Its difficult to find movies that we can enjoy with the littlest humans among us. If you’re a parent that’s struggling to find a Halloween flick that you can watch without covering your kid’s eyes, look no further. Here’s a list of the top 9 Halloween movies that you and your kids will both enjoy. We’ve organized the list in reverse popularity, so the top movie isn’t necessarily the best, but its probably is the one you’ll least expect. (Got to keep you on your toes for Halloween.) So whether you’re a bored babysitter or a protective parent, grab the popcorn and flick off the lights, its about to get spooky.
9) Nightmare before Christmas
With an incredible soundtrack, beautiful animation, and a spooky aesthetic, its no surprise that Nightmare before Christmas is a cult classic. Even after all these years, Nightmare holds up well. Danny Elfman’s voice has the unique ability to send chills down your spine while making you smile. The opening song makes it clear that it was written with the inner child in mind. “Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange?” Yes, yes we would.
8) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Witches and Wizards get a bad rap during Halloween. If you are tired of the biased media badmouthing magicians, now’s your chance to have your kids learn the other side of the story. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is more than just the first movie in a worldwide phenomenon, turns out its just a good movie, period. The first installment is by far the most kid friendly of the bunch. To make it more educational, have your kid read the book first, that way they can tell all of the other third graders how much better it was than the movie.
7) Hocus Pocus
Bette Midler literally puts a spell on you every time you watch this. Its no coincidence that Knotts scary farm does a callback to this cult classic every year. Hocus Pocus is clearly a kid’s movie, but like Shrek there’s quite a few thinly veiled jokes for the adults. Not all the special effects hold up well, (the disadvantage of live-action) but suspending belief is easier if you have a kid who hasn’t seen it before. For an extra laugh, pretend to be hypnotized during the musical sequence, and watch your kid try to snap you out of it. It’s a blast.
This movie is legitimately creepy, and the cowardly kids may need to watch something else unless you want them hiding under your blankets for security. On the plus side, the story has the wonderful moral of loving your parents even though they’re boring, so for you stamp collectors this will make you look cool. (Why stamps though? Email’s a thing.) For the kids that like to be creeped out, expect the requests for re-watching, because you’re going to be hearing it a lot. The stop motion animation in Coraline is arguably the best that was ever made, so if they get nightmares, at least they’ll be in HD.
5) Rise of the Guardians
This is probably the most underrated Dreamworks movie of all time. Rise of the Guardians will have everyone hypnotized. While the animation is breathtaking, the writing and the story are the movie’s greatest strength. The cover art for the movie may look like a Christmas aesthetic, but don’t be fooled. The villain and the subject matter are surprisingly dark, and discusses death and God better than any kid’s movie has a right to. Fair warning, your kid may want to write a fanfic about Elsa and Jack Frost, but you’ll like the movie so much you’ll probably want to read it. (They are totes perfect for each other.)
Christina Ricci used to be the princess of horror movies. She was probably best known for “Beetlejuice” but Casper was much more kid friendly. Like Rise of the Guardians, Casper talks about death in a very real and very kid friendly way. The art and animation hold up surprisingly well, considering when the movie was made. The humor appeals to the lowest common denominator of kid’s comedy, the fart joke. Despite the low brow moments, there’s a significant chance the movie will make you cry. Like Coraline, the moral will have your kid hugging your leg by the end of it, combine that with the dark undertones and you have a whimsical gem that will stay with you after the credits start rolling. Speaking of the credits, enjoy the awesome rock and roll theme at the end. Good luck trying to hide your smile as your kid dances to Little Richard singing “Casper, the friendly ghost!”. Yes THAT Little Richard. Seriously.
3) Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Either you’ve heard of Wallace and Gromit, or you’re about to be very pleasantly surprised. The series is hugely popular in the UK, and has spawned a plethora of delightfully wholesome movies. Unfortunately, the loveable voice of the series, Peter Sallis, passed away this year, but you can admire his incredible legacy by watching this treasure. Unlike most of the other movies on the list, there’s a lot more Wallace and Gromit to watch after the “Were Rabbit” is over. If you have one of those little ones that always screams “more” after a movie is over, turn on Wallace and Gromit. There’s 295 episodes to watch after the movie is done, all in endearing claymation that will encourage your kids to play with play doe instead of eating it. Or maybe that’s just a problem I have.
2) Spirited Away
Anime? On a Halloween list? Whaaa? Spirited away is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of Miyazaki. Visually the movie is incomparable. The blending of computer animation, hand drawn characters, and oil painted backgrounds make the movie nothing short of art from start to finish. The story itself is whimsical and creepy, but never so much so that it precludes the little ones from viewing. If you want your child to have a multi-cultural experience, or you just want to shake things up from the regular form of fright, Spirited away will not disappoint. No-face is a villain that seems harmless at first, and easing in to the terror is the best way to get kids creeped. As a bonus, the movie has a moral against bad behavior and for mutual respect. So if you got a wild whippersnapper scare em into obedience this Halloween with Spirited Away.
You’re not reading the title wrong, this movie is literally called “9”. If you want a very creepy Halloween style movie but you’re all tired of the same ghosts and goblin tropes, check out 9. This movie is mesmerizing, and the story itself is unique and engaging. It is probably the most intense movie on the list. This movie is violent but it makes the list because all violence is between non-human characters, and the on screen “deaths” are just dolls going limp. If your kid enjoyed Coraline, they will absolutely love 9. This one is only for the bravest of kids, but if you want adrenaline without the blood and gore, this is a great compromise. If your kids have ever played “Little Big Planet” imagine that in a post-apocalyptic world where some of the sackboys die. If that sounds like something that would make your kid go “COOOOOOL” instead of giving them nightmares, watch our number one pick, 9. And yes, we realize how confusing that is. Happy Halloween!