People celebrate Halloween in a number of ways, with adults often diving headfirst into the more disturbing and gruesome tales of terror they can find, hoping to frighten themselves in ways they often avoid for 11 months out of the year. Some Halloween fans, on the other hand, prefer to embrace the more wholesome nature of the holiday's traditions, choosing to reminiscence about the joys of celebrating the holiday as a kid and all the free candy you used to get by going door to door. Additionally, some horror fans might have younger family members that they hope to introduce to creepy adventures, hopefully igniting a passion in them for all things spooky, with Disney+ offering subscribers a number of nostalgic favorites to get them into the spirit of things.
Whether you want to revisit Halloween classics from your past or merely want to marvel at the absurdity of some films that were aimed at children, there are a surprisingly large number of movies that Disney+ has to offer.
Scroll down to see our picks for the 10 best horror movies on Disney+ to stream this October and hit up Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to share your own recommendations and thoughts about the films!
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
The first half of this animated film sees Mr. Toad, a wealthy eccentric, becoming the target of thieves looking to exploit his riches, forcing his closest friends to find a way to clear his good name. This story might not necessarily be spooky in spirit, but its color palette and whimsical nature really helps prepare you for Disney's take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The story of Ichabod Crane might start in a relatively playful manner, but it culminates in his confrontation with the Headless Horseman in an iconic character design, ending the story on an ambiguous note that will likely be hopeful for children but devastating enough to entertain adults.prevnext
When Hocus Pocus hit theaters in the summer of 1993, it was initially a disappointment, as the box office was being dominated by a little film called "Jurassic Park," with it also seemingly being a little too early for families to embrace the autumnal adventure. In the decades since its debut, the film has grown massively popular among audiences who caught the film on repeated airings on the Disney Channel, with its availability on Disney+ meaning we no longer have to wait for one of its many broadcasts on Freeform like in previous years.
The story of the witchy Sanderson Sisters returning to terrorize the town of Salem after a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle might not resonate with older audiences, but it has become a bonafide classic for millennials.prevnext
The Haunted Mansion
A chance opportunity to sell an expensive house arises for a real estate agent, resulting in him lugging his family to haunted home, as they encounter spirits who aim to make the family permanent residents one way or another.
The Pirates of the Caribbean films might be better representations of how a Disney attraction can be turned into engaging movies, with The Haunted Mansion feeling slightly more sophisticated than a Disney Channel Original Movie yet without the filmmaking sensibilities of the aforementioned action-adventure series. The film's connections to the original ride is only somewhat tenuous, with musical cues and iconography being embraced for the movie, but it still serves as a haunted house film that can introduce younger audiences to supernatural stories.prevnext
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Much like Hocus Pocus was initially ignored by audiences, so was Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, the macabre musical featuring all the staples of Burton's style that was directed by Henry Selick. The passion for the film and its compelling world has grown so passionate that Disney theme parks even convert their Haunted Mansion attraction to honor the spooky adventure.
The seminal mascot for Halloween, Jack Skellington, grows tired of having to represent all of the holiday's iconography, especially when it means he's largely ignored the rest of the year. After discovering Christmas traditions, he convinces the residents of Halloween Town to try their hand at honoring those traditions, putting Santa's fate in jeopardy.
Many fans debate over whether The Nightmare Before Christmas makes for a better Halloween movie or a better Christmas movie, which proves it's the perfect film to celebrate throughout all of fall.prevnext
Another project from Tim Burton, the feature-length Frankenweenie is an adaptation of one of his earliest filmmaking projects.
The young Victor Frankenstein discovers the ability to resurrect his beloved dog from beyond the grave, but when his peers discover his talents, they blackmail him into resurrecting all of their pets, as mayhem and hilarity ensue.
The animated film is tame enough for young audiences to check out, though the themes of death and saying goodbye to pets or loved ones are mature enough to help younger viewers start to process those heavy themes, all wrapped up in an adorable package.prevnext
Rivaling the popularity of Hocus Pocus with a specific demographic, Halloweentown occupies an even more specific niche, as it was a Disney Channel Original Movie that never even made it to theaters. Despite its lack of exposure, fans still have a deep love for the adventure.
When a group of siblings bemoans how their family never gets to celebrate Halloween, their grandmother arrives to let them know they come from a line of witches, transporting the children to the mythical Halloweentown where all things spooky are celebrated.
First-time viewers will likely realize why this film was relegated to being a Disney Channel Original Movie instead of a theatrical release, with the production quality, script, and performances all feeling dated, though younger audiences will still likely find the charm in the concept and the more innocent elements of annual celebrations.prevnext
Return to Oz
Few films are as famous as the original The Wizard of Oz, with its notoriety often overshadowing the fact that there were multiple Oz novels that the film was inspired by, with Return to Oz serving as an unofficial sequel to that classic, which many audiences would argue should never have been made. This isn't necessarily a reaction to the film's merits, but more based on the nightmares it ignited in young viewers.
The film sees Dorothy returning to the Land of Oz to discover that the Nome King has taken over the land, forcing Dorothy to enlist the help of new allies to defeat him.
Like many fantasy films of the '80s, Return to Oz's use of puppets and its macabre creature designs are incredibly intense for younger viewers, rivalling any of the villainy evoked by the Wicked Witch of the West.prevnext
Some audiences might think all animated adventures from Disney were made for kids, but Fantasia proves to completely contradict that idea in a number of ways.
Rather than following a traditional narrative, Fantasia compiles a series of vignettes that are all set to pieces of classic music. The "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence sees a massive devil awaking on top of a mountain, which it dwarfs the size of, and calls a number of ghoulish spirits to join it, as we see creepy animations of all manner of specter flying through the sky.
Despite the sequence lasting only a few minutes, "Bald Mountain" is one of the most intense pieces of animation the studio has released, easily making Fantasia worth checking out ahead of Halloween, if only for this one sequence.prevnext
Far from being the high point of Disney's live-action films, what gives Mr. Boogedy distinction is that it's one of the only outputs from the studio that intentionally created an original ghoul as its antagonist.
When a family moves into a New England home, a series of bizarre events begin to unfold, with the family first dismissing these incidents as the father playing practical jokes. As it turns out, they've accidentally awoken the house's former residents, with Mr. Boogedy unhappy with his house's new tenants.
Initially crafted as the pilot for a new TV series, the made-for-TV movie instead serves as one of the more bizarre entries into the Disney Channel Original Movie lexicon, which ultimately earned the sequel Bride of Boogedy.prevnext
The Simpsons - Treehouse of Horror0comments
Yes, The Simpsons is a TV series, but with 30 episodes of the beloved family's "Treehouse of Horror" episodes available on the service, there's arguably no better way to honor the holiday than by binge-watching every single installment.
The early entries into the series saw the family crafting narrative reasons for them to tell one another spooky stories, though this structure was ultimately abandoned as the show knew that the tradition was so iconic that it no longer had to set the idea up for the audience. Over the course of nearly 100 different vignettes, The Simpsons has offered their signature take on not only some of the most famous horror stories in history, but have expanded the idea to offer fans virtually any parody of pop culture imaginable.prev