When you’re in the mood for Halloween, all you want to do is close the curtains, turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and settle in for a Halloween movie. However, if children want to join in on the fun, you must first determine what level of scariness they can tolerate. However, with so many content providers and rentals available, you’re bound to find something that suits your family’s level of terror. So here is our take on the 30 best Halloween movies for kids.
These Halloween flicks for kids are suitable for family movie night and evoke the ineffable Halloween mood. There are short specials for the littlest ones who are too young to handle any genuine scares. There are stop-motion animated films that make the most of how creepy that style can look. Halloween comedies are sure to please anyone in the family, even if it doesn’t scare everyone, per se. And then for the older kids, some movies definitely provide some shocks and scares without yet reaching Poltergeist levels of horror. Gather the children, carve the family pumpkin, whip up some Halloween desserts and watch one of these family-friendly Halloween movies!
In case you are looking for the best Halloween movies to watch, check out our list of more than 120 movies in it.
1. Hocus Pocus
If you want to watch a fun family movie around Halloween, Hocus Pocus is a great choice.
The story of Hocus Pocus revolves around three hysterical witches, Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, who are played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, respectively. The three sister witches awaken 300 years later and discover that they must consume souls to survive. But first, they must deal with three brave children and a talking cat who are determined to stop them. Despite some adult references and scenes, the film is a great family comedy for Halloween.
2. Casper (1995)
It’s easy to see why Casper the Friendly Ghost is so popular with young children. They have so much in common with him because they, too, feel invisible and misunderstood and have little recollection of their previous lives. He’s reassuring; in a world full of terrifying ghosts, it’s nice to know there’s one on your side. The Casper comics did not survive the current age of mega doom superheroes. Still, their memory did, and now “Casper,” a high-tech special-effects extravaganza starring His Friendliness, is here.
“Casper,” like “The Flintstones” and “The Addams Family,” attempts to bring cartoons to life by incorporating real actors and sets. It’s an impressive and entertaining technical achievement. And there’s even some endearing philosophy, as when Casper laments to Kat, “I guess when you’re a ghost, life just doesn’t matter that much anymore.”
3. Goosebumps (2015)
What if you unintentionally released real monsters into the world while attempting to assist a neighbor? R.L. Stine’s world is a very unique one. He is the mega-best-selling author of VERY popular horror-but-you-know-for-kids books. It’s full of cleverly conceived monsters derived from classic adult or “adult” horror but consistently and imaginatively skewed to a younger audience’s taste and tolerance. The goal is to provide the necessary uh, goosebumps while avoiding traumatizing nightmares. Stine’s success is well-deserved, and his stories have been adapted for television, direct-to-video, and other platforms. A feature film foray into that world could be challenging.
4. The Witches (2020)
Roald Dahl simply didn’t believe in babying kids, preferring to instill in them images ranging from childish fantasy to surreal terror. The same could be said of Guillermo del Toro, a craftsman who does not believe in holding your hand and understands the sheer power of fantasy no matter how old you are. Years ago, del Toro began work on a stop-motion film adaptation of Dahl’s The Witches, which Nicholas Roeg had adapted in 1990. That project fell through, but del Toro’s love of challenging scares lives on in the 2020 remake of “The Witches,” which he co-produced and co-wrote (with Kenya Barris and the director) with a very different technical master, Robert Zemeckis.
This once-theatrical blockbuster, a victim of the pandemic, is now available on HBO Max today, just in time to frighten children into staying up all night on Halloween. To its account, it offers some of the most brazenly scary visuals in family fun in a long time. With distorted visions like “Death Becomes Her” and even the darker side of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” it reminds one of its source material and, at its greatest, of Zemeckis’ work. Some of the writing is clunky, the ending is terrible, and there’s a performance at the center that sucks everything around it is like a black hole, but most of that won’t matter to “The Witches” viewers: they’ll be too scared.
5. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town and sick of doing the same thing every day. He decides to shake things up a bit and try on Christmas for size. It doesn’t quite work out for him, as one might expect, but this Tim Burton movie is so visually beautiful that we could watch him try all day.
