The 20 best animated Halloween movies

If you’re like us, your TV likely plays spooky content on a loop all through October (and maybe even year-round). Here’s a hot tip for these cold nights: If you’re only watching live-action horror films to honor the spirit of the season, you’re missing out on some stellar animated Halloween movies.

Of course, there are a few feature-length cartoons that just aren’t worth your time… these are the candy corn of films (yeah, we said it). To make sure you know which works are the cinematic equivalent of full-size Butterfingers for trick-or-treaters, here’s EW’s roundup of the 20 best animated Halloween movies. (Note: Some of these films are not suitable for children.)

“The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad” (1949)


Ever notice how everyone seems to know the Legend of Sleepy Hollow even if they never read the original Washington Irving story? The most likely reason for that phenomenon is the Disney animated double-feature The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad. While the first short film focuses on the sunny Mr. Toad, the second concerns Ichabod Crane (Bing Crosby) and his awful adventure with the Headless Horseman. Disney fans go back and forth about which of the two animated tales is better, but when it comes to Halloween, there’s no contest. And considering how this cartoon has been impressing fans since 1949, it is safe to say that legend may never truly die.

Where to watch The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad: Disney+

Kid-friendly: Yes

Director: Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, James Algar

Cast: Eric Blore, J. Pat O’Malley, John McLeish, Colin Campbell, Campbell Grant

Related content: 20 Disney villain songs, ranked

“Coco” (2017)


Pixar has spent years honing the cartoon craft, and its skills are on full display in Coco, a colorful tale of wannabe musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who is transported by a trickster (Gael García Bernal) into the Land of the Dead. The voyage offers some chills and thrills, but it mainly offers clues into his family’s past that could help him achieve his musical dreams. It’s a great Halloween movie, and not just for its spooky visuals, but more so because the film “crosses another Rubicon most animated movies don’t: dealing frankly and even joyfully with death,” per EW’s review.

Where to watch Coco: Disney+

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Lee Unkrich

Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos

Related content: How Pixar’s Coco took a cue from Monsters, Inc.

“Coraline” (2009)


Based on the excellent (but sparse) Neil Gaiman book, Coraline may be the rare film adaptation that’s better than the source material. The titular child (Dakota Fanning) is bored with her life and her muted, uninterested parents, so when she discovers a colorful parallel world with her dotting Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and Other Father (John Hodgman), it seems like the ultimate escape. But she soon discovers that the mirror versions of her family want her to stay forever and that everything is not as it seems. While director Henry Selick appears on this list often, EW’s critic insists that “This thrilling stop-motion animated adventure is a high point in Selick’s career of creating handcrafted wonderlands of beauty blended with deep, disconcerting creepiness.”

Where to watch Coraline: Max

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: A (read the review)

Director: Henry Selick

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David

Ian McShane

Related content: Neil Gaiman, Teri Hatcher look back on the otherworldly eeriness of LAIKA’s Coraline

“Corpse Bride” (2005)

Warner Bros.

No cows are too sacred for Tim Burton to lampoon, including marriage. In Corpse Bride, we get a very unconventional love story that starts with an engaged (and arranged) couple (Johnny Depp and Emily Watson). Rather than suffering from conventional calamities such as a lack of chemistry, their union is under threat from a third party (the titular corpse bride, played by a very game Helena Bonham Carter) who wants the groom all to herself — and she’s not afraid to drag him to the Land of the Dead to make it happen. The film has broad appeal, but it will hit harder for parents and children sick of saccharine childrens media. EW’s critic even declared this animated Halloween movie to be “an antidote to the wholesomeness of most animation” that offers “a welcome dose of toxic fairy-tale derangement.”

Where to watch Corpse Bride: Max

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Albert Finney

Related content: Tim Burton’s love of animation isn’t dead

“Frankenweenie” (2012)

Walt Disney Pictures/Courtesy Everett

Years after Frankenweenie first took shape, Burton (and his established spooky bonafide) had enough clout to transform his old 1984 short into a feature film starring Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Beetlejuice veteran Winona Ryder. You can probably guess the plot: After his beloved pooch shuffles off to that great farm in the sky, a young Frankenstein brings the dog back to life. As with many of Burton’s best films, the real magic is the nuggets of human profundity hidden within the bleak imagrey and whimsical comedy.

Where to watch Frankenweenie: Disney+

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: A- (read the review)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder

Related content: The strange true story of Tim Burton’s normal hometown

“Hotel Transylvania” (2012)

Count Dracula in ‘Hotel Transylvania’.
Sony Pictures Animation

If you want more of a treat than trick this spooky season, consider checking in at Hotel Transylvania. This slick family film tells the story of Count Dracula (Adam Sandler), a vamp who just wants to throw a rocking house party. Those plans are interrupted, though, when his daughter (Selena Gomez) falls in love with a human (Andy Samberg). The story has plenty of freaky fun beats, but the real joy comes from the voicework. As we previously wrote, Sandler is great as a “neurotically creepy dad” and Gomez convincingly “channels her inner monster teen.” This animated Halloween movie kicked off a successful franchise, so if you dig it, there are plenty more undead adventures to enjoy even after the holiday is over.

