Halloween has arrived. Eleven months of anticipation have paid off. A time for candy, costumes, and scary movies… unless you’re me. I hate Halloween movies. Ever since I saw Coraline in 3D I haven’t been able to stomach a scary movie. So naturally, I gravitate towards the not-so-scary Halloween movies. Disney+ is the perfect place to get your Halloween fix without any jump scares. If scary movies are your jam but you still want something lighter to watch in between the thrills, you’re in the right place. *Warning, Spoilers Ahead*
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Disney Synopsis: “Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere.”
Ok, here we go, the Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack is bored with his life and he wants a change. After wandering into the forest he finds trees with portals to different holidays. He opens the door with a Christmas tree on it and falls into a winter wonderland. Seconds later he has an epiphany—Christmas would become the new Halloween. He decides that he should be Santa and deliver his idea of presents to all the boys and girls of the world. Only that plan goes horribly wrong. Sally, an endangered servant of a mad scientist, figures out what Jack is doing and she does everything in her power to stop him.
This movie has my favorite Halloween song of all time, “This is Halloween.” It’s the song that is sung by the citizens of Halloween town to introduce Jack, Sally, and Zero, a ghost dog. Halloween has very few songs to its name and this is one of my favorites because it captures the essence of Halloween.
There is some heavy debate about this movie. Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? It could be either. The movie starts on Halloween and ends at Christmas. Both holidays are represented in the movie. It takes more of a Halloween spin to typical Christmas decorations but I say that you could watch it on either holiday.
2. Halloweentown Franchise
The Halloweentown Franchise has four movies to its name. Halloweentown, Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown. The series follows Marnie, a girl who figures out she is a witch. In the first movie, Marnie finds out that she, her mother, grandmother, brother Dylan, and sister Sophie, are all witches. Her Grandmother lives in Halloweentown, where a dark force tries to take over. Marnie, Dylan, and Sophie go to Halloweentown to help their grandmother. Their mother, Gwen, follows them, and together as a family they defeat the darkness. Halloweentown 2: Kalibar’s Revenge, is about Kalabar’s son, Kal, who wants revenge for his father’s death. Halloweentown High is about a group of teenagers from Halloweentown who want to prove that Halloweentown and the mortal world can live in peace like they did eons ago. Return to Halloweentown still follows Marnie in her first year of college. She gets accepted to the University of Halloweentown and the movie goes through her obstacles during her time there. She discovers more about herself, her powers, and her family’s history.
My favorite is Return to Halloweentown. The reason this is my favorite is that I really like the plotline. Marnie knows how to use her powers, sure, but she learns more about her history and about how important her family is to Halloweentown. Also, not that I am in college I can appreciate her struggles a bit more. I can appreciate being overloaded with homework and having one assignment that just stumps you. Obviously, none of the magic things apply to me but some of the human things I can relate to.
3. Hocus Pocus
Disney Synopsis: “Conjured up by some unsuspecting pranksters, a tricky trio of 300-year-old witches set out to cast a spell on the town and reclaim their youth. But first, they must get their act together and outwit three kids and a talking cat.”
The movie opens up with a young boy who is looking for his sister, Emily. Three witches kill his sister and turn him into a cat. The three witches vow to return when a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle. It takes 300 years before the candle is lit and they are allowed to return, but only until sunset. The movie flashes forward 300 years to a boy who hates Halloween. The boy and his sister, and a new friend go to the witch’s house and just so happen to light the candle. The trio’s duel all over town before the final standoff at the cemetery. The boy, his sister, and his new girlfriend defeat the witches, and the young boy that was turned into a cat is reunited with his younger sister in the spirit world.
This movie has my second favorite Halloween song, “I Put a Spell On You.” What I like most is how Disney did a remake of this song featuring Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and Jordan Sparks for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus.
4. Girl vs. Monster
Disney Synopsis: “Skylar discovers her parents are monster-hunters after accidentally releasing a monster from a secret containment chamber. Now the monster is out for revenge, and Skylar and her techno friends must recapture the monster and save her parents.”
Girl vs. Monster follows a girl named Skylar and her two friends, Sadie and Henry. Skylar’s parents are the best monster hunters of their generation. One Halloween Skylar cut the power to her house, releasing all of the monsters that her parents caught earlier in the day. When Skylar was a baby her parents captured her personal monster and Skylar grew up with no fear. All of the fear hits her at once and Skylar must push through her fear to save her friends. With the help of her friends, Skylar defeats Deimata, her personal monster, and saves the day. In the end, Skylar learns fear isn’t something that should hold you back, but push you out of your comfort zone.
This movie is on my must-watch list because it is a movie that I grew up with. I remember how excited I was when it premiered on Disney Channel. It stars Olivia Holt, Luke Benward, and Katherine McNamara: three actors that I grew up watching.
5. Haunted Mansion
Disney Synopsis: “With the help of supernatural psychic Madame Leota, a real estate agent and his family must battle to break Gracey Manor of its age-old curse.”
Haunted Mansion is about Jim Evers, portrayed by Eddie Murphy, a realtor, and his family. Jim gets the opportunity to show Gracey Manor. Jim tells his family that they are going on vacation and just need to make a pit stop at the manor. It turns into more than a pit stop when the owner of the manor mistake’s Jim’s wife, Sara, for his dead fiance, Elizabeth. Michael and Megan, Jim and Sara’s kids, figure out the truth that haunts the manor and must figure out a way to get past Ramsley, the evil butler, to tell Master Gracey, owner of Gracey Manor, the truth about who kissed Elizabeth. Once the truth is revealed, Elizabeth comes down a beam of light and takes Master Gracey and two servants to the hereafter. The Evers get the deed to the house and it is unclear what they decide to do with the Manor. The last scene is the family in the car, finally taking their road trip, with a few extra passengers.
Honorable Mention: Hotel Transylvania
Hotel Transylvania is an animated Halloween Classic. Count Dracula built a hotel to protect all monsters, most importantly his daughter, Mavis, from humans. For nearly two centuries the hotel has remained in the shadows until one fateful birthday. Dracula was celebrating Mavis’s birthday when a human stumbled into the hotel. The human, Johnny, zinged with Mavis despite Dracula’s best efforts to keep them apart. After Johnny’s secret is revealed, Dracula is shocked to find out that Mavis and Johnny were in love. Dracula braves the human world for the first time in two centuries to bring Johnny back so he and Mavis can be together. At the end of the movie, there is a big party and everyone has a great time.
I had to do the honorable mention of Hotel Transylvania. This movie is a go-to movie for me, no matter what time of year. The downside is that this movie is a Dreamworks production so it is not available to watch on Disney+. It is available to watch on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Philo, with a premium subscription, and Starz with a regular subscription.
Hopefully you feel inspired to watch one of these movies! Whether you’re looking for a costume, or just want to relax with a classic one more time. Have a not-so-scary Halloween…or a scary one- whichever you prefer. Happy Halloween!