Friday, October 25, 2013

My Top 13 Favorite Animated Halloween Movies and Specials

(NOTE: This post has been updated for 2019 content)      

    Horror movies are always a must for October, but I always like to balance those films out with some genuine Halloween movies and specials, preferably the animated ones. It’s like a tradition, Halloween is one of the most nostalgic times of the year for me, when I feel young again, so what better way to close out the year then looking back at all the tricks and treats that come with both classic and modern animated specials, here are my top 13 personal favorites.

#13 - Scared Shrekless (2010) 

In this animated Halloween anthology from DreamWorks, all the popular Shrek characters have gathered to tell scary stories that are all spoofs of classic horror films like “The Bride of Frankenstein”, “Psycho” and “The Exorcist”. Plus, the DVD includes an added short where they spoof Michal Jacksons classic Thriller music video. While there’s nothing subtle about this Halloween special, it’s still very funny, bursting with quality animation and has all the good stuff kid's would want to see this time of year. 


#12 Corps Bride (2005) 

This is the perfect example of how you should never judge a film by its title. “Corpse Bride” looked and sounded like a really stupid idea for a Halloween special, but director Tim Burton gave it a really nice touch and surpassed my small expectations. This story revolving around a man who finds himself accidently engaged to zombie bride plays less like a gothic horror, and more of a classic modern fairytale. It’s original, romantic and a surprisingly toughing film about long lost love. It’s one of Tim Burtons more uplifting and wholesome films, but not without some dark visuals and a lot of imagination.    

#11 It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966) 

This was the very first Halloween special I ever saw, so naturally I had to include it on my list. There really isn’t much of a plot to this special, nothing supernatural happens and there’s no action, it’s about as simplistic as they get, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s just a group of kids doing everything we associate with October, from carving a Jack’ O’ Lanterns, to trick or treating, to making individual costumes, to Halloween parties. It’s all so genuine, nostalgic, memorable and worth yearly viewings.   

#10 - Frankenweenie (2012) 

Sometimes it’s the really simple things that work best, and this film is no exception. Tim Burton’s animated remake of his 1980’s short film is one of the most heartwarming and delightful Halloween films I’ve ever seen, and a great offset to all the other crazy stuff we usually watch this time of year. The story revolves around a boy who brought his dead dog back from the dead as sort of a Frankenstein zombie, but the dog is still just as lovable as ever, it’s everyone else that needs to accept him. For such a quiet movie, it holds your attention great, has a lot of charm, and a monster mash ending to boot.  


#9 – Disney’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow” (1949) 

This classic Disney short made its debut in 1949 as part of the theatrical movie “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”, but it’s always stood tall on its own as a traditional and timeless animated Halloween special. It captures the essence of the season so perfectly, but it’s also a relatively dark short with scary sequences, and a richly haunting atmosphere. It’s the story of a man who encounters the frightening headless horseman, and the actual events of the story leading up to the encounter is subdued, making you forget it’s even a Halloween special until the end. It’s simply one of Disney’s greatest shorts and a worth while holiday classic all around.       

#8 - Hotel Transylvania (2013) 

With all the really dark and scary Halloween films like “ParaNorman” and “Coraline”, it’s nice to know that kids have alternatives in the form of films like “Hotel Transylvania”. The story revolves around Count Dracula as he’s built a safe haven for all the classic monsters, but his  daughter wants to see the world, and when a young human boy stumbles into monster land a romance is born, and it’s one energized situation after another as the Count tries to maintain peace in his castle. This film’s got everything ... funny moments, touching moments, colorful characters, terrific animation, lots of energy, upbeat music and a location that’s just drenched in Halloween goodness. It may be over shadowed by other Halloween films that are a pinch more adult, but I hope more people discover this film. It really is a gem, and a good one to show to your kids.        

