Disney put out some pretty strange and spooky content in the 80s and 90s, but surprisingly, this horror trend started way before that in 1929.
- Disney’s foray into horror actually began in 1929 with the release of “The Skeleton Dance,” a short film featuring creepy skeletons dancing.
- Although it was not a feature film, “The Skeleton Dance” marked a turning point for Disney, breaking away from traditional princess stories and paving the way for more macabre and strange content.
- “The Skeleton Dance” influenced later films like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” as Disney realized that children could enjoy spooky themes just as much as happy endings. Its impact on Disney’s Halloween movie offerings is significant.
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Though Disney has always been a brand catered towards younger audiences, that doesn’t mean the franchise can’t delve into the spooky side of things, and in fact, the company became known for their scarier films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, except, those weren’t Disney’s first tries at horror. In fact, Disney’s original attempt to break into the horror genre actually started 94 years ago in 1929. This first ever scary Disney movie may be often forgotten, but it really was the start of a long-running era.
Disney has released a slew of movies that lean on the scarier side of things. In the 80s and 90s, Disney’s scary movies included Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Black Cauldron, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In previous decades, Disney was known for its sweet and romantic movies such as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, however at this time, the franchise jumped headfirst into something new, and ultimately succeeded. Now, as recently as Haunted Mansion, Disney has continued to put out spooky films. However, Disney’s Halloween movie origins came much earlier than these classics.
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The Skeleton Dance Began Disney’s Weird Horror Trend In 1929
Disney’s horror trend did not begin in the 1980s, but actually originated in 1929 with The Skeleton Dance. This six-minute short film is a Disney animated creation that came out in 1929. It depicts a group of skeletons doing a creepy little Halloween dance. Though the film might have been meant to be amusing or cute during that time, watching it now will certainly send a chill down your spine. Mostly, it has to do with the old animation style and the vintage music that accompanies the film.
Although this isn’t a feature film like Hocus Pocus, it is truly the start of a long-running era for Disney. It broke the mold of princesses and happy endings, and instead, gave audiences something more macabre and strange. It took several decades, but the effects of The Skeleton Dance were eventually felt at Disney, and the franchise tried once again to get spooky. Fortunately, these attempts succeeded, and have now given audiences some of the most iconic Halloween movies of all time.
The Skeleton Dance’s Macabre Short Explains Why Disney Made The Nightmare Before Christmas
One movie in particular that was likely made because of the impact of The Skeleton Dance was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Previously, Disney had really only used its animation for joyful, non-scary content, so this film was quite out of left field for the franchise. It came with plenty of risks too because of its macabre story and creepy stop-motion animation. However, Disney also knew that a film with a skeleton protagonist could succeed because of The Skeleton Dance. Though their market was children, they knew that kids could enjoy spooks just as much as happily ever afters. Therefore, The Skeleton Dance has made a massive impact.