Halloween is less than a week away so what better way to get yourself into the ooky spooky mood than by grabbing some popcorn, hiding behind a pillow and watching some of these animated Halloween films. Okay, none of these are particularly pant-wettingly scary but they’re great for creating that creepy Halloween atmosphere so here we ruddy go!
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
I thought that I’d get this one out of the way first because it’s not strictly a Halloween movie. As you can probably guess from the title, it’s a bit of a mix between a Halloween and a Christmas theme, don’t let that stop you from giving it a watch though! Jack Skellington stumbles through a portal from Halloween Town to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate this newfound holiday with his own unique flair. This is arguably Tim Burton’s most iconic movie and Jack his most memorable character, we think it’s a triumph of dark stop-motion style and the emotion conveyed on Jack’s face especially is very impressive - not least because there were over 400 of his heads modelled during production, blimey. The cracking soundtrack will be rattling around your head all the way til Christmas too.
Time for a bit more Burton now and his awesome take on the Frankenstein story. Frankenweenie is an animated remake of Burton’s 1984 Frankenstein homage-cum-parody of the same name from 1984. This time it’s entirely monochrome and stop-motion too, oozing with the creepy atmosphere you’ve come to expect from the producer. Victor is heartbroken from the recent death of his little dog sparky, so he decides to reanimate him à la Frankenstein's monster. Anyone who's read the original Mary Shelley book knows exactly how well that turns out...
Corpse Bride (2005)
This is the last one from Burton, I swear! He really is the king of the horror-comedy, dark fantasy stop-motion style though, so I have to give him the hefty chunk of recognition he deserves. Corpse Bride tells the tale of Victor and Victoria (would you believe it’s set in the Victorian era too?), their arranged marriage and how Victor accidentally marries the corpse of a murdered woman in the middle of the woods, we’ve all been there right? Johnny Depp, no surprises there, and Helena Bonham Carter (gasp!) are brought together here again as they’re best chums with Burton but they do deliver an impressive vocal performance here nonetheless.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Time for a little break from stop-motion, for some reason there are a load of them in the Halloween theme and there’s more coming up later but for now let’s switch to 3D computer animation. Hotel Transylvania tells the story of Count Dracula, owner of a secluded, exclusive hotel catering to the finest and freakiest monsters of all varieties. Everything seems to be going hunky-dory until his 118-year-old daughter falls in love with a human boy who turns up uninvited. We love this movie because it isn’t afraid to lean into it’s goofy, slapstick style and the sheer range of classic monsters from the horror genre on show here is bound to give monster fans a kick. Wrap this up in a family coming-of-age tale and you’re onto a winner.
Monster House (2006)
Produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, Monster House is about three kids who, after a knock and run prank goes wrong, discover that the spooky-looking abandoned house across the street is actually alive and very, very hungry. The film was made using performance capture with real actors in motion-capture suits whose movements were loaded into computers for further animation to be done around this footage. We’d jump at the chance to do any mo-cap stuff here at Fudge so we’re massive fans of Monster House’s production. Also, there’s a bit of a Goonies/Stranger Things vibe going on here which we adore too. Nothing like kids taking matters into their own hands when the grown-ups and trappings of society stand in the way of busting a good mystery wide open!
Monsters Inc. (2001)
Who could forget this Disney Pixar classic? Mike and Sully are a pair of ‘scarers’ who work for a company whose job it is to power Monstropolis by harnessing the energy found in the screams of children. The trouble is, they think children are toxic to monsters, so when little Boo finds her way back through the portal to Mike and Sully’s home, total lockdown ensues. When this first came out, I’m telling you the quality of the 3D animation on Sully’s fur was mind-blowing. Incredibly endearing and with tunes provided by Randy Newman throughout, this is an absolute treat.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
The first 2D animation on our list, hurrah! Here’s a bit of a strange one, though… It’s a two-part feature length movie by Walt Disney Productions, the first half based on The Wind in the Willows and the second part on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Needless to say, It’s the latter which we’re more interested in today. Ichabod Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow somewhere in New York state with the intention of becoming the town’s new schoolmaster. Gluttonous and a bit of a dandy man, he becomes entangled in a love triangle with two of the village residents and upon learning of Ichabod’s superstitious nature, his love rival tells the story of the headless horseman. No prizes for guessing who Ichabod crosses paths with that night...
Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)
Yes Scooby Doo, yes, yes, yes. There is so much to love about this series and I spent many hours in front of my telly watching the escapades of those “meddling kids” in my youth. This movie follows Shaggy and Scoob as they travel to Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Girls to become gym teachers. As far as improbable plots go, this one takes the cake. Have you seen the size of the Scooby Snacks those two tuck away on a regular basis? It’s worse than me at the kebab van on the way home from the club. Not to mention that Shaggy has the physique of a particularly emaciated castaway. Put this premise out of your mind and you’ll be treated to a vibrant, fun little movie with interesting and unique characters.
Think Alice in Wonderland but everything’s just a little bit spookier and you’ve got the gist of Coraline. Produced by Laika who pioneered and popularised the ingenious use of 3D printing techniques to produce their puppets, they have achieved a staggering depth of emotion in their characters. Paired with some top-notch lip-sync and strand-perfect hair, this one is a convincing example of the advantages offered by newer technologies utilised in newer stop-motion animation.
Norman can see and talk to ghosts, that’s where he gets the para- from. This seems to be a bit of a curse for the young lad, however, as it becomes evident that Uncle Ben was right - with great power comes great responsibility; Norman is the only one who can perform a ritual to stop his town becoming overrun by nasty spirits. Also made by studio Laika, this is one of the most incredible examples of what’s possible when stop-motion meets computer-generated effects. Again using 3D printing for puppet production (this time in colour) ParaNorman is an incredibly immersive and quirky experience.
Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
This one tops our list. It might be because we love the dry British humour on show, it could be that Gromit has a sass that cannot be tamed, or it may even just be because we’re all huge and unapologetic Aardman fanboys, who knows? The Curse of the Were-Rabbit sees our favourite man-dog duo back at it again, this time there’s a mysterious string of terrifying monster sightings and vandalism threatening to ruin the annual vegetable growing competition (God forbid). Animated in the clay-mation style we’ve come to love from the Bristol-based Aardman Studios, this movie has plenty of subtle, well-placed laughs along with a surprisingly sufficient capability to wield both tension and create atmosphere. A real triumph of the Halloween movie and a stop-motion achievement in its own right, don’t miss it.
That should keep you lot busy until the big day! Fancy something short and sweet instead? Take a gander at our Top 6 Halloween Animations from last year. Those ones are a little scary actually so don’t blame us if you can’t get to sleep tonight.