The movies can transport us to entirely new worlds, but this is one of their rarest gifts. More often than not, directors strive for realism, creating worlds that we can recognize. One of the many delights of ” Nightmare Before Christmas” is that it contains no recognizable landscapes. Everything appears strange and foreboding. Even Santa Claus would be difficult to identify without his red-and-white striped suit.
6. The Goonies (1985)
This may not be the most apparent Halloween film, but it has been thrilling kids since the 1980s with its treasure hunt, pirate mystery, and coming-of-age adventure. “The Goonies” is a smooth blend of the usual Steven Spielberg action movie ingredients, elevated by the elated performances of the kids who have the adventures. It’s a fantastical tale of buried pirate treasure told in a slice-of-life style that allows these kids to use words Bogart didn’t understand in “Casablanca.” There used to be separate categories for children’s and adult films. Now, Spielberg has found an in-between niche for young teenagers with fairly sophisticated horror tastes. He oversees the production and supervises the formula, directing stylish action veterans (this time, Richard Donner of “Superman” and “Ladyhawke”).
7. Coraline (2009)
Despite its dazzling stop-motion animation and vibrant colors, this film has a “creepy” undertone (and that may be an understatement). Coraline is a dark story about the perils of wishing the grass was always greener.
The director of “Coraline” has stated that it is appropriate for brave children of any age. To put it mildly, that’s an understatement. This is nightmare material for children under a certain age, no matter how brave they are. I understand that children are exposed to a wide range of horror films through video, but “Coraline” is disturbing not because of the gory images but because of the story it tells. That’s unusual in and of itself: a lot of movies are good at severing limbs, but few are good at telling stories that can grab us deep inside, where it’s dark and scary.
Even more unusual is that Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is not a sweet little girl. She’s unpleasant, complains has an attitude, and only reluctantly makes friends. In her adventure, which includes substituting her parents by ominous doubles with buttons sewn over their eyes, she also meets sweet and colorful new friends. She is threatened with being locked in their alternate world, which is accessed through an unsettling tunnel hidden behind a painted-over doorway in her own.
8. Beetlejuice (1988)
Nothing seems to be going well for the Maitlands. They not only died while swerving to avoid a dog on the road, but they also appear to be trapped, haunting their own house and its new occupants. Naturally, they turn to Beetlejuice for assistance in reclaiming their home. This 1988 film may not be as scary as you remember, but Beetlejuice’s allure remains undeniable.
Apart from the opening scene, the best thing about “Beetlejuice” is the set design by Bo Welch. Both Welch and Burton appear to have been inspired by the spirit of “Pee-Playhouse” wee’s and “Pee-Big wee’s Adventure,” in which objects can have lives of their own and architectural details have an unsettling habit of rearranging themselves. The film’s style could be described as cartoon surrealistic.
9. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2018)
Although it is not a film, the story of the Baudelaire orphans deserves to be included on any Halloween movie list. It’s best for tweens and up to watch this twisty story of family secrets and, yes, “unfortunate events.”
Given the simple structure of the plots in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix may have been tempted to extend the series as long as possible. Sure, author Daniel Handler only wrote 13 books in the Unfortunate Events series. Still, the setup of his plot could inspire any number of other schemes in which the scheming Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) dons some ridiculous costume to try to steal the Baudelaire orphans’ inheritance. However, series creators Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld took a systematic approach to their adaptation, adhering closely to the novels’ plots, spirit, and timeline. The third and last season of the show is a masterwork.
10. Super Monsters Save Halloween (2018)
Try the Netflix original series Super Monsters all year long for the preschooler afraid of his own shadow. It follows preschool-aged monsters as they attend school to learn all about the best ways to be monsters while remaining as scary as possible. This Halloween movie special follows the mini monsters as they prepare for their favorite holiday and “best night of the year,” including helping a nervous friend.
Encourages sensitivity to those who may be afraid and assists them in overcoming their fears. “You don’t have to try anything that makes you nervous or scared.” What scares some people may not disturb others.
