in ,

Sunday Scaries: Where is the Animated Horror?

The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, we’ll be looking at a particular type of horror that just doesn’t seem to exist. Simply put…where is the animated horror film?

Horror comes in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to animated horror, the pickings are very slim. In fact, when we get anything animated that’s even horror adjacent, the focus is on the other genre. Whether it’s Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Wendall & Wild (without Henry Selick, think of how desolate this genre would be), not to mention something along the lines of Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, or ParaNorman, horror is not quite an afterthought, but certainly not the prime focus. Now, one could argue that Monster House does have more of that focus, but it’s done in a fairly family friendly way. That leaves titles like Mad God, The Spine of Night, and The Wolf House (Myles mentioned Perfect Blue to me, though that feels more like a thriller). If that’s it, then it’s clear that this is an underserved section of cinema.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I actually first thought of this in the aftermath of my Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse screening. I raved here about it, but the way that this movie used the animation format to actually expand their superhero storytelling. Instead of being limited in any way, they were able to do more, arguably making one of the iconic comic book stories. Between this and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse previously, this franchise has made the case that, done right, any type of flick can be an amazing animated one.

Now, I think that there’s a lot of untapped potential here. Sure, animation has the stigma of being for kids, but there’s adult-oriented animated features from time to time. Something like Sausage Party, for example, was a success, and that’s a raunchy comedy that upped its extreme content by being animated. Wes Anderson has made two animated titles that were appropriate for families, yet also kept his trademark tone, so animating your work doesn’t mean losing your style. So, while I’m sure most horror filmmakers wouldn’t be interested, an enterprising one could really make a mark here.

“Coraline” (2009) Cinematography by Pete Kozachik

If nothing else, genre fans should look above and thank their lucky stars that Henry Selick is out there. Almost no one else is even trying this, and that’s a real shame, give or take when Tim Burton dips a toe in these waters. When this sort of sub-genre has Dead Space video game prequels considered as prime parts of its lineup, you know there’s room for more. No shade on those films, as they could be great, but the limited selection is just frustrating and feels like a mistake by Hollywood. Horror almost always sells, so why not give it more of a shot?

This may be a longer shot than usual for the column, but I’d love to see more filmmakers take a crack at this. Maybe it’s just Selick who has this interest these days? I sure hope not, though, since there’s so much potential to be found here. I’ll cross my fingers for more directors to see animation as a viable format for their scary stories. In the meantime, if nothing else, let’s be grateful for Selick and his very select company…


Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next week!


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Robert Hamer
3 months ago

I think it stems from a fear among producers that animated horror movies a) don’t have wide appeal and b) require more resources to make than live-action horror movies typically do. Heck, even something like a stop-motion animated adaptation of Little Nightmares (hey, a callback to a previous Sunday Scaries article you penned!), which you’d think would be a slam-dunk concept that Hollywood would have sprinted towards years ago… got stuck in development hell and not even Henry Selick quite knows what’s going on with it.

If the American entertainment industry doesn’t even have faith in the popularity of a video game property that sold over 12 million copies, what hope is there for other animated horror concepts?

P.S. Oh, one more thing: quick plug for The House on Netflix. Criminally underrated. Only the first part tips into “pure” horror, but all three of the stop-motion animated shorts in that film are spectacularly unnerving in their own unique ways.



Written by Joey Magidson

Interview: Christa Miller on Liz, Collecting Rocks, and the Wonderful Experience of ‘Shrinking’

Interview: Richard Jenkins On Finding the Humanity in ‘Dahmer – Monster’