This half term we’re planning to make the most of the possible lockdowns and complete a “Halloween Half Term: Spooky Film Challenge”. Now we’re into October, it’s the best time of year to watch those scary but still child-friendly movies. If you’re looking for movie night inspiration take a look at our list of 20 family Halloween films (and a few bonus extras too!). See how many you can watch and if you want to take the challenge there’s a PDF you can print out to help you choose a new spooky movie each night:
Halloween Half Term: Spooky Films Challenge: 20 Family-Friendly Halloween Films
Dave and I love really scary movies and horror films. But when it comes to watching “scary movies” with the kids, it requires more thought to make sure the film is age-appropriate. You know what’s right for your own kids. One of our older kids hates scary movies as they give them nightmares but the youngest enjoys the scarier the better! If you have younger children and children of different ages, here’s a list of Halloween films that are all U, PG and 12 Rated:
- Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- The Dog Who Saved Halloween
- The Witches
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride
- The Addams Family
- Hotel Transylvania
- Monster House
- Monster Family
- Hocus Pocus
For more information on these films, their age ratings and where to watch them, read on:
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (U, 1993)
Make way for spells, witches, wizards and adventure! It’s Halloween, the scariest, most fun event of fall. But for Lynn and Kelly Farmer (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) something scarier could happen. A slump in the family business means the Farmers will lose their home – unless the spirited twins find a way to save it!
I used to love watching this (and all Olsen films/programmes) with my sisters. Cheesy I know, but great for younger children and to ease gently into Halloween…
2. Twitches (PG, 2005)
The enchanting best-selling book series comes to life in the Disney Channel Original Movie TWITCHES. Only the BETWITCHED EDITION DVD has the exclusive alternate ending and a spellbinding look behind-the-scenes with Tia and Tamera. Superstar twin sisters Tia and Tamera Mowry (SISTER, SISTER) star as twin witches — “twitches”! — who were separated at birth. On their 21st birthday, Alex (Tia) and Camryn (Tamera) reunite and discover that their unusual powers double in strength when they work together. Get caught in their spell as they work their magic to save everyone they love and fulfil their destiny. Go Twitches!
More twins! “Sister, Sister” was another of my favourite shows when I was younger so I can’t wait to introduce the kids to this cheesy, made for TV film. If you enjoy it, there is also a Twitches 2 (2007)!
3. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (PG, 2005)
Wallace and Gromit’s latest business venture – a human pest-control outfit called ‘Anti-Pesto’ – is booming, but with days to go before the Giant Vegetable Competition, the enterprising duo are finding it hard to manage all the captive rabbits taking over West Wallaby Street.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, they’ve now been tasked with tracking down the mysterious beast that’s been decimating the town’s vegetable plots. With the fate of Lady Tottington’s much-loved giant vegetable competition hanging in the balance, can Wallace and Gromit save the day before the snooty Victor Quartermaine gets all the glory?
I do love Wallace and Gromit films. This film is also known as “the first vegetarian horror movie”. It’s a parody of classic monster movies and Hammer Horror. If you like Wallace and Gromit, definitely worth a watch.
Find: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on Amazon Prime (rent: £3.49, buy: £7.99) or DVD (£4.95)
4. Ghostbusters (PG, 1984)
Gaggles of little green ghosts, spooks and a host of paranormal occurrences are on the rampage in New York. Can anyone save the world from these supernatural creatures’ Only three unemployed and enterprising university parapsychologists when they go into the GHOSTBUSTERS business.
“I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost!” Ghostbusters, the film, quotes and songs were just part of life as a kid in the 80’s. I can’t believe that the first Ghostbusters was released when I was just four years old. It enjoyed another surge of popularity in 1989 when Ghostbusters 2 was released, which I remember watching at our local cinema. Definitely, worth giving both a watch for old times sake and, of course, the latest movie was released in 2016. Look out for Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021 as it will star the original cast! “Who you gonna call?” “Ghostbusters!”
5. The Dog Who Saved Halloween (PG, 2011)
A talking dog (Joey Lawrence) encounters a haunted house, a creepy neighbor (Lance Henriksen) and a scary canine (Mayim Bialik).
I had to include this one as Caitlyn loves dog movies, so will love this film. I’m excited to see (well, hear!)Joey Lawrence and Mayim Bialik reunited on screen too, as I loved Blossom.
6. Halloweentown (PG, 1998)
Marnie and her kids get a big shock when they follow grandma home to Halloweentown – and find out they come from a family of witches. The town is the only place where supernatural beings can lead a `normal’ life, but trouble is looming, and on her 13th birthday Marnie not only finds she is a witch, but that she and her family are involved in a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world.
