When your little witches and ghouls are all trick-or-treated out, and they’ve had enough candy to appease their sweet tooth (but not so much that you’ll be dealing with their sugar high all night!), dim the lights and put on one of these creepy classics.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966): Poor Linus van Pelt waits in the pumpkin patch for The Great Pumpkin to arrive, even though his Peanuts friends are convinced there’s no such entity, in this must-watch Charlie Brown special.
Monsters, Inc. (2001): In the city of Monstropolis, monsters “Sulley” (voiced by John Goodman) and Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) help generate power through scaring children. When one child, Boo, follows them into their world, they have to figure out a way to return her home. As with most Pixar films, adults will enjoy this as much as the kids do.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949): If you haven’t seen Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, consider this required viewing on Halloween night. The animated adaptation of Washington Irving’s story is narrated by Bing Crosby, whose bass voice adds an element of the sinister.
E.T. (1982): The film that spawned a million Halloween costumes in the 1980s, E.T. remains incredibly popular more than 30 years after its release. While it has a couple of startling scenes for younger viewers, at its heart, it’s a story of friendship. The scene where E.T. and Elliott fly through the sky on his bike is true movie magic.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): Is it a Halloween movie? Is it a Christmas movie? Perhaps a bit of both, but we prefer to watch the Tim Burton-penned tale of Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, around the end of October. Jack decides he’s bored of Halloween and wants to take over Christmastown from Santa Claus – of course things go horribly wrong.
The Witches (1990): Based on the Roald Dahl story, The Witches stars Angelica Huston as the leader of a coven of witches, intent on ridding the world of children. Young Luke finds out about her plan and wants to stop her, but she turns him into a mouse before he can tell anyone. Combine Roald Dahl’s quirky storytelling with a hilarious performance from Huston, and you have the makings of an immensely entertaining film.
Coraline (2009): Young Coraline is bored at her new home in the country. Her parents are busy and there’s no one to play with – until one night she discovers a passageway to a new home, with an ‘other mother’ and ‘other father’ who are her dream parents and have all the time in the world for her. But the idealized world isn’t quite what it seems. Based on a Neil Gaiman story, the animated film has a few scenes that may be considered disturbing to very young children.
Beetlejuice (1988): Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Michael Keaton stars as the titular character in the Tim Burton comedy about a deceased couple who want to get rid of the new occupants of their home by scaring them away – a task that’s much more difficult than they expect it to be. Some of the film’s language isn’t appropriate for young children.
Hocus Pocus (1993): This cult fave stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as sister witches inadvertently brought back to life by a teenage boy, Max, on Halloween night. Max must find a way to stop the witches, who need the life force of children in order to preserve their youth.
Ghostbusters (1984): Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! The blockbuster comedy smash stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as ghost catchers in a New York City increasingly plagued by the paranormal. The three stars are all at their comedic best here, as are supporting players Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.
Corpse Bride (2005): While practicing his wedding vows, shy Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) accidentally weds the deceased Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter), aka the Corpse Bride. The stop-motion film from Tim Burton (shall we call him the master of Halloween films?) is actually a bittersweet love story, and one of his best pictures to date.
Edward Scissorhands (1990): This is our favourite Johnny Depp role – he’s perfect as the quiet boy with scissors for hands who’s brought from his solitary house on the hill to live with a family in the suburban town below. And while the family he lives with accepts him for who he is, the townspeople aren’t too sure about the mysterious new addition to their population. A beautiful, magical film, made even more spectacular by Danny Elfman’s fairytale-esque score. Also of note: this is Vincent Price’s final film.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005): As Tottington Hall’s vegetable competition draws near, the town faces threats from a seemingly giant ‘were-rabbit’ that’s destroying their beloved veg. Enter pest control specialists Wallace & Gromit, who vow to save the town’s produce from the spooky thief. The hilarious and well-crafted claymation picture won best animated feature at the Academy Awards, and is suitable for kids of all ages. Grown-ups will love it too!
Still from Coraline, Focus Features, 2009
Did we miss your favourite kid-friendly Halloween movie? Share your picks in the comments below!
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