If there’s one thing Disney has mastered over the years, it’s appealing to one of our most powerful emotions: nostalgia. Its streaming service, Disney+, is nothing if not an endless library of fond reminiscing and eternal enjoyment. Leading up to 31 October, their Halloween collection is no different.
As you’d probably expect, Disney+ isn’t dishing out slashers, psychological thrillers or gory horrors–but rather, it’s re-igniting the younger you who dressed up and bothered your neighbours one night every year. If you’re looking to re-create childhood family traditions of yearly Halloween movies, this might just be the place to do it. We’ve also rounded up our favourite The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors episodes for good measure.
So, draw the blinds, light a few candles and grab the lollies, because these are our favourite Halloween watches currently on Disney+.
Dark re-tellings of classic fairy tales have definitely become a thing in the past decade—think Oz the Great and Powerful or Snow White and the Huntsman. Maleficent tells the revisionist version of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the reimagined wicked fairy godmother. Come for the wild and somewhat unexpected fantasy action but stay for Angelina Jolie’s fantastic performance as the star of the film. We love a good villain story, especially in the hands of someone like Jolie.
If anyone has ever been more suited to create a stop-motion-animated supernatural horror-comedy about a boy who revives his dead dog with hilarious and spooky consequences, it’s definitely Tim Burton. This feature-length remake of Burton’s 1984 short film is a homage and parody of the classic 1931 film and genre-defining horror, Frankenstein. When Victor Frankenstein’s dog, Sparky, passes away, the young scientist uses lighting and electricity to resurrect him. While the pair are (weirdly but sweetly) reunited, Victor finds himself blackmailed into reviving other dead animals–and you can probably guess the craziness that ensues in the neighbourhood.
You can firmly categorise Hocus Pocus in the cult classic section of this article and as a strangely hilarious film to whip out every Halloween. That’s mostly thanks to the wild performances of Bette Midler, Kathy Majimy and a young Sarah Jessica Parker as three witches who are accidentally resurrected by a teenage boy on Halloween in, you guessed it, Salem. You can expect cackling, lightning, spells, the undead, song and dance numbers, flying brooms and kids outsmarting villains–all the ingredients are there for a cult movie drinking game.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
If there’s any movie on this list your family used to watch as a Halloween tradition, it’s probably The Nightmare Before Christmas. With December around the corner, you might as well take in this darkly comical combination of Halloween and Christmas. When Jack Skellington from Halloween Town discovers neighbouring Christmas Town, things become a little strange when he tries to take over the holiday and replace Santa Claus. The stop-motion-animated musical manages to be visually beautiful, heart-warming and enjoyably creepy–in the most Tim Burton way possible. And you’d be forgiven for not believing this film is 27 years old, considering its incredible aesthetics. This is a true classic from a masterfully quirky storyteller.
The Haunted Mansion
Is there anything better than watching a naïve, panicked and always hilarious Eddie Murphy running around a haunted house? Probably not much. Based on the Walt Disney theme park ride, The Haunted Mansion finds a realtor (Murphy) and his family visiting a house they hope to sell, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s bloody haunted, and they spend a good (almost) 90 minutes trying to escape, fighting off the dead. Don’t overthink this one, Murphy is comically unleashed and is always a fun hang.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors
As kids, we all waited patiently each year for The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors episodes, and there’s a good chance you have a favourite or most memorable story from them. If you haven’t re-done The Simpsons as a fully functioning adult, we implore you to explore the classic American animated sitcom again. The endless references and adult jokes throughout the show were utterly wasted on us as children. That’s even more true of Treehouse of Horrors, which are almost entirely based on horror classics. If you wake up with a Halloween weekend hangover and you need something to binge, do yourself a favour and line up The Simpsons in the Disney+ Halloween section. Just in case you’ve forgotten the best episodes, or you’re considering making up for years of neglecting the iconic yellow, four-fingered family, we’ll recommend a few of our favourites.
The Shinning | Treehouse of Horror V
The segment re-creates Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 horror film, The Shining, rife with references sure to please any movie fan. With Homer deprived of beer and TV, he soon loses his mind and tries to murder his entire family. As we all know “no TV and no beer make Homer something, something.”—“Go crazy?”—“Don’t mind if I do!”
Terror at 5 ½ feet | Treehouse of Horror IV
Based on the classic 1963 The Twilight Zone episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, finds Bart being toyed with by an evil gremlin slowly destroying the side of the Springfield Elementary bus. Since no one believes him, Bart takes on the creature in an exhilarating battle. This segment has some pretty amazing animation work and is actually kind of scary.
The Thing and I | Treehouse of Horror VII
Bart and Lisa discover that their parents have been hiding Bart’s conjoined evil twin locked up in the attic, feeding him nothing but fish heads. When he escapes, he captures Bart and tries to operate them back together. Don’t worry, he’s been practising with a pigeon and a rat. In the end, we discover Dr Hibbert made a mistake at birth and Bart was, in fact, the evil twin—“Oh, don’t look so shocked”.
Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace | Treehouse of Horror VI
In a parody of the A Nightmare of Elm Street film series, groundskeeper Willie is killed in an accident and returns in the nightmares of Springfield elementary children to exact his revenge. It’s the evil, murderous version of the classic Scottish character we always wanted and could only get with Treehouse of Horror. As she always does, in one way or another, Maggie saves the day and kills Willie with her trusty pacifier.
The Devil and Homer Simpsons | Treehouse of Horror IV
Based on 1941’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Homer sells his soul to the devil (amazingly played by Ned Flanders) for a single doughnut. Despite realising the devil cannot claim his soul until the sweet treat is finished, Homer eats the ‘forbidden doughnut’ while half asleep. After a hilarious trial and some Lionel Hutz gold from the late and great Phil Hartman, it turns out Marge already owned Homer’s soul and poor devil Ned Flanders loses.
Image Credit: Disney