My family loves watching Halloween movies to get into the spooky spirit.
Of course, every kid has a different threshold for what they consider too scary. With most of these selections, there are links to Common Sense Media, where you can read more about the content of the films (along with reviews from other parents and kids).
Here are 25 that capture the goofy, spooky and sweet aspects of Halloween. Boo! And Happy Halloween.
Halloween Movies for Younger Kids
1. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown—G
This is almost as perfect as the Peanuts Christmas movie – and coming from me, that's a huge compliment. A must-rewatch-every-season movie.
2. Monsters, Inc.—G
3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—G
This is really a short film, but it's such a classic it has to go here.
4. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit—G
Wallace and Gromit save their town from a giant were-rabbit. Actually, they save the squashes and pumpkins of the Giant Vegetable Competition.
5. Bedknobs and Broomsticks—G
Three kids escape London during World War II with the help of a witch and an enchanted bedknob. I thought this movie was pretty cool when I was a kid.
6. Hotel Transylvania—PG
Maybe Adam Sandler should stick to voice work. I don't love it, but my kid does, so here it is.
7. Nightmare Before Christmas
There's only one Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, and that is Jack Skellington. This movie might be a bit intense for younger kids, but my kid was obsessed with it when she was four.
Halloween Movies for 9 and Up
This is a super weird movie. I'm not even sure I really like it. Also, David Bowie's codpiece. But it is a great movie for the season. My 7-year old loved it.
A stop-motion movie that has genuine scares. Not for little kids, better for 4th or even 5th grade and up. Has good messages about tolerance.
10. Monster House—PG
Kids discover that a neighbor's house is a monster. Like ParaNorman, this movie has some creepy scenes that make it most appropriate for 4th grade and up.
11. Dracula with music by the Kronos Quartet—NR
I've always loved the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula, flawed as it may be it. It has a self-seriousness that gives it a kind of strange majesty. See the version with music from the Kronos Quartet. View this making of video to get a sense of how awesome it is.
12. The Universal Monster Movies—NR
Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Invisible Man, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Mummy and Bride of Frankenstein. Growing up, the Creature from the Black Lagoon was my second favorite movie after Star Wars. Everyone should see all these old movies. Plan a fun retro movie night with the kids. They might grumble at first, but trust me – it'll make for a fun movie night.
Today's kids will be confused, entertained and generally weirded out by this movie – just as they were when it came out 28 years ago (!)
14. Corpse Bride—PG
It's not a classic like Nightmare Before Christmas, but great creepy stop-motion animation and great voice work from Johnny Depp elevate this movie into a must-see.
15. Young Frankenstein—PG
I admit that I didn't love it as a kid, but only because I wanted to see the real thing – not a parody. My kid likes it because it's so goofy. I enjoyed it more when I watched it with her.
A beautiful, creepy and strangely moving stop-motion masterpiece.
17. The Witches—PG
Adapted from the book by Roald Dahl, which I found much more disturbing than this movie. (Spoiler alert: In the book, the kid is transformed into a mouse and is stuck in that form forever. In the movie, he at least transforms back into a human.) Anjelica Huston is great as the main witch. Suitable for 9-year-olds and up.
For Pre-Teens and Beyond
My 7-year old kid thinks the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man is the funniest bad guy ever. That was probably the idea, but he terrified me as a child.
19. Hocus Pocus—PG
Most people feel that this classic about three witches, and the teenagers determined to stop them, is a must-watch every year.
20. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban—PG
Dementors! Werewolves! The best Potter movie for the season.
Another dark comedy from the 1980's that terrified me when it came out. Gremlins 2 is insane—in a good way.
22. Something Wicked This Way Comes—PG
Super-creepy, but still within the realm of appropriateness for pre-teens. It's about an evil circus.
Somehow this movie is rated PG, but it should be rated PG-13.
24. The Addams Family, Addams Family Values—PG-13
I prefer the second movie. Maybe that's because I saw it on VHS in a public hall in a tiny town in Mexico, where it scandalized the older townspeople.
25. The Monster Squad—PG-13
Rated PG-13, not for scares and chills, but because of language, the complications of finding a virgin to sacrifice and the fact that the Wolfman "had nards." Most of that went over my head as a kid. Growing up, for me this film was up there with Goonies.
26. Batman Returns—PG
Set in the winter, but creepy Danny DeVito as Penguin and Christopher Walken as Max Schreck along with music from Tim Burton make this a perfect Halloween film.
27. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial—PG
It's a movie set during Halloween, and it made millions of children (and grownups) cry. It can work as a Halloween movie.