9 Best Tim Burton Movies You Should Watch This Halloween, Ranked

in Disney, Entertainment

dasrk shadows, corpse bride, nightmare before christmas tim burton feature

Credit: ITM

Tim Burton is the master of macabre, and his eclectic style is beloved worldwide. Burton started as an animation intern with Disney before he was let go for making films deemed “too scary for kids.” Despite that designation, his films like Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie, and Edward Scissorhands have become cult classics.

Tim Burton wearing all black on a black background looking befuddled
Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Related: Tim Burton Shuns Disney, “Impossible to Work With”

October is generally considered the spookiest month, and fans of all things spooky choose to watch Halloween and creepy movies throughout the entire month to signify the beloved holiday. Though not all of Burton’s work is scary, he has plenty of movies that should be watched for the spookiest month. Here are the best Tim Burton movies to watch for Halloween.

The Spookiest Tim Burton Movies to Watch for Halloween

9. ‘Dark Shadows’

dark shadows
Credit: Netflix

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have always had a great working relationship with one another, which is why the pair have constantly collaborated on movies dating back to the early 1990s. Depp is one of the actors who seemingly understood everything Burton was trying to convey, which is why he was cast as the star of several Burton films.

One of the strangest collaborations from the pair has to be Dark Shadows from 2012. This twisted tale of a cursed vampire is an adaptation of a popular gothic soap opera of the same name that was popular in the 1960s. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that a popular 1960s show is adapted, i.e., The Munsters, The Addams Family. Still, this was Burton and Depp’s oddest collaboration.

Depp portrays Barnabas Collins, a wealthy man who sails with his family from England to establish the town of Collinsport in Maine. Barnabas is cursed after refusing the advances of his servant Angelique, who turns out to be a witch. She murder’s his parents and uses magic to make his fiance, Josette, take her own life. Barnabas tries to join her in death but is revealed to be a vampire, resulting in his being burned alive by the townsfolk.

Centuries later, Barnabas is freed from his tomb and uses his powers to attempt to get the Collinsworth Canning Company and the family name back to their original glory.

Apart from Johnny Depp, the film is rounded out by an incredible cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Bella Heathcote.

Dark Shadows can be streamed on Hulu right now. Though it’s not the strongest work between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, it’s still worth a watch.

8. ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’

Nellie Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) in Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Credit: Warner Bros.

Who doesn’t love a good musical? Sometimes, that’s us, but Sweeney Todd might be one of the best musical adaptations we have ever seen. Once again, we find ourselves with another collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. The ever-popular Broadway play was turned into a dramatic full-feature adaptation in 2007.

Depp stars as Sweeney Todd, a former Victorian-era barber wrongfully arrested by the evil Judge Turpin. Turpin lusts after Todd’s wife and ensures he can steal her by sending Todd to prison. He returns years later to enact his revenge on Turpin while discovering what has become of his wife. While hunting down Turpin, Todd meets Mrs. Lovett, who runs a meat pie shop.

Together, they begin to kill the residents of their town and turn them into meat pies, making Lovett’s business boom. All the while, Todd attempts to find the closest way to get to Turpin for ruining his life.

Sweeney Todd stars Johnny Depp in the titular role along with Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Sweeney Todd is a bit more violent than most of the other films on this list, so if you plan to watch this with your kids, beware of some pretty horrific violence shown.

Sweeney Todd can be streamed on Showtime.

7. ‘Corpse Bride’

corpse bride
Credit: Warner Bros.

Corpse Bride can be considered the spiritual successor to The Nightmare Before Christmas, as it contained the same type of stop-motion and macabre style showcased in Burton’s most famous work. Corpse Bride might not have been the initial hit that its predecessor was, but it has since garnered a massive following since it arrived in 2005.

The film brings together Johnny Depp and Tim Burton once again, which is a growing theme that people should expect on this list. Depp and Burton just worked so well when it comes to dark, gothic, and revenge stories.

Johnny Depp stars as Victor Van Dort, a man who is meant to be married to Victoria Everglot. The arranged marriage is intended to allow the Van Dort family to raise its social status, while the Everglot family is set to increase their wealth. However, it appears that both families are misled about their social standings.

