Halloween is almost here, and we all tend to see our tastes in film shift a bit toward horror movies. While there are some great horror movies one can enjoy this time of year, in most cases that means truly terrifying movies potentially full of incredibly mature violence. But even horror movies that aren't necessarily terrifying aren't always suitable for everybody. What about those people, of all ages, who don’t mind movies that are a little bit spooky, but need the terror down to a manageable level? The good news is there are some options on Disney+ for Halloween movies that are not too scary.
If you’re looking for a good Halloween movie that has the ability to give you some legitimate chills, but is still suited for the whole family, there are a few great options you can find if you have a Disney+ subscription.
Hocus Pocus (And Hocus Pocus 2)
Hocus Pocus is a movie that is remembered quite fondly by the generation that grew up with it, and certainly the movie, on balance, is more silly than scary. However, the original Hocus Pocus does have a scene where the three witches are hung by their necks, which, while it certainly isn’t graphic, still shows three bodies hanging off the ground, making the death scene more clear than you might expect from a Disney movie. It’s also about child murder, after all.
Hocus Pocus 2 is probably a bit less terrifying for even the youngest viewers, but it’s still the perfect sort of movie for a family of all ages to enjoy on Halloween together. It has a great spooky vibe going if you want something that feels dark without being all that scary.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas has become an absolute classic over the years, not only as a Halloween movie, but as a Christmas movie too. There's even something of a debate as to whether Nightmare is ultimately a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie. While the film is able to be both things surprisingly well, I would argue that it is primarily a Halloween movie because a lot of the imagery can get quite creepy, even in the more Christmas-focused scenes.
The younger the audience, the scarier The Nightmare Before Christmas can be. The opening musical number alone just throws every manor of scary creature at you one after the other. Oogie Boogie, a walking burlap sack full of all sorts of creepy, crawly things that could easily freak out young viewers. The stop motion animation itself lends itself to a general feeling of unease, as nothing moves quite right.
The Haunted Mansion
Disney’s first attempt at a movie based on the Haunted Mansion attraction went so well that Disney is now making a new Haunted Mansion movie in an attempt to help people forget the first one ever existed. The attraction itself, while it has its moments, is not particularly scary. The movie based on it is certainly more of a comedy than horror, but the Haunted Mansion movie isn’t as bad as a lot of people think, and it does have some shining moments as well.
One sequence in the middle of the film sees Eddie Murphy and his daughter stuck in a crypt while numerous corpses come to life, all while the daughter nearly drowns. It's a sequence that would fit almost perfectly in any more more mature horror movie. It has kids screaming in terror, and there’s a decent chance that really young kids might also scream in terror.
Frankenstein is one of the all-time great horror stories that has been adapted so many times in so many ways that it’s near impossible to keep track of them all. Frankenweenie is certainly on the lighter side of the various adaptations but whether you watch Disney's live-action short or the feature length stop motion film, both of which can be found on Disney+, both movies are still distinctly Tim Burton, and therefore distinctly creepy.
There’s something inherently scary about that classic black and white film look, so even the parts of Frankenweenie that aren’t scary on their own feel like they could go that way at any moment. While the title character of the dog that comes back to life is probably the least scary creature in the film, that’s because there’s plenty more to freak you out.
The Adventures Of Icabod & Mr. Toad
Ok, so this one cheats a tiny bit as technically only half of the movie qualifies for this Halloween theme, but it does it so well we can’t leave it out. The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad comes from the era of Disney Animation when the studio was focusing on packaging shorter animation segments together to build feature films. This one includes an adaption of The Wind in the Willows, which is good, but the Disneyland ride based on it is actually scarier that the film.
The other half, however, is an adaptation of Washington Irvin’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and it’s actually quite scary. While there are some humorous elements to balance the scares, the Headless Horseman is one of Disney's scariest villains, and the story has a pretty chilling ending, about as far from a traditional Disney happy ending as you could possibly imagine.
Every horror fan has to start someplace, and most probably didn’t find a love for slasher movies out of nowhere. These are the sorts of films that kids watch and discover they actually like the scary parts, leading to them eventually looking for more.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.