Where to watch Hotel Transylvania: Hulu

Kid-friendly: Yes

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher

Related content: Selena Gomez: Bieber kids lost shoes at Hotel Transylvania premiere

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has captivated Peanuts fans for generations. As EW’s writer previously noted, this short film and Charlie Brown Christmas “often deliver very strong ratings despite their age.” And in the age of streaming, it’s a welcome throwback to revisit Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang as they try to determine whether the mighty Great Pumpkin is real. All that extra candy is certainly comfort food, and this is the perfect comfort movie to watch while snacking.

Where to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Apple TV+

Kid-friendly: Yes

Director: Bill Melendez

Cast: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg

Related content: All the Charlie Brown gear you’ll want after watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

“Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

Buena Vista/Everett

Whether or not you’re already a fan of the legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki, Halloween is the perfect time to revisit one of his many masterpieces, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Our titular hero is a witch in training who, with the help of her talking cat, sets up a delivery service using her flying broomstick. Soon, though, Kiki faces an existential crisis that requires her to confront her inner doubts in order to get her powers back. Whether you watch the movie dubbed or with subtitles, the real magic is how Miyazaki’s animation can transport you to another world altogether.

Where to watch Kiki’s Delivery Service: Max

Kid-friendly: Yes

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence

Related content: The 20 best Halloween movies for kids

“Mad God” (2021)

Everett Collection

If you’re mainly a fan of “cozy horror,” you’ll want to steer clear of stop-motion auteur Phil Tippett’s Mad God. The movie’s conceit is as fantastic as it is straightforward: This is a world not abandoned by God but rather one actively tormented by him for its many sins. We follow the strange tale of a wandering assassin whose own death and rebirth may foreshadow the bleak reincarnation of the entire planet. It’s a movie almost completely devoid of dialogue or explicit plot, leaving viewers to pore over the meaning of this most unsacred text. Those willing to put in the time (and those who aren’t easily wigged out) may find to their confused delight that Tippett is the maddest creative god of them all.

Where to watch Mad God: AMC+

Kid-friendly: No

Director: Phil Tippett

Cast: Alex Cox, Chris Morley, Anthony Ruivivar

Related content: The 10 spookiest stop-motion animated movies, ranked by spookiness

“Monster House” (2006)

Sony Pictures

When done right, animated scary movies can cleverly subvert our expectations, and Monster House is a prime example. The film follows three kids (Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke) who are worried that a neighboring home is secretly a maniacal monster. In other weaker stories, the kids would discover a mundane, predictable threat lurking inside, but Monster House instead essays a story as heartbreaking as it is inventive. To quote EW’s critic, this is “A smartly delirious animated thriller” that is both “freaky and fun.”

Where to watch Monster House: Hulu

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Gil Kenan

Cast: Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee

Related content: A chat with Monster House director Gil Kenan

“Monsters Inc.” (2001)

Everett Collection

One of Pixar’s most beloved movies validated one of children’s most widespread worries: Yes, there are monsters hiding in your closet — but they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. The beasts are braving the human world to mine screams as an energy source, but when two top “scarers” accidentally bring a young girl into their realm, it makes them question everything they know about fear. Monsters Inc. is an animated Halloween movie that’s a delight for every age because, according to EW’s critic, it has “that swing, that zippity, multilevel awareness of kids’-eye sensibilities and adult-pitched humor.”

Where to watch Monsters Inc: Disney+

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Pete Docter

Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Mary Gibbs

Related content: Monsters Inc: Pete Docter dives deep into movie’s legacy and creation, 15 years later

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

Sally and Jack in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.
Everett Collection

Care for a spooky cartoon you can enjoy on Halloween and Christmas? The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown who discovers the existence of Christmastown. He then tries to take the jolly guy’s job, which puts Santa Claus at the mercy of a particularly scary fella named Oogie Boogie. Skellington shines as a singularly realized character, who (with Chris Sarandon’s voice and Danny Elfman’s singing) is the perfect intersection between everyday magic and something a bit more ethereal. Speaking of ethereal, EW’s critic cooed that the film “is packed, in every madly detailed frame, with sights and sounds engineered to make your senses go pop.”

Where to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas: Disney+

Director: Henry Selick

Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page

Related content: Nightmare Before Christmas director says the film is a Halloween movie

Ninja Scroll (1993)

JVC/ Toho/ Movic

Ninja Scroll‘s plot is suitable for a video game, and believe it or not, that’s a good thing. We follow the bloody and violent adventures of rogue ex-ninja Jubei Kibagami (Kōichi Yamadera), and once he rescues a damsel in distress (Emi Shinohara), he must face off against increasingly bizarre and powerful foes in order to stop the fearsome Shogun of the Dark. EW’s critic likened the film to “an anime sampler platter: It’s bloody, beautiful, and full of mystical intrigue, edgy sex, and wacky midgets.” That means that even people who couldn’t tell you the difference between Goku and Gundam can still enjoy this bloody mess of a movie this Halloween season.

