By Erin Caine
While many prefer to get into the Halloween spirit by stringing up decorations, dressing up in costumes, and wolfing down family-sized bags of candy, the holiday doesn’t seem complete if you haven’t binged all of your favorite Halloween movies. Below is a list of Disney originals that, despite being released in former decades, continue to enjoy a broad and enthusiastic audience year after year for their nostalgic atmosphere, memorable settings, and delightfully low-budget visuals. Though gory slasher flicks and recent horror films certainly have their appeal, the sentimental value of Disney’s Halloween classics is unmatched, and their universal charm has cemented them as an essential part of Halloween ritual.
- “Halloweentown” (1998).The first “Halloweentown,” starring Kimberly J. Brown and Debbie Reynolds, is a film brimming with a cast of bizarre and memorable characters — from Marnie’s eccentric witch grandmother (and her sentient luggage), to the wisecracking skeleton taxi driver, to the dubious warlock mayor of the eponymous Halloweentown. From the moment protagonist Marnie Piper and her two siblings step off a magical, ghoul-filled bus, they and the audience are transported to the movie’s vibrant world of supernatural oddities and powerful spells. Marnie’s hidden potential as a witch let viewers likewise imagine that they possessed a secret, magic heritage of which they were totally unaware.
- “Twitches” (2005).Real-life identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry first starred alongside each other in 1994’s “Sister, Sister,” a sit-com about sisters separated at birth, and “Twitches” recreates a similar plot with a mystical flare. The movie capitalizes on the charm and sincerity of the twins’ dynamic, and their heartfelt reunion and powerful bond is one of the driving points of the film. In addition to boasting an adorably hokey title (a combination of the words “twin” and “witches”), the film also intrigues the viewer with its magical land of Coventry, heavy Greek symbolism, witchcraft, inter-dimensional travel, and ominous prophecies.
- “The Haunted Mansion” (2003).Though critics generally panned this fantastical comedy-horror upon its 2003 release, the film still holds up today as the classic and obvious choice for a Halloween-themed movie night. From the film’s flamboyant set design and action scenes to the hilarity of Eddie Murphy’s bantering realtor persona, Jim Evers, “Haunted Mansion” seems to be the perfect marriage of excitement and over-the-top spookiness. Jennifer Tilly’s Madame Leota (though she’s only a floating head trapped in a crystal ball) is a standout character with her endless riddles and sarcastic remarks, and the Evers family’s utter normalcy plays hilariously off of the uncanny setting.
- “Hocus Pocus” (1993).“Hocus Pocus” came out over 24 years ago, making it the oldest film on this list, and yet it is also one of the most well-known and beloved Halloween movies, as well. A veritable cult classic, the film’s iconic trio of witches make it a truly memorable experience, with their chaotic escapades, off-the-wall personalities, and quotable dialogue. Not to mention, the three sisters’ impromptu performance of “I Put a Spell on You” one of the film’s most thoroughly entertaining scenes, if not simply because of Bette Midler’s expressive and ghastly performance. Morbid, hilarious, and full of supernatural antics, “Hocus Pocus” is an indelible part of Halloween tradition.