A Disney Channel Halloween:
Top Four Movies to Watch This Spooky Season
Savannah Dorriety | Writing Contributor
While the ever-present Alabama humidity may have your shirt sticking to the back of your neck, spooky season has finally arrived. It has brought with it the resurgence of the pumpkin spice latte, a massive influx of synthetic wigs, and of course, the urge to curl up in front of your screens and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. What better way to escape into your magical fantasies than with what are, arguably, the pillars of Gen Z’s childhood? Disney Halloween movies.
Below are the top four best spooky Disney films from your childhood to hold you over until the holiday season begins on Nov. 1st.
Witches, monsters and family drama— oh my! This 1998 film was an at-home-viewing staple every October in the early 2000s. If you didn’t catch it on Disney channel at least once a year, can you even call yourself a spooky movie connoisseur?
“Halloweentown” follows 13-year-old Marnie Piper and her siblings as they discover that they are witches from a world of magic and monsters that their mother kept hidden from them. The siblings follow their grandmother home on Halloween night and find themselves in another dimension, one that needs their underdeveloped magical services to survive.
Kimberly J. Brown, the actor who played the movie’s lead character, Marnie, recently became popular on TikTok for making videos about her engagement to Daniel Kountz, who played her mortal enemy in the “Halloweentown” franchise, Kal.
The family dynamics in this movie are oh-so-relatable with everything from early teen rebellion to the hilarious sibling banter to the tension between mom and grandma. This film also does an excellent job of convincing the audience that any seemingly normal family could be hiding a magical secret.
Really makes one wonder what grandma gets up to when no one else is around.
#3: “The Haunted Mansion”
“The Haunted Mansion,” starring Eddie Murphy, is a quintessential Halloween comedy you will find on most Halloween watchlists. With Murphy’s humorous personality and the comical trials, he and his family must go through to escape the house, be prepared to ugly laugh. The gypsy inside the crystal ball will get you every time.
Eddie Murphy’s character, Jim, and his family are trapped in a haunted mansion after Jim takes a detour from the family vacation to what he believes will be the big break for his real estate business. The mansion and all its ghostly staff are stranded in time, unable to pass on, because of a curse. Edward, the master of the house believes Jim’s wife is the reincarnation of his lost love, Elizabeth, and the only one who can break the curse. Jim and his two kids must solve the mysterious circumstances of Elizabeth’s death before his wife is remarried beyond the grave.
The film explores the narrow line between too much or too little attention to love. In the case of Edward, he paid too much attention to love, giving up his life and cursing everyone to be trapped within the grounds of the mansion until his love returned. Jim, on the other hand, paid too little, neglecting his family and putting them in a dangerous situation. Love is thus characterized as a double-edged sword. The mystery of the narrative was interesting as well, but let’s be real, the creepy butler wasn’t fooling anyone.
#2: “Hocus Pocus”
The true Halloween classic, this 1993 film quickly developed a cult following that hasn’t died down yet, as evidenced by the sequel released last month on Disney+.
The movie follows Max and his little sister Dani as they explore an abandoned house in Salem with their new friend Allison. Disregarding the legend of the child-eating sisters who lived there as superstition, Max accidentally resurrects the witches. With the help of a magic cat, the three kids must steal the witches’ spell book and stop them from becoming immortal.
You’ve likely seen the original about 300 times, but something about the Sanderson Sisters never gets old. This movie is the perfect light-hearted Halloween comedy for those who can’t stomach the guts and gore of modern horror. It’s giving cozy family movie night, a perfect choice for kids, younger siblings and fur babies (you have to keep the tradition alive somehow).
Magical powers, long-lost twins, royalty and Cosmo-and-Wanda-style guardians? This movie was really checking all the boxes in the childhood (and adult) dream category. Tia and Tamera Mowry’s performance as long-lost sisters, who also happen to be princesses, who also happen to be witches, is everything we didn’t know we needed.
In this movie, sisters, Cameron and Alex, are reunited on their 21st birthday to find out that not only are they magical royalty from another dimension, but they are the only thing standing between an evil darkness and the destruction of their home.
The themes of love in varied forms for different people and reconciling those various types of love with your self-identity is prevalent throughout the film. It teaches its viewers not to weigh relationships against one another, but rather to open their hearts to the infinite supply of love. This is an important lesson, especially for those with nontraditional family situations, i.e.: pretty much everyone you have ever met.
The best part about this little trip down memory lane: all these movies are streaming now on Disney+. Try out one of our recipes from our Halloween recipes guide, build a blanket fort for old times’ sake and let the stress of midterms roll off your shoulders as you ring in spooky season the right way.
Savannah Dorriety serves as a writing contributor. She is a rising junior from Central Florida double majoring in public relations and creative media with minors in global and cultural perspectives and Asian studies. This is her second year writing for Alice, previously she contributed to the Fashion section. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in media and cultural studies.