Kid-friendly: No

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Cast: Daisy Tormé, Dave Rasner, Dwight Schultz, Scott Menville

Related content: How new anime film Suzume brought a chair to life

“Perfect Blue” (1997)


If you’ve never dipped your toes into anime horror, then Perfect Blue is the perfect entry point. Directed by the legendary Satoshi Kon, the film follows Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao), a pop star looking to transition into acting and become a triple threat. Soon, though, her world is turned upside down by an unsettling and persistent stalker — or just a figment of her own fracturing psyche. EW’s writer noted how Kon’s debut feature established his knack for “Mature, grounded storytelling spiced with a distinctive and substantial magical surrealism.” It’s a hazy, muted, and melancholy movie that effortlessly blends what is with what if.

Where to watch Perfect Blue: AMC+

Director: Satoshi Kon

Cast: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ōkura, Yōsuke Akimoto

Related content: The 16 best Japanese horror movies

“Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island” (1998)

Warner Brothers

Perhaps the most familiar trope of Scooby-Doo stories is the resolution, where our investigators unmask the human villains who are menaces dressed as monsters. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island turns this formula on its head by having our protagonists (including voice acting legend Frank Welker as Fred) run afoul of actual monsters… ones whose heads are liable to pop up if they pull too hard on a supposed mask. As EW’s critic pointed out in their review, it’s a story that is “fast, fun, and filled with knowing winks,” and even adds to the lore by showing what normie jobs the gang settles into (just in case you were wondering how these kooky kids pay the bills in between mysteries).

Where to watch Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island: Boomerang

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Jim Stenstrum

Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Mary Kay Bergman, Jim Cummings, Scott Innes, Mark Hamill

Related content: Scooby-Doo co-creator Joe Ruby dies at 87

“Seoul Station” (2016)

Finecut/Next Entertainment World/Studio Dadashow

There are few live-action horror films that pack as much punch as the brutal 2016 Korean zombie feature Train To Busan. Right on that modern classic’s heels is Seoul Station, the rare prequel that actually enhances the overall narrative. The original movie threw us into the mayhem almost instantly, and the resulting urgency is a major part of its appeal. By comparison, Seoul Station tells us more about how the zombie virus began while also spinning a tight, impactful story centered on three compelling characters. If you’ve got the time, we highly recommend you watch them back to back for one hell of a creepy double-feature.

Where to watch Seoul Station: Amazon Prime Video

Kid-friendly: No

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Cast: Shim Eun-kyung, Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Joon

Related content: Train to Busan sequel Peninsula picks up the zombie action four years later

“Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit” (2005)

‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’.
DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection

Given how millions have enjoyed Wallace and Gromit’s small-screen adventures over the years, it’s hard to believe that The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the duo’s first feature film. Here, Peter Sallis voices Wallace, an inventor who’s hired by Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to save the town (and its vegetable gardens) from the titular rabbit. With the help of his dog, Gromit, Wallace is hoping to save the day and win the Lady’s affection, but he must compete with resident stuffed-shirt hunter, Victor (Ralph Fiennes). EW’s critic called this a “splendid first feature” that “bestows generous blessings on all that’s good in Englishness, in moviedom, and, of course, in cheese.”

Where to watch Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Netflix

Kid-friendly: Yes

EW grade: A (read the review)

Director: Nick Park, Steve Box

Cast: Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter

Related content: Wallace & Gromit jump into movies

“Wendell & Wild” (2022)

Keegan-Michael Key as Wendell and Jordan Peele as Wild in Netflix’s ‘Wendell & Wild’.

If Mad God is (understandably) a bit too intense for your tastes, then Wendell & Wild may be more of your stop-motion cup of tea. This film from Coraline director Henry Selick tells the tale of the titular demonic brothers, their misadventures with a punk rock teen, and their struggles against Sister Helley, someone who is most definitely not the paragon of spiritual virtue that she pretends to be. The premise is fun, but the voicework from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele is what gives this story its sizzle — and Selick certainly agrees. As EW previously reported, the director began watching old Key & Peele episodes on Comedy Central and “fell in love with those guys,” later harnessing their comedy chops in the most gonzo way that he possibly could.

Where to watch Wendell & Wild: Netflix

Kid-friendly: Yes (for older children)

Director: Henry Selick

Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, Lyric Ross, Ving Rhames, James Hong

Related content: The ‘plagues’ of Wendell & Wild: fires, ice storms, rioters, and COVID-19

“Wicked City” (1987)

JHV/ Madhouse

Part of the fun of animated horror is that writers and directors can execute some insanely bonkers concepts without having to worry too much about the budget. That’s how you end up with movies like the anime Wicked City. It’s an epic tale of Earth’s uneasy relationship with a demon-filled dimension known as the Black World, meanwhile, only a human (Yūsaku Yara) and a demon (Toshiko Fujita) can preserve a fragile peace treaty that keeps the chaos at bay. The film raised quite a few eyebrows back in 1987 for its seamless blend of murder, mayhem, and erotica. But those have all been a staple of scary movies for decades, and Wicked City is now rightfully viewed as one of the genre’s preeminent animated horror features.

Where to watch Wicked City: Tubi

Kid-friendly: No

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Cast: Yūsaku Yara, Toshiko Fujita, Ichirō Nagai, Takeshi Aono