11. Arachnophobia (1990)
In this not-for-the-squeamish Halloween film, a deadly spider travels from the jungles of South America to a sleepy California town! This thrilling film contains a healthy dose of humor, but don’t be fooled, and you’ll also enjoy a few spooky moments.
This is the type of movie that makes you squirm out of enjoyment rather than terror, and it’s likely to be popular with younger audiences because it doesn’t pound you over the head with violence. It, like the spider, has particular regard for structure.
12. The Addams Family (1991)
The Addams Family may be creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky, but they also provide dark comedy that will be on interest to the teenagers in your household.
Wednesday and Pugsley are responsible for the film’s one big laugh during a school pageant that results in half of the audience being drenched in stage blood. At the very least, I hope it’s stage blood. Otherwise, the plot revolves around a scheme devised by a cunning family attorney (Dan Hedaya), who convinces a client’s son to impersonate Gomez’s long-lost older brother, Fester. The brother (Christopher Lloyd, from the “Back to the Future” films) looks out at the world in dismay through large black eye sockets and is a miserable wretch until he begins to believe he belongs in the Addams household.
13. Julie and the Phantoms (2020)
With catchy songs and spooky ghosts, this is a great Halloween movie for the tween set. Julie and the Phantoms is a television series about a teenage girl who rediscovers her love and desirefor music thanks to her ghost band, the Phantoms.
The rules of the world of “Julie and the Phantoms” and its omnipresent afterlife are incredibly perplexing. Three members of the pop-punk band Sunset Curve died unexpectedly in 1995 after consuming tainted hot dogs (yes). They reappear in their old studio in 2020, find a buddy in a teen named Julie (Madison Reyes). They discover that when they play with her, the world can hear them and see them until the music stops. “Julie and the Phantoms” is a delightful and endearing film.
14. Cruella (2021)
Cruella isn’t a Halloween film, and it’s not frightening in the sense of goblins, ghouls, or witches. However, it has a Halloweeny goth vibe to it (mixed with some fabulous punk fashions). In delving into the events that transformed Estrella into Cruella, some horrifying things occur, explaining how she became one of Disney’s all-time great villains. (Because the events can be violent, a PG-13 film best suited for older children.) Cruella is currently available on Disney+ for a premium feel, but it will be included with all Disney+ subscriptions beginning August 27.
15. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)
The Olsen twins star in this made-for-television family comedy. Yes, it’s super cheesy, but these child-star darlings are at their cutest in Double, Double Toil, and Trouble. Furthermore, the Halloween-themed plot is almost entirely humorous, with only a few scares—all of which are easy enough for a kindergartener to stomach.
16. Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King (2008)
This is definitely one to watch with your grade-schooler. What can you expect? The tried-and-true, goofy Scooby comedy—complete with creepy characters. In this family-friendly, feature-length animated film, the beloved and colorful cast embarks on an adventure-packed, and at times scary, trip to Halloween Land.
The animation is excellent, though the sight of an animated Daphne dressed up in a skintight catsuit was perhaps a little more pleasing than it should have been. The 5.1 surround soundtrack enhances the overall atmosphere, and the vocal work is excellent, with Hollywood talents such as Tim Curry, James Belushi, and Lauren Bacall lending weight to the proceedings. However, credit must be given to Scooby regulars Casey Kasem and Frank Welker for managing to stand out among the slew of stars.
17. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005)
This Halloween special, like all things Winnie the Pooh, is sugar-coated and entirely innocent. Rent this guy when you want a seasonal pick that isn’t scary. It’s full of festive fun and easy to watch with even the youngest members of your brood (or disrupt the bedtime routine).
18. Halloweentown (1998)
In this Halloween story, a young girl discovers she is a good witch, and her mission is to save the holiday, even if it means breaking her overbearing mother’s rules. Be warned: the villain in this one is a grotesque-looking warlock, and the stand-offs can get a little intense at times. (Realistic depictions of parent-child conflict are also available.) However, there is no gore, and the overall tension in Halloweentown makes it a delicious crowd-pleaser among the intended tween audience, as well as palatable for adults.
