In Brief

Best family Halloween films for kids

From Hocus Pocus to Casper, there are plenty of spooky films for the whole family to enjoy this Halloween

With Halloween just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to get in the spooky spirit by sitting down with the whole family and enjoying a spine-tingling film or two.

For those with children who are still a few years off watching the more terrifying scary horror flicks - or just some scaredy cat adults - here’s a round-up of the best Halloween movies for families.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

An undoubted staple of the Halloween movie oeuvre, Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas has amassed a major cult following since its release in 1993.

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a delightfully ghoulish holiday musical that displays more inventiveness in its brief 75 minutes than some studios can manage in an entire year”, the film tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as he undertakes a mission to bring Christmas to Halloweentown.

Despite being family friendly and light-hearted, Nightmare has its fair share of dark moments, so might be more suitable for older children.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

“This kid-friendly, animated twist on your typical horror movie finds Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) operating a high-end resort, situated far from humankind,” Time Out says.

Andy Samberg voices teen Jonathan, who wreaks havoc by not only stumbling upon the secret site, but also falling for the Count’s daughter. 

An easy-going film with few - if any - scary moments, it is praised by The Wrap for its “rapid-fire gags and an unflagging pace that make this a rare all-ages treat”.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Four-time Oscar winner Nick Park, along with his Aardman Animation team, decided to bring the iconic human-dog duo of Wallace and Gromit back to the big screen in this terror-tinged outing.

In this installment, Wallace and his trusty canine Gromit set out to solve the mystery of why so many gardens in their town are being sabotaged.

As The Independent put it, “This might be Plasticine's finest hour.” 

Casper (1995)

A millennial childhood classic, Casper tells the story of the titular “friendly ghost” who spends his days peacefully haunting a home in Maine, until he falls for a human ghosthunter's daughter.

The film's unbridled sentimentality might ring a bit sickly with adult viewers, but kids will lap up the sweet love story and gentle scares, as well as the goofy antics of Casper's poltergeist uncles.

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

A playful, surreal adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1961 novel of the same name, James and the Giant Peach follows an orphan who escapes his evil aunts with the help of a cast of giant bugs who live inside a peach.

The film received rave reviews upon its release, with Dahl’s widow stating that the late novelist “would have been delighted with what they did with James. It is a wonderful film.”

RedBookMag says “anything based on a book by Roald Dahl is bound to be just a tad spooky”, but viewers of all ages can enjoy this fun and gloriously eccentric film.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Of course the gloriously camp Hocus Pocus has to feature on the list. The 1993 adventure centres on three children and a magical cat, who team up to stop three resurrected witch sisters (Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy) from wreaking havoc in Salem.

“This film can also teach your kids a thing or two about the history of the Salem witch trials,” adds Good Housekeeping, which is possibly an over-optimistic estimation of a movie which features witches riding a bus.

The Addams Family (1991)

The early 1990s were a golden era for family-friendly Halloween movies, and The Addams Family is one of the most enjoyable for adults as well as children, thanks to a streak of pitch-black humour and racy repartee that will fly over the heads of younger viewers.

With spellbinding performances and ghoulish humour, this film adaptation of the 1930s cartoon and 1960s TV show is “more than merely a sequel”, wrote the Washington Post upon its release: “A viewing is de rigueur mortis.”

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