Halloween Movies for the Whole Family
With Halloween just around the corner, television and cinemas are beginning to fill up with scary movies. Unfortunately, there just are not a lot of spooky options that are family-friendly. Never fear, I am here to help you find your way to some terrific movies you can stream, buy, or rent that will help put your whole family into the Halloween spirit.
This Disney classic about the three Sanderson Sisters of Salem Massachusetts, a trio of witches for wreak havoc on the town when they are resurrected from the grave on Halloween, continues to be a staple of the season. Winifred, Sarah, and Mary, played respectively by Better Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are all wickedly delicious as the three kooky villains. Omri Katz plays Max Dennison, the teenager who must stop them (also a refreshingly unique teenage character that avoids most clichés), makes an excellent foil for the three ladies. The film is not overly scary, but the spooky atmosphere makes it just fun enough for the kids without terrorizing them. Humor is the key element here and Hocus Pocus is a lot of fun just for that.
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
The Stephen Spielberg classic about a little boy who befriends an alien may not scream “Halloween” to you, but the story takes place in and around Halloween, with a key sequence happening on the night of “tricks or treats.” Little Elliott (Henry Thomas), lost and confused over his parents’ divorce, finds an abandoned alien in his backyard. He christens him “E.T.” and hides him in his closet. The government is in hot pursuit, and Elliott does everything he can to help E.T. return to his home planet. It is a tear-jerker, so get some tissues, and some of the moments might be a little intense for some of the younger ones, but there is nothing here that will emotionally scar them.
Every town has that one creepy house where the local legends say it is haunted. In Monster House, three kids discover that their version of said house in their neighborhood is, itself, a living, breathing monster. The kids investigate the crotchety neighbor who lives there and who confiscates anything that lands on his lawn. The more they learn, the bigger the mystery grows. They decide to only way to get to the bottom of what is happening inside (and to retrieve their seized items) is to sneak inside and explore. Monster House is animated, which helps make it accessible to kids (it was made for them) and minimalize the tense moments (there are a few).
Even monsters need a vacation and Hotel Transylvania is where most of them escape to for some rest, relaxation, and a little pampering. Dracula books the resort to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis and invites all his friends including the Invisible Man and the Mummy to attend. Everything seems to be coming-off without a hitch when suddenly an ordinary human shows up and wants to stay. Complications arise when Mavis and the human fall in love. This animated cartoon is zany fun, full of all your favorite monsters served at a PG temperature.
The Monster Squad
Here is a fun (but mostly forgotten) one that makes an excellent introduction into the classic horror tropes without scaring the heck out of the kids. A band of misfit middle school boys are fascinated with the old-school movie monsters such as Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and have based their boys’ cub all around then, calling themselves “The Monster Squad.” When these creatures of legend suddenly appear in their small town, they are the only ones with enough courage and know-how to solve the problem.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Christmas may be in the title, but this movie is all about Halloween. Jack Skellington, a gaunt and melancholy (but creative) monster from Halloweentown, becomes envious of Santa Claus, and decides that the folks of his own holiday should take over Christmas. Suddenly, they are kidnapping Santa Claus, and the witches, ghosts, and goblins take over the yuletide season, imposing their macabre and mischievous ways upon the holiday. A product of Disney, you know it is going to be a safe bet for the kids, and it is. No matter how dark it gets, The Nightmare Before Christmas never feels out of the realm of safe.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Here is another classic for you. Don Knotts plays a newspaper lackey named Luther Heggs has the idea for a story about a local haunted house. He pitches the story in an attempt to impress a young lady he works with, but soon finds he is being sent on the actual assignment. His editor wants him to stay overnight in the house, which he does, and Luther ends up getting more than he bargained for when one of the ghosts is not all that keen on visitors. When Don Knotts is in a project, you know that you are in for some great laughs and the fear factor will be kept at the minimum.