#7 - Toy Story of Terror (2013) 

A Halloween special revolving around the Toy Story series, what’s not to love about that. When all our favorite Toy Story characters are forced to spend the night at a creepy motel, the gang find themselves the prey to a monster with an appetite for play toys. It may be light on traditional Halloween flair, but it is still an exciting adventure that revolves around concurring fear. It just a really fun time with our favorite Toy Story characters. 

#6 – Mickey and Donald's Classic Halloween Shorts

Oh, I loved Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons so much as a kid, and when you put them in a holiday themed scenario ... it’s instant gold. Their Halloween shorts are among some of their most nostalgic that I find myself watching every year. The episode “Lonesome Ghosts” is a perfect example as Mickey, Donald and Goofy are out hunting a silly gang of Ghosts. One of their darker episodes was titled “The Mad Doctor”, which involved an evil scientist that captured Pluto and is experimenting on him in his castle, so it’s up to Mickey to rescue him. While this episode has some stealer animation, many of the imagery could get really tense. My favorite episode titled “Trick R’ Treat” features a memorable guest character called Witch Hazel who terrorizes Donald Duck, and there’s a really catchy theme song to boot. With their joyful overtones, nostalgic novelty and no shortage of Halloween delights, I highly recommend looking up some of these old cartoons during October.     

#5 Monster House (2006) 

In 2003, Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion” was released and turned out to be a somewhat underwhelming haunted house adventure. Then three years later came an animated gem titled “Monster House”, which completely made up for it. As you’d expect, this is a scary adventure with kids in a haunted house, but it’s also a very smart film with lots of excitement, first rate animation and plenty of laughs. The film simply has everything you’d want ... lot of Halloween charms, likable characters, thrilling action scenes, a nostalgic overtone, and arguably the coolest haunted house I ever seen in motion picture.  

#4 - The Simpsons: Tree House of Horror 

It's like a yearly tradition to watch the annual Simpsons Tree House of Horror specials. This animated anthology series is the complete opposite of the Mickey Mouse Cartoons, as their much more adult and laced with dark comedy. However, there so much fun and even with the series going downhill, it’s still a yearly tradition to watch these Halloween shorts, and even at their worst, they still have that spark of creativity and hummer. You can never predict what you’ll get from a Simpsons Halloween special, it could be dark, it could be cute, it could be wild, over the top and they can always get me to laugh ... and laugh hard.


#3 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1994) 

I’ve always regarded this film as the perfect holiday special ... Why, because it’s both Halloween and Christmas rolled into one awesome package. When Jack Skeleton of Halloween town decides to take a shot at Christmas, it becomes a crazy mash of two holiday worlds. The novelty of the film is that it’s mostly told through song and is brought to life with top-notch stop-motion animation. It’s an amazing visual experience I’ll never forget, with memorable songs, creative holiday worlds, and stealer artistry. Two holidays are better than one, and this is that rare Halloween/Christmas film that you can watch twice in the holiday season.      

#2 - ParaNorman (2012) 

This is one of the scarier animated movies to show your kids, but it’s an incredible motion picture that I highly recommend. “ParaNorman” takes the familiar concepts of a boy with a supernatural ability to talk to the dead, a witch’s curse, a zombie epidemic and weaves them all together in a brilliant story with surprising emotional depth, deep conflicts and plenty of comedy along the way. The visual effects and stop-motion animation are big spectacles that alone make the film worth viewing, but with an enduring lead character, an especially heartwarming ending and competent storytelling make this something really special that’s not only worth yearly viewings but also deserving of being called a modern Halloween classic.    

Before I reveal my #1 Favorite, here are my Honorable Mentions ...

