- Holidays and Celebrations
Family Halloween Movies
Great Family Halloween Movies to Watch Together
Kids love Halloween - the costumes, the candy and, yes, the fear factor. But Halloween movies with a lot of blood and gore are too scary for younger kids, tweens or even teens. Slasher movies weren't made for kids. But this list of family Halloween movies includes something for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. Although they're not all directly related to Halloween - you won't find pumpkins and witches in all of these flicks - they all have a spooky theme appropriate for the holidays. You can enjoy any of these movies with your kids, but you may need to wait a few years before younger children are ready for some of them. Be sure to read reviews from other viewers before trying something that might be too frightening for younger kids. "Coraline," for instance, is a newer animated movie that might look deceptively innocent due to the animation, but it's definitely too spooky for most little kids. Likewise, Harry Potter and some of the other films listed here are also better suited to tweens and teens.
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It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - One of the classic family Halloween movies
This animated special features the Peanuts characters created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.
Charlie Brown gets rocks in his trick-or-treat bag, Linus awaits a visitation from the Great Pumpkin in his terribly sincere pumpkin patch (while the adoring little Sally sits tight with him), Snoopy falls asleep, Lucy harasses Schroeder, and Pig-Pen kicks up a dust storm even beneath his costume in this classic television broadcast. Funny stuff, but also graced with Charles Schultz's more poignant and gently satiric themes from the 1960s on the influence of faith, failure, and hope in our lives.
The Worst Witch - Based on the book by Jill Murphy
Based on Jill Murphy's book, this charming movie is set in an English boarding school for witches--complete with orange and black school uniforms, broom-flying exercises, and potion assignments for lab. The incompetent student of the title, Mildred, is played by a fetching young Fairuza Balk. Diana Rigg is the nasty head teacher, Tim Curry the (oddly) idolized Grand Wizard, and TV's Facts of Life maven Charlotte Rae does double duty as the school's kindly dean and her evil witch twin, who's bent on taking over the school. Directed by Robert Young, this 68-minute video features less than state-of-the-art effects and several songs that stop the action--most bizarrely an outdoor assembly performance by Curry that turns into a weird music video. Still, preteen girls will identify with the beleaguered heroine who overcomes her wickedly snooty rival, a teacher who doesn't believe in her, and a band of dastardly witches and, of course, saves the day.
Monster House - A great animated film for Halloween
The spooky shadows and eerie creaking of a rickety old house are brought to life via lush CGI in Monster House. A young boy named DJ has suspicions about the house across the street and the cranky old man (voiced by Steve Buscemi, Fargo) who lives there. When the old man has a heart attack and is carried away by an ambulance, DJ thinks the danger is over. Unfortunately, as he, his friend Chowder, and a candy-selling prep-school girl named Jenny discover, the house itself has plans--plans that include eating all the kids who'll be trick-or-treating that Halloween night. Monster House begins with some deliciously creepy scenes that will send chills down children's spines (and may be too intense for younger viewers); animated movies rarely make such effective use of what isn't being shown. The animation is vivid and detailed (though CGI still has a ways to go in capturing the full range of human facial expressions). But like most horror movies, the anticipation of horror is much more exciting than the horror itself; as the secrets of Monster House are revealed, the movie's thrills unravel. The noisy explosions at the end aren't half as much fun as the slow twitches of a few blades of grass in the movie's elegant beginning
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie - A cute family Halloween movie for youngsters
It's a hilariously haunting Halloween in the Hundred Acre Wood. Roo's best new pal, Lumpy, is excited to trick-or-treat for the first time ... until Tigger warns them about the dreaded Gobloon, who'll turn you into a Jaggedy Lantern if he catches you. But if they catch the Gobloon before it catches them, they get to make a wish! With Roo by his side, Lumpy knows he can face anything. So when Pooh eats all the Halloween candy, Lumpy and Roo decide to be "brave together, brave forever" and catch the Gobloon so they can wish for more. When the two friends become separated, however, Roo decides to wish for something even more important. Filled with adventure, unconditional friendship, and lots of laughter, POOH'S HEFFALUMP HALLOWEEN MOVIE is a sweet treat for the whole family.
Casper - A fun ghost movie for Halloween
Steven Spielberg produced this live-action feature starring the friendly ghost created in 1940 by Joe Orolio. In it, greedy heiress Carrigan Crittenden inherits the haunted Whipstaff Manor and discovers that the house contains a treasure, which is closely guarded by three nasty ghosts. She invites ghost therapist Dr. James Harvey, and his daughter Kat, to move into the eerie mansion and get rid of the supernatural creatures. The nephew of the three spirits is Casper, a friendly ghost who becomes Kat's pal. Casper takes Kat to his father's secret lab where he once attempted to bring Casper back to life with a special machine. Carrigan eavesdrops on their conversation and decides to become a ghost herself, in the hope that she will get the booty more easily. Then she can use the machine to change back to a human. However, Carrigan doesn't realize that you can't flirt with the afterlife.
The Nightmare Before Christmas - Fun for Halloween or Christmas!
