Is there a better holiday than Halloween for kids? You get to dress up in a costume, eat candy, decorate with spooky items and you can finally watch scary movies that make you feel like a grown-up. If you’re a parent, Halloween can admittedly be a bit of a nightmare (see: finding a costume, kids getting sugar highs and weeks of nightmares from scary movies). Thankfully, there’s a way for everyone to enjoy October 31 and it starts with the best Halloween movies for kids.
Whether you’re teaching little ones about the tradition of trick or treating or you’re finally letting big kids watch a movie with spooky segments, finding the right Halloween film for kids is essential to making this the best holiday of the year. Age-appropriate Halloween films are available for all groups, even toddlers, and in some cases can be a great way for parents and kids to enjoy screen time together.
This October, introduce your kids to an old classic, watch a new animated film, and don’t forget to save some candy for yourself. If anyone deserves some chocolate on Halloween, it’s parents.
1. Hocus Pocus (1993)
There’s a reason that Hocus Pocus is getting a sequel almost 30 years after the original and that’s because it’s one of the best Halloween movies ever made. A great pick for families and big kids who can handle some scares, the film features an all-star cast of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, was directed by Kenny Ortega and has no shortage of musical moments and quotable lines (we love starting our day with Winifred’s “Oh, look! Another glorious morning. Makes me sick!”). The film is set on Halloween, making it the perfect movie for kids to watch leading up to their big day of trick or treating, or on October 31 once they’ve aged out of the ‘free candy’ phase. If there’s ever a time for a fun, feel-good Halloween movie, it’s the first Halloween sans-trick or treating. Growing up is hard.
2. The Addams Family (2019)
BEST UPDATED SCARY MOVIE
The 1991 Addams Family movie starring Christina Ricci, Angelica Houston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, and Carel Struycken still stands up after all these years (it’s one of our fave family films), but the more recent animated take on the delightfully dead family is definitely worth a movie night. Updated for the 21st century and complete with Instagram mobs and smartphones for kids, the film also boasts an impressive cast of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler and Allison Janney. The famous family continues to make the undead hilarious and heartfelt, while Wednesday Addams tries to fit in at her new Assimilation Elementary School. A sequel is set to be released on October 1, 2021, just in time for Halloween. Snap snap.
The Addams Family
3. Heffalump Halloween Movie (2011)
BEST FOR TODDLERS
For parents who finally got a good bedtime routine going and don’t want to lose it thanks to a scary scene in a Halloween movie for kids, this pick is for you. While most Disney films for kids include some traumatic event (why, Walt?), Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie is safe for tiny viewers. Toddlers will love seeing their favorite characters from the 100 Acre Woods in this sweet Halloween film about friendship. Littles can learn about trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, and why things that may seem scary aren’t that bad. The film has a running time of over one hour, which may be too long for some tots, but that just means parents can split it into two days leading up to October 31. One less decision to make about safe screen time? Thank you, Pooh.
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
4. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
BEST FOR LITTLE KIDS
For kids who are out of the toddler stage, but not quite ready for Halloween movies with actual shrieks and scares, there’s Charles Schultz’s timeless classic It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Sincere Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will visit the pumpkin patch on Halloween, so much so that he skips trick or treating to prove his theory. Sally agrees to wait with her Sweet Baboo, while her big brother Charlie Brown opts to go trick or treating only to find his bag filled with rocks. Lucy pulls the football from Charlie Brown, Pig-Pen’s dusty demeanor gets screen time, Snoopy appears as the Red Baron, Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful score provides the soundtrack and little kids discuss the meaning of life without touching on politics or religion. What more could you want in a Peanuts cartoon? This Halloween movie for kids has a runtime of 25 minutes, which means it will keep a child’s attention long enough for parents to get dinner ready. Or lay down.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
5. Monster House (2006)
BEST FOR BIG KIDS
For kids who can handle some big scares, there’s the 2006 animated film Monster House. When DJ’s parents leave town on Halloween, he’s stuck with his mean babysitter. Thankfully, his best friend Chowder is around to play, but the pair soon find that their pickup game of basketball is rudely interrupted when the house across the street eats their basketball. It’s a, you guessed it, Monster House, but convincing anyone else that the creepy home on their street is haunted proves to be more difficult than finding an affordable house in a good school district. Produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, Monster House features an impressive voice cast of Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Fred Willard, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Kathleen Turner and Nick Cannon.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
BEST FOR TEENS
Tim Burton’s fantastical The Nightmare Before Christmas captured the imagination of moviegoers everywhere when it was released in the mid-1990s and continues to be a must-see for annual Halloween movie marathons. The story of Halloween king Jack Skellington landing in Christmas Town combines two beloved holidays and throws in plenty of ghastly surprises, heartwarming musical numbers, and truly creepy characters that older kids and teens will love. It’s still too scary for little ones to watch, but older kids and parents will appreciate the humor and ingenuity of Burton’s animated classic.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
7. Casper (1995)
BEST LOVE STORY
If your kids like a film with a bit of a love story angle, the 1995 classic tale of the most famous friendly ghost should be on their Halloween list. The Halloween movie for kids stars Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci as a father and daughter duo who move into a haunted mansion in hopes of connecting with their late wife and mother. Instead, they find a trio of unruly ghosts and one young ghost who lives up to his friendly hype. There are some boos and scares, so younger kids may not quite be ready for their first viewing until they’re a bit older, but the sweet story pulls at the heartstrings, features a first kiss, deals with losing a loved one, and yes, has a party on Halloween night.
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
BEST FOR READERS
As far as the scare factor, later installments of the Harry Potter films definitely amp up the darkness. But for kids who are just starting their journey into the Wizarding World, it’s best to begin at, well, the beginning. Though not a traditional Halloween movie for kids, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has flying broomsticks, wizards, candy that comes to life, and plenty of scares care of some haunted woods, classrooms, and prohibited libraries. One of the few instances of the movie being just as good as the book, Harry Potter is an excellent series for young readers who want to unlock their imagination and meet characters who will grow with them, movies included.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
9. Coco (2017)
BEST CULTURAL MESSAGE
Another non-traditional Halloween film kids will love is Pixar’s Coco. The film celebrates the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos, which also takes place on October 31. Young Miguel has musical aspirations but is told by his family that he is not allowed to pursue his love of the guitar. When he accidentally travels to the Land of the Dead, he meets his relatives and learns the importance of family while also helping to heal the old wounds of those closest to him. The beautiful and touching film educates kids on Día de Muertos, while also celebrating music, creativity and family. Little kids may be a bit nervous about the numerous skeletons in the film, but the message of positivity shines through and leaves viewers feeling inspired.
10. The Witches (1990)
BEST CULT CLASSIC
The 2020 remake of Jim Henson’s The Witches has plenty of fun scares and shenanigans to delight viewers, but it’s tough to beat the original 1990 film. Angelica Houston is divine as the Grand High Witch, who assembles her coven at a hotel in order to conspire to rid the world of children. Their plan hits a snag when a young boy overhears their meeting. The witches turn him into a mouse, but he’s able to warn his grandmother and together they plot to stop the evil witches from exterminating the rodents. Sorry, the kids. Based on Roald Dahl’s 1983 book, The Witches developed a cult following after its release and is still regarded as one of the best scary movies for rodents. We did it again! Kids, kids. If you’re looking for one of the best Halloween movies for kids, you shouldn’t miss The Witches.