With spooky season approaching, gather your kids — whether they’re teens who consider themselves above trick or treating, tweens or toddlers — for a family Halloween movie night.
While there’s a time and place for scary movies, streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus offer more PG fare, from ’90s cartoon classics to more recent ones, like “Hotel Transylvania.”
According to Betsy Bozdech, editorial director at Common Sense Media, when choosing a Halloween movie for kids, it’s important to keep things age-appropriate. When possible, try and choose one that ends with a positive resolution.
“One of the things scary movies give us the opportunity to do with kids is to test out some of the things that push boundaries, that push edges that make them a little bit scared and deal with situations that are hopefully not ones they’re going to encounter in their real life,” Bozdech said.
Then, be there for them after the movie is finished. This way, “they can try out those feelings and know that they have parents and caregivers to come to for reassurance,” Bozdech said.
With Bozdech’s words in mind, there are plenty of places to stream or watch family-friendly Halloween movies and here’s a spooktacular list to help get you started.
‘The Addams Family’ (1991) | PG-13
They’re creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky. If that’s not enough, the Addams clan is also altogether ooky (if that’s even a word). Based on the 1960s TV show about a ghoulish family with a passion for the macabre, “The Addams Family,” movie is silly, spooky and hilarious.
‘Coco’ (2017) | PG
The absolutely stunning animation in this Oscar-winner is reason enough to watch. But you’ll want to watch it anyway due to its Day-of-the-Dead theme, skeletons and touching story about a young boy who travels to the Land of the Dead to find his great-great grandfather.
‘The Muppets Haunted Mansion’ (2021) | TV-PG
You can never go wrong with Muppets. A perennial favorite of both kids and adults, this Halloween movie finds Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn spending the night at a haunted mansion while the rest of the gang celebrates Halloween at Kermit and Miss Piggy’s costume party.
‘Monster House’ (2006) | PG
After a cantankerous neighbor suddenly dies, two teens discover that the house he leaves behind is a living, breathing monster with plans to eat trick-or-treaters on Halloween. With some mildly scary themes, this animated feature is best for kids ages 9 and up.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) | PG
Nothing compares to this Tim Burton masterpiece about Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, whose life is forever changed after discovering Christmas. This kids’ Halloween movie is an absolute must, along with its enduring Halloween song, “This is Halloween,” an essential add to your Halloween playlist.
‘Hocus Pocus’ (1993) | PG
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy star as three witches who return to life after being executed during the Salem Witch Trials. The trio hatches a spellbinding plan to restore their youth that puts all of Salem’s children in mortal danger. Watch ahead of the sequel, coming out in the fall of 2022.
‘Beetlejuice’ (1988) | PG
After dying in a car accident, a married couple haunts their beloved house in an attempt to get rid of its whacky new tenants. When their efforts don’t work, they resurrect Beetlejuice, a maniacal spirit who, instead of helping, makes everything worse. Michael Keaton stars as the mischievous ghost in this Halloween classic.
‘Hotel Transylvania’ (2012) | PG
Hotel Transylvania is a human-free oasis where monsters go when they need a vacation. The ghoulish retreat is threatened after Jonathan, a human, stumbles upon the hidden hotel and meets the daughter of its bloodsucking owner — Count Dracula.
‘Scooby Doo: The Movie’ (2002) | PG
Jinkies! This live-action adaptation of the animated series, “Scooby-Doo,” finds Shaggy, Velma, and the rest of the gang estranged until they unexpectedly meet up on Spooky Island to – you guessed it –solve a mystery.
‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ (1966) | NR
In Charles M. Schultz’s Halloween classic, Charlie Brown and friends navigate the ups and downs of Halloween while debating the existence of a Great Pumpkin that delivers toys to faithful children on Halloween night.
‘Casper’ (1995) | PG
This live-action movie (based on the 1930s cartoon by the same name) is about a friendly ghost named “Casper” who joins forces with a ghost therapist (for real, what are the chances?) and his young daughter to help rid their home of not-so-friendly ghosts.
‘Goosebumps’ (2015) | PG
A tale inside a tale, this movie brings the popular book series to life and revolves around real-life “Goosebumps’” author, R.L. Stine (played by Jack Black), and what happens when the fictitious monsters from his books come to life.
‘Frankenweenie’ (2012) | PG
Spooky, funny and also slightly melancholy, “Frankenweenie” is about a young boy who brings his beloved dog, Sparky, back from the dead (“Frankenstein”-style), with disastrous results.
‘Halloweentown’ (1998) | NR
After discovering that she’s a witch on her 13th birthday, Marnie learns that her mom and grandmother have been keeping some other pretty big family secrets from her, including the existence of an enchanted place called Halloweentown.
‘Coraline’ (2009) | PG
Annoyed after her parents won’t pay attention to her, Coraline goes exploring and discovers a hidden passage to another world in this unsettling movie, baed on a Neil Gaiman novel. After crossing over, she soon realizes that all is not what it seems and must escape if she wants ever wants to go home again.
‘Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride’ (2005) | PG
While practicing his wedding vows in the woods, a groom from the 19th century accidentally winds up in the Land of the Dead. If that’s not bad enough, instead of his beloved fiancé, he finds himself married to a zombie bride.