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Winnie the Pooh: Boo To You Too

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

Alvin and the Chipmunks meet The Wolf Man

The Halloween Tree

#1 - Coraline (2009) 

Even though this film isn’t directly aimed at Halloween, it’s still very creepy, twisted and dripping with a haunting other worldly atmosphere. When a little girl is tired of her boring life, she finds a door leading her to an alternate reality where everything is perfect and fun, but something dark and sinister is trying to lead her away, which leads into an exciting adventure involving Ghosts, monsters and talking cats. It’s scary but very exciting, crazy yet imaginative, dark but not without some decent family morals. Animated movies are always more impressive when there stop-motion films like this, I love looking at all the visuals knowing that there all real sets, props and puppets that act and perform right in front of the camera. Great atmosphere, eye-pleasing visuals, imaginative storytelling, a top-notch vocal performance from Dakota Fanning and so much more make this my favorite animated Halloween movie and personally one of my favorites animated films ever.  

                             Happy Halloween!

My Top 10 Favorite Vampire Movies


       Before Zombies were so popular, it was the vampires that dominated the horror genera. In fact the 1922 silent horror classic titled “Nosferatu” was the first official vampire movie, and practically gave birth to the horror genera in general. I’ll admit, Personally, I find vampires to be the most interesting of the popular reoccurring monsters, so why not list my favorites. Here are my personal top 10 favorite vampire movies.

#10 Let the Right One In (2008) 

By the turn of the century, Vampire movies got tired and gimmicky, so it was about time for something to reinvigorate the genera. Tell me if you’ve heard this set up before ... boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and girl turns out to be a hundred year old vampire. Yeah, it’s one of those stories but told very well and it gives “Twilight” a run for its money. This is a unique kind of horror film that blends scares with competent writing and lots of emotional baggage. It’s a film with a dual nature, at times it’s sinister and dark, but it’s also gorges and compelling.  

#9 Fright Night (2011) 

Remakes are usually uncalled for, and horror remakes tend to suck but here’s one that works very well. Just like its predecessor, the story revolves around a boy who moved into a house that just happens to be next door to a vampire. The original is obviously superior (and will be featured further on my countdown), but I wanted to give credit where it’s do. The 2011 remake of “Fright Night” may have been unnecessary, but it was shot very well, features great performances and is mostly respectful to the original.  

#8 Van Hellsing (2004) 

This may not be a masterpiece, but it is a fun, over the top monster mash featuring all the classic’s like Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster. While these creatures have all been featured together in movies before, this was the first modern film with bigger action, bigger set design and perhaps too many special effects for the films own good. The casting is great, with Kate Beckinsale as an attractive monster slaying princess and Hugh Jackman as a bad ass vampire slayer, you can’t get any more awesome. Throw in some especially attractive vampire brides, one of the coolest makeup renditions of Frankenstein’s monster I’ve ever seen, and non-stop action, and you got yourself some solid, trashy entertainment.

#7 Shadow of the Vampire (2000) 

Of all the vampire movies on my countdown, this one is arguably the most unique as it revolves around the making of the 1922 horror classic “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”. It’s not a strait up bio picture of the film-making experience, instead it’s more of a clever horror satire. The films clever twist is that the actor from the movie turned out to be a real life vampire hired to play the part of the evil Count Orlok. William Dafoe, who’s probably best known for playing the Green Goblin in “Spider-Man” plays the titular vampire and is phenomenal in the role. He’s so good that his performance got him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. It’s just a clever twist on a classic horror movie, one with thrills and an interesting albeit exaggerated portrayal of what goes on behind the scenes. 

#6 Blade 2 (2002) 

Even though I’m a huge comic book fan, I can’t bring myself to say that I’ve ever been a fan of Marvels famous vampire killer Blade. However, the second movie in his film series is actually a pretty darn good vampire action flick. In this adventure our anti hero has to team up with the very vampires he battles in order to stop a new threat, a monster that hunts down both humans and vampires. It’s an awesome dynamic, and leads to some thrilling action scenes, while still keeping the right level of creepy atmosphere one would expect from a movie of this sort. Wesley Snipes has never shined more in the role of Blade then this film, and in my opinion, this is one of the better Marvel comic adaption’s of the early 2000’s. 