For those who never thought Disney would release a film in which Santa Claus is kidnapped and tortured, well, here it is! The full title is Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which should give you an idea of the tone of this stop-action animated musical/fantasy/horror/comedy. It is based on characters created by Burton, the former Disney animator best known as the director of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and the first two Batman movies. His benignly scary-funny sensibility dominates the story of Halloweentown resident Jack Skellington (voice by Danny Elfman, who also wrote the songs), who stumbles on a bizarre and fascinating alternative universe called ... Christmastown! Directed by Henry Selick (who later made the delightful James and the Giant Peach), this PG-rated picture has a reassuringly light touch. As Roger Ebert noted in his review, "some of the Halloween creatures might be a tad scary for smaller children, but this is the kind of movie older kids will eat up; it has the kind of offbeat, subversive energy that tells them wonderful things are likely to happen."
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - A classic Disney tale for Halloween
In the great tradition of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and CINDERELLA, Disney's 11th animated masterpiece, THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD, introduced two literary classics to the screen. Through award-winning Disney-animated wizardry, these unforgettable children's stories come together as one fabulous adventure. THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS follows the wild ride of J. Thaddeus Toad, squire of Toad Hall. Smitten with motorcars, the wealthy and reckless sportsman soon drives his close friends Mole, Rat, and Angus MacBadger into a worried frenzy! Then meet Ichabod Crane, the spindly schoolteacher who dreams of sweeping the lovely Katrina off her feet -- until Brom Bones, the town bully, gets involved. Their comic rivalry introduces Ichabod to THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW, the fabled Headless Horseman, and a hair-raising, heart-thumping climax. Narrated by legendary stars Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby, THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD is brimming with high-spirited adventure, brilliant animation, and captivating music -- now available for the first time in keeping with Walt's original theatrical vision.
The Haunted Mansion - A movie featuring the very funny Eddie Murphy
From the studio that brought you PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ... here's the fright-filled comedy adventure loaded with hair-raising laughs and eye-popping special effects! Eddie Murphy (DADDY DAY CARE) stars as a real estate agent whose family comes face-to-face with 999 grim, grinning ghosts in the creepy old Gracey Manor! Now with the help of supernatural psychic Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly, LIAR, LIAR) they must hilariously battle to break the mansion of its age-old curse ... and do it before the clock strikes 13!
The Little Vampire - Vampires and Halloween go together!
The Little Vampire is excellently acted and great to look at. Stuart Little's Jonathan Lipnicki carries, on his pint-sized shoulders, his every scene as 8-year-old Tony, befriender of vampires, and the Scottish setting lends itself nicely to spookiness. But where this video earns most points is in the plot department. A continent away from his native California, Tony's having a tough time making new friends when a band of vagabond vampires enters his life through his bedroom window. The encounter seems pure coincidence at first, but then the scary truth surfaces: Tony, though he's not a vampire himself, has "sympathy for our kind," as the dad of the bat-linked brood puts it. Visions of vampire happenings from generations past invade the third-grader's consciousness, and they hold the key to the clan's current gypsy-like predicament. Through his clairvoyance and, by extension, the discovery of a long-lost amulet, the mostly benevolent bloodsuckers are able to reclaim their rightful status as proper cave dwellers in their homeland. Clueless-parent predicaments abound and are cleverer than most--Tony's mom and dad smirk at their son's vampire-obsessed imagination until the cape-draped heads of the clan drop by for a visit--and the gang's adventures eluding a bumbling vampire hunter are genuinely chuckleworthy. At-home Twizzler munchers ages 8 and older won't soon tire of this charmer of a Transylvanian transplant.
The Black Cauldron - Another spooky Disney tale
Fantasy, magic and fun are all brewed together in Disney’s legendary adventure The Black Cauldron. Created from a new digital master this 25th Anniversary Edition features vibrant picture presentation and includes exciting new bonus features!
Whoever releases the mysterious Black Cauldron’s power will be invincible! The fearsome Horned King will do anything to possess it, but he is challenged by the most unlikely adversary: a young assistant pig keeper named Taran, who dreams of doing heroic deeds. With a motley team of the brave Princess Eilonwy, a minstrel named Fflewddur Fflam and Hen Wen, a remarkable pig who can predict the future, Taran embarks on a quest to stop the Black Cauldron’s evil once and for all. Will he have the courage to succeed?
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Another classic favorite
Ray Bradbury adapted his own novel for Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jack Clayton's beautiful rendering of the turn-of-the-century fantasy of a mysterious carnival that literally blows into a small town to taunt and tempt the inhabitants. Jonathan Pryce (Brazil), the handsome but demonic proprietor of Dark's Pandemonium Carnival, preys upon the vanities, the delusions, and the regrets of the townspeople by granting their wishes at the expense of their souls. Jason Robards, as the meek librarian Charles Halloway, becomes his unlikely nemesis when his son Will, with his best friend Jim Nightshade (a deliciously dark name in its own right), discovers the secret of Dark's nightmarish carnival. When they become hunted by Dark's minions (including Pam Grier as the beautiful and mysterious Dust Witch), Halloway must confront his own fears and regrets to save the boys. Clayton captures the idyll of childhood in the fall with rich autumnal colors, his camera gliding along with the energetic boys as they tear through field and forests. The climax, however, gets lost in a cacophony of competing special effects, imaginatively visualized but never very terrifying, as if producer Disney resisted the uneasy undercurrent of the story. It's more dark fantasy than horror, a nightmarish adventure filtered through the memory of a man remembering his childhood in mythic terms.
