Ranking Disney’s spookiest Halloween movies as we near the spookiest holiday of them all!
We are well into a quarantined October which warrants the revisiting and first-time screenings of some of Disney’s spookiest flicks. Under the search bar on the Disney+ website (and app), you will find a curated collection of Disney selections titled, Halloween. Here at The Nerdy Basement, we’ve compiled a list of these flicks from worst to best. We’ve excluded TV series and Shorts from the list, focusing on feature films. Let’s get into it!
25. INVISIBLE SISTER
Starting off at the rock bottom of the list is Invisible Sister. This felt like an unprecedented low for the Disney channel. Even though there’s a usual level of fantasy or imagination in most of these Disney movies, there’s always a small grip on the real world and reality. There was no such grip in this film. Poorly written character and arcs, bland sets, costumes, makeup, and the story were way too unsure of itself. There are moments when you’d feel the film will never end, despite the writers seemingly trying to rush through the movie. Even the name sucks. Invisible Sister. Very first draft name if you ask me.
24. THE GHOSTS OF BUXLEY HALL
Not worth the time at all. Nothing in the film made sense. How do you make a film look so… dusty? Even with Disney+ restoration services. I felt like I just pulled the VHS for this movie out of my Dad’s garage. The story wasn’t engaging at all and at most times almost put me to sleep. Once again, definitely not worth your time.
23. ZOMBIES 2
“Hey, guys, how about we add werewolves into the mix to stir more themes of discrimination?” NO! “How about we make a rift between the two title characters? Why do you ask? No reason. No reason at all.” NO! “Nah, don’t put any money into the makeup department. They’re fine on 2 dollars.” NO! NO! NO!
22. THE HAUNTED MANSION
How do you fumble an Eddie Murphy acting credit? You give him virtually nothing to work with by writing a painfully hollow and lifeless ghost story. The film’s story lacked any sense of clear motivations and included the flattest one-dimensional characters. It wasn’t even funny. I didn’t even blow air out of my nostrils. The film might, or already have, achieve cult status but won’t even fill midnight screenings.
No. This film achieved nothing. There wasn’t anything that warranted true laughs. There wasn’t anything about the story that keeps you watching. There weren’t any familiar faces to try and keep this film afloat. The film tried to have themes and undertones that tried to speak on discrimination but every nuanced message was lost in just how RIDICULOUS this film was. I don’t think there is a single kid that would enjoy watching this movie.
20. PHANTOM OF THE MEGAPLEX
Phantom of the Megaplex fails at bringing a sense of flair or originality to its rather interesting premise. This Disney feature does its hardest to imitate what the classic Goosebumps TV series had going for it. Through corny tropes and half scares, the film doesn’t present any stakes or unpredictable twists. Everything in the story falls right into place, right down to the very end.
19. RETURN TO HALLOWEENTOWN
The final entry to the overdrawn Halloweentown franchise buries itself in the Halloween film collection cemetery. The cheesiness in the film is absolutely unbearable, it errs on the worst side of campiness where it’s not even entertaining. It’s disappointing to see a film like the first Halloweentown be severely tarnished in sequel form.
18. CAN OF WORMS
A truly frightening film is full of ugly puppets and campy effects. Too cheesy for its own good, the film finds its strengths in the ugliest aliens ever put onto a screen. Why do they have human teeth? Why are they a mixture of the most off-putting colors ever combined? Unfortunately, none of these questions are answered, but if you love to sit in front of some campy visuals and some Americana cheesiness, then I think Can of Worms might just be your thing.
17. THE SCREAM TEAM
A flawed yet entertaining story rooted in traditions and values involving the family. Cut back the cheese and the camp and you will find an intriguing family drama (like Hereditary). That may be a bit of a stretch, but that doesn’t discredit some of the dark aspects this film has to offer like fears of death and the inescapability of familial influence. The film also serves up some good laughs. There’s an unexpected delight in this film that’s reminiscent of the first Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus.
16. HALLOWEENTOWN HIGH
Now we are at the point of no return, the franchise has gotten deeper into the abyss of forgettable sequels. The franchise has lost its footing completely, losing any grip on what Halloween represents; some sightly costume designs and an engaging story. They didn’t have to make this film this boring. The film efficiently builds on Halloweentown and its culture and the lifestyles of its citizens but doesn’t allow it to accompany an engaging story.
15. GIRL VS. MONSTER
This one is actually… pretty good. I was expecting the usual tone-deaf depictions of actual teenage life along with the cheesiness, but I was surprised to see this movie was actually entertaining. A good monster flick that you kind of has to turn your brain off for. This is definitely one of the rare gems that premiere on the Disney Channel and turn out to be pretty good.
14. MOM’S GOT A DATE WITH A VAMPIRE
This film serves up some good laughs and some even better scare for younger audiences. An adventurous storyline that keeps you watching with every twist and turn that’s presented. It also has that charm exclusive to most 90’s movies that remind you of Blockbuster nights in October. A film that’s not meant to be taken seriously just enjoyed.