I love having a Disney Plus subscription so we can watch all the old Disney Channel Movies. Again, I know they’re cringy and cheesy but so easy and comforting to watch. I missed watching Halloweentown first time around as I was too old for it on release but I’m excited to watch it with the kids this half term, especially as the late, great, Debbie Reynolds is in it!
7. The Witches (PG, 1990)
While staying at a hotel in England with his grandmother, Helga (Mai Zetterling), young Luke (Jasen Fisher) inadvertently spies on a convention of witches. The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) reveals a plan to turn all children into mice through a magical formula. When they find that Luke has overheard, the witches test the formula on him. Now, with the help of Helga and the hotel manager, Mr. Stringer (Rowan Atkinson), Luke the mouse must fight back against the witches.
I’ve always loved Roald Dahl books, so watching the film versions was always a big treat too. I have to admit this film scared me as a child. The scene that most scared me was when the witch, dressed normally, approached Luke when he was playing up a tree. I had so many nightmares about that. I think the thought that (bad) witches are amongst us all, dressed and acting normally, is far scarier than the typical Halloween style witches! Look out for The Witches (2020), which we should be able to rent for 48 hours from 26th October in the UK (the cinema release has been cancelled due to Covid).
8. Casper (PG, 1995)
Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson) is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When specialist James Harvey (Bill Pullman) arrives to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat (Christina Ricci). Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, but their budding relationship is complicated not only by his transparent state, but also by his troublemaking apparition uncles and their mischievous antics.
At 15, on its release, I was feeling a bit too old for this film but remember watching it with my younger sister and enjoying it. It’s a nice one to watch with my own kids now, too.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG, 1993)
Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, decides to spread Christmas joy to the world. But his well-meaning mission unwittingly puts Santa Clause in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for all good little boys and girls everywhere! … He goes to the Christmas one and finds himself in Christmas Town.
Is this a Halloween or a Christmas film? Who cares! Watch it during both holiday seasons and all year round! I still think of this film as still new, I can’t believe it’s nearly 30 years old. It’s still a perfect film for these Autumn/Winter Sunday nights…
Find: The Nightmare Before Christmas on Amazon Prime Video (buy: £13.99), buy The Nightmare Before Christmas DVD or Rent for £3.99 on Youtube.
10. Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride (PG, 2005)
Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria’s (Emily Watson) families have arranged their marriage. Though they like each other, Victor is nervous about the ceremony. While he’s in a forest practising his lines for the wedding, a tree branch becomes a hand that drags him to the land of the dead. It belongs to Emily, who was murdered after eloping with her love and wants to marry Victor. Victor must get back aboveground before Victoria marries the villainous Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant).
More Gothic than Horror. The Corpse Bride is an enjoyable story with incredible digital stop-motion animation. Above all, it’s a story about love- love lost and love given, but filled with humour too.
“If I touch a burning candle, I can feel no pain. If you cut me with a knife, it’s still the same. And I know her heart is beating, and I know that I am dead; yet the pain here that I feel, try and tell me it’s not real, and it seems that I still have a tear to shed.” -Emily, The Corpse Bride
11. The Addams Family ( PG, 1991)
When long-lost Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) reappears after twenty-five years in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) plan a celebration to wake the dead. But Wednesday (Christina Ricci) barely has time to warm up her electric chair before Thing points out Fester’s uncommonly “normal” behaviour. Could this Fester be a fake, part of an evil scheme to raid the Addams fortune?
Growing up I loved watching The Addams Family 60’s series (they were repeats by the way!). So I was so excited when The Addams Family movie came out. I remember going to watch it with friends. Since then there have been more movies and they’re all family favourites. You can find Addams Family Values and The Addams Family 2019 animation film currently on Netflix.
12. Scoob (PG, 2020)
When a gang of friends, eager for investment in their paranormal crime-busting business, discover their four-pawed pal Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) might be the key to stopping an impending “dog-ocalypse”, they embark on an epic quest. Helping them is an oddball superhero, but their journey won’t be easy — not with the villainous Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) on their trail.
We are long term Scooby Doo fans and Izzy still loves watching the cartoons. There are of course many Scooby Doo films and we’ve watched them all so we’re very excited to have a new film, Scoob, to watch this Halloween.
13. Hotel Transylvania (U, 2012)
Welcome to Hotel Transylvania! When monsters want to get away from it all, they go to Count Dracula’s (Adam Sandler) Hotel Transylvania, a lavish resort where they can be themselves without humans around to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula invites creatures like the Invisible Man, the Mummy and others to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). However, an unforeseen complication unfolds when an ordinary human unwittingly crashes the party and falls in love with Mavis.
