The wait is almost over. Spooky season is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like us, you’re maybe a little too excited for it! With all the gremlins, ghosts, and ghoulish fun drawing near, there’ll be more than enough to fulfill the fright-loving folks like us. There’s no better time to curl up with a blanket, turn off the lights, and settle in for some good scares with your favorite horror films. Of course, not everyone can enjoy killer clowns or evil nuns. Many of us have little ones in the family, and although a lot of scary movies may be off the table, there are plenty of terrific options out there so they can enjoy the season of spooks as well. That’s why we’re sharing some of our absolute favorite Halloween-time films that the whole family will love.
Obviously, a lot of these movies will still feature a good deal of frights (even if they are a bit more family-friendly) and some darker elements. Not all of these are recommended for children who scare easily, and we always suggest doing your homework first to make sure the movie is fit for your family. With that said, let’s dive into our list!
The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG)
This animated Tim Burton classic had to make the list. From its iconic and catchy tunes, to its charmingly odd and spooky visuals, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is about as Halloween as it gets. It’s a wonderful love-letter to the holiday (and YES, we are staunchly asserting that this is a perfectly viable choice for both Halloween and Christmas. You will not convince us otherwise).
The Harry Potter Series (PG/PG13)
It’s everyone’s favorite kid wizard, The Boy Who Lived! This series has a little bit of everything: witches, werewolves, soul-sucking phantoms, and battles against black magic. What’s not to love? The last few films in the series do grow a bit more mature and notably darker than the first few entries, and they may not be quite as suitable for your smaller kiddos.
Spirited Away (PG)
One part fable, one part nightmare: "Spirited Away" is a beautifully animated story by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. The movie takes a headfirst dive into the unfamiliar other-world of spirits. It teems with eerie creatures and beastly transformations—an imaginative masterpiece that’s well worth a watch.
Disney’s "Coco" is a bright and vibrant celebration of the traditional Mexican festival of Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Culturally significant and artfully told, what this movie lacks in frights it more than makes up for in heart. It’s a terrific option for smaller children, as it handles the world of the dead in a delightful, family-friendly way. We promise, you’ve never seen skeletons this endearing before.
Corpse Bride (PG)
From the talents behind "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Corpse Bride" is a darkly charming work of Gothic romance filled to the brim with undead fun and twists. Well-meaning maggots, cadaverous musicians, and a murder mystery: there’s lots to love about this twisted tale.
Hocus Pocus (PG)
A cult-classic comedy-horror and Halloween staple, "Hocus Pocus" serves up the laughs and the spooks with its morbid sense of humor. A coven of wicked and wacky witches, a cursed black cat, and a zombie (just for good measure) are a few of the ingredients that make this such a beloved Disney classic.
A fun and bizarre tale about a young girl’s mission to unravel the secrets of a dazzling dreamworld hidden beneath her family’s new country home. "Coraline" is as unsettling as it is gorgeous. It’s a terrific fractured fairytale—one that will give you a healthy dose of the heebie-jeebies before the end!
The Mummy (PG13)
If you’re looking for frights and adventure in equal helpings, "The Mummy" (1999) is a great choice. Ancient curses, flesh-eating scarabs, and—of course—monstrous mummies make this flick fun from one end to the other. Our most mature entry on this list, "The Mummy" is best suited to watch with your older kids (we do NOT recommend it for the little ones!)