Family-Friendly Halloween Movies
Halloween movies aren’t just for the adults, they’re for kids and teens too! In celebration of the season, Ghoulish has curated thirty-one Halloween themed film and television choices to get you and your loved ones in the perfect spooky mood! We promise that these Halloween movie picks will entertain small children, tweens, teens, young adults, and of course the parents.
Please be advised that some of these choices may not be suitable for very young children, so follow the MPAA rating and watch at your own discretion. Gather round, dump your candy on the floor, and park yourself on the couch because we’re going over some of the very best Halloween movies for the entire family!
In recent years Over the Garden Wall has become a Fall tradition for myself and friends. The mini-series premiered on Cartoon Network in 2014 and has since won awards for Outstanding Animated Program at the Primetime Emmy Awards! Over the Garden Wall follows two brothers Greg (Collin Dean) and Wirt (Elijah Wood) lost in the woods as they try to find their way home while evading the mysterious Beast of the Unknown. The art direction of the series is inspired by classic Halloween lithograph cards along with vintage American illustrations.
Each episode is scattered with pumpkins, golden leaves and a beautiful score composed by The Blasting Company. With ten episodes in the mini-series at about ten to fifteen minutes each, watching through Over the Garden Wall to completion is almost like watching something at standard movie length. We highly recommend Over the Garden Wall become a part of your annual Fall film rotation too!
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a staple of the Autumn season when it comes to classic animation choices. The film is told and sung by the legendary Bing Crosby and the animation itself is in a vibrant early Technicolor! The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is an animated adaptation of “The Wind in the Willows” followed by an adaptation of the Halloween classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“.
The first half is fine and can still be enjoyed…but the second half is where things get especially spooky. Who doesn’t love some great flaming pumpkin action flying at your television set? The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad strike a flawless balance between classic Disney fun and chilling Halloween camp.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad also won a Golden Globe award for best cinematography in 1950 and it’s easy to see why. Parents be warned though, the Headless Horseman is often cited as being, along with the Firebird in Fantasia 2000 (1999), The Horned King in The Black Cauldron (1985) and Chernabog in Fantasia (1940), as one of the scariest villains in the Disney canon. To this day, Disney still receives complaints from parents about the character frightening their children.
The Black Cauldron’s strength is very much in the realm of fantasy, but the iconic imagery from this animated feature will absolutely give you and the rest of your family chills! From all the skeleton armies and haunted trees, you’d never expect this to come out of a Disney movie.
The Black Cauldron tells of a young boy and a group of friends who embark on a journey to locate a dark magic item of ultimate power before a diabolical tyrant can. The Black Cauldron didn’t receive a single video release until 1998, due to its dark content. Times have changed though and now little kids are into Sirenhead and ARGs. Give this spooky Disney a classic…if you dare!
If you love the Universal Monsters and the gothic visionary that is Tim Burton then we must recommend Frankenweenie. The stop motion animated film is entirely in black and white, which creates that classic movie atmosphere right away. You’ll also notice later on some very fun reinterpretations of Hollywood’s classic creatures!
When a boy’s beloved dog passes away suddenly, he attempts to bring the animal back to life through a powerful science experiment. Frankenweenie’s cast is stellar and consists of Winona Ryder (Stranger Things), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice), Martin Landau (North by Northwest), Tom Kenny (Spongebob), and many others!
How could we not recommend It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? It’s fun for all ages, a very quick run time, and will give those new parents out there a classic animated television special to share with their kids at any age. This was a television special that is a must-watch for me and my loved ones and it continues to be an annual Fall tradition.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown follows the Peanuts gang as they celebrate Halloween while Linus waits for none other than the Great Pumpkin! Fun fact: famous writer Ray Bradbury and his daughters tuned in to the premiere of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in 1966. In his biography, Bradbury said they were so disappointed by there being no Great Pumpkin, that at the end of the show his daughters got up and kicked the television set.
He was so frustrated that he was inspired to write his novel ‘The Halloween Tree‘, about eight children who travel back through time to discover the origins of their Halloween costumes. The Halloween Tree was also eventually turned into a children’s Halloween special.
Witches, singing, and Halloween? Count us in. Hocus Pocus is a Halloween staple for all of those 90s kids out there trying to reclaim their nostalgia for the season. Plus Hocus Pocus features one of the best versions of I Put A Spell On You aside from the classic performed by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins!