13. BRIDE OF BOOGEDY
A worthy sequel fit to follow up its campy predecessor. A year after the original, Bride of Boogedy sees the return of its first family and our original… ghost? Monster? Ghoul? Ah, who cares, the film maintains it’s 80’s feel with its 35 mm grain and bitless scares. Nothing of substance is added on top of the initial film, except for Eugene Levy, which was a pleasant surprise. All in all, the two films complement each other and are a lot of fun to watch and laugh at.
12. MR. BOOGEDY
Where there was supposed to be frightening imagery and a spooky story, Mr. Boogedy finds its strengths in the hilarity of its unironic campiness. Filled with that 80’s horror feel, the film may not resonate with modern audiences but will find it’s faithful initial audience group filled with pleasant nostalgia 30 years later.
11. DON’T LOOK UNDER THE BED
Don’t Look Under The Bed serves up some worthy scares that make this film very fun to watch. This film is a masterclass in how to depict horror while being actively watered down for younger audiences. The way it was shot, the funky editing, the costumes and makeup all make this film especially dated but a great time to watch. Definitely, one of the more obscured films on the list but definitely worth a screening to get into the creepy mood.
10. MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
This sequel continues it’s streak of great performances from an even better cast and it’s stylistic approach to visuals, but the overall film is completely let down by a boring story. Jolie offers another great, nuanced performance, however, the character’s personality and development take a drastic change, giving us an unrecognizable character from the original animated classic and even the first film. This sequel ignored everything the first film stood for and ruined what could’ve been a worthy addition to the small franchise
9. HALLOWEENTOWN II: KALABAR’S REVENGE
This film lost everything that made its predecessor magical. Add an obvious budget cut and heavy reliance on the first film and you will get a very rushed and messy sequel. Through engaging and adventurous, it doesn’t follow in the original’s footsteps in creating a unique world around Halloween. Instead, it takes the franchise nowhere but backward while trying to revive everything that made the original so special. Despite the messiness, this sequel is entertaining enough to be put into conversation with the original.
8. TWITCHES TOO
A worthy addition to the first film. The sequel maintains the magic and adventure the initial film set up, with little to none reliance on the former narrative. The main focus of the film that felt especially interesting was the girls’ efforts to return to normal life despite their newfound powers. This grounded the film and made it more resonant in its messages. The story keeps you engaged and entertained, it almost doesn’t feel like a cheesy Disney film.
Halloweentown efficiently captures the feelings and atmospheres that come with Halloween. The film maintains an upbeat and offbeat take on the holiday that serves up some laughs, impressive set pieces, and some spectacular costume designs. The film boasts a clear cut narrative that’s easy to follow without unnecessary turns. A 90’s classic that remains timeless and timely for whenever the spooky season arrives.
Yeah, this is the height of the Disney Channel Original Movie collection. A film full of surprises and fun. This film carries a cultural impact that would carry on into modern times if it weren’t forgotten in the fray of 90’s films. Tia and Tamera’s performances hold up as some of the best to come out of the Disney TV studio creations. A great family film, perfect for some end of October movie screenings.
5. HOCUS POCUS
Though a clear mess, the film has undoubtedly cemented itself as an essential Halloween watch. With an odd, yet charismatic, performance from Bette Midler, the madness and ridiculousness of the story are… bearable? However, the film finds its strengths in pleasing autumn aesthetic, some engaging musical choices, and family-friendly humor. Hocus Pocus has achieved Halloween royalty and is fun for the whole family.
4. JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
Why isn’t this film held at the same level as The Nightmare Before Christmas, you may ask? Well, it’s because it is pretty scary. Some of the imagery in this film does fuel some nightmares, I truly believe that this film is the reason stop-motion filmmaking has cemented itself as a phobia for many. However, that doesn’t deny or disregard that storytelling is truly special and filled with happiness. The film perfectly captured the whimsy and wackiness of the book. I wouldn’t even consider this a Halloween movie if it weren’t for James’ head and face structure that still haunts my dreams.
I revere the creative decision to forgo a live-action remake of Sleeping Beauty to make a film about the “evil” sorceress. The film added levels of depth to the villain we thought we knew, thanks to a multi-faceted and nuanced performance from Angelina Jolie. The visuals this film presents is also reminiscent of the animation in the original film while adding modern color schemes and CGI. The story itself is very much flawed but Maleficent succeeds in presenting an emotional take on one of Disney’s original villains.
Thanks to Burton’s wit and signature stop motion imagery, the film pays homage to some classic horror tropes while still maintaining a heartfelt story fit for kids. Shot in black and white, Frankenweenie could have easily fallen into the pitfall of putting all the film’s focus onto imagery and horror traditions. However, with its developed and charismatic characters, the film achieves an added resonance that makes the story engaging, humorous, and at moments, emotional.
1. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Yeah, this one is the king. The musical numbers, the horror imagery, it’s in-depth character developments all make for an absolute multi-holiday classic. However, The Nightmare Before Christmas succeeds in its highly original story. The story envelops a gothic horror musical while also adding themes of love, longing, and the constant need for something new and exciting. Just as much as this is Burton’s film, it’s also as much like Danny Elfman’s. Elfman displays the bouncy weirdness of his music that fits oh, so perfectly into a film like this.
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