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Traverse the World of Disturbing and Dark Animated Films to Watch This Halloween

For anyone that is a lover of animated films. There are a great many scary, disturbing or spooking films you can enjoy even during the spooky season. From family-friendly films to more disturbing themes and stories, there are plenty of scary films to go around this Halloween. There are plenty of options for people from all walks of life. Everyone can enjoy something spooky during this spooky season. 

This list is based on opinion. I have selected several films from my own experience and enjoyment. Much like the world of anime, the scariness of animated films can be a little more muted than traditional horror. Due to being mostly aimed at children. However, there are instances, as you will see in a few of the contenders on my list. There are some deeply disturbing candidates which are not held back by being animated. So, without further ado, here are a series of scary and disturbing films to enjoy this Halloween


Characters from the movie Coraline
Credit: Empire Online

The story follows a girl named Coraline who moves into a new home with her mother and father. When she discovers a secret little door in her house, she uncovers an alternate world. She meets another version of her mother and father, known as ‘The Other Mother’ and ‘The Other Father’. She is very happy in this bright, shiny world until the Other Mother tries to make her stay forever at a cost she is not willing to pay. 

Personally, I loved this film. The stop motion style of animation is impeccably executed and makes for a fun and unique watching experience. Not to mention the story. Which is well written and portrayed throughout the movie.This film has imagery which may scare children. But as for who watches it, I would say it is up to parents to decide if it is appropriate. 

Corpse Bride

Characters from the Corpse Bride Movie
Credit: Empire Online

The story starts with an arranged marriage between Victor and Victoria’s families. Though they do not know each other well, they like each other enough. But Victor is nervous about the ceremony and practices his lines for the wedding. He is dragged to the land of the dead where he is trapped with a bride who was murdered. They must fight to get Victor home before Victoria is married to a villainous stand-in. 

This film was a great joy to watch. The animation was whimsical and creepy to watch. The stop motion style was beautiful to see. Especially alongside the story and characters. If you are a fan of Tim Burton’s work, then this is a great film to enjoy. His film style is evident in all of his work and gives off that cute-creepy vibe he has become famous for. Making this a great choice of film to enjoy this Halloween. Or any time of the year really. 


Characters from the movie Frankenweenie
Credit: Empire Online

The story begins with a young Victor Frankenstein, a science nerd and outcast in school. His closest friend is his dog Sparky. Everything goes wrong when Sparky is killed and leaves behind a broken-hearted Victor. Driven by grief, he performs an experiment to bring back his beloved dog. When the experiment works and he gets his dog back, all is right again. Until the secret begins to spill and his classmates learn of this supernatural feat. 

I enjoyed this film, a creepy-cute spinoff of the traditional tale of Frankenstein’s monster. Once again, the stop motion style of animation makes this film all the more fun and whimsical. It was a great film to watch and is suitable for younger audiences whose parents have given the all clear. It is a great low-key scary film to watch this Halloween for those that are not particularly fond of being scared out of their minds but enjoy the themes regardless.


Characters from ParaNorman
Credit: Netflix

The story starts with a young boy named Norman who has the ability to see and speak to ghosts. When his strange uncle Prenderghast contacts him about a witch’s curse, Norman has to decide whether to believe his strange, recluse uncle and save the town or ignore his supposed calling. When zombies rise from the surrounding graves, Norman finally believes his uncle and sets out to stop this paranormal plague. 

Another of Tim Burton’s creations, the style is whimsical and cute. The stop motion only helps add to that aesthetic. I personally love the way that this film looks. Along with the other Burton films I have mentioned. They are just such great films which fall into this Halloween category without being terrifying. Once again, the themes I would say are safe for younger audiences. However, parental guidance is always recommended as there may be themes they are not comfortable with their children seeing.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Character from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Credit: Backyard Cinema

This story starts with Halloweentown’s beloved Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, who has become bored with the same traditions and routine of scaring people. He stumbles across Christmastown and is beguiled by all the bright lights and warm spirits. Filled with a new sense of purpose, he plots to bring Christmas under his control and kidnaps Santa Claus, intending to take over the role himself. 

This is a fantastic film. It brings together Christmas and Halloween. What could be more perfect than to watch this film on Halloween day and allow the new season to wash over you. As with the aforementioned Tim Burton Movies, this one has that signature creepy-cute style and stop-motion animation to enjoy. It is a spectacular film. The way the images are brought to life is truly masterful. The story itself is also interesting to watch unfold and the musical numbers are fun and whimsical. All together, everything ties up into a perfect package which suits both Christmas lovers and Halloween lovers alike.

Plague Dogs 

Characters from Plague Tale
Credit: Into Film

This film is about two dogs, Snitter and Rowf who have been trapped in a lab where they are mercilessly used for testing. The pair are abused until one day they escape. They struggle to survive in the wild until they meet a fox who teaches them to avoid danger and hunt for food. They must avoid humans as there are vicious rumours that the dogs are carriers of the plague and must be put down. 