Hotel Transylvania is a fun film for younger kids. If they enjoy this, there are more films: Hotel Transylvania 2 and 3 and the series are also on Netflix to keep them entertained too.
14. Monster House (PG, 2006)
No adults believe three youths’ (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner) assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends.
Another favourite in our house is Monster House. It’s as goofy as it is spooky, which the younger kids enjoy.
15. Monster Family (PG, 2018)
(sometimes called The Happy Family)
The Wishbone family is far from happy. With a struggling bookshop, an overworked husband, and two misunderstood teenagers, Emma is at her wit’s end trying to be the perfect mom. After dragging her family to a costume party on Halloween night, they are cursed by an evil witch and transformed into a Vampire, a Mummy, a Werewolf, and Frankenstein’s monster. Now Emma will fight to keep her Monster Family together and uncover the secret of their curse… eventually leading them to the Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula!
Monster Family was the Halloween Movie of 2018, there was no escaping it. It has a great cast but sadly, it’s not the most enjoyable of Halloween films, but watchable for younger kids.
16. Coraline (PG,
While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate world that closely mirrors her own but, in many ways, is better. She rejoices in her discovery until Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and the rest of her parallel family try to keep her there forever. Coraline must use all her resources and bravery to make it back to her own family and life.
Be warned that this film looks more suitable for younger children than it actually is. I’d save this one for the older children who you know can hope with dark, horror. I enjoy the film but the buttons always freak me out too!
17. Frankenweenie (PG, 2012)
Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend: his dog, Sparky. But then, tragedy strikes, and Sparky shuffles off this mortal coil. Victor is heartbroken, but his science teacher (Martin Landau) gives him an idea of how to jolt old Sparky back to life. The experiment is successful, and all goes well, until Victor’s fellow students steal his secret and use it to resurrect other dead animals — with monstrous consequences.
We love the story of Frankenstein’s monster and we love dogs so this is a hit in our house. A dark and yet emotional film.
18. Paranorman (PG, 2012)
In ParaNorman, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits. Following LAIKA’s groundbreaking Academy Award-nominated animated feature Coraline, ParaNorman is only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D.
When I sat down to watch Paranorman for the first time with the kids, I’ll be honest I was watching it for them. But I was soon mesmerised by the beautiful screenplay and gripped by Norman’s story.
Look out for Paranorman on Netflix streaming from October 18th.
19. Goosebumps (PG, 2015)
After moving to a new small town, teenage Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) meets the beautiful girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush). But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange – he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town. It’s up to Stine, Zach, Hannah, and Zach’s friend Champ (Ryan Lee) to put all the monsters back in their books.
I grew up reading Goosebumps books (and also Point Horror, remember them?) so imagine my delight when it eventually became a TV series and then a movie starring one of my favourite actors, Jack Black, no less. Unfortunately, one of the kids found the movie scary so I spent most of the film sitting outside the screen comforting them- as I said previously, one of them really doesn’t like anything “scary”. Anyway, what I saw, I enjoyed and I’ve rewatched it since at home. It’s one of those rare films that are as satisfying for adults as it is for kids. There’s even a cameo from the real R. L. Stine! If you enjoy this there is a sequel: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.
Find: Goosebumps on Netflix (Goosebumps the series, 1998, is on Netflix too).
20. Hocus Pocus (PG, 1993)
After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
Hocus Pocus will always be one of my favourite children’s Halloween Movies. I loved it so much as a teen and remember the night I watched it with my own girls well. Danny was staying at a Halloween Scouts Camp. We dropped him off and got back home really late. We snuggled up together and watched Hocus Pocus, the girls loved it and since then it’s a pre-Halloween tradition. I usually prefer reading darker, factual historical writings about The Salem Trials but will always have a soft spot for Hocus Pocus and it’s a great way to get kids interested in learning the real history of the witch trials. There were talks of a sequel or possibly a remake but sadly, it still hasn’t come about! If you love Hocus Pocus, you may enjoy Practical Magic (12+, included with Amazon Prime Video) too!
Some other films to look out for on Amazon Prime are Halloween Island, Spooky Kids and Spooky Stakeout. Other Halloween films you may enjoy are Monsters Inc and Toy Story Halloween. Younger kids will love Room on the Broom. The Worst Witch Series is also a good watch on Netflix.
Halloween Half Term: Family-Friendly Spooky Film Challenge
Do you want to take the Halloween Half Term: Family-Friendly Spooky Film Challenge? Print out the PDF below:
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