80s Family Halloween Movies (aka Kid Friendly Horror)
Kid Friendly Halloween Films that You'll Love To Watch Too!
These are my top 10 favorite 80s Halloween Movies (plus three 90s favorites) that you can watch with your kids without losing your sanity. I've also included some family friendly picks from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus for your streaming convenience!
Sidenote: Is it possible to have a family friendly horror? Probably not. Horror films, by definition, should shock and terrify, so in my humble opinion, "family friendly horror" is a contradictory term and a misnomer. At the same time, there are tons of movies that have that "spooky" Halloween theme that I absolutely adore. Think of them as horror training wheels. Start 'em young I say!
80s Movie Poll!
Do you love 80s movies?
Each of the movies and TV shows I have listed in this article were chosen because I felt they were suitable for children of a certain age, but it is entirely up to parents and guardians to determine what is right for their kids. If you'd like more information on ratings and the content of anything listed here, I highly recommend utilizing commonsensemedia.org to search for and read about whichever movie or television show you're interested in.
Family Friendly Halloween Movies on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime
Do you just want to stream your movies in peace? I know, I know. I'm including a list of some family Halloween favorites on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime that are suitable for kids, and entertaining enough for parents.
Netflix = Available on Netflix Live Streaming (free to Netflix Instant members)
Hulu = Available on Hulu Plus (free to Hulu Plus members)
Amazon Prime = Available on Amazon Prime (free to Prime members)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Netflix
- The Munsters (1964) - Netflix
- The Addams Family (1991) - Netflix
- Addams Family Values (1993) - Amazon Prime
- The NeverEnding Story (1984) - Amazon Prime
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1992) - Amazon Prime
- Goosebumps (1995) - Netflix
- The Twilight Zone (1959) - Netflix / Amazon Prime / Hulu
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch - Movie (1996) - Hulu
- DreamWorks Spooky Stories (Characters from Shrek, Monsters Inc, etc) - Netflix
Top Ten 80s Halloween Favorites
Without further adieu, I present to you my top ten "scary" (but not too scary) movies from the 1980s.
#1 - Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice is definitely my favorite Tim Burton movie, but it also ranks among my top 10 favorite movies of all time. It's quirky and weird, but not too dark or scary, making it the perfect choice for halloween family movie night. The megastar cast includes Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder among others.
Beetlejuice is rated PG.
#2 - Gremlins
The Gremlins movies are probably the closest to family friendly horror in this article. That said, the main character (aka Gizmo the Mogwai) is probably the cutest critter ever to grace the silver screen. All the creatures in both Gremlins movies are live action, which is something you don't see much in movies these days.
I watched Gremlins 2 recently, and while it is a horror movie, it's much more ridiculous than the first one (and much more ridiculous than I remember). I think it's hilarious.
Gremlins is rated PG, and Gremlins 2 is rated PG-13.
#3 - The Goonies
Another film that's one of my top 10 favorites is The Goonies. I am so obsessed with this movie that I had a poster of it hanging in my college dorm room. While the Goonies does not seem like a typical choice for a Halloween family movie list, I think it's perfect. It's got suspense and mystery, and has some stereotypically "spooky" elements that your kids will get a kick out of. It features a young Josh Brolin and Sean Astin, as well as Corey Feldman during his 80s heyday.
The Goonies is rated PG.
The Goonies "R" Good Enough
#4 - Ghostbusters
I adore the Ghostbusters movies. ADORE them. With Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and the rest of the cast, Ghostbusters certainly has some comedy and acting chops, and stands up very well over time. I will cry if Ghostbusters 3 ends up being terrible.
Ghostbusters and Ghostbuster II are rated PG.
#5 - Teen Witch
This movie is super cheesy, super 80s, and not scary at all, but I don't care. Teen Witch is a cult classic. If you watch it, be sure to look out for Zelda Rubinstein (who plays Tangina the medium in Poltergeist).
Teen Witch is rated PG-13.
How cheesy is Teen Witch? This cheesy:
#6 - Teen Wolf
You can't get much better than a Michael J. Fox 80's movie. And he's a teen werewolf, a "Teen Wolf" if you will. As an added bonus, the sequel features a young Jason Bateman (of Arrested Development fame).
Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too are rated PG.
#7 - Return to Oz
Return to Oz (starring Fairuza Balk from "The Craft") is a sequel to The Wizard of Oz that takes place after Dorothy comes back to Kansas and attempts to explain what just happen to her. Naturally, she gets thrown in an insane asylum, then escapes back to Oz, which is in shambles. It's super creepy and perfect for Halloween.
Return to Oz is rated PG.
#8 - Labyrinth
Holy Moly David Bowie! Filmmakers in the 80s had a real knack for creating super creepy movies. Labyrinth, starring Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly, is about a Goblin King (which is basically a wizard) who kidnaps a girl's baby brother and forces her to navigate a magical, mystical maze to find him. There lots of strange and sticky creatures in this film, and they're all live action.
Labyrinth is rated PG.
"Dance Magic Dance" from Labyrinth
#9 - Little Monsters
Little Monsters is about a boy who escapes to a world of monsters under his bed (a world where rules don't exist). It's another creepy 80s Halloween movie for sure. Little Monsters features both Savage brothers: Fred Savage (from The Wonder Years) and Ben Savage (from Boy Meets World). Also, it's hard to tell, but the main monster dude is Howie Mandel.
Little Monsters is rated PG.
#10 - The Peanut Butter Solution
Did I really add a VHS tape to this list? Yes. Yes I did, because this movie was the scariest "kids" movie I ever saw as a child.
The Peanut Butter Solution is a mid 80s Canadian film about a boy who gets so scared that all his hair falls out. He meets then meets two ghosts who create a "peanut butter solution" for his bald head. His hair grows back, crazy fast, then things start getting... creepy. Other themes include: magic, kidnapping, and child labor.
The few people that I know that have seen it said it made a major impression on them as well... and of course it's virtually impossible to find today.
The Peanut Butter Solution is rated PG.
Until someone releases my prized "The Peanut Butter Solution" on DVD, I'll have to watch this trailer and try to piece it together from my memory. BLAST.
The Peanut Butter Solution Trailer
90s Halloween Favorites
I was a kid in the 1990s too, so I had to include a few of my Halloween favorites from this decade as well.
#1 - The Addams Family
The Addams Family stars Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci. Both the original and the sequel are solid family Halloween movies.
An Anecdote: My family dressed up as The Addams Family for a Halloween party in the mid 90s. I was Wednesday Addams, complete with the Wednesday Addams doll, but I asked my mom if she could keep the head on mine.
Both The Addams Family and Addams Family Values are rated PG-13.
#2 - Hocus Pocus
I really really love Hocus Pocus, and I know I'm not alone on this. This movie is about a trio of 300 year old witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) who come back to 1990s Salem on Halloween to run amuck amuck amuck. I don't know why TV stations don't do a marathon of Hocus Pocus for the entire week leading up to Halloween.
Hocus Pocus is rated PG.
#3 - The Witches
The Witches is the final family Halloween movie in this article that creeps me out. Have you noticed how much I was creeped out as a kid? It's all good though because I'm a perfectly reasonable, relatively normal adult now. Relatively.
The Witches definitely a good introduction to the horror genre (I'd consider it family friendly horror) as it definitely is scary, but not TOO scary (the special effects makeup could be a little disturbing for some kids though). It stars Anjelica Huston and an adorable talking mouse.
The Witches is rated PG.
#4 - The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror
I love the earlier seasons of The Simpsons and the Treehouse of Horror episodes hold a special place in my heart. While The Simpsons people have yet to release a DVD of ALL the earlier Treehouse of Horror episodes, this anthology is a good start.
This collection includes The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror season 5, 6, 7, and (for some random reason) 12.
The Shining Parody - Simpson's Style
This season (season 5) is included with the DVD listed above. It's probably my favorite Treehouse of Horror bit.
Want Some Really Scary Stuff?
I have a proper horror movie guide with 30 of my favorite horror films and tv shows. It's called "October Horror Movie Month" because you're supposed to only watch horror films during the month of October. Didn't you know?
© 2013 Shay Marie