It's that time of year again: Halloween! And as is expected, our beloved Disney Channel has started their "Hauntober" festivities with their spookiest and most haunted of original movies, and although we love them all, we all know there are some that are far scarier than others. For all us Disney Chanel aficionados, there are definitely the movies that kept us up at night for weeks, and then there are those that didn't scare us near as much as we wish they had.
So in honor of the Hauntober DCOM tradition, here's the definitive ranking of Disney's scariest original movies!
"Girl Vs. Monster" (2012)
This movie is one of the newer DCOMs in their repertoire and is all about the fearless Skylar, who finds out she’s a descendant in a long line of monster hunters. In true Disney fashion, she’s forced to stay home on a crucial night in her social life and so busts out of her room, breaking an alarm system and accidentally unleashing a monster into the world. The whole thing boils down to Skylar having to face her fears and sing in public, which gives way to another 2010s Disney trope -- a main character who is also a talented singer. The movie is barely scary and really seems like a setup for a very elaborate music video.
"Twitches Too" (2007)
In the second movie of the Twitches films, we see our resident “twitches” learning to harness and use their magical powers. The antagonist in this film is essentially the same as the first, and beyond the fact that they’re learning how to utilize their, skill there’s nothing crazy new about this movie or even scary any at all.
"My Babysitter’s A Vampire" (2010)
Technically, this film isn’t actually a Disney Channel Original, but it has been officially adopted into their line-up with a spin-off series airing regularly on the Disney Channel. The film is a bit more on the campy side and definitely not as scary as some other DCOMs of the past. In this movie, we get a vampire who is unwittingly hired by a couple to babysit their daughter Jane, despite the fact that they have an older son, Ethan, at home. The series of hijinks that ensue are all lighthearted in nature and don’t really spook you nearly as much as they could. I mean, stumbling upon a den of vampires who are more than willing to drink your blood...that should be scary stuff, man.
"Return To Halloweentown" (2006)
This is the only "Halloweentown" movie not to feature Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie Piper, and I think we’re all still a little sore about it. Following the idea of proper schooling for witches, Marnie ends up at Witch University with her brother Dylan (who is actually forced to go by their mother just to keep an eye on Marnie -- trust issues much, mom?). The whole problem hearkens back to a line her mother says at the beginning of the film that “not all witches in Halloweentown are good,” and when we meet the Sinister sisters, it’s easy to understand why her mom would say that. But honestly, what did we expect with a name like the ~Sinister~ sisters? The scare factor in this movie was a little too on the nose, which is a far cry from the other movies in this series. But one question we need answered is how come after all these years Gwen Cromwell still can’t accept her daughter is a witch? She saved the world twice and opened the portal between the magic and mortal realms. Come on mom, lighten up!
The premise for this one is your typical, run-of-the-mill twin scenario -- twins separated at birth who have no idea the other one exists. The storyline follows the ominous “darkness” that is threatening the girls and the realm of their birth, “Waverly.” The darkness, which is essentially a cloud of thick dark smoke, isn’t nearly as scary as other Halloween villains have been in the past, and although it had its humorous moments, the film was definitely pushing for that Halloween comedy billing.
"Halloweentown High" (2004)
The "Halloweentown" series returns with our final glimpse of Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie and the last movie to include Sophie (arguably the most BAMF witch of them all). This movie is a change from the usual "Halloweentown" format in that they’re not in Halloweentown! This go-round finds citizens of Halloweentown in an exchange program in a high school in the mortal realm in an attempt to inspire openness between the two worlds. The climax of the film sees inanimate Halloween props coming to life, which feels a little too close to the major issue in "Halloweentown 2," but at the end of the day, we did achieve a more open environment between the two realms which, honestly, is all that matters. Plus, this movie has a pre-"AHS" Finn Wittrock.
"Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire" (2000)
This movie is a comedy horror film, if you will, detailing what happens when a bunch of selfish kids set their mom up on a potentially life-threatening date WITH A VAMPIRE! Seriously, these kids are so determined to get out of being grounded they almost get their mom KILLED! Lucky for them, their youngest sibling, Taylor, is wise to the vampire ways and rounds everyone up -- including a vampire hunter, played by the one and only Robert Carradine (aka Lizzie McGuire’s dad, y’all) -- and they band together just in time to save their mom from becoming a delightful Halloween feast.
