Halloween is a time for watching scary movies. But not all fright flicks are created equal, and some (if not most) may not be appropriate for younger or more sensitive children. So we’ve put together a list of our favorite scary movies for families and divided them into age-appropriate groups. We also included the trailers so you can decide if you agree, or show them to your children to gauge their interest.
Scary Movies for Families: Ages 5-9
Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
This absurd slice of claymation has just the right amount of scary and silly for younger children to enjoy the spirit of Halloween and other frightful days of the year. The delightful British duo Wallace and Gromit try to figure out what’s been destroying a town’s vegetable gardens and discover a monster loose in the neighborhood.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
People love to argue about whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. Wherever you land in the debate, it’s safe to watch Tim Burton’s groundbreaking stop-motion animated movie every year from October to December.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
While the Wind in the Willows portion of this Disney double feature has little to do with Halloween for Friday the 13th, the Icabod Crane story is a perfectly scary introduction to Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.
Hotel Transylvania tells the story of a human who discovers a resort for monsters run by none other than Count Dracula. If your children end up liking this movie, there are two sequels available.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
There is a reason why this television special has remained a perennial favorite of the Halloween season for more than fifty years. Nothing quite captures the spirit of Halloween like this Peanut’s classic, making it a great scary movie to revisit at any time of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Monster, Inc., Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Casper
NEXT SECTION: Ages 9-15
Scary Movies for Families: Ages 9-15
Angelic Huston provides an absolutely iconic performance as the Grand High Witch in this adaptation of the Roald Dahl book. A remake is on the way with Anne Hathaway taking up Huston’s role, but we’re sticking with the original.
With 1980s nostalgia still going strong (Stranger Things, anyone?), we would be remiss if we didn’t mention The Monster Squad. This unlikely combination of The Goonies and Ghostbusters features a cadre of classic monsters invade a small town and it’s up to a ragtag group of kids to save the day.
One thing is for sure, stop motion animation dominates spooky movies for younger ages. In this feature, a boy with the ability to speak to the dead must unravel a mystery besieging his hometown.
Between the book series and the Nickelodeon television show, Goosebumps is synonymous with scary stories for a certain generation of kids. This big-screen adaptation does a good job of capturing the fun and thrills of its famous namesake.
Classic Universal Movies
For many, the Universal Movie Monsters from the first half of the twentieth century represent the basis of our conception of Halloween monsters — Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man. However, while they may be familiar with the images and stories of these films, your children have probably never have seen them. Friday the 13th is the perfect time to introduce your kids to these indelible cultural touchstones.
Honorable Mentions: Hocus Pocus, Coraline, Corpse Bride, Monster House, The House with a Clock in its Walls, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Young Frankenstein, The Adams Family, Beetlejuice
NEXT UP: Ages 15-18