If you’re one of those who looks forward to Halloween all year long (even more than Christmas), it may be time for your kids to join in on the fun. The problem is, most scary movies are way too scary for the kiddos under 13. That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite family-friendly films for the kids who aren’t ready for a PG-13 spook yet.
Pop the popcorn — or better yet, bust out the Halloween candy — and make a family movie night out of one of these not-too-scary Halloween classics:
1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Released in 1966, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is fun for the whole family — nostalgic for Mom and Dad and good, clean fun for the kiddos. It became a cult classic after running as a Halloween television special and has since seen bell-bottoms, acid-wash jeans and grunge music come and go over the decades while its popularity has yet to wane.
The early ’90s were good to Christina Ricci: Mermaids in ’90, Addams Family Values (also a good Halloween movie!) in ’91 and Casper in ’95. This preteen favorite follows Ricci as Kat Harvey, a young girl who — along with her paranormal psychologist father, played by the excellent Bill Pullman — moves into a haunted mansion. Thanks to a creepy, old house, inappropriate ghost uncles, preteen angst and (gasp!) a Kat and Casper kissing scene, it’s good for screaming and swooning.
For a kid, losing a beloved family pet is akin to losing your best friend. One of the more recent films to make this list, 2012’s Frankenweenie, explores what happens when one clever little boy refuses to say goodbye to his furry buddy, Sparky. A humorous homage to the classic 1931 black-and-white Frankenstein, this Tim Burton stop-motion film is macabre and heartwarming at once — a must-watch, for sure.
4. Hocus Pocus
Proof that Disney isn’t just good at animated movies, Hocus Pocus starts making the rounds on TV in early October, much to the delight of, like, everyone. (I, for one, loved it so much when I was younger that I named my black cat Emily Binx.) While there are far too many must-see components to point out, rest assured that you won’t be disappointed — particularly when it comes to the Sanderson sisters, brilliantly played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy.
5. Hotel Transylvania
Even if you aren’t normally a fan of Adam Sandler movies, it’s highly likely you’ll adore this one. In it, he voices Dracula, who — in this kid-friendly, animated version — owns the title hotel, a place for the monsters of the world to get a little R & R away from the prying eyes (and/or pitchforks) of humans. If you need further reassurance that the film panders to a younger crowd, consider that director Genndy Tartakovsky is also responsible for kid hits like Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory and Sym-Bionic Train.
Next Up: Monster House