Skeletons, evil sorceresses, snakes, and witches are among the characters responsible for some of Disney’s most frightening tracks. Read on to check out our picks for the spookiest songs of the season!
11. The World Es Mi Familia, Coco (2017)
What could be spookier than a concert held in the Land Of The Dead? Miguel, the 12-year-old hero of Coco, finds himself at the Sunrise Spectacular, the annual concert organized by his hero, the singer Ernesto de la Cruz. In a bid to catch the attention of his idol, he breaks into one of Ernesto’s old songs… surrounded by skeletons. His hero joins him in the dramatic mariachi song “The World Es Mi Familia” before Miguel falls into a pool, after which the dead singer learns that the boy is his great-great-grandson.
10. Jack’s Lament, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is, of course, a Halloween classic. Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town (voiced by Elfman himself), is introduced with the haunting “Jack’s Lament.” Jack begins by boasting of his ability to strike fear into the hearts of mortals (“With the slightest little effort of my ghost-like charms, I have seen grown men give out a shriek”), before revealing his secret yearning to escape the confines of Halloween Town and see the world.
9. Pink Elephants On Parade, Dumbo (1941)
Disney’s 1941 animated movie about a flying elephant’s life in the circus might not seem like the scariest of propositions at first. But that all changes with “Pink Elephants On Parade.” When Dumbo and his mouse pal Timothy accidentally drink the clowns’ moonshine, they experience vivid hallucinations of pink elephants that quickly become trippy and nightmarish. It remains among the weirdest four-and-a-half minutes in Disney history. Fittingly, the psychedelic march was later covered by jazz maverick Sun Ra & His Arkestra.
8. Once Upon A Dream, Maleficent (2014)
The 2014 live-action movie Maleficent flipped the story of Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty on its head, telling the story from the perspective of the evil sorceress. Fittingly, one of Sleeping Beauty’s stand-out songs was given a spooked and spaced-out overhaul by Lana Del Rey. The singer was apparently hand-picked by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie and proved the perfect choice to turn the lovelorn and devotional song into something altogether more spectral.
7. Friends On The Other Side, The Princess And The Frog (2009)
For The Princess And The Frog, Disney relocated The Brothers Grimm fairytale The Frog Prince to New Orleans in the Roaring Twenties. Having grown up in the city and worked his magic on Pixar’s Toy Story and Monsters Inc. movies, singer-songwriter Randy Newman was a natural choice to write the soundtrack. “Friends On The Other Side” is sung by Doctor Facillier, the movie’s villain. Facillier attempts to deceive the newly arrived member of foreign royalty, Prince Naveen at a Tarot reading. When he earns Naveen’s trust, Facillier summons his friends from the other side – voodoo masks and impish ghouls – and surreptitiously pricks the prince’s finger, thus beginning his transformation into a frog.
6. Trust In Me, The Jungle Book (1967)
There are few Disney songs as creepy as The Jungle Book’s “Trust In Me.” Performed by Sterling Holloway playing the part of Kaa the snake, it’s a slinky soundtrack to the scene in which Kaa hypnotizes Mowgli the man-cub. As Mowgli falls under Kaa’s trance, the snake prepares to claim his reward before being interrupted by Shere Khan the tiger. It was performed by Scarlett Johannson in the 2016 live-action remake of The Jungle Book, but for Halloween, only the original will do. Extra goth credit is due too, as the song was covered by Siouxsie & The Banshees on their 1987 album, Through The Looking Glass.
5. Night On Bald Mountain, Fantasia (1940)
“Night On Bald Mountain” – Modest Mussorgsky’s symphonic tone-poem, arranged here by Leopold Stokowski – is the first part of the seventh and final segment of Disney’s masterful Fantasia. The intense music soundtracks one of Disney’s most frightening sequences – we see a village seemingly in the shadow of huge and foreboding mountains. The highest peak is revealed to be a gigantic black-winged demon, who then summons a host of evil entities – ghosts, skeletons, witches – to wreak havoc upon the village.
4. I Put A Spell On You, Hocus Pocus (1993)
Disney’s 1993 live-action hit, Hocus Pocus, told the story of a Halloween-hating teenager who accidentally resurrects three witches. The show-stopping moment comes when Winifred Sanderson (played by Bette Midler) belts out a version of rock’n’roll coffin dweller Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 hit “I Put A Spell On You” backed up by her sisters Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker). Midler’s in her element here, ramping up the showbiz razzmatazz as the sisters perform the song at a Halloween ball.
3. Hellfire, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame remains one of Disney’s darkest animated movies and it’s never more terrifying than during the “Hellfire” sequence. Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken’s song speaks of villain Judge Claude Frollo’s lust for Esmeralda. “Hellfire” begins with a chanted Latin confession before Frollo attempts to convince himself that Esmeralda is to blame for his sinful feelings, set to dramatic, fire and brimstone-evoking music.
2. Poor Unfortunate Souls, The Little Mermaid (1989)
The “Poor Unfortunate Souls” sequence of The Little Mermaid finds Ariel, the heroine of the hit movie, in grave danger. The evil sea witch Ursula uses the song to seduce Ariel into trading her voice for the chance to temporarily become human and make Prince Eric fall in love with her. Pat Carroll steals the show as Ursula, cackling and crooning her way through Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s Broadway and Burlesque-influenced number.
1. This Is Halloween, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The creepiest classic from the creepiest classic. “This Is Halloween” introduces the residents of Halloween (the town), in suitably sinister fashion. Set to a skeletal march resembling something from Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, a cast of monsters, terrifying clowns, hanged men, witches, and werewolves tell of the town’s reputation for frightening thrills. Your Halloween party isn’t complete without it.