Posted: Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
The Halloween season is one of our favorite times of year! We love the anticipation of trick-or-treating, perfecting our costumes, grazing on fun-sized candy, and scaring ourselves silly. One of the best ways to get into the fun or spooky spirit is to watch a great Halloween movie! There are a ton of options out there for adults and teenagers, but sometimes it’s hard to find an appropriate Halloween movie for kids. To help you through those cozy October nights, we’ve hand-picked some of the best age-appropriate Halloween movies for kids.
Halloween Movies for Little Kids (Ages 3 to 9)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This classic holiday special features the Peanuts gang celebrating All Hallow’s Eve with some peculiar traditions. The story revolves around young Linus, who is waiting for the fabled Great Pumpkin, a Santa Claus-like character whom he believes appears each Halloween night. Meanwhile, the rest of the children participate in some Halloween traditions, such as bobbing for apples and trick-or-treating. Each activity ends with a silly twist that kids will love: Lucy accidentally kisses Snoopy while trying to retrieve an apple and Charlie Brown gets a rock instead of candy at each stop on their trick-or-treating route. In the style of Beckett, the Great Pumpkin never does show up, but Linus remains hopeful. Mark the beginning of the Halloween season with a family viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and feel inspired by the promise of Halloween traditions!
This is a great movie for kids who can be intimidated by the scary factors of Halloween. Monsters, Inc. tells the story of best friends James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski. These friends take scaring very seriously—they are professional closet monsters—but they are so smart, funny, and caring that they just might make your kids reconsider their fear of things that go ‘bump’ in the night. Kids will see that even monsters get frightened sometimes, when Boo, a little girl from the human world, sneaks through the closet door into Monstropolis and terrifies Sulley, Mike, and anyone she comes into contact with. While this Pixar insta-classic is not strictly a Halloween film, it does teach kids some great lessons for the holiday. Mainly, that everyone is afraid sometimes, and that behind each spooky thing, there’s usually a core that’s not scary at all.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Break out The Nightmare Before Christmas at the end of the October to get your kids excited for the fun of both Halloween and upcoming winter holidays. The iconic Jack Skellington is the leader of the spooky yearly festivities in Halloween Town, a city populated by monsters, ghosts, vampires, and witches. Jack has always loved Halloween, but he begins to grow tired of doing the same thing from year to year. Jack accidentally falls into Christmas Town, where he’s overcome by the beauty of Christmas. Jack returns to Halloween Town to attempt to bring Christmas to his friends, but most of the traditions are lost in translation. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good movie all around—it has beautiful stop-motion animation, catchy songs, and complex characters—but it is an especially great film to watch in the fall and winter, as it reminds the viewer to appreciate each holiday for the things that make it special.
Halloween Movies for Big Kids (Ages 10 and up)
If you were the type to judge a Halloween film by its title, we bet that Monster House wouldn’t rank as one of your must-see holiday movies. But the assumption that this movie is an ordinary, semi-scary flick for kids about a combination house-slash-monster belies the true amazingness of the film. Monster House tells the story of DJ, Chowder and Jenny, three twelve-year-olds who get entangled in the mystery of their disgruntled neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. While this plot of this movie could go in a very obvious direction, the viewer is thrown several unexpected and emotional twists that give the film more complexity. This movie is great for big kids, but it’s even compelling enough for adults to watch with or without children. Fun fact: Monster House was nominated for an Academy Award.
Hocus Pocus combines fantasy, comedy, mild horror and even a little history into one Halloween movie! Directed by Kenny Ortega, of High School Musical fame, this film follows teenager Max as he faces young love, his embarrassing little sister, and the Sanderson sisters: Three witches who have risen from the dead and are fixated on destruction. Hocus Pocus is a little predictable, but it neatly fits the outline of a traditional Halloween movie for kids, with slapstick jokes, random musical numbers, abundant optimism, and talking cats. Turning 20 years old this year, we bet that this movie will bring some fuzzy nostalgic feelings to parents and babysitters, but won’t feel too dated for today’s kids. This movie also has some educational value, as kids will learn a little about the Salem witch trials.
Coraline is a dark and fantastical movie based on the children’s novel by Neil Gaiman. Coraline and her parents have recently moved to a new town, and Coraline is feeling glum about the whole thing. In addition to despising her location, Coraline also feels like she’s being ignored by her work-centric parents and she doesn’t see herself becoming friends with her neighbors. Coraline finds a mysterious miniature door in her house, which leads to a new dimension with attentive parents, neighbors who perform spectacular shows, and a silent friend whom she gets along with well. After a few visits to this other world, Coraline starts to get a bad feeling about her new friends and family, and things start to unravel to show that the alternate universe is not what it seems. This is a great movie overall, and one of the standout features is the animation. Creepy and inviting at the same time, this movie paints a beautiful picture of Coraline’s story. If you have access to a compatible television, rent the film in 3D to see the visuals really shine.