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7 Just-Scary-Enough Halloween Movies for Kids

A roundup of kid-friendly "scary" movies for a family-friendly thrill

Published on: October 22, 2013

It's difficult to recommend Halloween movies for kids because the scary and intense content that usually makes up the best films can often be too much for young moviegoers. You need to know what your kids can handle before putting them in front of some movies. To get you started I've compiled a list of Halloween movie recommendations that can deliver the fun without too many nightmares. (And if your kids are ready for the next level, here's our list of truly scary classic movies.)


It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Recommended age: 5 and up

They made a bunch of Charlie Brown holiday specials but for my money It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is one of best (along with Christmas). While there are plenty of Halloween traditions (who hasn't sat out waiting for the Great Pumpkin?) the real fun of this cartoon is Snoopy playing out his fantasy of being a World War I flying ace. This is a gentle and fun option for even the youngest viewers.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Recommended age: 5 and up

Our family are huge Wallace & Gromit fans and Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a wonderfully imaginative, funny, and thrilling adventure.

Despite their fondness for the main characters, our kids this they were a little freaked out at first by the transformation of the Were-Rabbit and a lot freaked out by the Vicar. They have since come to realize that events that might seem to be scary just turn out to be jokes and the only thing really in peril are the vegetables.

Monsters Inc.

Recommended age: 5 and up

You may need to hold the hands of kids watching Monsters, Inc. at first to help them understand that the monsters are actually terrified of children.

Pixar's visual inventiveness does at times turn out monsters that go right up to the edge of the scary/creepy line and there is one scene where the girl, Boo, is threatened by one of those creepy monsters. Ultimately, however, kids will learn not to be afraid of what's in their closet.

ET: The Extraterrestrial

Recommended age: 7 and up

What? A Halloween movie? I had forgotten that most of the action in ET happens around Halloween. There is some language and some intense scenes - including the one where E.T. appears to have died (turn on your heart-light!) - so I would recommend it for a somewhat older age group.

Tip: If you watch the special edition all the federal agents' guns have been magically transformed into walkie-talkies.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Recommended age: 7 and up

I put Nightmare Before Christmas on my Christmas list as well because I just can't decide if it's better at Halloween or Christmas. Tim Burton creates characters that are delightful and macabre all at the same time.

Because of Burton's twisted vision I would caution parents to make sure their kids are ready for it. But if they are it's sure to become one of their favorites.


Recommended age: 9 and up

Coraline carries the double-whammy of Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick, two masters of a genre I guess we should call children's horror. Gaiman is famous for a wide variety of horror-related work but notably the Newbery Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book.

Selick is the animation director behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Put them together and you have this thoroughly original creepfest. Definitely recommended for tweens and up, you'll want to make sure your kids are ready for this one.

Young Frankenstein

Recommended age: 10 and up

There are so many great classic horror movies I wouldn't know where to start. Boris Karloff in Frankenstein and the super-terrific Bride of Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi in Dracula, Lon Chaney as The Wolf Man. But sometimes kids can go into old black and white movies thinking they'll be boring - and old.

To counteract this I would recommend changing it up and showing them the classic Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks spoof Young Frankenstein. My age recommendation is based only slightly on the horror elements and more on the sexual innuendo and some off-color jokes. In my opinion, however, it will put the fun back in, um...funeral?

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