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On these cold, wet, dark nights we love to serve up the popcorn and watch a film together. October is the perfect time to enjoy a spooky movie. Dave and I love watching horror, but for film nights with the kids we need to choose “family friendly” movies. When choosing films we don’t go purely by age ratings- you know your child best and you know what they can cope with. I do suggest you always watch a “scary” movie yourself before watching it with your child.
Kid’s can surprise us sometimes and get very scared by something in a Disney “U-rated” film and then cope well with a so called “scary movie”. Also, in our family, sometimes one of our older children gets more freaked out by certain films (such as Goosebumps!) than our youngest child does. Some kids think the scarier the film the better! So choose your film wisely to suit your child.
Here are five Halloween films that we love and will be rewatching this month:
1. 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 first 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!
2. 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
3. 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. We also can’t wait to watch the newest The Addams Family 2 (2021) out in cinemas from tomorrow (8th October).
4. Coraline (PG, 2009)
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! However, our “child most likely to freak out at a scary movie” strangely LOVES this one!
5. Beetlejuice (15, 1988)
The demonic comedy that put acclaimed film director Tim Burton firmly on the map. The Maitlands (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) are a happy couple who, when killed in a car crash, return as ghosts to their beloved home to wreak havoc on the ghastly yuppie family who have moved in. Being novices at haunting, their efforts go unnoticed by the house’s new inhabitants except Goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder), who doesn’t mind one bit. At their wit’s end, the ghostly couple call on a despicably disgusting demon named ‘Beetlejuice’ (Michael Keaton) for help.
Beetlejuice is one of my favourite “Halloween” films due to the amazing cast, comedy and the Day-o Banana Boat Scene. However you’ll notice that in the UK it was given a 15 rating so is it really suitable for family viewing? I watched it as a child myself and admit that many of the adult themes just went over my head at the time. If you haven’t watched the film since you were a child or teen, then definitely rewatch before you decide whether to show your children. There are “inappropiate scenes” and it is more uncomfortable watching as an adult but we found as our children are older they were able to cope with it and enjpyed the film in the way it was intended.
More Family-Friendly Halloween Films
What family-friendly films will you be watching this Halloween?