By Ellie Robson
For me, and many people, animated movies are a huge part of our annual Halloween experience. Although animated movies are often synonymous with children’s movies, there are plenty that have a darker, eerie tone which are perfect for all ages at Halloween. So, here are my top 4 animated movies with a creepier edge. Hopefully there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
This movie was adapted from Neil Gaiman’s popular short story of the same name, which was published in 2002. Classified as both a fantasy and horror piece, the plot follows a young girl named Coraline, often humourously mistaken as “Caroline”, and her family as they move into a new home, isolated from any community other than their handful of eccentric neighbours. Becoming bored of her new situation, Coraline explores her new home.
She discovers a door leading to a parallel world that is deceptively like her own life, the only difference being that everyone there has buttons for eyes! Preferring it to her own home, Coraline makes more and more visits to her “other” family, until she realises that the motives of her “other” mother are much darker than they first seemed.
This disturbing narrative is combined with animation crafted out of dark, moody colours which unsettle the viewer before the creepy behaviour even begins, layering an innocent tale and building it into a far more adult story.
The Sandman (1991)
This short animation is only 10 minutes long, but is an extremely interesting piece. It was directed by Paul Berry and was inspired by E.T.A Hoffmann’s short story “Der Sandmann”, published in German in 1816. This, of course, translates to “The Sandman”, a story focussing on the mythical figure who grants good dreams by sprinkling sand into the eyes of people whilst they sleep.
However, this animation is rather more sinister than that, as we see a small boy have a nightmarish visit from The Sandman. This short, imaginative piece is undoubtedly chilling and gaunt, but may have contrasting impacts on its audience. My first experience of seeing this was when learning about short stories in my GCSE English class. I distinctly remember how, whilst the students engaged with and mostly enjoyed the story, my English teacher was terrified, as she had such vivid memories of her first time watching the animation! No matter how you think you may react to this piece, I urge you to watch it this Halloween, especially as it is free to view here on YouTube:
Corpse Bride (2005)
No Halloween movie list would be complete without a mention of the macabre work of the genius Tim Burton. This film is the first of two of his movies on my list. The story opens just before the meeting of two of our main characters, Victor and Victoria, who are to be introduced to one another as intended spouses. Understandably, Victor is nervous about meeting his bride, and this anxiety reaches its peak the night before the two are due to marry, after a disastrous dress rehearsal is frowned upon by two pairs of pushy and opinionated parents.
Determined to practise his vows to perfection, Victor heads into the woods to practise and mistakenly awakens a corpse bride, who believes that Victor is now her true love, and that they are married.
The whole movie has a distinctly Victorian vibe, and the contrast of muted and vibrant colours in its animation give the world of the dead a fun atmosphere, supported by musical numbers throughout the film. With vocal appearances from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (of course!), this animation is suited to a wide and diverse audience.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This film is a classic, and one of the few films, animated or otherwise, to focus on the holiday of Halloween. Another film by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas follows the story of Halloweentown, an entire town dedicated to pulling off spectacular Halloween celebrations every year.
The town is led by the notorious Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King”, who becomes dissatisfied with just doing the same thing every year. On a melancholy walk, Jack stumbles across Christmastown, and decides that, this year, he and his creepy peers are going to take the strain off Father Christmas and run their own winter holiday.
As well as being fantastically animated, this movie has memorable characters and is accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack, composed by Danny Elfman, including the popular “This is Halloween”.
For those who are unfamiliar with this one and would like to watch it (or if, like me, you are already a huge fan of it) then there’s a screening at 19:30 in Lecture Theatre 2 on Halloween itself (Tuesday) which you won’t want to miss.
Image from Flickr