#5 Horror of Dracula (1958) 

When it comes to movies about Dracula, hardly any come close to matching the brilliance of the 1958 British classic “Dracula” or “Horror of Dracula” as it’s usually called. This was the first in a long series of Dracula films from Britten’s horror studio called Hammer Productions. The main attraction to this movie is the late great Christopher Lee in the lead role of Dracula, who in my opinion is the greatest villain actor of all time and this is arguably the greatest portrayal of the legendary vampire on screen. Peter Cushing is also great in the role of doctor Van Hellsing. The plot strays from the novel, but this is still one of the greatest Dracula movies ever made, thanks to its stealer period pieces, gothic scenery, eerie yet stylish mood and of course Christopher Lee ... he’s the man.  

#4 The Lost Boys (1987)

 Most vampire movies tend to have the same look, tone and feel, but “The Lost Boys” was one of the first to put vampires in a modern setting as opposed to a period piece. It also paved the way for teen vampire flicks which have become insanely popular these days. When a family moves into a new town, the older brother joins a gang of renegade boys who all happen to be vampires. Worse yet, he accidently drank blood which is slowly turning him into a vampire. Now with the aid of some young vampire hunters, the two brothers must work together to kill the head vampire of the pack in order for our hero to return to normal. This is a great product of the 80’s, done with style, originality, memorable characters and an awesome theme song. The whole film feels like a twisted music video mixed with classy vampire action, and what’s not to like about that?

#3 Dracula has Risen from the Dead (1968) 

Dracula makes it on my list once again, and personally this is my favorite by far. “Dracula has Risen from the Dead” is the third entry in Hammers Dracula franchise, and while it’s not as classy as the first film, I honestly find it to be far superior. The plot for this sequel revolves around an atheist who needs to rescue his love from the clutches of Dracula, but sense he doesn’t believe in God, holly objects have no effect on him, and a stake through the heart can’t kill him. Thus in order to defeat the evil of Dracula, he must go on a spiritual quest to find his faith in order to concur his demons both figuratively and literally. Christopher Lee once again plays Dracula, and he’s awesome as always. However, the real strength of this film comes from our lead hero and an underlining theme of faith concurring evil.    

#2 Fright Night (1985) 

Now here’s a movie that celebrates classic horror, while also giving us something new and fun. It’s all about a kid named Charlie who’s obsessed with horror movies, and he believes that his next door neighbor is a vampire. Of cores no one believes him, and so he’s on his own to save the town. The plot may sound like nothing more than an extended episode of “Goosebumps” but it’s a lot more competent than you’d think, and it has its fare share of both genuine thrills and hummer. The movie dose start a little slow but gradually builds on the excitement, and the ending is just one big epic battle with lots of cool special effects. It’s just a really fun tribute to classic vampire flicks, and it also takes you back to that time when you were young, and Halloween was awesome.

Before I reveal my #1 pick, here are some honorable mentions ...

Dracula (1931)

Bram Stokers Dracula (1992)

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

House of Dracula 

#1 From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) 

This is what I like to call, the perfect guy flick. It combines the terrific writing and acting of Quentin Tarantino with the awesome directing and camera work of Robert Rodriguez. Plus, this was the film debut of George Clooney and in all honesty it’s my favorite performance of his. The film starts rather series as we fallow two criminals  who've taken a family hostage. Then the movie jumps the shark and things get really fun when our characters stop at a bar full of vampires. It may sound stupid, which it is, but it's awesome! You really just have to be in a mind set for trashy fun monster action and first rate visual effects to enjoy this. I can't even begin to count how many awesome things are happening all in this one battle with the dead. We have creature transformations, Salma Hayek’s doing the world’s sexiest dance, and there’s so many awesome ways to see the vampires get killed. Vampires impaled, sunburned, exploding, melting and best of all, a guy pulls out a vampires heart and stabs it with a pencil. It breaks the rules, kicks some butt and does a great job referencing classics. This is a film ware you need to let loose, gather some friends, pull out the popcorn, sit back and have fun with this awesome, cheesy B monster flick, and personally my favorite vampire movie of all time.

The End