There are no horror movies on Disney+, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good Halloween viewing options. From animation to musicals to superhero action, Disney+ has spooky, supernatural content for all ages. Here are the best Halloween movies on Disney+.
Conceived as a sort of companion piece to Disney hit Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks comes from the same director and has songs by the same songwriting team, but it’s a stranger, more psychedelic supernatural story. Set during World War II, it stars Angela Lansbury as an aspiring witch who takes in a trio of children fleeing the London Blitz.
They go on a delightfully bizarre series of magical adventures, culminating when they reanimate a museum full of empty suits of armor to fight off Nazi invaders in their seaside town.
A rare Disney animated box-office flop, The Black Cauldron is a stark departure from the colorful animated musicals that Disney is known for. Instead, it’s a dark fantasy story with echoes of The Lord of the Rings, featuring no songs. A young farm boy becomes the great hope to save his land from the evil Horned King, who seeks the magical Black Cauldron that will grant him untold power. The story is a bit choppy, but the movie’s fantasy world is creatively designed, and there’s a real sense of peril and mystery.
A 12-year-old boy inadvertently travels to the Land of the Dead in Pixar’s lovely animated movie Coco. Young Miguel is an aspiring musician, but his family forbids playing music, so he has to practice in secret. During the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico, he unknowingly triggers a curse that transports him to the afterlife, and he must connect with his dead relatives in order to return. Coco mixes macabre imagery with a positive message about family and forgiveness, in Pixar’s typically detailed, immersive style.
Cruella de Vil was a Halloween costume favorite even before the 101 Dalmatians villain got her own spin-off movie, and in Cruella she serves so many looks that she could be the inspiration for entire group costumes. Emma Stone plays the aspiring fashion designer initially known as Estella Miller, who becomes a sensation in 1970s London when she takes on the dastardly persona of Cruella de Vil.
Emma Thompson plays Estella’s mentor turned enemy, and the two Emmas create a devious rivalry. Director Craig Gillespie depicts a funhouse-mirror version of swinging London, with gorgeously elaborate set design and nonstop classic rock hits on the soundtrack.
The closest thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to a horror movie, Doctor Strange combines Marvel’s bright superhero storytelling with the sensibility of horror director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil). Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character, an arrogant surgeon who immerses himself in the mystical arts after a car accident leaves him unable to continue his medical career.
As Strange faces off against the demon Dormammu, Derrickson brings in elements of mind-bending horror to complement the familiar superhero battles, for a movie that blends the supernatural with the superheroic.
Tim Burton started his career as an animator at Disney, where he made his early live-action short film Frankenweenie. Nearly 30 years later, Burton returned to Disney for a feature-length animated adaptation of Frankenweenie, about a young boy who resurrects his pet dog after it gets hit by a car. Shot in black and white with stop-motion animation enhanced by CGI, Frankenweenie is a wry tribute to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its various film adaptations, featuring Burton’s typical affinity for outsiders.
You can go back and catch the original 1984 short film on Disney+ as well.
Stephen Sondheim’s hit Broadway musical Into the Woods becomes a lavish fantasy film in director Rob Marshall’s adaptation. The story incorporates elements of multiple fables, featuring Meryl Streep as a witch who meddles in the lives of various hapless peasants. Familiar fairy tale characters like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of beanstalk fame) show up in reimagined ways, with their stories taking new, darker turns. The lush production design and costumes complement Sondheim’s memorable songs.
Roald Dahl’s novels are prime source material for dark yet kid-friendly fantasy, and director Henry Selick embraces that in his adaptation of Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. Mixing live action with stop-motion animation, the movie follows young James (Paul Terry) and his adventures in a magically enhanced piece of fruit. Escaping from his cruel aunts, James finds refuge in the giant peach, along with a group of insects who’ve been similarly enlarged via magic, and who become his traveling companions.
Its title may refer to Christmas, but The Nightmare Before Christmas is as much about Halloween as it is about that other holiday. Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, the stop-motion animated musical features Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, deciding to take over Christmas, with predictably disastrous results.
Anyone familiar with the playful competition between holiday aesthetics that plays out on social media will be amused by this movie. It’s full of goth-inspired holiday design and catchy songs by Danny Elfman.
Based on a couple of L. Frank Baum’s later Oz books, Return to Oz creates a surprisingly disturbing follow-up to the classic Judy Garland musical The Wizard of Oz. Back in Kansas after her trip to the magical Land of Oz, Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) is subject to electroshock treatments to cure her of her supposed delusions.
She escapes back to Oz, but it’s become rundown and bleak, ruled by the tyrannical Nome King. Return to Oz may be too much for little kids to take, but it’s a fascinating and visually stunning conception of Oz as a twisted reflection of the beloved classic.
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