It would be very easy to write a list of this sort and include nothing but truly trembling offerings. However, what often gets lost is the idea that just because a scary film doesn't include Jason, Freddy, or Michael, doesn't mean that automatically disqualifies it from being a scary film. A movie can be creepy and be fun. It can be weird and entertaining. Quite simply, Halloween movies come in all shapes and sizes.
Now, wherever horror aficionados want to take this argument, one thing is true... Halloween can be a lot of fun when you're older. At the same time, it seems like the best time to engage in true trick or treating is when you're a kid. Sure, you can still pull the occasional prank here and there as you enter your "twilight years". But, to really make the most of this special time of year, there's nothing like being a young him or her with an abundance of time on your hands.
Aside from chores, you probably don't have work. Chances are that your homework isn't debilitating (due to Common Core)...Yet. So, if you're lucky, all you really have to do during this special time is eat, sleep and hang out with your friends. You can plan tricks, stock up on treats, and have multiple sleepovers leading up to the big day. And, what is a sleepover if it doesn't include movies?
Most young people probably want to go with films of the Chucky variety. However, there are a whole host of films that will put you in the Halloween mood. They, in their own way, capture the spirit and wonderment that youth has to offer. They are able to scare us without making viewers cover their eyes. Sure, the Hostel films are great fun, this writer swears that the first Phantasm is the best horror film ever made. But you need to know your audience, and kids are not really the audience for those movies (even though I saw them when I was a kid). So we at MovieWeb, in an effort to keep ourselves fan and family friendly, present you with our list of the 16 Best Halloween Horror Movies for Kids!
1Kenny & Company 1976
Don Coscarelli's little known tale of kids hanging out around Halloween is probably the most honest portrait of childhood in this genre. The film follows three best friends as they navigate the trials and tribulations of middle school. Halloween looms in the background of every frame as these guys deal with girl problems, bullies, and those small moments of life that are packed with so much meaning. There is a richness to this story that sets it apart from being a mere movie. In its own way it captures a generational shift from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. And the best part, it is all served up in a way that a young person can understand. Don Coscarelli was so inspired by his ability to scare audiences in certain moments of this film, that he went full bore horror with the legendary Phantasm next.
2Monster House 2006
Monster House is special because it follows the classic trope of kids scary movies...Three kids battling a monster. In this case, they aren't just going up against some supernatural being. They are fighting a house that is a monster and it wants nothing more than to get them and eat them. Where does one start with how great a film for young people this is? At its heart, it shows how teamwork and friendship can conquer just about any probably you might have. Filled with animation that was groundbreaking for 2006, Monster House still holds up today in a way that even some beloved Pixar films do not.
You gotta love a film that merges holidays, and TTim Burton's opus does jus that. This elegant tale follows the whimsical Jack Skellington. He rules Halloween Town. His life is perfect. Then he has that all upended when he discovers Christmas Town. This simple tale is so artfully done, so well put together, so ahead of its time that it holds up quite well even today. Released 22 years ago, FIGVpOJKhWZmLG||The Nightmare Before Christmas} continues to show up in pop culture even today. Whether it is in clothing that people wear, bags, or simply as a movie that helps make the holiday of Halloween that much more special. Sure, this is a great movie for kids but it's also a great movie for everyone.
4The Monster Squad 1987
Director Fred Dekker's crowning achievement is at once a quintessential 80s film, a right of passage for all who love horror movies, and a great movie for kids and adults to share. The Monster Squad follows a band of kids (always a great way to draw in young viewers) who LOVE horror movies. Things get a little dicey when the monsters from their favorite films come to life and they have to battle them. Filled with horror, laughs, thrills and chills...The Monster Squad, like Kenny & Company, is a perfect film in this genre. While certainly filled with more thrills and chills then Don Coscarelli's film, The Monster Squad may just be the It's a Wonderful Life of the horror movie set.
Arguably, Tim Burton's best film, Beetlejuice is a treat that kids can enjoy without feeling like they are watching a kids film. Featuring stellar performances from Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and the rest of the cast, Beetlejuice merges the playful side of Tim Burton with a goth sensibility to make adult's smile. This tale of two ghosts who hire "bio-exorcist" Betelgeuse to rid their home of the humans now occupying it, is rich in it's look, story and laughs. Add to this that you have a young Winona Ryder magnificently capturing teen angst, and you have a Halloween film that is timeless.
Upset about moving from the big city to a small town, young Zach Cooper finds a silver lining when he meets his beautiful neighbor Hannah. The teen is surprised to learn that Hannah's mysterious father is R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the famous author of the best-selling "Goosebumps" series. When Zach accidentally unleashes the monsters from the fantastic tales, it's up to Stine, his daughter and Cooper to return the beasts back to the books where they belong. This will surely become a Halloween tradition for a lot of kids later in life.
7Ernest Scared Stupid 1991
The character of Ernest (Jim Varney) was a joke until Ernest Goes to Camp came out and made loads of loot in the 1980s. In this Halloween soaked tale, our lovable main character unwittingly lets loose a troll on his beloved town of Briarville, Missouri. If your children are scared easily, this is the film for them as this Earnest adventure is replete with laughs. Little ones needn't worry that they will be too scared, and this movie can be a nice gateway into the other Halloween movies that litter the popular lexicon.
