Spooky movies always seem like a good idea this time of year. First, you gather the family, then you pop the popcorn, turn out the lights, and cue up the flick. Then you fast forward two or three hours when “someone” is too scared to sleep alone. Scary movies for kids often = sleepless nights for parents.
Since everyone has a different tolerance for scary it can be difficult to know what’s appropriate for your kid until it’s too late. Some kids think Gremlins is awesome, and some (mine) make you turn it off after 20 minutes then don’t sleep for a week.
To avoid the latter, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite scary movies for kids that won’t completely scare the pants off them. They’re not all Halloween-specific but they do have an element of spooky that’s perfect for family movie night. And don’t forget the ghoulish snacks, including our favourite sweet and salty popcorn.
Scary Movies for Kids of All Ages (That Aren’t Too Scary)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Based on the books The Magic Bedknob; or How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons, the 1971 film combines live-action and animation to tell the story of an apprentice witch, three precocious children, and an enchanted bed who all travel into a fantasy land to help the British defeat the German army in World War II. It was nominated for five Academy Awards and won Best Special Effects in 1972.
Book of Life
In a small Mexican town, Maria (Zoe Saldana), Joaquin (Channing Tatum), and Manolo (Diego Luna) have been friends their entire lives. But nothing lasts forever and the friendship is tested when the three reunite as young adults. Both Manolo and Joaquin both want to marry Maria but first, Manolo will have to navigate three rich fantasy worlds and confront the difference between what he wants to do and what is expected of him.
Casper the friendly ghost falls in love with teenage Kat (Christina Ricci) when Kat and her father (Bill Pullman) move into a run-down mansion in an attempt to rid it of evil spirits. But can their love overcome Casper’s transparency and the antics of his aunts and uncles?
In this visually stunning and colourful Pixar epic, young Miguel, an aspiring musician, enters the land of the dead in an attempt to uncover the real story of his family’s history and its generations-long ban on music.
Hotel Transylvania 2
Dracula, owner/operator of a high-end hotel far from civilization, has a teenage daughter (Mavis) who just happens to fall in love with a geeky guest, forcing the Count to confront the fact that his baby girl is growing up. In the sequel, Mavis becomes a mother and Dracula and his friends band together to try and stop her and her young family from leaving the hotel.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
The Great Pumpkin is a Halloween legend that only Linus believes in. According to Linus, the Great Pumpkin delivers toys to deserving children on Halloween. Will this be the year the Peanuts gang sees him?
Scary Movies for Kids Recommended for Ages 8-12
The Addams Family
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re altogether spooky … In the cartoon remake of the 1964 television series and 1991 film, the unusual Addams Family proves that your family’s weirdness has nothing on the Addams. Features macabre moments and suggestive humour that may not be appropriate for all viewers.
Featuring an all-star cast including Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O’Hara, Beetlejuice is a Halloween classic that follows the story of a young couple who perish in an accident and are forced to haunt their country house. When the property is purchased by a young family, chaos ensues.
Coraline is a spunky and precocious 11-year old girl who’s just moved to Oregon from Michigan. Left to her own devices by her busy parents, Coraline discovers an alternate world behind a secret door in her new house. This new world seems even better than reality, but what happens when she wants to leave?
Only Tim Burton could make the story of a young groom, a deceased bride, and a colossal misunderstanding so weirdly entertaining. Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp are the voices behind the stars of this animated tale.
Turn on your heart light for this classic story about love and acceptance of a benign alien invasion. When E.T. (Extra-Terrestrial) becomes stranded on earth, young Elliott finds him and brings him home. Despite trying to keep E.T. a secret, soon Elliott’s mother, his neighbourhood and even the government are intervening.
(2012 version, 1:27)
Young Victor Frankenstein is a bit of an outsider at school. And when his best friend, his dog Sparky, dies suddenly, Victor is heartbroken and resorts to a ghoulish experiment that brings Sparky back to life. But Victor’s fellow students have stolen his secret and now other animals are being resurrected. What could possibly go wrong?
Who doesn’t dream of discovering an ancient treasure map? When the Goonies (a group of misfits) actually do, they’re launched into a quest filled with dangerous obstacles and one very determined property developer who wants to destroy their home to build a country club.
When one genius little girl and her awesome teacher take on the world’s worst parents and principal everyone’s world is turned upside down. The film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved book features Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman as Matilda’s monstrous parents, and Pam Ferris as the incomparably awful school principal Agatha Trunchbull.
When three teenagers discover that the creepy house in the neighbourhood is actually a living breathing monster they must act quickly to protect the lives of innocent trick or treaters, even if their parents don’t believe them.
Behave or Beware is Nanny’s motto and the Brown family children know she’s not above using a little magic to rein everyone in, especially when Great Aunt Stitch (Angela Lansbury) threatens to separate the clan for good.
The Haunted Mansion
Workaholic realtor Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) learns a valuable lesson about family when he endangers his wife and children by attempting to sell a haunted mansion.
A misfit boy who prefers conversations with the dead to those with this living becomes his town’s only hope in the fight against zombies who are suddenly rising from the grave to fulfill a centuries-old witches curse.