Coraline - Animated, yes, but not for little ones
A dark and creepy film about family relationships directed by Henry Selick of Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach fame, Coraline is based on the haunting book Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The first stop-motion feature shot in stereoscopic 3-D, Coraline features big-headed, stick-bodied animated characters with huge eyes and demonic grins set against menacing backgrounds and an undercurrent of spooky music. Coraline is a teenager who has just moved to an old house in the middle of nowhere with her writer parents and she is bored, bored, bored. Her only companions are an annoyingly talkative boy Wybie (short for Why Born), some eccentric neighbors from the theater and circus, and a strange, button-eyed doll with a marked resemblance to Coraline which Wybie found in an old trunk of his grandmother's. When Coraline finds an old door hidden behind an armoire and papered over with wallpaper, she convinces her mother to unlock it, only to find a wall of bricks. When Coraline revisits the door later that night, the bricks magically disappear and she discovers a strange pathway to another world where everything is just what she wishes for. In stark contrast to the real world where Coraline's parents just don't have time for her, her "Other Mother" and "Other Father" in this alternate world are the perfect loving, attentive parents who anticipate her every need and desire. Initially comforted and quite happy in this new world, suspicion that things may not be quite as they seem grows inside Coraline and her disquiet is furthered by the mute "Other Wybie" and a strange-talking cat that seems to move between both worlds. Eventually, Coraline discovers some dark secrets about her "other parents" and the seemingly perfect "other world," but it may be too late for her to escape back to the real world. Teri Hatcher is especially effective in her dual (voice) role as Mom and "Other Mom" and Dakota Fanning also gives a great performance as Coraline. Coraline is a disturbing, intriguing film that both captivates and frightens.
Halloweentown/ Halloweentown II - Kalabar's Revenge - Kids with supernatural powers
In a place called Halloweentown, good and evil look very different than one might expect. Thanks to a visit from Grandmother Aggie (Debbie Reynolds), Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) and her family's tradition of ignoring the Halloween holiday are about to change in the extreme. It seems that Marnie's mother Gwen (Judith Hoag) has been hiding a big secret from her three children--all of them possess supernatural powers. Now that it's Marnie's thirteenth birthday, she must begin her training as a witch or lose her powers forever. While Gwen wants nothing more than to see her children grow up as "normal" humans, Grandmother Aggie and Marnie have other ideas. A brewing crisis between good and evil in the alternate world Halloweentown soon pulls the entire family through a portal and into an intense battle against ghouls, goblins and the warlock Kalabar (Robin Thomas). Halloweentown II takes place two years after Halloweentown and finds Kalabar's son bent on revenge. Marnie has matured as a witch, but her powers are pushed to the limit in a desperate effort to triumph over an evil curse in order to save Halloweentown, her family and the human world. This is good Disney Halloween fun with nice costuming and special effects, a wholesome message about the power of family, cooperation and perseverance, and ghouls that, though creepy looking, aren't likely to inspire nightmares in younger family members.
Hocus Pocus - Features an all-star line-up
You're in for a devil of a time when three outlandishly wild witches -- Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy -- return from 17th-century Salem after they're accidentally conjured up by some unsuspecting pranksters! It's a night full of zany fun and comic chaos once the tricky 300-year-old trio sets out to cast a spell on the town and reclaim their youth -- but first they must get their act together and outwit three kids and a talking cat! Loaded with bewitching laughs, HOCUS POCUS is an outrageously wild comedy that's sure to entertain everyone!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Magic and mystery for older kids
The Harry Potter flicks have just enough mix of evil and magic to make great family Halloween movies. The entire series is great, but if your kids aren't familiar with the series, be sure to start with this first movie.
Here's an event movie that holds up to being an event. This filmed version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, adapted from the wildly popular book by J.K. Rowling, stunningly brings to life Harry Potter's world of Hogwarts, the school for young witches and wizards. The greatest strength of the film comes from its faithfulness to the novel, and this new cinematic world is filled with all the details of Rowling's imagination, thanks to exuberant sets, elaborate costumes, clever makeup and visual effects, and a cr�me de la cr�me cast, including Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and more. Especially fine is the interplay between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his schoolmates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as his protector, the looming Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). The second-half adventure--involving the titular sorcerer's stone--doesn't translate perfectly from page to screen, ultimately because of the film's fidelity to the novel; this is a case of making a movie for the book's fans, as opposed to a transcending film. Writer Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus keep the spooks in check, making this a true family film, and with its resourceful hero wide-eyed and ready, one can't wait for Harry's return.