** This is a user-submitted post by Rachel Wagner. **
With Halloween around the corner, we thought we’d give a tip of the hat to the animated films that scare the living daylight out of both kids and adults. For this list, we went with strictly animated feature films released theatrically.
There is always the pull between spooky/funny scary and horror-inspired scary and we went with the latter for our picks, but they all have their fun moments as well.
10. The Black Cauldron
The much maligned 25th Walt Disney animated classic has problems, but the spooky atmosphere and a menacing sense of dread is not one of them. The Horned King is one of the scariest looking Disney villains, and the great Elmer Bernstein score makes for an overall entertaining watch.
9. Monster House
With the feel of comedy/horror films of the 80s like Ghostbusters and The Burbs, Monster House tells the story of two boys who spy on a neighboring haunted house occupied by the crotchety Horace Nebbercracker. The animation could be better, but the ending is surprising and it definitely has some good scares for both adult and children. It also has a great cast including Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, and Jason Lee.
8. Corpse Bride
More of a romance than a traditional horror movie, but the look of it and story of the afterlife definitely qualify Corpse Bride as Halloween-worthy fare. Director Tim Burton tells the tale of Victor who is about to go into an arranged marriage when he accidentally gets engaged to a corpse bride named Emily. The highlight of the film is Victor’s welcome to the afterlife called “Remains of the Day.”
Disney’s 2nd animated classic is not always thought of as a scary movie, but Pinocchio has many terrifying elements. To begin with, children are turned into donkeys by the Coachman and never turned back. There’s Monstro the whale and Stromboli, both of which are scary. If you want your kids to never tell a lie, show them Pinocchio and it should quickly scare them into an honest life!
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Recently, director Henry Sellick said this mishmash of Christmas and Halloween was a Halloween movie. Still, you could make arguments for both. But this film has all the trappings of Halloween from Jack-o-lanterns to ghosts and trick-or-treaters. Oogie Boogie and his song are scariest sections, but most kids seem okay with it. The film has a real heart to it that tempers the scares a little bit. Jack is trying to do something good, but it all goes wrong. Danny Elfman’s score (and singing voice for Jack) is beautiful and haunting.
An underrated film from Laika about a boy named Norman who can talk and see dead people. He is almost used to this power when a curse is unleashed on his town and the dead come back to life as zombie-like characters. Then he and his accomplices must work together to thwart the curse and bring things back to normal. ParaNorman has a clever take on the bully story with the bullied becoming the bully and has a nice message about empathizing with others and that maybe your differences aren’t so bad after all.
A lovely homage to old school horror films from Tim Burton. Victor’s greatest love is his dog Sparky and when he is taken from him, he creates a way to bring him back to life. The black and white and the stop motion make the film look spectacular, but like Nightmare Before Christmas, it has real heart at the core. It’s about the love of a boy for his dog with some good scares mixed in.
3. Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece about a girl who finds her way into a bathhouse for spirits. We get scary creatures like No Face and Kamaji, but there is also a ton of charm and imagination. It’s a movie that continually surprises the viewer with its story and definitely has tense moments that will be good for Halloween viewing.
2. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad
One of the best ghost stories done in traditional animation with Ichabod and the Headless Horseman. Based on the Washington Irving short story, we get very scary imagery, and the music by Oliver Wallace helps build tone and tension. The Mr Toad segment is less scary but has its moments with Mr Toad learning to not act on every impulse and obsession.
Based on the Neil Gaiman graphic novel, Coraline is about a girl who is frustrated with her parents and gets to see an alternate version of them. On one hand, it is perfect but on another they have button eyes and are very creepy. The stop-motion animation by Henry Selick is beautiful and very scary. It’s an interesting story where Coraline learns to love her parents, even fight for them, despite them not changing or becoming good people. She learns her dreams may be actually her greatest nightmare.
What are some of your favorite scary animated films? What did we leave off? Share in the comments below and have a Happy Halloween!
Edited by: Kelly Conley