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Best Classic Halloween Movie Recommendations for the Family

Updated on October 24, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty has successfully reviewed thousands of books, films, products, and vacation/retirement cities around the world.


The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D [PG]

This film offers incredibly good voice talent in Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara (from television's Second City TV), William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens (the alter ego of Pee Wee Herman), and others.

I never went trick or treating as a child or really did much of anything for Halloween, but I liked this movie enormously the first time it was released in 1993 and more so in 3-D. having seen it several times with adult and younger friends, I must recommend it.

Tim Burton remains a talented writer and director and this film fits right in with his others, such as Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman series, and Edward Scissorhands. They are all nonconformist, looking at the world form different angles from the usual - strange and wonderful.


Halloween and Christmas

In this film, there is competition between Halloweentown and Christmastown. The Pumpkin King is called Jack Skellington and uses the voice of Chris Sarandon to speak and Danny Elfman to sing. He is bored and plots to steal Christmas like the Grinch. He kidnaps Santa Claus, despite the warning of the rag doll Sally (voiced by Catherine O'Hara of the old Second City crew).

Jack disguises himself as Santa, but his gift giving isn't much appreciated by the people: tree-eating snakes, shrunken heads, toy ducks filled with bullet holes all scare their recipients. Jack does not understand their reactions. He is not loved and not happy. He'd rather be bored. In the end, the evil Oogie Boogie insect thingy tries to ruin everything and Jack releases Santa and the Christmas Holiday back to the world. He has been misunderstood, but no longer. He has saved Christmas.

Tim Burton's animation and each character are fun to watch. The stop-motion animated film grabs your attention and keeps it with its quirks and effects. The image of a mad scientist opening a lid on his skull and scratching his brain in puzzlement sends me into peals of laughter.

Danny Elfman's songs and the Burton characters are enjoyable for children and adults alike. Children always laugh at screenings of this film, but it also makes me laugh so much that I miss several scenes and lines of conversation and must go back again and again.

The mayor that actually has two faces is fascinating as well as funny and weird - and perhaps a political statement.

I also like the music in Nightmare before Christmas. The quartet of Draculas singing in harmony is another feature that makes me laugh. The 3D effects add to all the fun - I love 3-D glasses. This film should be seen every year, along with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Read the great review for concerned parents by


Additional Tim Burton Films for Scary Movie Night

Not all of these films are for family viewing, so those that are more adult oriented are indicated with an asterisk(*).

  • Alice in Wonderland - Wonderful! With Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter.
  • Beetlejuice - This one stars Michael Keaton, best known for his turn as Batman and for his superhero character in "Birdman", an Oscar-nominated performance.
  • Edward Scissorhands - Another, early, film starring Johnny Depp.
  • Ed Wood* - Hilarious and quirky for adults, Johnny Depp is the bad-movies director Ed Wood, Jr. in this film, and he sounds a lot like Jon Lovitz. Bela Lugosi (played by Martin Landau) particularly curses a blue streak in his last years as we see his physical decline and his list of bad movies. Lugosi's son maintains that Bela never used such profanity.
  • Frankenweenie (2012) - Creepy and hilarious, it is a tribute to all the Universal Film Monsters. It also illustrates a boy's loyalty to his dog - whole, or in pieces to put together like a puzzle.
  • Sleepy Hollow*
  • Mars Attacks! - SOOO funny. Jack Nicholson plays the President of the United States. Martians run rampant, and it seems they do not appreciate country music.
  • Corpse Bride
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street* - This is bloody and may be too mature for many kids. It also stars Johnny Depp.
  • Dark Shadows* - Johnny Depp again, this time as the vampire Barnabus Collins.
  • Coraline - One of my all-time favorites! Animated and quirky as a small girl discovers another world in the walls of her house.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - This is Johnny Depp in the earlier Gene Wilder part in Willy Wonka. I like both films.

Many of the films listed above star Johnny Depp, a testament to his character acting skills and desire to play non-mainstream characters.

Check them all out on Kids In Mind, listed above.

Mountains in Transylvania
Mountains in Transylvania | Source

And One non-Tim Burton Film

Hotel Transylvania 1, 2 and 3 - Animated series starring Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Jon Lovitz and many more stars. Lots of music and the funniest films in the 2010s.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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