11 Halloween Movies That Aren’t Too Scary to Watch With Your Kids

11 Halloween Movies That Aren’t Too Scary to Watch With Your Kids
Screenshot: The Nightmare Before Christmas/YouTube

If you’re looking for a Halloween movie to watch with your children, these scary-but-not-too-scary flicks are spooky enough to raise goosebumps, but aren’t likely to scare anyone’s face off. That is, unless they’re either very little or very scaredy-cat, in which case your mileage may vary. You know your kids best. But for most kids — and horror-averse adults — here are 11 good places to start.

Coraline (2009)

Based on the children’s book by the great Neil Gaiman, Coraline leaves kids with a timeless message: Be careful what you wish for. The titular protagonist’s discovery of a strange door in her new family’s new home leads to an eerie mirror world that at first seems better-than-real, but ultimately proves terrifying. It’s not super-scary, but it might be too much for kids under 10 (especially those creepy button-eyes).

Where to watch: Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube Movies

The Witches (1990)

There’s a newer, more over-the-top version of The Witches available on HBO Max, but I much prefer the 1990 adaptation. You can’t do much better than the combination of Roald Dahl’s story, Jim Henson’s puppetry, Nicolas Roeg’s direction, and Anjelica Huston’s villainous performance. The Witches strikes a perfect kid-horror tone: It was made for children, but it doesn’t condescend to them or try to sugar-coat horror. Might be too disturbing for children younger than 10, though.

Where to stream: Netflix, Foxtel Go, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Movies, Google Play

Goosebumps (2015)

This meta take on the insanely popular Goosebumps series of tween horror novels sees the young hero accidentally unleashing all the villains from author R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books into the real world. Kids who read Stine’s books will like seeing screen representations of the books’ ghouls and monsters, although the movie relies more on slapstick humour and action than the quieter, spookier books.

Where to stream: Stan, Foxtel Go, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Movies, Google Play

The Corpse Bride (2005)

This tale of a marriage between a living man and a dead woman is all about atmosphere — the goth-o-metre is turned up to 11. In other words, it’s very Tim Burton, and Burton’s contagious affection for all things spooky renders even the most gruesome ghoul loveable. In spite of all the skeletons, The Corpse Bride is a story about love and family, and the scariest characters are ultimately the living.

Where to stream: Binge, Foxtel Go, Netflix, YouTube Movies, Google Play

Ghostbusters (1984)

You can’t beat this iconic 1980s comedy/horror flick for Halloween viewing. It’s an annual tradition at our house, but keep in mind the PG-13 rating is well-deserved for some legit scary parts (the special effects that bring the spooky librarian and hell-dogs to life are still scary!) and some fairly adult situations and racy humour.

Where to stream: Foxtel Go, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Apple TV

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

A comic re-telling of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad follows a lanky, superstitious schoolmaster in Colonial America as he’s gradually scared out of his wits by a “headless horseman” who may or may not be his romantic rival, Brom. The sequence of Ichabod being chased by the horseman is a classic of horror film-making, and the film’s conclusion squares things up in an “everything is fine” way that should reassure the little ones. Plus, Mr. Toad is a great non-scary palate cleanser.

Where to stream: Disney+, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Kids will love this playful take on Halloween haunting, and adults will love watching stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy chew the scenery playing three sister witches. Hocus Pocus provides just enough thrills to be fun, but there’s nothing overly scary, and the script’s infrequent double entendres are likely to fly over young one’s heads.

Where to stream: Disney+, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Director Tim Burton is the master of creepy-but-not-too-creepy movies, and this stop-motion ode to the joy of the dark and macabre is his best work. If you’re raising a little goth-in-training, you’re contractually obligated to show them this delightfully spooky musical.

Where to stream: Disney+, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

Frankenstein (1931)

If you have a kid with the patience to deal with the slower pace of movies from the early days of talkies, Frankenstein will reward that patience with a deeply relatable central character and some mildly chilling moments. Even though it was made nearly 100 years ago, kids still see themselves in The Monster because he’s like a child himself. A child made out of corpses who sometimes murders people.

Where to stream: YouTube Movies, Google Play, Apple TV

Coco (2017)

There are a lot of Skeletons in Coco, but it’s not a scary movie. This Day of the Dead story takes viewers (and its main character) across the border from the world of the living to the Land of the Dead, where stylish, sugar-skull skeletons populate a parallel world to our own. Instead of horrifying and tragic, in Coco, death is portrayed as something we should accept without fear, a message adults could probably use as well. Fair warning: since this is a Pixar movie, it will make you cry.

Where to stream: Disney+, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

This story of twins with with telekinetic powers is a must-watch if you enjoy the cheesy, over-the-top style of 1970s live-action Disney movies. It’s among the best of a dismal era (I mean, when the competition is dross like Unidentified Flying Oddball, it’s not that difficult), but even all these years laters, some of the effects are still pretty good. And the story is fever-dream crazy.

Where to stream: Disney+, iTunes, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

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