Hocus Pocus features Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy in this Disney live-action feature. The film follows a young boy who moves to the town of Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of wicked witches that were executed in the 17th century! During an interview on the BBC show Breakfast, actress Bette Midler stated that this was her favorite of all of her films.
Based on the book from the same title – Hotel Transylvania is if ‘The Monster Mash’ was made into a modern animated movie. You get guest appearances from all the major monsters and it’s always a safe bet to put on for all the little viewers out there.
Hotel Transylvania follows Count Dracula, who operates a resort for monsters away from the human world. He goes into an overprotective mode when a normal human boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenage daughter. Director Genndy Tartakovsky was inspired at a young age to blend horror and comedy with the classic Abbott and Costello meet the Universal Monster films. To quote the director himself…
I don’t want to scare anybody. I just want to make them laugh with these iconic characters.Genndy Tartakovsky
The 90s kids out there are probably screaming in glee that Halloweentown made this list. It’s a Disney Channel movie original that has since grown through rose-tinted glasses. It touches on all things that made Halloween so fun and special as a child in one of the most wholesome ways.
Halloweentown follows a young girl living with her good-witch grandmother when she learns she too is a witch, she must help her grandmother save Halloweentown from evil forces! Halloweentown was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon and they have a month-long Spirit of Halloweentown event to celebrate the October holiday. Fans of the movie come from everywhere to explore the town and catch a glimpse at the giant jack-o-lantern featured in the town square.
*Queue the melodic snapping*
Who doesn’t love to see America’s favorite creeps get into some mischief? The Addams Family as a property has been around since the Great Depression but somehow always finds new life in each generation. From the 60s and all the way into the modern era. This Addams Family film follows con artists trying to swindle the eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.
The idea for The Addams Family film came during a car ride. Scott Rudin, head of production at 20th Century Fox, was riding in a van with other company executives one day after a movie screening. “Everyone was there (studio chiefs) Barry Diller, Leonard Goldberg, and (marketing chief) Tom Sherak, when Tom’s kid started singing The Addams Family (1964) theme,” Rudin told the Los Angeles Times. “And suddenly everyone in the van was singing the theme, letter perfect, note for note.” The next day, Rudin proposed to Diller and Goldberg that they make an Addams Family movie, and the rest is history!
This recent Addams Family animated feature was overlooked for its strange art style but I’m here to let you know that overlooking this gem was a mistake! The art style itself is actually inspired from the original Addams Family comic that was published in the New Yorker by Charles Addams. Also, for that older horror movie fans out there, this film features some incredibly fun references that will make you scream!
The Addams Family animated feature tells of an eccentrically macabre family who moves to a bland suburb where daughter, Wednesday Addams’ friendship with the daughter of a hostile and conformist local reality show host exacerbates conflict between the families. Fun terror ensues!
Christina Aguilera also wrote and performed a song for the film titled Haunted Heart that plays during the opening credits of the picture and it will definitely be going on our Halloween Spotify Playlist.
The Goosebumps film with Jack Black is quirky, fun, and just the right amount of spooky for younger children. As a Goosebumps fan and avid monster enthusiast, I’d love to see more of the creatures on full display, but you can’t win them all. You’ll definitely want this if you want something light and easy.
In Goosebumps a teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware. R.L. Stine makes the comment that he has sold more books than author Stephen King. Surprisingly, this line of the film is true. King having sold over 350 million books and R.L. Stine having sold over 400 million books.
The sequel to the 2015 Goosebumps film is very much in the same stream as the first. Light scares, fun Halloween mood and some family-friendly creatures. If you’re a fan of the original books, something I like to do while watching this and the first film is spotting all the monsters from the original titles! Two young friends find a magic book that brings a ventriloquist’s dummy to life.
For another Stephen King tie in, when R.L. Stine arrives in town, he sees a floating red balloon near a storm drain and says, “I knew I had that idea first!” This is an iconic symbol for the Stephen King novel IT. Jeremy Ray Taylor, who plays Sonny in this Goosebumps movie, also stars as Ben Hanscom in It (2017).
