It’s a week until Halloween and I am very excited. While I am fully aware that Halloween is going to look different this year that does not mean we need to push it aside entirely. I want to share with you my favourite Halloween movies for kids. This time of year I get to mix two of my most beloved things, movies and Halloween.
I know there are a lot of lists like this out there but I wanted to share mine and my family’s favourites and give a little review of each. There are four categories based on age so you know exactly which films are appropriate for your kids. If you live in Canada, you can easily find out where you can watch the films listed below by going to JustWatch. This is a great site were you simply type which tv show or movie you want to watch and it tells you which streaming service it is on.
Every kid is different. What my 3 year old thinks is scary may not be scary to your 3 year old. N is very sensitive and gets really upset when a character is sad and she doesn’t seem to like witches all that much. I have no idea why. I hope I can change that. Most witches aren’t that bad, they are just misunderstood.
I hope the list helps with your next movie night or maybe this Halloween you will be staying home and you might want to have a Halloween movie marathon as part of your festivities. Whatever the reason, I hope this list inspires you to get into the Halloween spirit.
Preschool: Ages 3-5
This age can be tricky when it comes to spooky movies. You want something fun and entertaining but not scary. Gentle, but not so gentle that it isn’t really a Halloween movie. Luckily, there are some great films out there that have the perfect combination of fun and spooky. Some of these are even fun for parents.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
This is a classic TV special that most parents would have grown up watching every year. The sheer nostalgia of it is the best part of sharing it with your kids. It’s age appropriate and fun, but also has a sense of maturity that I always loved about Charlie Brown. Along with the A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) at Christmas time I feel like watching this film is a rite of passage for all children.
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005)
I love a good Winnie The Pooh movie and this one is the cutest. The movie follows Pooh and the gang as they get ready for Halloween. Roo’s new best friend, Lumpy, is excited for his first Halloween but quickly gets frightened after Tigger warns the gang of the Gobloon who will turn you into a jaggedy lantern if he catches you but if you catch it first it will grant you a wish. The film is all about overcoming your fears, friendship and working together. It really is adorable. I showed it to N the other day and she loved it.
Room On The Broom (2012)
This is a stop-motion adaptation of the Julia Donaldson classic of the same name. It is one of N’s favourite books and also one of my favourite books to read to her at bedtime. It’s just so well written and the words flow so nicely. The film adaptation is extremely well animated and true to the book. It’s charming, funny, and delightful to watch. It was made fairly recently so it has celebrities like Simon Pegg and Jillian Anderson doing voices of the characters.
Warning: there is a dragon that hunts the witch to eat her so that can be a bit scary for the little ones but the movie is quite gentle and fun. I suggest reading the book with your kids first because it’s just so good.
Mickey Mouse’s ClubHouse: Mickey’s Treat (2006)
This is a great Halloween episode of Mickey Mouse ClubHouse. Mickey and the gang get invited to Big Pete’s Halloween Party. They have to get to the Trick-or-Treat Tower before the moon is full or the gates will lock. They must travel through the foggy woods, past the Candy Corn Patchand,and over the drawbridge to get to the party. With the use of teamwork and your toddler helps along the way the gang from the Clubhouse get to the party and have a rockin’ Halloween.
Toy Story of Terror (2013)
I love the Toy Story movies so much. I recently got N into the first one. This short follows the toys on an exciting road trip that takes an unexpected turn. I love the beginning when the toys are in the trunk of the car watching a scary movie on a portable dvd player while the discuss classic tropes of horror movies. The thing I love about Pixar movies in general is that they appeal to both kids and adults equally. This Halloween special doesn’t disappoint. It is a perfect option to play at the beginning of the Halloween movie marathon before the littles go to sleep and then progressing to scary films for you and your teenager.
Monster’s Inc. (2001)
This isn’t a Halloween movie per say but it is all about monsters. Sully and Mike are monsters who live in a world where monsters live like we do. The only reason they hide in children’s closets and scare them is because their screams make energy that powers their world. The movie may seem scary at first but it quickly becomes a fun and colourful adventure about friendship and overcoming your fears. It is charming and incredibly funny. It’s one of my favourite Pixar films.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Both a Halloween and Christmas movie it is, by far, one of my favourite movies of all time. I have seen it so many times since the age of 12 that I still know the whole film off by heart. It’s beautifully animated and the songs are super catchy. It can definitely be a bit scary at times so might be better for ages 7 and up but the story is great and the characters are endearing. A great watch for this time of year and well into the Christmas season.
