Halloween is a favorite for many kids, and what better way to get into a spooktacular mood than enjoying some truly classic Halloween movies together as a family!
We’ve compiled a “best of” list containing many classic family-friendly Halloween-themed or spooky movies to enjoy with your kids on a dark and chilly October night.
While the movies on this list are not specifically educational, we offer a set of questions below that you can use to turn these movies into a learning experience for your child. We suggest discussing these questions with your child during or after the movie to ensure retention of the material and development of critical thinking skills.
Not seeing one of your favorite Halloween movies on the list? Let us know in the comments!
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
All of the Charlie Brown movies are classics, and The Great Pumpkin is no exception. ABC broadcasts the movie every year around Halloween, making it easy to find, and it’s one of the most kid-friendly movies on the list.
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One of my all-time favorite 80s movies, Ghostbusters makes a perfect Halloween film. Relive the classic that spawned endless spinoff products like toys, cereals, and the wildly popular Hi-C Ecto-Cooler.
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Tim Burton is known for his distinctly creepy style of movie, and Beetlejuice is no exception. The film follows a “normal” (but deceased) couple coming to terms with their recent deaths, while also dealing with a new family moving into their now “vacant” home. After attempting to scare the family away – with no luck – Beetlejuice is summoned to help. The movie is a true classic but the odd style of Tim Burton movies may be too much for some kids, even though the film is rated PG.
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The movie will also be shown on ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” at 6pm, ET on Wednesday, October 22nd and repeated four more times during the marathon. Be sure to check your local listings for details.
Gremlins is another classic from my childhood, in which furry creatures wreak havoc on a small town, starting with an adorable little gremlin called Gizmo. Fun fact, when my wife and I adopted a kitten, we named him Gizmo because he was, truly, a gremlin who liked to cause trouble.
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Monsters, Inc. (2001)
One of the highest-grossing animated films of all-time, Monsters, Inc. from Disney/Pixar is a fun monster-filled adventure appropriate for most children.
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The movie will also be shown on ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” at 8pm, ET on Sunday, October 19th. Be sure to check your local listings for details.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
It’s Halloween night and three witch sisters are resurrected, bringing trouble to the town of Salem, Massachusetts. A teenage boy, his sister, and his crush have to stop these witches from stealing the souls of children in this movie complete with big stars, mild humor and a few musical numbers by Bette Middler and Sarah Jessica Parker.
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The movie will also be shown on ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” at 10pm, ET on Saturday, October 25th and repeated once more during the marathon. Be sure to check your local listings for details.
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Another childhood favorite for kids of the 80s and 90s, Ernest Scared Stupid is a goofy adventure that centers around Ernest’s efforts to capture an evil troll that was accidentally released and began wreaking havoc on Halloween. The movie may be cheesy, but it’s full of jokes and family-friendly antics that are appropriate for most ages.
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I won’t lie, I saw Coraline in the theater (in 3D) when I was 27 years old, and it scared the heck out of me. I don’t think it would be so bad at home, but in 3D on the big screen, it was flat out creepy. That’s what makes for a good Halloween movie, though, and the stop-motion animation is fantastic. We recommend this movie for kids 12 and older only, but as a parent, use your best discretion.
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The Addams Family (1991)
The Addams Family was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and it holds up well today. A “modern” version of the family originally introduced in the 1970s, the movie was popular enough to spawn a few sequels, but none were as good as the original film.
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The movie will also be shown on ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” at 9am, ET on Sunday, October 19th and will be repeated several times during the marathon, including the sequel “Addams Family Values.” Be sure to check your local listings for details.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005)
Everyone’s favorite modern claymation duo, Wallace and Gromit investigate the cause of “garden sabotage” in their village. The stop-motion film won several awards including “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” at the 78th annual Academy Awards in 2006.
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those all-time great movies which has a significant following. Many people think of it as a Halloween movie, while others consider it a Christmas movie. It’s a Tim Burton-produced movie, which we all know can be a bit creepy, but it’s not too bad for most kids. Disney released the movie through Touchstone because they felt it would be a little too scary for a typical Disney movie. It’s rated PG, but some felt it should be PG-13 due to the dark nature of the film. Use your best judgment when deciding whether your kids are at an appropriate age for this one.
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The movie will also be shown on ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” at 6:30pm, ET on Monday, October 20th and replayed twice more during the marathon. Be sure to check your local listings for details.
Turning These Movies into a Learning Experience
We’re offering the following questions to you as a way to engage your child with the material in the movies above. You can use these questions as a starting point, but we encourage you to think of other movie-specific questions that you can discuss with your child.
- What was the setting of the movie? What was the importance of this setting?
- What was the plot of the movie?
- Who was/were the protagonist(s)?
- Who was the antagonist?
- From whose point of view was the story told? How could the story differ if offered from another person’s point of view?
- What values were portrayed in the movie?
- Does the movie relate to anything you are studying in school?
- What would you tell a friend who is asking you about the movie?
More Activities to Get in the Halloween Spirit
Looking for more ways to bring Halloween fun into your home? Check out these related articles:
- Learn about the differences between Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.
- Discover Halloween-themed crafts and activities you can do with your kids.
- Find our entire collection of Halloween activities.