Little figures dressed in ghoulish and macabre outfits run up and down the streets, looking for the next place where they can get their delicious treats. The moon is full and the houses are decorated with frightening masks and grotesque imagery with the hope to get a little adrenaline coursing through little trick-or-treaters veins. That’s right: Halloween is upon us; the one time of the year where horror is accepted by all people.
Families that go out will be treated to unique costumes and decorations. Young children get to experience trick-or-treating and adults get to relive their youth by watching their children go from house to house and get their treats. But after all the treats have been taken from the neighbors’ houses, it will be time to venture home and eat all of the spoils. But the night doesn’t have to end there. Trick-or-treating might be over, but more frights can be had by watching a scary movie.
While most horror movies are filled with blood and guts, it can be hard to find one that is suitable for a child to see and a parent to enjoy. But there are a few that will entertain the family while also giving children a little bit of the heebie-jeebies. Here are the top 5 movies for parents and adults.
5. “Frankenweenie” Directed by Tim Burton, 2012.
The classic Mary Shelley story, “Frankenstein,” will never die, especially since so many other stories can be derived from it. In Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” he updated the story but also took some of the hard hitting morals out of it, making it more suitable for children. The plot revolves around a boy named Victor whose dog, Sparky, one day gets killed by a car. Feeling depressed for the loss of his best friend, Victor discovers a way to bring Sparky back from the dead. But when the other children see his suddenly alive dog, they get suspicious and want to figure out Victor’s secret so they can win the school’s science fair. Presented in black-and-white, the film still can entertain children while also keeping the adults interested with the new take on “Frankenstein.” It has all the classic Tim Burton nuances, from Danny Elfman’s score to the unique design of the characters. The film can frighten younger children towards the end, but it’s an enjoyable and also uplifting film for the whole family on Halloween.
4. “Coraline” Directed by Henry Selick, 2009
“Coraline,” the story of a neglected girl who tries to find solace in an alternate reality that turns out to not be a perfect place, has everything that a family could want in a horror film. It has genuine scares for the children, but also a moral lesson for them as well. It has strong characters in Coraline and in the antagonist of the film. While some younger children might be too creeped out by it, children around 8 or 9 should be able to handle it. The unique visuals and puppet work are great to enjoy, and the story will keep everyone involved. But what really makes it hit home is that it tries to tell its younger viewers the importance of family and that not everything in life will be perfect.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
3. “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” Directed by James Algar & Clyde Geronimi 1949.
A classic story and a Disney film, this movie is timeless. It’s one of those films where parents show their children just because of how much they loved it as a child. The animated film is short and enjoyable. The re-telling of “Sleepy Hollow” and “The Wind in the Willows” don’t pack a lot of scares into it, but the Headless Horsemen truly does. It’s a character that is synonymous with Halloween, and it’s a treat for all younger viewers to appreciate. It might be a little tame by today’s standards, but the sound and the horror of the horsemen is still something the whole family can enjoy.
Nightmare Before Christmas
2. “The Nightmare before Christmas” Directed by Henry Selick, 1993.
Henry Selick’s second film on the list, which was also written and produced by Tim Burton, is a Halloween classic and a must for the whole family. Jack Skellington, the mayor of Halloweentown, is bored with his yearly tradition of terror and scares. One day, he wanders away from home and finds Christmas Town, a place of joy and cheer. Intrigued by this world, he sets out to kidnap Santa Claus and replace him as the giver of toys. But the conflict of the two ideologies cause some havoc. This film is now a modern classic, and its easy to see why. The stop-motion like animation, creepy visuals and overall fun time can easily relate to adults and children. The songs in the film are catchy, and the story itself is unique. But the main character Jack is definitely the star, as his image has become iconic. Don’t miss out on this one.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
1. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” Directed by Bill Melendez, 1966.
Ok, it isn’t scary and it’s not really a full movie, but I can’t pass up the classic Charles Schultz “Peanuts” gang. Charlie Brown and the gang are for every generation, and their story of trick-or-treating and trying to find the great pumpkin is a classic. How can anyone not laugh and feel slightly bad for Charlie Brown when all he gets are rocks because of his costume? The characters are easily relatable for children and it is a testament to the great Charles Schultz’s writing because of his timeliness. My suggestion is to watch a scary movie first, and then follow it up with this one so your children can go to bed happy.