"Phantom Of The Megaplex" (2000)
“The phantom of the megaplex strikes again!” Perhaps one of Disney’s only forays into the whole “whodunnit” genre, this film also plays up a little bit more of the sillier side of Halloween. The so-called phantom doesn’t particularly pull any life threatening or horrific stunts (it is a Disney movie, after all) but rather really elaborate pranks, all done while wearing a hooded cloak -- you know, for that added air of mystery. Furthermore, when you find out that (spoiler!) the phantom is actually just senior manager Shawn (who's looking for a raise), it’s kind of a letdown. Especially with that spooky story about the supposed death that happened when the old theater was built. Either way, it’s still a fun watch trying to figure out which character was behind it all.
"Under Wraps" (1997)
Give it up for the second movie to be officially called a DCOM and the first Halloween-based DCOM ever! This movie is more on the lighthearted side of Halloween and is the tale of three kids who discover a mummy that is accidentally brought to life. At first they are naturally terrified of said mummy, but over time, he becomes a really cool friend -- besides the whole "dead" thing. In typical Disney logic, the kids have to put the mummy back in his sarcophagus before he ceases to exist but also outsmart Mr. Kubat and his henchmen, who are trying to sell the mummy to an interested buyer, because who wouldn’t buy a mummy that can just come to life? I know I would!
"The Scream Team" (2002)
This movie depicts what it’s like to be ghosts in desperate need of crossing over to the other side and includes all the hallmarks of a good, scary Disney film: misunderstood motives, good intentions, strong friendships in light of deadly challenges and lighthearted laughs. Also, this movie stars a young Kat Dennings and Kathy Najimy (of "Hocus Pocus" fame), so it's a definite must-see in the list of DCOM lore.
"Can Of Worms" (1999)
This movie falls under the Disney radar most of the time, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was kinda creepy! In this film, we meet Mike, a kid who feels like he doesn’t belong on earth, and who, after a particularly trying day, sends a message up to space signaling for aliens to come and save him. Completely unbeknownst to him, his messages are received, and lo and behold, the aliens do come with various offers of rescue and sabotage -- including one alien, Thoad, who wants to add Mike to his zoo of creatures. The aliens in this film are all puppets, which gives them an extra layer of creepy, and TBH, any situation where an alien race is trying to kidnap you and put you in a zoo is horrifying!
"Halloweentown 2" (2001)
This inevitable follow-up film to the DCOM hit “Halloweentown” was equally as terrifying and intriguing as the first. The stakes were so high in this film, it’s insane! We get the entirety of Halloweentown turning into drab, listless, depictions of normal humans and humans becoming their real life Halloween costumes (swamp monster mom is scary AF). And then there’s that heartbreaking, soul-crushing moment when you realize Kal is Kalabar’s son! Why is it always the hot ones?! @God why?
I don’t need to remind you about the beauty that is "Halloweentown." You already know what I mean when I say this is one of the BEST films in DCOM history! This movie spins a really cool tale about Halloween monsters and how they really are just like us, but the plot thickens when there’s a dark entity trying to overtake the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of Halloweentown. In typical DCOM tradition, the weight of saving the world falls on the 13-year-old shoulders of Marnie Cromwell, witch in training! We also learn a very valuable lesson at the end of the movie: Family magic is everything.
P.S. Kalabar is so freaking scary in that movie theater. Nightmare fodder for reals!
"Tower Of Terror" (1997)
OK, you know what’s ~really~ scary? Haunted abandoned hotels that try to repeat history and trap you in a failing elevator! This made-for-TV Disney movie really delivers on that whole plot twist angle and gives you everything a good scary movie needs -- mystery, ghosts, curses, vindictive antagonists and a theme park ride at Disney World. Shoutout to young Kirsten Dunst, who plays the young adult lead in this DCOM masterpiece.
"Don’t Look Under The Bed" (1999)
Any movie that has the legacy of being the first Disney Channel film to be rated TV-PG because of how “scary” it is is already winning this competition. I mean, how do you even close your eyes at night after this fright fest without wondering when the next “boogie person” is gonna come crawling from beneath the depths of your bed? The whole storyline of all "boogie people" being the one-time imaginary friend of kids everywhere is so horrifying of a concept, especially if you’re a kid with an imaginary friend! Not to mention the "boogie people" in this are straight up creepy looking! Do they even show this on Disney Channel anymore?