Halloween is always a night of creative costumes, delicious candy and fun frights. Of course, kids love the opportunity to challenge their courage by entering haunted houses, swapping spine-chilling stories and watching scary movies. That’s a lot of spookiness for one day, though, and with the wrong film, they may be too frightened to fall asleep at bedtime. (And of course, getting them to bed in time for you to enjoy a proper horror film, like a Stephen King adaptation or classic vampire flick might be an important part of your grown-up Halloween experience!)
Fortunately, there are lots of wonderfully fun — and only slightly creepy — movies out there that kids will enjoy this year. From oldies like Hocus Pocus to newer films like a stellar remake of The Witches, this list has plenty of options that’ll delight much more than they’ll scare. Check out 12 of the best kid-friendly Halloween flicks that make not-too-spooky treats for the entire family!
The Goosebumps book series by R.L. Stine has thrilled kids across the world since the 1990s. The series has been adapted for both TV and film, including a newer franchise for younger generations who aren’t familiar with these classics.
The 2015 flick, aptly titled Goosebumps, stars Jack Black as a fictionalized version of Stine alongside Dylan Minnette, who plays his teenage neighbor. The two team up to take down monsters from the Goosebumps series that have managed to escape from the books and cause chaos in the real world. The film is frightening fun for kids, and there’s enough action to keep parents entertained — especially if they’re former fans of the series.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
A trio of 300-year-old witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) conjures up a little bit of hocus pocus in this Halloween classic. The 1993 film centers on what happens when the Sanderson sisters are accidentally brought back from the dead on All Hallow’s Eve.
Attempting to recapture their youth, the witches plan to steal the souls of the children of Salem, Massachusetts, so they can live for eternity. Three kids, a talking black cat and, eventually, a friendly zombie have to work together to stop the sinister sisters before it’s too late. Hocus Pocus is certain to put a spell on you this Halloween.
Spirited Away (2001)
If you’re new to the world of Miyazaki, Spirited Away is a great place to start. This classic film from Studio Ghibli follows our protagonist Chihiro, just as she and her parents move to a new town. As they explore, they find what appears to be an abandoned theme park, but Chihiro quickly realizes that she has somehow crossed into the realm of spirits. Oh, and her parents have been turned into pigs. As she learns to navigate the spirit world, and ultimately free herself and her parents, she meets many memorable characters along the way.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and became the top-grossing film in Japanese history. Don’t let the strange plot deter you. This film has won the hearts of many, and is a perfect addition to a Halloween lineup for the whole family.
These guys ain’t afraid of no ghosts, probably because the ghosts in this film aren’t too scary. This family-friendly comedy-horror was a smash at the box office in the 80s and has retained its appeal in the decades to follow. Sequels and remakes have attempted to capitalize on the success of the original, but have repeatedly fallen short.
Pop some popcorn and prepare to be entertained as a trio of paranormal exterminators face off against a gluttonous ghost, a pack of demonic dogs, and the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monsters, Inc. is a fun comedy about — what else? — two monsters, Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), who are the number-one scare team at the scream-processing factory in the town of Monstropolis. The film, released in 2001, follows their misadventures after a human girl named Boo makes her way into their world.
Together, the two have to figure out a way to get Boo home before anyone discovers this unimaginable mistake. Despite their best efforts, which include dressing Boo up as a baby monster, they run into plenty of roadblocks along the way. Kids will probably fall in love with the cuddly Sulley before they feel an ounce of fear during this film!
The Witches (2020)
The Witches (2020) is a fantasy-comedy film based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name. This reimagining of the original 1990 film follows an orphaned boy who goes to live with his grandmother in Alabama. After coming across a witch, the boy and his grandmother flee to a hotel to escape her evil clutches. However, the world’s Grand High Witch happens to be staying there — along with disguised, diabolical witches from all over the world who are helping her turn children into mice.
This remake of The Witches is an HBO Max original starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci — and it’s certainly a top choice for your family’s Halloween movie marathon.
The 2009 animated film Coraline is based on a dark fantasy novella of the same name. With Dakota Fanning voicing the titular character, the movie follows a young girl who discovers an alternate world that closely mirrors her own — but seemingly much happier. It’s complete with a parallel family that appears, at first sight, to be much better than the one she has.
However, when Coraline’s Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and the rest of this parallel family try to keep her in their new world forever, she has to fight to make it back home. Kids are sure to find the stop-motion animation and colorful sets of Coraline enchanting.
In the 1988 film, Beetlejuice, a couple dies in a car accident and finds themselves stuck in their former country home instead of a pleasant afterlife. When a new family moves in to the farmhouse, the dead couple tries to scare them away, but to no avail. They enlist the help of the troublemaking poltergeist Beetlejuice, who turns out to be a hazard to everyone involved.
The classic film has an all-star cast that includes Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder. Directed by Tim Burton, the movie offers a comedic twist on a supernatural tale that families will enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if the film’s soundtrack sparks an impromptu dance party.
Starring Kimberly J. Brown and the late, great Debbie Reynolds, Halloweentown is a Disney Channel original movie that premiered in 1998. Today, it’s revered as a classic Halloween film among the now-adults who grew up watching it every year decades ago.
On her 13th birthday, Marnie Cromwell discovers that she’s a witch, as is everyone else in her family. She and her younger siblings sneak off to Halloweentown, where her grandmother lives, to learn more about their family’s history and so Marnie can begin her witch training before it’s too late. The visit goes awry when they discover that an evil force is attempting to take over the town — but with a little magic, Marnie and her siblings can save the day.
The Addams Family (2019)
There have been several reimaginings of the original Addams Family over the years — did you know the first cartoons were created in 1938? — but this animated film from 2019 is an especially fun version for kids. In the movie, Gomez, Morticia and the rest of the Addams clan prepare to welcome relatives for a visit. But when a TV personality attempts to get rid of them, the family has to prove that their creepy and kooky ways are no threat to their idyllic neighborhood.
The Addams Family features the voiceover talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Alison Janney, Chloë Grace Moretz and others. If your family can’t get enough of this endearingly macabre group, you’ll be happy to know a sequel was just released — and it’s available to rent on streaming.
It’s time to pass this cornerstone of Halloween weirdness to a new generation! The 1986 film Labyrinth is a cult classic for so many reasons, from its fantastical setting to its magical plot to the fact that it stars the one and only David Bowie — and includes danceworthy original songs from the Starman himself.
The story follows teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) as she travels through an otherworldly maze, solving riddles to rescue her baby brother from Bowie’s Jareth the Goblin King. Most of the film’s main characters are played by puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which is sure to delight kids (and deliver you an enjoyable dose of nostalgia).
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
You can’t have a kid-approved Halloween movie fest without watching 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The story follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who’s grown bored with the same old scare routine of Halloween each year. When he stumbles upon a door to Christmas Town, he decides to put his own twist on the holiday, causing complete havoc in the process.
The spooky-but-fun Tim Burton film stars Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara and Ken Page. What’s even better about this classic is that it doubles as a Halloween and Christmas movie — and there’s no better time of year to get into the holiday spirit!