Welcome to day one of GeekDad’s look at family-friendly spooky films and videos to get you and your family in the Halloween spirit. While we’ve published a list like this in the past, over the next four days we’ll be going even more in-depth, recommending films and videos you can share with your family, broken down by the age of your children. We kick off the series with a look at 25 videos you can stream right now to usher in the month of October. Don’t feel like clicking through a list of YouTube, Vimeo, and Daily Motion links? No problem! Simply scroll down and watch the videos right here on this page.
While the videos below are widely considered suitable for all ages, please note that each person’s sensitivity to certain images and themes is unique. Use your best judgement in deciding which of the following to share with your friends and families.
1) The Skeleton Dance
This is my go-to video for whenever I want to get in the Halloween spirit. Viewing The Skeleton Dance sometime on October 1, for me, is the kick off of the season.
2) It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Another seasonal favorite, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is aired sometime every October by the ABC Network. Don’t feel like waiting? You can stream the holiday special in its entirety.
3) Halloween is Grinch Night
When you think of holiday specials featuring Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, you probably think of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Did you know that a Halloween special exists as well? Halloween is Grinch Night premiered 11 years after the Christmas special, but the 1977 Emmy Award winning Halloween special is actually a prequel to the Christmas special that premiered in 1966. If you’ve never seen the Grinch menacing Whoville on Halloween before, you can watch the entire special below.
4) Night on Bald Mountain
Another of my personal favorites comes from the 1940 film Fantasia. Chernobog lords over the mountain and everything that exists beneath the mountain’s shadow, until the tolling of the church bell heralds in the dawn.
5) Lonesome Ghosts
We’ve already featured a couple of animated entries from Disney that mix the macabre with the musical. The following entries lean more toward the whimsical and feature some of the company’s best-known characters.
6) Trick or Treat
7) Donald Duck and the Gorilla
8) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the second half of the Disney feature Ichabod & Mr. Toad. Adapted from the 1820 story by Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow leaves the nature of the Headless Horsemen open to interpretation and illustrates how tales can grow into legends.
9) The Haunted House
Disney wasn’t afraid to put his most beloved character through some spooky situations, as demonstrated in the following pair of cartoons from the late 1920s and early 1930s.
10) The Mad Doctor
11) Hells Bells
We wrap up our entries from the Disney catalog with two more entries from the Silly Symphony series. While not specifically Halloween-themed, I have always found these two videos to be sufficiently spooky and welcome additions to any such playlist.
12) The Old Mill
13) A Haunting We Will Go
Disney wasn’t the only animation studio to get into the Halloween spirit. The folks at Warner Bros. introduced a range of spooky foils such as Witch Hazel, Gossamer, and variations of Mr. Hyde to pit against some of their iconic characters. I enjoy digging up the following Looney Tunes episodes to watch with my kids every October.
14) Broomstick Bunny
15) Transylvania 6-5000
16) Bewitched Bunny
17) Water, Water, Every Hare
18) Hair-Raising Hare
19) Hyde and Hare
20) Scaredy Cat
21) Pink Plasma
Even United Artists got into the Halloween hijinx, placing the company’s popular Pink Panther in a number of spooky episodes, including the pair below.
22) Pink Panic
23) Skeleton Frolic
The following cartoon may feel somewhat familiar, even if you’ve never it before. At Disney in the 1920s, Ub Iwerks created many early classics for the company–including The Skeleton Dance–before leaving to form his own animation studio and accept jobs for a variety of production houses. Skeleton Frolic is one of the resulting efforts from that time, in which Iwerks revisits the idea of dancing skeletons.
24) A Haunting We Will Go
No list of spooky classic cartoons would be complete without at least one entry from Casper the Friendly Ghost. In my opinion, no Casper short captures the melancholy feeling of isolation that comes from being a spirit in the physical world quite as well as A Haunting We Will Go, which is why this classic cartoon makes my spooky playlist year after year.
25) Wot a Night
Our last entry in the list is a deep-dive into animation obscurity. 1931’s Wot a Night features Van Beuren Studios’ characters Tom and Jerry, later renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with with MGM’s cat and mouse characters of the same name. This short has the pair as taxi drivers getting more than they bargained for.
What classic cartoons do you watch every October to get in the Halloween spirit? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to come back each of the next three days as we list ten of our favorite spooky films each for younger kids, older children, and teens.