Looking for some good spooky movies for my kids.

This is maybe the first year that both kids are really grooving on the subject of Halloween: the eldest wanted to make sure that he was in on decorating the lawn and the youngest actually expressed an opinion on his costume. So, of course, it’s time to get them properly indoctrinated and so forth. They are both below the age of ten, I’m looking more for spooky than scary, and of course I’m going to show them The Nightmare Before Christmas as soon as my wife and I decide that they can handle it.  The very question! What’s the point of Halloween if I can’t show them Tim Burton’s best movie ever?

…Did I squeeze enough gasoline on that particular fire, or does it need another squirt?


  • JAB says:

    There are some weird lists on the internet. In no particular order, and knowing you’re the best judge of whether or not a particular movie is appropriate for your kids: Young Frankenstein. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The Addams Family. Hocus Pocus shows up on a lot of lists, but I’d give it a few years. Halloweentown. Casper. Pooh’s Halloween Heffalump Movie. The Worst Witch. Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Maybe Coraline, although it gives me the creeps. Hotel Transylvania. Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Maybe one of the old black and white, maybe even silent film era vampire or frankenstein movies.

  • Compound says:

    Well, my goto suggestion would be Poltergeist… but for kids under 10, yeah. There’s some stuff in there that will stay with them and not in a good way.
    Let me think. If black & white films are okay, you could go with House on Haunted Hill. (There’s a colorized version of it floating around too.) No gore, no language. The old b+w Universal films would probably work as well. But actually, let me recommend something that might work better than those- Twilight Zone episodes. They’re short, in case your kids get bored. No objectionable material, given their TV origin. They’re all on Netflix. And they’re still scary. Try “The After Hours”, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, “The Invaders”, “The Dummy”, “Number 22”, “Living Doll”, “The Hitch-Hiker’ or “The New Exhibit” would all work well.
    Or hey, the original Godzilla is technically a horror film too.

  • dave says:

    Well definitely not for kids under 10, but I’ve always thought that Fallen starring Denzel Washington was the scariest film for me. No real gore just death by poison needle or gunshot. Minimal violence but a cat and mouse game that ends badly for all concerned. After all, even the narrator ‘almost’ died.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      *I* got too freaked out to keep watching that one. 🙂

      • 1_rick says:

        I thought Fallen was a GREAT horror movie, although looking it up on Wikipedia just now it seems to have not done well financially.

        • Luke says:

          It *was* a great horror movie. It was danged near flawless in every respect.
          Which I think was the problem.
          Most extremely successful horror movies fall apart if you think about them for two seconds. And lots of those have ridiculous levels of splatter-schtick to make them even less believable.
          Most people going to a horror movie want some cat-jumps, some gross visuals, and to be able to laugh about it immediately after.
          Spending the next several weeks with an itch between their shoulderblades isn’t really on the agenda.

  • Skip says:

    beetlejuice? Not Edward Scissorhands yet…

    Hmm Maybe some of the classics? The Laurel and Hardy ghost movies, Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein? Most of the Hammer horror films may be too scary for young kids.

  • Luke says:

    Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.
    It’s a legitimately good Universal horror/monster show, with the comics helpfully explaining the tropes they’re about to encounter (for comic effect, naturally).
    Pacific Rim and a bunch of the recent superhero movies are scary without really having nightmare potential. (And teach that dragons can be defeated.)
    For the older one, Curse of the Demon/Night of the Demon. It’s a great black and white horror movie (easily hanging with Val Lewton’s best) right up until the very end, when executive meddling insisted that the audience get to see the monster. Spoiler: the special effects in the reveal are nothing short of laughable.

  • mikethegrate says:

    These aren’t Halloween specific, but are a good list of movies I saw as a kid that did a good job of spooking me out:

    The Last Unicorn
    The Neverending Story
    The Secret of N.I.M.H.
    The Dark Crystal

  • jeboyle says:

    I’d like to recommend Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein as well, and there are a few other B&W films that might do:

    The Ghost Breakers – Bob Hope
    I Married a Witch – Veronica Lake and Frederic March
    Arsenic & Old Lace – Cary Grant
    The Time of Their Lives – Abbott & Costello, where Costello is a ghost

    All comedies but with seasonal touch.

    • justjack says:

      As hilarious as The Ghost Breakers is, you are going to have to explain about Willie Best. Dang it, he’s great. But that character that he plays. In this modern day, he’s, how shall I put it…”problematical.”

      Put me down for another vote A&C Meet F.

  • Belcatar says:

    My entries are The Lady in White (featuring a very young Lucas Haas) and Corpse Bride. Another ghost story that would be appropriate for young viewers would be Topper, starring Cary Grant. The Canterville Ghost is an interesting one too, featuring the ghost of William Shakespeare played by Patrick Stewart. They’re all basically ghost stories rather than horror movies. And Corpse Bride has the voice of Danny Elfman, so there’s that.

  • Belcatar says:

    Oh, and one more: Heart and Souls, starring Robert Downey Jr. Yet another gore-free ghost story with a good message.

  • Belcatar says:

    Technically, The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t a Tim Burton film. It was actually directed by Henry Selick. I’m splitting hairs, of course.

  • acat says:

    “Book of Life” (2014) is quite kid-friendly, and covers the classical Mexican ‘day of the dead’ mythos pretty well.
    Do, as they say, watch it yourself first .. they’re not *my* little Lanes.

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