7 Day of the Dead Movies to Get You in the Día de Muertos Spirit

Kayleigh Roberts
Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

From Cosmopolitan

While networks like Freeform dedicate entire weeks worth of programming to celebrating holidays like Christmas and Halloween, we'd like to direct your attention to the amazing movies celebrating the Day of the Dead. In case you need a little background, the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos in Spanish) is a holiday that's celebrated primarily in Mexico, but also all around the world by people of Mexican heritage. During the Day of the Dead (which takes place every year on November 1 and 2), lost loved ones are remembered and celebrated. More than that, some believe that the spirits of the dead return to earth during the holiday to celebrate with their families and love ones.

When celebrating Día de Muertos, families traditionally create altars (known as ofrendas) where offerings including food, flowers, candles, photographs, and other significant items—including sugar skulls, which are widely-associated with the holiday—are placed to honor the dead.

While binge-watching Day of the Dead themed movies is not a traditional part of the festivities, that doesn't mean the ones that exist are totally worthy of marathoning.


This Pixar instant-classic is a gorgeous, colorful celebration of Mexican culture and traditions. The story is uplifting and will make your soul feel as good as the beautiful animation will make your eyes feel. And if you didn't realize that eyes could feel physically good by looking at beautiful things, then you clearly have not seen Coco yet and should rectify that immediately.

The Book of Life

Another animated movie that draws on the rich culture and tradition of the holiday, but with a distinctly beautiful animation style and carefree tone that set it apart and make it stand out.


While it might seem odd to include a James Bond movie on a list of Day of the Dead movies, Spectre's opening sequence takes place during a Day of the Day parade in Mexico and is a genuinely stunning, four-minute look at the celebration.


This amazing movie is a bit of everything—fantasy, drama, supernatural elements. The film, which takes place on the eve of the Day of the Dead, was also the first Mexican movie to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

The Halloween Tree

Based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name, The Halloween Tree follows four friends as they embark on a magical journey on Halloween to save their friend, Pip. Their adventure includes stops in different times and places throughout history that explain the cultural origins and significance of the costumes each child is wearing—including a stop in Mexico to learn about the significance of skeletons in the Day of the Dead festival.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

The final movie in Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy, this modern western stars Antonio Banderas as the iconic El Mariachi and also stars Salma Hayek and Johnny Depp. The movie also features an amazing Day of the Dead sequence.

Under the Volcano

This drama, based on English writer Malcolm Lowry's semi-autobiographical 1947 novel, follows the last 24 hours in the life of an alcoholic British former consul named Geoffrey Firmin. Its setting: A small Mexican town called Quauhnahuac on the Day of the Dead in 1938.

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