What distinguishes this original image from the usual Halloween fare is that it captures the spirit of a holiday geared toward children. It’s tasty and entertaining, but too much of it will give you a stomach ache. Halloween, like Christmas, has become a marketing gimmick, and there are some gender stereotypes (so much shopping), but with a bit of follow-up discussion, this is a family-friendly film that will appeal to tweens and young teens.h year, TV executives try to cash in on the fun. However, this tale of a 13-year-old girl obsessed with witchcraft is really about discovering the power of family, whether mortal or otherwise.
19. Twitches (2005)
Tia and Tamera Mowry of the famous Sister, Sister TV show star in this made-for-TV Disney film. Their seamless dynamic shines through (as it always does) in this story about two girls who discover they are twin sisters—and also witches destined to defeat ‘the darkness.’
The twin sisters Artemis and Apolla are saved from the Darkness and transported to another dimension in the magical realm of Coventry by their protectors Illeana and Karsh. Different families adopt them, but their protectors force them to meet each other on their twenty-first birthday. Alex Fielding lost her mother three months ago and is looking for work independently, whereas Camryn Barnes lives with her adored wealthy parents. They discover they have magical abilities and must return to Coventry to save their biological mother and kingdom from the Darkness.
There are some gender stereotypes (so much shopping), but this is a family-friendly film that will appeal to tweens and young teens with a bit of follow-up discussion.
20. Song of the Sea (2014)
In a moving story about sibling bonding, stunning hand-drawn animation captures the magic of Irish myth. The story is full of fantasy and magic, as well as a few spooky scenes that may be too intense for young children but capture the Halloween spirit nonetheless.
21. Coco (2017)
Dia de Los Muertos and Halloween are not the same, but both holidays begin on October 31 (the eve of All Saint’s Day) and have similar origins. Both celebrations are also a lot of fun and a little eerie. Give your child a taste of culture with this endearing, family-friendly film that pays homage to the Mexican holiday through striking animation and memorabilia.
“Coco” is the upbeat story of a young boy who aspires to be a musician and ends up communicating with talking skeletons in the land of the dead. It has snappy music, an intricate but understandable plot, and bits of domestic comedy and media satire. It is directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) and veteran Pixar animator Adrian Molina and draws heavily on Mexican folklore and traditional designs.
The film is mostly a slapstick comedy with a “Back to the Future” feel, staging big action sequences and giving audiences new plot information every few minutes. Still, being a Pixar film, “Coco” is also building towards emotional moments, so stealthily that you may be stunned to find yourself wiping a tear even though the studio has been ushering you in.
22. Monster House (2006)
With spooky Monster House, older children can experience a fear-driven adrenaline rush without gratuitous gore. This film, about a house that disturbingly comes to life, is legitimately frightening, and the characters lack redeeming qualities. That being said, it’s a lot more wholesome than a slasher film and an excellent way to introduce your tween to the horror genre.
23. Spooky Buddies (2011)
This Halloween-themed film follows the good versus evil superhero trope, light scares, and lovable pups stealing the show. The dogs and their human friends are all about working together to combat evil deeds. There are also lessons about listening to your conscience and not listening to those who do not respect you.
In this animated film, the villains are made even creepier by eerie music and special effects—and there are plenty of spooky characters to boot (think: ghosts, haunted houses, monsters, and evil magic).
24. Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest (2013)
In this sweet and low-key yet festive film, the beloved mischievous monkey returns. Curious George investigates spooky Halloween legends, faces fears and emerges unscathed (as always). Stream this one if you want a family-friendly, scare-free film that even the youngest viewers can enjoy.
25. Dear Dracula (2012)
This charming film revolves around a young and surprisingly sweet vampire (i.e., Dracula) who struggles with his identity when he realizes that, well, he isn’t that scary. It’s funny and refreshingly free of sensational scares. Friendship and self-acceptance take precedence over fear.