A stranger also arrives in town to challenge Victor’s marriage to Victoria. While Victor fumbles with his ability to recite his wedding vows correctly, he stumbles upon the corpse of a buried woman, making her his ghastly bride. She travels with Victor to the underworld, where he meets a wealth of characters and uncovers the stranger’s torrid backstory.

Corpse Bride combines the same type of singing and story as Nightmare Before Christmas while reuniting Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. Elfman serves as the singing voice of Jack Skellington, also inhabiting the same role for the Bonejangles character in Corpse Bride.

Though Corpse Bride was not initially welcomed like its predecessor, many fans call it one of their favorite Tim Burton films. Cosplayers often dress up as Victoria and Victor as well.

Corpse Bride can be streamed on Disney+.

6. ‘Sleepy Hollow’

Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow tim burton
Credit: Paramount

Sleepy Hollow is another of the more violent stories on this list, but it is also another of the collaborations between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. This time, the pair take on a story surrounding one of the longest-standing folklore tales. The film was released in 1999 and features another all-star cast.

Sleepy Hollow stars Johnny Depp Ichabod Crane, a New York City Police Constable who favors using methods of science to solve his cases. Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow on one of the strangest assignments, a town haunted by a headless horseman who has been decapitating his victims.

Crane begins to uncover the truth about the town of Sleepy Hollow, including the mystery of the headless rider, who is believed to be a former Hessian rider from the Revolutionary War. Crane discovers from a witch in the forest that someone within the town is controlling the rider, and Crane must find out who is unleashing this supernatural figure on the townsfolk.

Johnny Depp is joined by Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, and Jasper Jones.

Again, Sleepy Hollow contains some hugely violent moments and is rated r, so watching it with young children might not be the best case for this film.

Sleepy Hollow can be streamed on Max.

5. ‘Edward Scissorhands’

Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Edward Scissorhands is the first-ever collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, and it might be the most important. Burton certainly has an eclectic style, and this film is one of the strangest. Despite being about a man created like a doll but with scissors for hands, the film includes a ton of heart. Edward Scissorhands was released in 1990 and helped to launch Depp’s career into superstardom.

Edward Scissorhands is a gothic love story that begins with an elderly woman speaking to her granddaughter about the legend of a man who lived in the biggest and creepiest house in their nuclear family neighborhood. In the past, an Avon lady named Peg Boggs travels to this home to discover that a man named Edward is living alone. She takes the boy in and finds that his naive and good nature are reasons he should not be alone.

Edward attempts to adapt to everyday life, though the townsfolk begin to get him into all kinds of hijinks, making him wonder if life outside his gothic stronghold is even possible.

Johnny Depp stars as Edward Scissorhands and is joined by Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, and Alan Arkin.

Edward Scissorhands is available to stream on Max.

4. ‘Mars Attacks!’

mars attacks aliens tim burton
Credit: Warner Bros.

Mars Attacks! might be the only sci-fi film on this list, but we count it as one of the most important Tim Burton movies. It is especially perfect for October and the Halloween season, as the comedic nature of a violent alien invasion, is certainly something to be afraid of. Mars Attacks! was released in 1996 and might feature the most extensive cast on this list.

Mars Attacks! follows the arrival of aliens on Earth. Despite the scary nature of their arrival, President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) urges that the planet greet these aliens as foreign dignitaries. General Decker (Rod Steiger) warns the President that their arrival could threaten the planet.

While meeting the aliens, a hippie releases a dove, which results in one of the alien invaders shooting it with a ray gun. Chaos ensues as the messages of “peace” being played through translation technology are messed up. The alien force is not on Earth for peace, as they begin to melt everyone down they see. A bevy of characters must band together to stop the invaders from completely wiping out the human race.

Mars Attacks! contains a massive ensemble cast featuring Jack Nicholson (in a dual role), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Pam Grier, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie, and Sylvia Sidney.

