Around here at Horror Patch, we don’t shy away from gore, adult content, and the likes but we also remember that we were kids once too. That’s why we don’t forget about our younger fans by putting together this list of family-friendly Halloween films to watch this spooky season.
There are many more than just 10 family Halloween films but we wanted to try to keep things at a manageable level and go with 10. It was very hard to break things down to only 10 but here they are. The one and only criteria used here was that each film had to be set on or around the Halloween holiday, not just a family horror film.
All films on this list are rated PG or below and are suitable for most kids and scaredy cats.
Be sure to respond in the comments if you think there was a film that should’ve been included but was not or one that is on the list that you feel doesn’t belong.
#10 THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS (2018)
This is one of the most recent films on the list and only a year old. One of the most surprising things about this film is how much we liked it, especially since it’s a family film directed by horror auteur Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel).
Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious `tick tock’ noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbour, Mrs Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town’s sleepy facade suddenly springs to life, revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks and deadly curses.
#9 GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (2018)
Here’s another of the two most recent films on this list and again only a year old. I’m a fan of Goosebumps and I really enjoyed the two feature films starring Jack Black but the second film really got into the Halloween spirit, which is why it made this list.
While collecting junk one day, best friends Sonny and Sam meet Slappy, a mischievous talking dummy from an unpublished “Goosebumps” book by R.L. Stine. Hoping to start his own family, Slappy kidnaps Sonny’s mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life — just in time for Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam and a kindly neighbor to save Sonny’s mom and foil Slappy’s plan.
#8 SPACED INVADERS (1990)
This is a comedy Halloween film that will (hopefully) leave you and your family rolling on the floor in stitches. I adore this film about a group of aliens trying to invade Earth and it doesn’t go as planned.
Dimwitted Martians drop into a little Illinois town on the day that the local radio station happens to rebroadcast Orson Welles 1938 “War Of The Worlds”.
#7 ERNEST SCARED STUPID (1991)
Who doesn’t like Ernest, right? I do, and I especially love his Halloween film. Yes, it’s totally stupid, corny, but it makes you laugh…out loud, can’t ask for more than that.
Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) is working as a garbage collector in a small Missouri town. Despite the warnings of superstitious local Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt), he accidentally unleashes devious troll Trantor (Jonas Moscartolo), a slimy creature confined under a tree for 200 years. Trantor changes some kids into wooden dolls and turns Ernest’s dog, Rimshot, into a log. Ernest then teams up with Old Lady Hackmore to get rid of the beast and bring the victims back to life.
#6 SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983)
The oldest film on the list clocks in at about the half-way point and happens to be another Disney film as well. The screenplay was written by legendary sci-fi/horror author Ray Bradbury based upon his novel of the same name. The second of his stories to make this list, the other being The Halloween Tree. It’s such a beautiful and gothic film set during Halloween in the 1930’s.
The film had a troubled production but turned out to still be a wonderful movie. One could only guess at what the film might have been had the director’s original vision been used.
In Green Town, Illinois, a small town enjoying the innocence of an upcoming autumn as the days grow shorter, two young boys, a reserved Will Halloway, and somewhat rebellious Jim Nightshade, leave from an after-school detention for “whispering in class” and hurry off for home. When the boys hear about a strange traveling carnival, Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival, from a lightning-rod salesman, they decide to see what it is all about, but Will is fearful, as most carnivals end their tours after Labor Day.
When the ominous Mr. Dark, the Illustrated Man, rides into town on a dark midnight, setting up his massive carnival in a matter of seconds, the boys are both thrilled and terrified. It seems to be just another carnival at first, but it is not long before the forces of darkness begin to manifest from the haunting melodies of the carousel – which can change your age depending on which direction you ride it – and from the glaring Mirror Maze.
With his collection of freaks and oddities, Dark intends to take control of the town and seize more innocent souls to damnation. It will take all the wit and hope of the two boys to save their families and friends, with aid from an unlikely ally, Will’s father, the town librarian, who understands more than anyone else that “something wicked this way comes.”
#5 PARANORMAN (2012)
This beautiful film features stop motion animation in the same vein as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. It also has a great story I simply loved about a boy who raises zombies and can speak to the dead. I grew up a fan of stop motion animation from anything by Ray Harryhausen, Willis O’Brien, Phil Tippett, Rankin/Bass, Henry Selick, and others. This is the modern technology with the use of computers to do the stop motion but it’s still impressive.
Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead — and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) that a centuries-old witch’s curse on their town is real and about to come true — and that only Norman can stop it. When zombies rise from their graves, Norman must summon all his courage and compassion and push his paranormal abilities to the limit to save his fellow townspeople.
#4 MONSTER HOUSE (2006)
This film features a different use of technology instead of stop motion. It’s 3D computer animation, similar to what Disney’s Pixar does with films like Toy Story and the like. The film is about a group of kids who are being terrorized by a haunted house around Halloween. It’s a great story and one the entire family will love.
No adults believe three youths’ (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner) assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends.
#3 THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (1985)
This film was originally a made-for-TV film that aired on Halloween, I believe for ABC. The film got its name from the Wilson Pickett song of the same name. It features a great cast of stars including Shari Belafonte-Harper, Levar Burton, Peter Deluise, Dedee Pfeiffer, and more. It’s pretty tame by today’s standards and for TV but still had good atmosphere and creepy settings.
Teenage Halloween pranksters (Shari Belafonte-Harper, LeVar Burton, Lee Montgomery) revive a 300-year-old witch and some of her ghoul friends.
#2 THE HALLOWEEN TREE (1993)
This animated film is another made-for-TV movie that I watch every year at this time. It is the second film on this list based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, who also narrates the film. He has one of the most soothing, and best storytelling voices I’ve ever heard and it’s put to good use on this movie. Aside from Bradbury narrating, it features the voice talents of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Moundshroud. I highly recommend seeking this one out and watching with your kids and if you don’t have kids, watch for yourself.
The film tells the story of a group of trick-or-treating children who learn about the origins and influences of Halloween when one of their friends is spirited away by mysterious forces.
#1 Hocus Pocus (1993)
Some of you might be a little disappointed in my pick for #1 but I’m not ashamed to say, I love this film! It incorporates everything you want in a Halloween family movie. It has evil witches, zombies, talking cats, comedy, young love, and great, spooky atmosphere. Aside from my usual Halloween horror films, I break this one out on Laserdisc and watch it every single Halloween. It’s a film everyone in the family can watch and love, it has something for everyone and has become a classic for sure.
After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
Well, folks, that’s it. Let me know what you think, don’t be shy.