This is a sweet stop-motion dark comedy for the whole family. It isn’t scary but if you have a kid who is a bit on the sensitive side, like mine, they might be affected by the story of a boy losing his beloved pet. It is a comic twist on the classic story of Frankenstein that is creepy enough for the older kids while at the same time the cute dog will entertain the younger kids.
Casper is a friendly ghost who haunts a mansion along with his mischievous uncles. A young girl and her father, who is an after life therapist, move into the mansion. Casper befriends the girl while his uncles get up to no good taunting their new live-in therapist. The film has scary parts but Casper is super cute and the other ghosts are also cartoonish so this brings down the scare factor. It is a fun ghost movie with a lot of enjoyable cameos. I enjoyed this movie as a kid and I think it is a fun family film.
The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993)
These films are an adaptation of the 1960’s tv show about the macabre family Addams. The films can be rather silly with the use of gags and slap-stick comedy but it keeps the spirit of the original series while also making it a little macabre for contemporary viewers. I love how they bring the “weird” and gothic out into the light. The films aren’t particularly scary so it’s great for a family movie night.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
After three witches are accidentally resurrected after 300 years by a teenage boy, he must work together with his girlfriend, sister, and a 300 year old cat to stop the witches from achieving immortality. The film is a comedic blend of fantasy and mild horror. It can be silly but wildly entertaining at the same time. It will have the whole family laughing.
Monster House (2006)
A group of kids discover that a neighbourhood house is really a monster that hates children. The kids must figure out how to destroy the house before Halloween night to save the neighbourhood kids going trick-or-treating. It’s a good balance of creepy and goofy with a lot of jokes to keep parents entertained.
This one is a classic. A recently deceased couple hires a poltergeist to help them scare away the family that has moved into their home. This film is strange, a bit crazy and funny. It’s perfect for your preteen and teens.
Coraline and her family move into a new apartment. She discovers a portal to an alternate world inhabited by doppelgangers who are strange and have buttons for eyes. I have to be honest here, this movie is creepy but the stop-motion animation is beautiful and the film is very entertaining. The movie is based on a book by the same name so it is a great opportunity to do a read and watch together combo. Overall it is a fun movie that doesn’t shy away from being scary.
After losing their jobs as scientists at the university of New York City, 3 professors set up a company that go around ridding the city of ghosts. This is another movie on my all time favourite list. It may seem dated since it was made in the 80’s, but it is a perfect film to share with your teens.
Corpse Bride (2005)
A colourfully macabre film about a young man who accidentally marries a lady’s corpse when he is practicing his vows in the forest. He is taken to the underworld and tries to escape to reunite with his ‘fiance’. This is another beautiful stop-motion animation by Tim Burton.
Tips For Your Halloween Movie Night
This year we won’t be going trick-or-treating (for obvious reasons) but one of the activities we will be doing that day to make it fun will most definitely be a little movie night. My kids are little so we will have an early screening of an age appropriate Halloween movie. If you also have kids in the 3-5 age range don’t expect too much from them. Pick something short. You can maybe do two short specials if you want. They may not sit and watch the entire thing (hence make it a short one), and let them get up and play if they want to. Do the screening in the middle of the day, perhaps during one of their snack times, and have a snack tray out with fun Halloween themed snacks (or any snacks). Make it extra fun by having everyone dress up in a Halloween costume.
For older kids (6-12) they will probably be excited just to be able to stay up a little later and the possibility of watching something even a little scary may entice them. Have snacks ready for them and let them wear their costumes or even some fun Halloween pj’s. If you have preteens and teens I would get them involved in the decision of what movie they would like to watch. Offer some nostalgic favourites like Ghostbuster for yourself and something they may be more interested in. Since a lot of people aren’t going anywhere this Halloween you can definitely do a movie back to back screenings of a couple with your older kids. I know it is hard to get preteens and teens involved in family things sometimes so don’t stress out too much if they don’t want to join you. Maybe, put on your favourite Halloween film (regardless of the era it was made in) and see if it peaks their interest. They may just come out of their rooms and sit down and join you. For this age group definitely have snacks. Really for any age group have snacks but definitely for your teens.
The biggest thing I want you to take away from this is that everything right now is upside down and the way things used to be are no more, at least for a while, so we have to try to make the best of this time. Halloween may look different but we can still have fun and maybe make new traditions along the way that we can continue in the coming years. I have always seen “movie night” as a means to just spend time with your family. A chance to cuddle on the couch and just enjoy being with each other. Life goes by so fast that we must seize these opportunities to slow down and just be together.