Tonight, in celebration of the Halloween season, TCM will show several Disney classics, most of which (kind of) have a spooky angle. Disney never allows itself to get TOO dark, but there are definitely treats on the menu tonight.
The highlight for me is the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” half of the bifurcated Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). As I wrote here, television screenings of this animated short was one of my earliest exposures to that tale, or really any sort of “horror” whatsoever. Granted, Ichabod Crane is a comical character, and so is his horse, but the film does have great suspense and atmosphere, and it is most effective on small children, which I was. Perhaps the Halloween bug bit me right then and there. The Mr. Toad half of the film is most enjoyable as well, although it’s not the slightest bit scary, but it IS narrated by Basil Rathbone.
Also high on my list of appropriate favorites here is the moody short The Old Mill (1937) one of the most perfect films the studio ever produced. The scary elements are merely a thunder storm and creatures of the night, but it is a glorious thing to look at and listen to. Lonesome Ghosts, released the same year is a spook comedy starring Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
Also on the menu are the live action Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Return from Witch Mountain (1978). These were huge hits when I was a kid; Kim Richards was a super-star with the 8-12 set. Although it is most hilarious that TCM classifies these films as “horror” in their description. It ain’t scary (unless you find flying Winnebagoes terrifying).
The evening kicks off with three tangential but appreciated classics: Three Little Wolves (1936), Three Little Pigs (1948), and The Big Bad Wolf (1934). Many have said that they found the wolf in the latter film very scary as young children, and he does sort of rate a place as perhaps the first great classic Disney villain.
And it all winds down in the wee hours with several spooky family comedies from the 1980s: Tim Burton’s original Frankenweenie short (1980), Mr. Boogedy (1986) and The Ghosts of Buxley Hall (1980). Details on show times can be found on TCM’s website.