8 Best Family-Friendly Halloween Movies

People of all ages want to get into the Halloween spirit in October. For parents of younger children, this means walking a fine line: Letting kids experience creeps and scares but letting everyone sleep at night. Family-friendly Halloween movies may have some dark images at times, but the overall message and feel don’t keep them frightened for long. You could probably come up with a much longer list of movies that are chilling without being scary, but the trick is to not bore the parents as well. These movies are entirely watchable for everyone.

Here are some of our writers’ top picks for the best family-friendly flicks to put you in the Halloween spirit:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

“People always debate if this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. The answer is, it’s a Halloween movie that uses the language of a classic Christmas movie to evoke a timeless sense of holiday wonder. Director Henry Selick borrows the formula of old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials – stop motion animation, outcasts from their own town, enchanting songs – to tell the story of the king of Halloween and his quest to branch out to other holidays. While there are a couple of plot holes that older kids will point out, the whole family can get behind this one over and over again.”

Sol Smith

“One of the few films that can pull double duty for two major holidays. This movie is a classic for many reasons. The stop-motion animation is breathtaking, the music will get stuck in your head for days, and Tim Burton’s whimsical characters tell an invigorating story.”

Lauren Scheier

The Nightmare Before Christmas might be a complete cliché to add to this list, but I regret nothing. The art, the music, and all of the talent rolled into one delightful ensemble, has kept fans going back to film year after year. Whether it’s Halloween, Christmas, or just another day, Jack Skellington’s misadventures paired with incomparably fun music will keep this one on my watch list always!”

Amelia Emberwing

Hocus Pocus (1993)

“A favorite from my childhood, Hocus Pocus has become the definitive Halloween film. What started out as a small movie has turned into a cult classic that can be found just about everywhere once October hits. The Sanderson Sisters delightfully chew the scenery, and the fact that the entire film takes place on All Hallows Eve just adds to the excitement of the holiday.”

– Lauren

“For me, Hocus Pocus is synonymous with Halloween, and has been since the movie premiered in 1993. Despite its less than perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has lived on in fans hearts for decades, and likely will continue to do so for years to come. Thackery Binx’s painful death is soothed by the countless black cats that run around today bearing his name. Let’s hope they keep any virgins from lighting the black flame candle!”

– Amelia

“This has become a cult classic in the last few years and it sports an impressive cast. A New England town is haunted by three witches who have been brought back to life by a disgruntled teenager. The problem with this film is that despite the cast and the bouncy feel, it’s not really that great. People tend to remember it better than it was, for whatever reason. What is most surprising is how a family film from the early 90’s can use the word “virgin” a thousands times. A 13-year-old boy gets ridiculed by his little sister for still being a virgin. On IMDB, “virgin” is listed as one of the film’s keywords. We just told our kids that it meant he had never had girlfriend, but you’re on your own.”

– Sol

Ghostbusters (1984)

“Who you gonna call? The original flick is known for being a Halloween classic. After all, what song is always at the top of everyone’s Halloween playlist? The Pumpkin Dance meme lives on for a reason! The cast is solid and the ghost effects were astonishing for the time. With just the right amount of scares and plenty of laughs, you just know you need to introduce your kids to this film.”

– Lauren

The archetypal horror-comedy. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 32 years, you’re a big fan of this one. Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver turn in their best performances in one of the most memorable and quotable movies of all time. While it’s not generally associated with Halloween, and it makes no efforts to associate itself with it, it works wonderfully at this time of year.”

– Sol

“This film is pretty much an all year round fare in my house. Classics like Ghostbusters aren’t meant to be pigeon holed to one time a year. You just can’t beat the team of comedy geniuses involved in the film. The film is hilarious, weird, and filled with ghosts. Everything a growing girl needs!”

– Amelia

Beetlejuice (1988)

“What misunderstood little girl didn’t identify with Lydia Deetz on a spiritual level? Beetlejuice always interested me from a writing standpoint because it’s title character always seemed tertiary, at least for me. It was all about Lydia, Adam, and Barbara for me. All the same, the movie wouldn’t be what it is without the comedy from the oddly loveable Beetlejuice!”

– Amelia

“If you haven’t seen this one in a while, I’m happy to tell you that it really holds up. Tim Burton’s classic about a couple who dies and must haunt their own house is both funny and scary. The special effects are dated, but stylistic, so they come across as fresh and charming. While kids might find moments of this film frightening, the tone always shifts to funny before too long.”

– Sol

The Ghost with the Most is back, baby! I think this film is better suited for slightly older children, but I’m sure everyone in the family can enjoy it. Michael Keaton delivers the best over the top performance as the title character. The cast of supporting characters are also amazing and you most definitely won’t want to miss the elaborate special effects makeup.”

– Lauren

Practical Magic (1998)

“This film has been a favorite of mine since it was released. The themes of being different, surviving abuse, making mistakes, and sisters supporting each other manage to sooth me no matter how I’m feeling. Love is an aspect of the film, but it takes a back seat to sisters and family, so the balance is perfect for anyone who want to see girl power first!”

– Amelia

“Another film that I would recommend for slightly older children, but still a must watch. A phenomenal cast of women make up this film that explores the bond between sisters and proves just how powerful women can be. A modern witch story that always puts me in a Halloween mood.”

– Lauren

“Practical Magic is a modern (by 90’s standards) witch tale. This movie is worth watching if, for no other reason, the casting. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play good girl/ bad girl witch sisters, trying to blend into the real world. The movie works really well, despite falling into some pretty typical witch jokes, but again, it’s the cast that shines the brightest.”

– Sol

Halloweentown (1998)

“This film isn’t just a beloved Disney Channel Original Movie, it’s also a real town that you can visit! The Cromwell family defends their beloved town from the evil Demon, who may or may not end up being someone we know. The adventure continues on in a trilogy. Though not critically acclaimed, the films are a delightful way to get your in the Halloween spirit!”

– Amelia

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

“This is a Disney production from the early 80’s that doesn’t get as much play these days as it should. It’s an adaptation of an outstanding novel by Ray Bradbury, and while it strays very far from the book, the casting is spot-on and the atmosphere is perfect; I see this film as more of a companion to the book than a straight adaptation. A mysterious carnival comes to a Midwestern town at the turn of the 20th century and residents start disappearing. Evidently, the carnival promises to make dreams come true, but they are only consuming those dreams to keep their own nightmare shadow show on the road. Two twelve year old boys know too much and the ringmaster would like to have a word with them.”

– Sol

The Addams Family/The Addams Family Values (1991/1993)

“I always consider these two films a double feature. You can’t enjoy one without the other! These films are perfectly cast and feature some of the most macabre gags caught on film. This family is just the right amount of creepy and kooky. These are both mandatory viewings in my home every October.”

– Lauren

There you have it, our favorite not-so-scary family films to watch during the witching hour. What movies do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!



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