Mars Attacks! can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

3. ‘Batman Returns’

Michael Keaton standing in front of the Bat-signal in Batman Returns
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

This list could not exist without adding one of the best Tim Burton superhero films, Batman Returns. Though Burton had been given the first chance to adapt Batman into a live-action format apart from the 1960s version, many believed Batman Returns to be far from what was expected. The film was released in 1992 and showcased the more twisted version of Burton’s take on Gotham.

Batman Returns brings back the ever-popular Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Despite Burton and Keaton working together on Batman (1989), the sequel was far more horror-based. Gotham is being run by the corrupt Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), who attempts to murder his assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer). She returns as Catwoman, and The Penguin (Danny DeVito) emerges to attempt to wrestle the control of Gotham back from Batman.

The Penguin’s overlook, gang, and Gotham’s wild look sets this film apart from any other Batman film that has existed. Warner Bros. was initially supposed to allow Tim Burton to make a trilogy, though that never happened. Sadly, the reins were handed to Joel Schumacher, who has his own style to attach to the Dark Knight.

Despite many believing Batman Returns to be far removed from the traditional Caped Crusader story, it has become a fan-favorite for its dark and gritty stylings.

Batman Returns can be streamed on Max and Amazon Prime Video.

2. ‘Beetlejuice’

Michael Keaton as Beetljuice tim burton
Credit: Warner Bros.

Beetlejuice was released in 1988 and is likely why Tim Burton was allowed to cast Michael Keaton as Batman. Keaton’s performance as the Ghost With the Most is regaled as one of the best in his illustrious career. Though it’s been nearly 30 years, most of the original cast is reuniting for Beetlejuice 2, which will also bring back Burton as director.

The original Beetlejuice follows Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) as they are happy, married, and enjoying their country property. Sadly, they are both killed in an auto accident, leaving them as ghosts with no idea how to carry on. The Deetz family soon moves in, and the pair use a guide to try and attempt to get the family to move out.

However, Barbara and Adam begin to conjure Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a horrific ghost who is only out to cause the most chaos.

Beetlejuice stars Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder, and Michael Keaton.

Keaton, Ryder, and O’Hara will reunite with Tim Burton for the sequel. There has not yet been confirmation if Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin will be involved.

Beetlejuice is available to stream on Max.

1. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

Jack Skellington and Sally in 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'
Credit: Disney

Part Halloween/part Christmas movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas will always be the most important Tim Burton work. This is especially true for the Halloween season, as the world-renowned stop-motion animated film has a hugely dedicated fanbase that holds this film higher than most others.

The Nightmare Before Christmas began as a poem by Burton before turning into a full-feature film. This is also one of the only films Tim Burton did not direct on this list, but the Master of Macabre thought up the entire cast of characters, world, and everything else.

Burton and Disney’s relationship started off rocky as he was hired in the animation department for the illustrious studio. Sadly, it ended quickly, as Burton was chastised for creating the Frankenweenie film. This stop-motion feature was deemed “too scary for kids,” resulting in his expulsion from the company.

Though Burton continued to make films in his own style, Disney softened its stance by producing The Nightmare Before Christmas under the Touchstone Pictures division. The Walt Disney Company still owned this studio, but we imagine they could still save face had it not been a monster of a film.

The Nightmare Before Christmas follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town. While doing some soul-searching, he finds himself in a forest with doorways representing many holidays. He falls into Christmas Town, opening his eyes to a new way of celebrating. He returns this knowledge to Halloween Town, but his misguided ideas of what Christmas should be like cause plenty of chaos.

The Nightmare Before Christmas stars Chris Sarandon as Jack Skellington (speaking) and Danny Elfman as Jack Skellington (singing), along with Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.

Jack and Sally in 'The Nightmare before Christmas' tim burton
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Is Returning to Theaters

The Nightmare Before Christmas has taken on a life since its release in 1996. The fan-favorite film has led to billions of dollars of merchandise, two events at the Disney Theme Parks, and a legion of fans that partake in watching the film in every facet. The great thing about this iconic Tim Burton film is that it can viewed on Halloween and Christmas, as it serves as a dual representation of both holidays. We imagine that most people, including us, watch it constantly throughout the year.

The Nightmare Before Christmas can be streamed on Disney+.

Are there any Tim Burton films we are missing? What do you think of the ranking? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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