Corpse brides, were-rabbits and a certain scissor-fingered gentleman. There’s no shortage of excellent Halloween films for families out there. But which streaming services have which/witch movies? We made like a gravedigger and dug deep into the options.
Pick of the bunch has got to be Wallace & Gromit’s The Curse of the Were Rabbit. The stop-motion comedy follows the cheese-loving northerners as they try to track down a giant lagomorph who is terrorising the local vegetable patches. It’s the perfect family film, with hilarious set pieces and plenty of subtle (and not so subtle) innuendo for parents to smirk at. Give Mrs Mulch her own spin-off!
Nefflix has long been home to the Hotel Transylvania films. All three are currently available. The basic premise sees Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) running a hotel for monsters out of his castle -- not exactly original, but very well done and highly recommended. And not too scary for younger children.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride recently appeared on the service. The stop-motion animation tells the story of a young man who accidentally marries (and resurrects) a long-dead lady. The leads, inevitably for a Tim Burton film, are played by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. It carries a PG rating, though younger viewers may be a little creeped out.
RL Stein’s hugely popular Goosebumps books and TV series were brought to the big screen in 2015, fronted by Jack Black. It’s now available on Netflix. The plot is very meta, with Black playing the part of RL Stein, and RL Stein in turn making an appearance as a “Mr Black”. Fans of the series will enjoy spotting the many monsters who make an appearance.
Finally, a shout-out to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It’s not intended as a Halloween film and is much more thoughtful than the usual monster fare. Nevertheless, the bathhouse of the spirits contains many spooky elements, including the enigmatic No-Face. Plus, the scene where Chihiro’s obnoxious parents are transformed into pigs will unsettle any child (or adult).
Preschoolers can tuck into a raft of film adaptations of Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler books, including the Gruffalo, The Highway Rat and, best for Halloween, Room on the Broom. The much-loved tale follows an accident-prone witch and her ever-growing band of familiars.
Prime carries Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, too, but also features Dark Shadows by the same director. This comedy vampire film again stars Depp and Bonham Carter and is also notable as the 200th film appearance of the most famous Dracula actor, Christopher Lee.
Otherwise, the offering in Prime is a little thin. You will find plenty of ghost-themed TV shows (such as the excellent reboot of Scooby Doo), but you’ll have to pay for most of the better known spooky films (including the 2020 remake of The Witches, released on 28 October).
Disney has its haunted house in order, with a dedicated menu at the top of the screen. Highlights include Maleficent, the previously untold story of the dark witch from Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie. The ever-present Tim Burton is represented by both The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands. Perennial favourite Hocus Pocus sees a trio of witches resurrected after 300 years, to wreak havoc in 1990s Salem (Disney+ now has a sequel in the works). You’ll also find a long tail of minor movie monsters, and don’t forget The Simpsons’ many ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Halloween specials. Plus, there’s always Monsters Inc and Monsters University, which while not particularly spooky are (a) brilliant, and (b) full of monsters.
Now TV’s Sky Cinema pass will give you quite a few options not available on other services. Here you’ll find such classics as Casper, Labyrinth, The Addams Family, The Witches and the Scooby Doo movie. The service also carries Hocus Pocus and Curse of the Were Rabbit.
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