Scary Shows For Kids To Watch This Halloween
Sometimes being just a little scared can be fun, especially at Halloween time. But when you are little, there is a fine line between thrilling and nightmares. A bad dream now and then is inevitable and often worth the joy of seeing a horror movie with your friends, but parents probably don't want their children witnessing the traditional violence and sex that goes along with many adult scary movies and TV shows.
Horror written and produced with kids in mind can be a hard thing to find when what you want is just some good old TV. Sure, there are plenty of frightening books to choose from, such as "Goosebumps" and "American Chillers." There are countless scary movies for kids out there, such as Disney's "Don't Look Under the Bed" or "The Haunting Hour: Don't Thing About It." But horror is a neglected genre in children's television.
Below are a few of my favorite spooky shows that were designed specifically for a younger generation.
The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour is an anthology series, so each half-hour episode is a brand new story and you can jump right into watching. It began its first season in October of 2010 and was sadly discontinued in 2014 after four seasons.
Obviously from the mind of popular children's horror author R.L. Stine, The Haunting Hour is similar to his popular Goosebumps series (see below), but this is a more mature version with a higher budget and better acting. The stories presented are often what is considered a dark morality tale, similar to some fairy tales. The main character of the episode may find him or herself in an ethical dilemma and the wrong choice or behavior may mean a certain nasty ending. The more goodhearted and well-intentioned characters may just find themselves a happy ending.
Ghosts, zombies, aliens, monsters of all kinds, and even clowns have been the subject of horror in episodes of The Haunting Hour. They are based on Stine's books, The Haunting Hour and Nightmare Hour.
The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine is best known as being a series of popular scary books for kids. However, it premiered as an anthology-style TV show for kids in October of 1995. It ran for four seasons and ended in 1998. There are a total of 74 episodes to "give you goosebumps."
Goosebumps episodes are based on the books' original tales and each are a half-hour in length. They often feature children facing monsters (including monstrous versions of everyday objects) on their own, the parents never believing the horrifying trouble they face until the end. An end which is always a twist. All Goosebumps episodes offer up scares without ever venturing into inappropriate adult or even teen content.
While not on the air anymore on a regular year-round schedule, Goosebumps episodes are often replayed at Halloween time on kid-friendly channels such as Cartoon Network. The Hub sometimes shows Goosebumps preceding The Haunting Hour or in place of it.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Another anthology show! Well, sort of. In the beginning of each episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? a group of teenagers who call themselves "The Midnight Society" meet in the woods once a week and sit around a fire while one member of the group tells the rest a scary tale. After the teen announces the title of this week's tale, we watch the spooky story unfold rather than hearing the teen "tell" the tale. At the end of whatever chilling story we saw that week, the episode would end back with the teens as they, too, hear the end.
Classic supernatural threats such as goblins and ghosts and vampires scare the children in Are You Afraid of the Dark? as well as adaptations of fairy tales and urban legends.
Not always, but often there is a happy ending for the characters in the scary story we see and hear about.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? aired on Nickelodeon, and did so from 1991 to 2000. There were seven seasons of this great kids' television show! Each season of this series was released to DVD. Unfortunately, the prices can go a bit high nowadays as Are You Afraid of the Dark? is remembered as a classic TV show by kids and teens who originally watched it in the 90's.
From the Disney Channel, So Weird wasn't Disney's usual style. It was a lot darker, for one thing, and obviously spookier even than their usual Halloween movies. It ran for three seasons of paranormal mysteries, from 1999 to 2001.
Disney's So Weird followed the life of teenager Fiona Phillips and her traveling family. She repeatedly encountered mysterious happenings of the supernatural sort, with often frightening events following. She's faced off with classic monsters such as vampires, werewolves, and trolls, as well as not-so-well-known threats.
Unfortunately episodes cannot be found on everyday TV at the moment. Even more unfortunate is the lack of a DVD release. However, Youtube has had the entire series' episodes posted for a few years now.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
From 1999 to 2002, both child and adult fans of Cartoon Network enjoyed watching a little dog named "Courage" go on weird and spooky adventures. The show mixes dark humor with creepy encounters, all presented as a kid-friendly cartoon. Some of the horror elements portrayed are aliens and traditional monsters.
Set in the middle of "Nowhere", Kansas, Courage the dog was adopted by kindly old Muriel. Her husband, Eustace, is her opposite: grumpy and cruel to his wife's beloved pet. Their isolated life in a strange setting puts them in constant danger.
As the title implies, Courage's personality does not live up to his name. He's quite afraid of the strange happenings around him! And yet, he comes through over and over in his efforts to save his owners - even though they don't recognize his heroics for what they actually are.
More Horror Shows For Kids
There just doesn't seem to be many options for kids nowadays to get scared from TV shows on the children's networks! I do wish that wasn't the case and I'm sure at some point in the future it won't be. In the meantime, I've introduced my little sister to more than one scary television series from my own youth and I appreciated the opportunity to revisit those stories.
Do you know any good TV shows for spooking and entertaining kids? What are some of your past favorites?