Halloween is a great time for fun activities with the whole family. Whether you’re carving pumpkins, making candy apples, or decorating the yard with spooky figures, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Next to Christmas, Halloween also has the best selection of themed movies for any age group. From mild but fun fare that is appropriate for the youngsters to creepy films your older kids might enjoy, here are some of UpFront Ottawa’s favourite Halloween movies:
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This cartoon special from 1966 is a good introduction to the Charlie Brown series. The main plot revolves around Linus’ belief in the myth of the Great Pumpkin, but the special also features a lot of the best parts of the Halloween season for kids, like dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and pumpkin patches. For older kids, consider playing The Simpsons parody from Treehouse of Horror XIX, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Milhouse.”
This 2001 Pixar movie does a good job of playing with the fears and frights of childhood, turning monsters into loveable goofs working the daily grind. The movie also flips the script by having the monsters be afraid of children, even the adorable Boo. It’s definitely a funny family-friendly movie, with the usual standard of Disney/Pixar quality. Turn the night into a marathon by adding the 2013 prequel, Monsters University.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This Tim Burton stop-motion classic from 1993 might be too scary for younger kids, because of the darkness and patchwork creepiness of the characters and setting. But for older kids, this musical fantasy is a spooky visual delight. Bored with the holiday routine in Halloween Town, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington stumbles into Christmas Town and attempts to replicate the winter holiday at home, in his own ghoulish way. Tim Burton is the king of Halloween movies, so if the family likes this one, tread into Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, or Edward Scissorhands.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
While not Halloween movies, the Harry Potter series deals with many creepy and fantastical characters and elements, from wizards and witches to a bevvy of mystical creatures. While we recommend starting at the beginning, if you and your children have already seen the whole series, simply pick your favourite movie. For a fright, you could choose the one with the scene, battle, or villain you found scariest upon initial viewing.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
While Sleepy Hollow, the current TV series based on the Washington Irving tale is too much kids, this short 1949 Disney classic is age-appropriate while still delivering Halloween fright. Narrated by Bing Crosby, the tale of Ichabod Crane and his encounter with a headless horseman delivers the right blend of spook with cartoonish humour and fun. When the kids go to bed, you can put on Tim Burton’s 1999 horror interpretation of this classic story, but definitely keep it away from the young kids.
There are so many fantastic, child-friendly Halloween movies to choose from, from the silly humour of Hocus Pocus and The Addams Family to the Spielbergian wonder and warmth of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. What are the Halloween classics in your family?