8Little Monsters 1989
Brian isn't scared of the monster living under the bed. On the contrary, when he gets to know the wild-eyed boogeyman, Maurice (Howie Mandel), the pair become fast friends. During the night, Maurice takes his young charge into the netherworld of monsters, where they have a great time making mischief in the lives of sleeping children. But Brian's opinion of Maurice and his freewheeling lifestyle changes when he discovers that he himself is turning into a monster. There's nothing quite like the pairing of Fred Savage and Howie Mandel, with their chemistry turning this into an instant classic.
This wonderfully made film is a darker look at the idea of the grass being greener on the other side. CoralineJones is a curious girl who manages to find a portal to a world that is a better version of the one she lives in. However, Coraline must be careful because not everything is as great as it seems. Perfect for Halloween (or any other time of year), Coraline is a great coming of age film that will resonate with both kids and adults. It has dark elements but they mirror the world we live in, and as such allow younger people to explore themes and ideas that might otherwise make them uncomfortable.
Clocking in at a paltry 25 minutes this incredibly simple tale of /peanuts-movie-trailer-5/Charlie Brown and his friends during Halloween is a truly sweet confection. The story is basically that of kids (who never grow up or age) reveling in what a special time of year Halloween is. This, coupled with the subplot of Linus putting down roots in a pumpkin patch, in the hopes of seeing the Great Pumpkin again touches on the allegory of youth realizing that life isn't everything you think it will be. Charles Schulz was a master storyteller and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is some of his finest work. An added bonus? Due to its length, kids can watch this with another movie and feel like they've gotten two for the price of one
11Tim Burton's Corpse Bride 2005
Again, Tim Burton weaves a tale of horrific, stop motion wonderment as a man accidentally proposes to a dead woman causing her to rise from the grave. While not as filled with wonderment as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride gives us a Tim Burton who is not afraid to mess with themes or tradition. While certainly skewering older, kids can find a lot to enjoy here simply because Tim Burton's Corpse Bride has the classic Tim Burton magic. Halloween only comes once a year and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride will have the little ones in your life wishing it was everyday.
Set during Christmas this near perfect tale of monsters taking over a small town is all Halloween. Joe Dante has given us a film that truly has stood the test of time. The effects from 1984 still look great. The acting hasn't moved into campy territory. And the story is just as much fun as it ever was. Some kids may come for Gizmo. Others may show up for the beast his ilk become if they are fed after midnight. Either way, Gremlins is that rare film that crosses genres, and in the process contains a warmth all its own. A kids film indeed!
Much like Coraline, Labyrinth is another tale of youth finding out that they need to be careful what they wish for. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) wants her little brother gone. She is granted this wish by a man known as the Goblin King (David Bowie). Now, she has 13 hours to solve a wickedly hard labyrinth or he will be gone forever. Sibling rivalry, adventure, and cool, for their time, effects, Labyrinth is the kind of film for kids to put on before Halloween so they can imagine their neighborhoods becoming labyrinths of their own.
What would Halloween be without Casper? This light tale from 1995 covers familiar ground. Two people take up residence in a house that is no longer occupied. There are three ghosts that are up to no good and one nice one. Featuring the likes of Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci, Casper is a fun way to enter the world of ghosts without scaring oneself. Sure, this movie definitely skews to the younger kids, but then again so does Halloween so is that really a bad thing?
15The Watcher in the Woods 1980
Coming to us from Disney, The Watcher in the Woods, sees what happens when a family comes to a country home and has to contend with supernatural beings that don't want them to reside there. This movie is part of those Disney films like Escape to Witch Mountain before it, that truly straddles the line between family fun and family fright. While it's not The Conjuring, young kids might have to get passed the dated look and nature of this film, but once they do that they will be met with a tale that will resonate from Halloween and beyond.
As young boy in 1983, I could think of no film I wanted to see less than Something Wicked This Way Comes. I hadn't yet realized that I loved films about young people getting in trouble with the supernatural. Now, as an adult, I can think of few things I would rather see than this sort of film. With Fall finally starting to take a foothood on the California skies, and Halloween products presenting themselves in abundance in every store...Something Wicked This Way Comes may not be for the little, little ones...But older kids will love this creepy offering from another time.
We're all different is the theme of this wonderful tale from the people who also brought us Coraline. Norman is a kid who doesn't really fit in. However, this doesn't stop him from taking on monsters of various sorts who wish to do harm to his town. Again, this movie has all the ingredients to grab kid's increasingly grabbed for attention spans. It looks at somebody who might be perceived as an outcast. It shows kids banding together to solve a problem. And it features some of the coolest animation that anybody, big or small, could ask for.
Victor gets more than he bargained for when he miraculously brings his deceased dog back from the dead. In what might sound like anything but a kids movie, Frankenweenie is actually Tim Burton's best film in quite some time. This movie will grab anyone who has ever lost a pet. Couple that with truly inspired animation, it recalls both old and new styles that the director has dabbled in, and we have a film that will enhance anybody's Halloween. Sure, there are moments of over the top, Tim Burton bigness, but there are also many moments of levity and what Halloween film for kids is complete without that?
18Hocus Pocus 1993
You can't mess with Mick Garris' Hocus Pocus. While it may skew a bit more toward older kids this movie should have a soft spot in everyone's Halloween loving hearts. After 300 years of slumber, 3 sister witches are accidentally resurrected in Salem on Halloween night, and it is up to three kids and their newfound feline friend to put an end to the witches' reign of terror once and for all. What could have more Halloween spirit than that?!
So what do you think? Did we spook up your Halloween? Did we miss the mark? Should more films be on this list? Are there any glaring omissions? Let us know and be sure to have your comments be more of a treat than a trick!