You can’t have Halloween without ghosts! And undoubtedly Casper is everyone’s favorite ghost. Featuring the Addams Family’s very own Christina Ricci, Casper will make the little ones smile instead of cower this October.
You’ll notice Tim Burton is featured frequently on this list and it’s for a great reason. His visual style has become a household staple when it comes to all things scary. Corpse Bride tells the story of a man who mistakenly marries a dead woman (but trust us it’s a lot funnier than it sounds). The film is charming and, in classic Burton fashion, features some important lessons on who we judge in life (and death).
Move over Wolf Man, there’s a new creature in town! Wallace and Gromit are the perfect duo to bring fun critters into the Halloween season while leaving the scares for the older kids.
Everyone has had that odd neighbor growing up who all the kids made rumors about. What if it wasn’t the neighbor though who was the oddball? What if the whole house was to blame? Monster House evokes that classic kids on bikes feel along with taking a new spin on the haunted house subgenre.
How were we going to make this list without name dropping Scooby-Doo? This animated featured came out at the tail end of the 90s and features some stellar visuals. Plus, Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show) plays one of the lead roles in Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost so what’s not to love? The whole story takes place within the Fall season in Salem. It doesn’t get more Halloweeny than that.
As a kid, everything your parents do feels unfair. Sometimes you wish you might have had a different mom and dad. What if that wish came true? Coraline is another film in the spooky stop motion collection that is a must-watch. If you’re sensitive about losing your eyeballs though…you might want to sit this one out.
ParaNorman is the most zombie family-friendly film you can possibly watch this Halloween. Made from Laika, the same company that created Coraline and Corpse Bride – so if you’re already familiar with those titles you might know what you’re in for! If you’re a stop motion fiend then you’d be brain dead not to watch ParaNorman.
Disney’s The Haunted Mansion ,which was based on the famous ride, received mixed reviews on arrival, but if you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s time for a reappraisal! You get lame dad jokes, spooky zombies and Jennifer Tilly in a glass ball. That still might not be a selling point, but trust when we say it’s some easy, scary fun for everyone!
This time the mystery gang is traveling down south for zombies, were-cats, ghosts and one mean boar! This was one of my favorite Scooby-Doo titles growing up and still is. Despite it being a kids film it features so truly creepy zombie moments, so be aware!
Our favorite rodent trio is back and is coming toe to toe with the creature himself! Similar to the original novel though, perhaps the creature is not so bad after all.
Speaking of misunderstood creatures! It’s Hollywood’s favorite goth director and his favorite weirdo, Johnny Depp, in a 90s classic that can’t be ignored. Edward Scissorhands features the perfect balance of bright sunny days with a splash of dark creepy castles.
What if Dracula wasn’t the ghoulish fiend we thought him to be? What if he actually was trying to save the world? The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t is an underrated gem that deserves to make it on your film rotation this month.
If you’re looking for something that’s just pure fun, than look no further than Ernest Scared Stupid. It’s got great creature effects and wholesome dumb humor that anyone at any age can appreciate.
Cartoon Network’s The Halloween Tree is another hidden gem that has unfortunately been mostly forgotten. Based on the book from the same name, the animated television special is narrated by Ray Bradbury and features Leonard Nimoy as the children’s guide!
These next five films might be better suited for your teenagers when it comes to language and subject matter. No Halloween movie list is complete without Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters is an American classic that has only aged like fine slime.
Ghostbusters 2 is a very worthy sequel and still conjures up some incredible laughs. What can I say other than, IT’S VIGO!
It’s showtime! Here’s another film we’d recommend watching at your own personal discretion with the younger ones. Beetlejuice is the ghost with the most and is probably Tim Burton’s magnum opus!
This is unequivocally a comedy classic that should not be left out. Abbott and Costello are back and this time they’re facing Wolfman, Dracula and Frank’s monster! Can their shenanigans get them out of trouble this time?
Monster Squad is a brilliant attempt at throwing all the Universal Monsters in one film in a fairly contemporary setting. It’s packed with great creature effects, kids on bikes, crude teenage humor, and Dracula with dynamite? You’ll fall in love with Monster Squad as soon as the opening title card begins.
There are so many other worthy Halloween flicks that belong on this list, but we think we nailed some of the most fun! Let us know on social media what films you’ll be watching off this list. Happy Halloween!