Halloween musicals

Halloween Musicals to Watch This Spooky Season

by Caitlyn Tarney

One foolproof way to get into the Halloween spirit is through film, whether you’re into horror, comedy, or anything in between. Across genres, music can be a powerful way to set each film apart. Through song, a haunting story can be transformed into a light sing-a-long. So, whatever your thing is, sing your way through the season with these Halloween musicals.

Film: Rocky Horror Picture Show

Standout Song: Time Warp

The idea of including songs in a “Frankenstein” adaptation allows for the theme of self-expression to take root in this film. After all, what better way for characters to express themselves than singing and dancing through otherwise dramatic scenes? Rocky Horror Picture Show focuses on sexual liberation and freedom, making it beloved among the LGBTQ+ community. The soundtrack helped to solidify the film’s place in the community with iconic interactive performances. Adding a song like “I Can Make You a Man” to the creation scene takes the tone from horror to comedy. Standout song, “Time Warp” shows off this tone by balancing heroine Janet’s horror at the situation with a fantastical dance sequence. 

Film: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Standout Song: What’s This?

The Nightmare Before Christmas is just as well known for its style as for the debate over which holiday it belongs to. When is the best time to settle in and enjoy this classic Tim Burton film, Christmas or Halloween? While the answer can easily be year-round, the soundtrack suggests this film is best enjoyed in anticipation of the spookiest day of the year. “This is Halloween” immediately throws the viewer into Halloweentown, surrounded by skeletons and ghosts. The mix of instrumentals and screeching vocals captures the mood of Halloween. When the film moves to Christmastown, “What’s This?” combines the bells commonly associated with Christmas with the bounding drums that carry the feeling of a Halloween film.

Film: Anna and the Apocalypse

Standout Song: Turning My Life Around

Another film for those looking to mix Halloween and Christmas, Anna and the Apocalypse, opens during the holiday season. This film is perfect if you like the idea of a teenage coming-of-age turned apocalypse. “Turning My Life Around” shows the title character dancing around her town, oblivious to the apocalypse looming behind her, capturing the comedy that contrasts with the dark tone usually associated with such films. The over-the-top drama of songs like “Soldier at War” shows precisely the mindset a viewer would go into this with, ready for a film that doesn’t take itself seriously. 

Film: The Phantom of the Opera

Standout Song: The Phantom of the Opera

Of course, music is integral to The Phantom of the Opera (2004). As an option for fans of a more classic, old-timey story, this film is told behind the scenes of an opera production. With almost no spoken lines, the plot is told exclusively through songs rather than having songs that complement the plot. The iconic organ that opens the title theme has been heard worldwide.

Film: Coco

Standout Song: Remember Me

Halloween musicals are for everyone in the family. For those looking to celebrate with children or just looking for a good time, Disney’s Coco can’t be ignored. Another film with music essential to the plot, Coco is packed with inspirational hits. “Remember Me,” in particular, swept the nation with the film’s release. The song tells about a lost love and reminds the central family of characters of the importance of music. With this song, the story connects characters across generations and defines this film’s theme of love and family. 

Halloween musicals span a wide range, so there’s something for everyone. However you’re spending the spookiest day of the year, any of these films will surely put you in the Halloween spirit. So press play and get spooky! 

*Cover photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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