By Alisa Pierce
Blog Content Contributor
The temperature is finally dropping in San Marcos, which means fall is officially around the corner. It’s almost time for pumpkins, Halloween costumes and chilly weather that’s great for staying inside and staying cozy. Whenever I was a kid, those cozy nights meant watching Halloween themed original Disney movies while wrapped in blankets and sipping hot coco, and I can’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia. I might be biased, but I think that the 90s and early 2000s generations of movies were the best, so this Halloween, I’ll be throwing it back with some of my favorites of those eras.
Hocus Pocus, 1993
Hocus Pocus was one of the most successful Halloween-themed Disney movies of its time, so of course, I had to include it in this list. The movie follows the story of three evil witches accidentally resurrected by an unsuspecting teenager and how those witches wreak mayhem in the modern day.
The movie offered a charming story with likable characters that viewers couldn’t get enough of, and Hocus Pocus subsequently skyrocketed to success. Through different means, the movie achieved cult status and even has its own attraction at Magic Kingdom, Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, which was introduced in 2015.
Due to its lasting popularity, Disney Channel and Freeform (formerly ABC Family) still air the movie seasonally in the primetime slot. Full of comedy, drama and a star-studded cast, including award wining Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, Hocus Pocus has lasted the decades and still reigns as one of the most popular seasonal movies Disney has ever produced.
The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993
The Nightmare Before Christmas beautifully combined the elements of Halloween and Christmas while boasting a thought provoking script, Tim Burton’s expertise and original music composed by Danny Elfman.
The movie tells the story of Jack Skellington, a skeletal man living in “Halloween Town”, a city that eternally celebrates Halloween. Jack accidentally finds a portal to “Christmas Town’, which, similar to its spooky counterpart, infinitely celebrates Christmas, and due to this, comical consequences ensue. The movie has received widespread critical acclaim and even won the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film the same year the movie was released.
The Nightmare Before Christmas still secures airtime during the Halloween and Christmas seasons over various networks, and, like Hocus Pocus, has gained cult status. However, the question still remains: Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?
Under Wraps, 1997
Under Wraps is considered the first Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) and was included Disney’s 100 original movies celebration from May-June 2016. Under Wraps follows the story of three 12-year old kids who discover a friendly mummy who needs to be returned to his coffin to continue to exist in the afterlife. Although the movie didn’t receive the critical acclaim that other more successful Disney movies of the time did, it was one of my favorites growing up so I couldn’t leave it out of this list. The movie is super cute, I promise.
Halloweentown was one of the coolest Halloween movies of the late 90s. The story is centered on 13-year-old Marnie Cromwell, who discovers that her family is magical and that she herself is a witch. Marnie follows her grandmother to the Halloween-centered town that bears the holiday’s name.
Marnie’s adventures in Halloweentown caused the movie to become a favorite of Disney lovers, and eventually were followed by three sequels that solidified Halloweentown’s overall success. Halloweentown is a great movie that definitely deserves to be on this list. If you have time, check out the sequels too.
Don’t Look Under The Bed, 1999
Don’t Look Under The Bed was surprisingly terrifying for a Disney movie. It definitely wouldn’t be included in a list of actual scary movies, but for little kids of the 90s, this movie was scarier than the rest. It was Disney’s second and final attempt at a horror film (I used the term ‘horror’ loosely), and was the first DCOM to be to be rated TV-PG due to frightening content.
The movie follows the story of Frances McCausland, a high school student plagued by the evil doings of forgotten imaginary friends that have turned into boogymen. Although Don’t Look Under The Bed never rose to extreme popularity, the scary boogymen and the depressing realization that all imaginary friends fade with time has secured its spot in the hearts of nostalgic 90s kids. If you’re looking for frightening fun with some sad punches at your childhood, watch Don’t Look Under The Bed.
The Little Vampire, 2000
The transition from the 90s to the 2000s was weird for everyone. I admit that I can’t really remember this time, but based on the fashion choices of people in the 2000s its obvious no one knew what was going on. However, movies like The Little Vampire brought comfort to those still holding onto the 90s.
Based on the children’s book of the same name by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, The Little Vampire tells the tale of Tony Thompson, a young boy who moves to Scotland and meets a family of vampires. Tony’s adventures with his new vampire best friend, Rudolph, are fun to watch, and although this movie is directed for younger audiences than the rest on this list, I still enjoy watching it from time to time.
I don’t think I could believe anyone who told me they didn’t like Twitches. The movie was a heavy hitter for the Halloween season of 2005. On its premiere night, the movie scored seven million viewers, which was the best DCOM ratings at the time. The movie then drew 21.5 million viewers in four airings on its first weekend and ended up being the week’s most popular cable program.
Twitches followed the story of twin witches Alexandra Fielding and Camryn Barnes, played by the queens of 2000’s Disney Tia and Tamera Mowry of Sister, Sister fame. The adventures of the twin witches included discovering their powers, being princesses of the land of Coventry and fighting an evil called the Darkness. Despite the girls being 21, an age quite a bit older than other DCOM characters, the movie was incredibly popular among all ages. It eventually received a sequel titled Twitches Too, which was equally as popular as the original.
People of all generations can enjoy these movies, even if they didn’t grow up in the 90s and 2000s eras. Try watching these great DCOM movies while staying in on a cold fall night.