Children see Sam and Dracula bond over their common insecurities and pledge to help each other work through them, illustrating themes of friendship and reminding children that it is never too small to help someone in need. Because of his unusual interests, Sam feels like a social outcast. Still, when he opens himself up to the possibility of friendship, he discovers that he isn’t as different as he thought. What was the result? A Halloween film that will make both children and adults happy.
26. The Dog Who Saved Halloween (2011)
The Dog Who Saved Halloween is a sequel to The Dog Who Saved Christmas, with the same heroic pup and plenty of Halloween motifs—plus a healthy dose of potty humor. The plot is essentially a Home Alone rip-off, with two inept crooks and a dog taking on Macaulay Culkin’s role, and it features a similar level of slapstick violence. Parents who don’t mind a little crude humor, on the other hand, will enjoy this lighthearted and family-friendly film.
27. Scared Shrekless (2011)
In this made-for-TV Halloween special, Shrek, the most endearing of ogres, makes another comical appearance. As with all Shrek films, there will be some adult innuendo, but it will most likely go unnoticed by your child. Overall, the laughs are guaranteed, and the spooky stuff is gentle enough for children.
On Halloween, Shrek and several fairy tale characters visit Lord Farquaad’s castle and compete in telling scary stories. The person who is the last to leave the castle wins. This twenty-minute cartoon is made up of three stories that pay homage to cult horror films. The tale of Gingerbread is inspired by the movie “Bride of Frankenstein,” Puss and Donkey squabble in their usual manner through a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” and Shrek wins the night by applying scenes from the film “The Exorcist” to Pinocchio. Inventive, witty, and technically sound.
28. Girl vs. Monster (2012)
A family-friendly monster movie with positive messages and a low scare factor. Girl vs. Monster is all about a teen girl who discovers (just before Halloween) that she is descended from a long line of monster hunters. The plot provides plenty of delights while avoiding the unnecessary and distressing violence found in slash films. Also, Disney star Olivia Holt belts out some excellent tunes—and she has a stage presence that’s sure to keep your teen’s attention to boot.
29. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
This classic covers all the Halloween bases: costumes, trick-or-treating, and the anticipation of a great pumpkin, of course. The nostalgia comes on strong with this one but parents should know that the Peanuts dynamic is not all sunshine and rainbows. The kids act like children in this cartoon. For example, they are often mean to one another. However, a realistic portrayal is not always a bad thing—but maybe take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your child about bullying or just the importance of kindness.
Although thousands of Halloween TV specials are broadcast each October, one stands out as a must-see for anyone who has children or has ever been a child. The lack of scariness elevates this to the classic feel-good film of the season. It is a film that is suitable for children of all ages, including very young children. Every year, it evokes the same nostalgic feeling as the Peanuts comic strip and gets me in the Halloween spirit. If you haven’t already seen it, set aside some time this October to do so with the children in your life. It goes well with hot popcorn and orange candy corn. So, instead of watching movies that give you nightmares, try the Halloween special that will give you scares.
We also have a list of the best Halloween TV episodes, so don’t forget to check them out.
30. Dracula (1931)
If you have a big kid in your house who is ready to dive into the horror genre, skip the gratuitous slasher films and instead go for classic spooks. This black-and-white thriller’s first film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula does not disappoint with its eerie soundtrack.
In London, the vampire feeds on the blood of strangers encountered in the night, in scenes reminiscent of Jack the Ripper’s legend. Then he introduces himself to high society by infiltrating the box at the opera occupied by Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston). The doctor owns Carfax Abbey, next to the sanitarium where Renfield has been imprisoned (giggling and eating spiders for their blood). He meets Seward’s daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiance John Harker (David Manners), and Lucy, Mina’s friend (Frances Dade). They are eventually joined by vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan), who explains vampirism in great detail.
Dracula is not a nice bloke. This classic depiction spares young viewers the abuse associated with his evil deeds while still giving an experience that will keep everyone glued to the TV screen.