This film was released in 1982, but the animation is quite beautiful and unique. Not a style you see too often in animation these days. This film is really good in my opinion if not a little dark and disturbing. It is by no means a movie intended for children. Is ‘Plague Dogs’ scary? I would say that this is an inaccurate word to describe this film. It is not scary, but the themes are mature and some of the imagery is graphic. It can also be a little hard for children to understand. Given the more adult nature of the film. Plague Dogs was actually the first non-family-oriented MGM animated film. I personally quite like this film and it makes for a somber watch as far as Halloween movie choices go. However, it is interesting and certainly disturbing enough to qualify for this list.


Character from the movie Felidea
Credit: Alterate Ending

This film is about a cat who must solve the murders of several others of his species in the neighbourhood. But what he uncovers runs deeper than the death of the felines themselves. With secrets hidden within the very walls of his home town, the murders are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only who is committing these vile actions, but why? 

This film is also quite disturbing as far as animated movies go. The themes, imagery and story are not suitable for young audiences, so let’s get that out of the way. I found Felidae to be an interesting movie and one that provokes thought. The murder mystery storyline is one I have always found to be interesting and the disturbing nature of this film mixed in with that makes this a fantastic film to enjoy this Halloween.

Watership Down

Character from movie Watership Down
Credit: Rebeat Mag

This story starts with a young rabbit named Fiver who is able to see the future due to his prophetic visions. He sees the end of his home warren and persuades seven other rabbits to leave with him and find a new home. After the long journey to find a new warren, there are other troubles on the horizon. An enemy warren run by the feared General Woundwort from an enemy warren and the shortage of females for their own. 

Why is such a classic story on this list? Well, this version of the classic tale is deceptively dark and bloody. To an extent, some people may not want their children watching it. But if you would like to enjoy this classic film during the Halloween season, I do not see why you couldn’t enjoy this film. The animation is still really good despite the film’s age and the story is timeless. I have always enjoyed the story of watership down so my opinion is biased. But this film is really good. If you would rather watch the BBC four-part series, there is that option. The animation in the newer version is beautiful and it does cut out some of the gore that the 1978 film had. But overall, this film is a great idea if you are not really into scary but would rather watch a film that is disturbing at certain parts.

The Black Cauldron

Characters from The Black Cauldron movie

This story begins with a young pig jerder named Taran who dreams of becoming a night one day. He gets the opportunity to prove himself when the evil horned King kidnaps Hen-Wren, a prophetic peg he was caring for. He must find and save his pig along with his furry sidekick Gurgi and the princess Eilonwy before the Horned King can use his powers to summon an army of the dead. 

When I discovered this film I was thrilled. Not only was there a fun grand adventure, but also the characters were unique and interesting. I loved the dark themes this film portrayed. It is not something I would expect of Disney nowadays. However, because of the way that this film was made and written, I think that it would make a great choice on Halloween. It might eb family-friendly depending on the opinions of the parents. Or it might be suitable for someone who is not a fan of extremely scary films but rather prefers a light-hearted film with a dark undertone. I personally loved this film and found it to be both funny, cute and dark all at once. I highly recommend this film to any that have not seen it before. 

The Secret of Nimh

Characters from the film The Secret of Nimh
Credit: AVClub

A widowed Mouse named Mrs. Brisby desperately needs to move her children out of a field before the farmer starts ploughing. But her youngest is ill and cannot be moved lest he die. This leaves Mrs. Brisby no choice but to ask for the help of the rats, who have heightened intelligence after being subject to inhuman experiments. After receiving a gift from an elder rat named Nicodemus, she finds out the truth about her husband and also finds herself in the middle of a conflict, jeopardizing her mission to save her family. 

This film is fantastic, the characters and animation are beautifully done. Well rounded back stories and an interesting past to delve into. I loved the way that the story played out. This film would be a great choice for younger audiences, allowing that parents are amenable to it. There are not too many themes I would find inappropriate and there is not all that much blood that I can remember. So, if you would like to sit down with your family and watch a film for Halloween or you simply want a good film to watch on your own. This is a great option for you.


House from the movie Monster House
Credit: Rotoscopers

Overall, there are a lot of animated films you can enjoy this Halloween. Hotel Transylvania is a great choice if you would like a family-friendly option which is mainstream. But the films I have selected are what I would call the most Halloween-ey I know of or have watched. As such, it is largely if not entirely based on my opinion. I would be interested to learn what animated films you find scary. Feel free to comment on your fav spooky or disturbing animated films below. 

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other works. There are tons of topics and categories you can explore. Or, if you like, you can check out more of my work. I have done several movies and series lists you might find interesting.

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