‘Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island’ (1998) | G
Zoinks, it’s another Scooby-Doo movie! Scoob and the gang head to New Orleans in this movie made years after the original Scooby-Doo cartoons. As usual, they encounter ghosts, zombies and just about everything else before finally solving yet another mystery.
‘Monsters, Inc.’ (2001) | G
Yes, it’s possible for a movie about monsters to be sweet. This animated classic is about Sulley and Mike Wazowski, two working monsters who find themselves in charge of a big-eyed toddler that unexpectedly sneaks into their world, which is fueled by energy created by kids’ fear.
‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ (2001) | PG
The first movie in the wildly popular series adapted from the J.K. Rowling books, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” introduces us to Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hogwarts and all the other magical wonders associated with the world of witchcraft and wizardry. It’s worth the watch just to see floating pumpkins in the Great Hall on Halloween.
‘Ghostbusters’ (1984) | PG
Who you gonna call if there’s something strange in your neighborhood? Well, if the “something strange” is an invisible man sleeping in your bed, better make your next call to the Ghostbusters. In addition to being hilarious, this ‘80s movie has some real scares in it along with some adult themes, making this better suited for older kids.
‘Ghostbusters’ (2016) | PG-13
Released more than 30 years after the original “Ghostbusters” movie, this reboot stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the new ghost-fighting group. Its PG-13 rating means that, like the original, it’s best for older kids.
‘Gremlins’ (1984) | PG
“Gremlins” starts off all cute and cuddly, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is “E.T.” — because it’s not. It doesn’t take long for this movie to reveal why you should never break the three rules of pet ownership. The result is grisly mayhem as gremlins take over a town. Because of that, this one’s best for older kids.
‘The Haunted Mansion’ (2003) | PG
Based on Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” ride, this movie by the same name, stars Eddie Murphy as a workaholic realtor who drags his unsuspecting family on a trip to look at a house. Upon arriving, they discover – yep – it’s haunted and only a woman in a crystal ball can help save them.
‘The Little Vampire’ (2000) | PG
After leaving all his friends and family behind to move with his parents to Scotland, Tony (Johnathan Lipnicki from “Stuart Little”) finds a new best friend who just happens to be a vampire.
‘Twitches’ (2006) | NR
This beloved TV movie is about identical twins (Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley) born on Halloween in the mythical land of Coventry. To protect them from harm, they’re separated, then sent to earth until their 21st birthday. After a chance meeting, they discover they’re sisters – and witches!
‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ (2005) | G
The pest business (called “Anti-Pesto,” get it?) is going well for Wallace and his dog, Gromit, even if it means they have a lot of new friends. The only problem is that the annual town vegetable competition is being threatened by a giant werewolf-rabbit. Plenty of funny hijinks result in this popular stop-motion movie.
‘Labyrinth’ (1986) | PG
This ‘80s fantasy film features David Bowie, big hair and original numbers. Don’t don’t let that distract you from the fabulous puppetry and grandeur in this mythical story about a girl who wishes away her baby brother. When her wish is granted, she discovers he’s been taken by an evil Goblin King.
‘Spooky Buddies’ (2011) | G
Air Bud gets a Halloween makeover in this dogs-in-costumes movie about puppies who stay overnight in a haunted mansion. Even though it’s G-rated, “Spooky Buddies” actually has some scary stuff, which might not be suitable for all kids.
‘Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest’ (2013) | NR
For the youngest kids, “Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest” is the perfect introduction to the year’s spookiest holiday. George and his friend, Allie, visit a pumpkin patch and hear the legend of a scarecrow who kicks people’s hats off on Halloween. Is it real? They’re determined to find out and solve the mystery of a scarecrow that kicks, uh, hat.
‘The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ (2003) | PG-13
Aye, matey! While “Pirates of the Caribbean” isn’t technically a Halloween movie, there are so many skeletons and creepy scenes, it should be. Beyond that, it’s a swashbuckling adventure just right for older kids, who’ll totally love the nonstop action.
‘The Witches’ (2020) | PG
Based on the Roald Dahl book, “The Witches,” this remake of the 1990 film features Ann Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci in a movie about an orphan who discovers that witches are actually real.
‘The Witches’ (1990) | PG
The original version of “The Witches” stars Angelica Houston as an evil witch who hatches a plot to turn all the world’s children into mice. This fantasy movie features some impressive (and terrifying) puppet creatures from Muppets-creator, Jim Henson. Due to some scary scenes and themes, it’s likely too intense for younger kids.
Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999) | NR
In this campy Scooby-Doo installment, the gang heads to Massachusetts to investigate — what else — witches. While there, they meet the Hex Girls (an all-girl goth band) and together they solve a centuries-old mystery. This one’s all about girl power and saving the environment. Also, good luck getting the Hex Girl’s “Earth, Wind, Fire and Air,” song out of your head.
‘The Willoughbys’ (2020) | PG
Kicked out of the house by their neglectful, self-absorbed parents, four kids set out on a mission to become orphans in this Netflix animated adventure. This movie doesn’t have a precise Halloween theme, but it does have mischief.
‘Twilight’ (2008) | PG-13
Edward, Bella, Jacob: Three now-famous characters in one rainy Washington town. The “Twilight” saga begins here and has all the makings of a perfect Halloween flick. Vampires, murder, moody teens and an iconic game of baseball played in a thunderstorm. “Twilight” is a great Halloween movie for tweens, especially ones with a love for romantic movies.