wearable, a Z-Band, Zed doesn’t need to devour normal humans.
Understandably, some of the locals experience a bit of apprehension at that thought of the Z-Band malfunctioning, though.
So, ZOMBIES falls into that long line of starstruck romances akin to Romeo and Juliet or, more recently, Teen Beach Movie.
This film also did so well that it received an immediate sequel that came out in February of 2020, just before the world suffered a real zombie apocalypse.
As with Girl vs. Monster, the real star here is the soundtrack, as Disney has mastered the art of teen movie songs. High School Musical started a real trend here.
2) Hocus Pocus
Hot Take: The first 30 minutes of this movie is gouge-your-eyes-out terrible.
We just re-watched this the other day, and I found myself screaming at the television as that guy from NCIS tried to act.
Then, the Sanderson Sisters reach the present day (well, 1993), and all is right with the world.
Kathy Najimy is funny in everything, but this was the role that triggered her for whatever reason. She came to life as middle sister, Mary, the comic relief.
I feel a bit silly even talking up the film, though. I know the television and streaming numbers.
So, I realize that you’re watching this several times, no matter what I say here.
I just wanted to vent about the start of the movie (again, excruciating!) and praise Najimy.
Also, is Billy Butcherson still in that grave? He doesn’t ascend the way that the others do.
1) The Nightmare Before Christmas
I know that you’re surprised – and possibly offended that Hocus Pocus didn’t finish first.
Look, I know that everyone loves the Sanderson Sisters, and I’m right there with you.
However, THE best Halloween movie also comes from the brilliant mind of Tim Burton. Oddly, it’s the one about Christmas.
For the next three months, take any excuse you can to re-watch this delightful tale about Jack Skellington, the benevolent ruler of Halloween Town.
Jack loves his job, but he loves Christmas even more and happily plots to borrow (well, steal) the concept.
In the process, he schemes to have Sandy Claws abducted and stored away for safekeeping, only for the job to get botched.
Enter Oogie Boogie, one of the greatest Disney villains ever.
I could go on, but you know the rest. Disney fans love The Nightmare Before Christmas so much that Disneyland does a Haunted Mansion overlay.
Many Disney+ movies will quench your thirst for creepy shenanigans, but Tim Burton does it the best.