Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Photograph: Everett Collection

The best Halloween movies for kids of all ages

'Tis the season to be spooky, and our favorite Halloween movies for kids will help you get in the spirit!

By Danielle Valente, Allie Early, Hannah Doolin and Oliver Strand
Advertising

Our favorite Halloween movies for kids of all ages promise a wicked good time for your whole crew. 

We round up a few of the best Disney movies that'll satisfy the little ghosts and goblins in your crew. (Think Monsters Inc and Halloweentown.) Then, we move onto scary movies for kids from Tim Burton. And, for those who are truly brave enough to handle a good scare, we have a fan-favorite from Stephen King. (Guess which one!)

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween for kids in NYC

Be sure to make space in your October events calendar to watch some of these frighteningly good flicks. We hear they're the perfect way to round off a day of pumpkin picking and wandering through corn mazes.

Best Halloween movies for kids

HTRA536 VV926
HTRA536 VV926
Photograph: WALT DISNEY PICTURES/Ronald Grant Archive/Mary Evans/Everett Collection

1. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Best for: Little kids, big kids

Washington Irving's grisly tale of Sleepy Hollow becomes more palatable for the kiddies in this cartoon, the second of two featurettes. Following The Wind in the Willows adaptation is this story of bumptious schoolmaster Ichabod Crane and his nemesis the Headless Horseman. It's a trite, chocolate-box picture of colonial days—until the Horseman shows up for one of those nightmare sequences with which Uncle Walt so relished. He sure liked to terrify his young audiences. Rated G.

TCDITTH EC001
TCDITTH EC001
Photograph: Everett Collection

2. It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

Best for: Little kids, big kids

Can’t get enough of Charlie, Snoopy, Linus and the rest of the gang? This sweet flick is one of several holiday-themed family favorites involving your favorite characters. Though A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of our go-to’s, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown frequently makes its way into our movie marathons in early fall. We love the cute costumes, the trick-or-treating, the pumpkins and—gasp—getting a glimmer of Lucy’s softer side. Not rated.

Advertising
Courtesy BFI/Universal Pictures

3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

When Elliott finds an alien hiding in his mom’s tool shed, a friendship blossoms into something truly–ahem–out of this world. With the help of his siblings, he keeps E.T. a secret, but it’s hard to keep the creature safe with government agents sniffing him out. You’ll overlook some slightly salty banter to allow your pint-size crew the joy of giggling when Elliott dresses E.T. as a ghost to sneak him out of the house on Halloween, and you’re sure to say “awww” when young Drew Barrymore comes onscreen. Oh, and a final fun fact: Steven Spielberg’s character E.T. is actually inspired by an imaginary friend he had as a child. Rated PG.

Poltergeist (1982)
Poltergeist (1982)
Photo: Courtesy of MGM/UA Entertainment Company

4. Poltergeist (1982)

Best for: Tweens, teens

Once you watch this film it's hard to forget, especially if you're introduced to it as a kid. Um, hello, those decomposed bodies in the pool? #NOPE. We’ll state right up front that this movie definitely terrifies little kids. However, when the time is right you can introduce it to your older kids, tweens and teens, who will rate it as an instant classic—you’ll love seeing it through their eyes. (Don't bother with the remake from 2015.) No need to summarize a plot you already know, but if you need to jar your memory, how about this: "They're he-ere." Rated PG.

Advertising
Gremlins
Gremlins
Courtesy Warner Bros.

5. Gremlins (1984)

Best for: Tweens, teens

A father seeks a very special gift for his son, ultimately purchasing a very cute “mogwai” (uhh…”monster”??) with strict instructions in Chinatown. As expected, Billy does not care for the critter named Gizmo exactly as instructed, and total mayhem ensues, complete with rapidly-multiplying hideous monsters. The film takes place at Christmastime, but the horror here is flexible enough to creep your kids out at any time of year. Rated PG. 

Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice
Courtesy Channel 5 Broadcasting

6. Beetlejuice (1988)

Best for: Tweens, teens

Young Adam and Barbara (Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis) are dead, and a new family is moving into their home! What to do? Cue Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), in all his putrescence, known for expelling unwanted houseguests (and solving other problems, too). Living goth child Lydia Deetz (played by a translucent-skinned Winona Ryder) helps Beetlejuice expel her unbearable parents and reclaim the home for good. Rated PG.

Advertising
5884069g
5884069g
Zade Rosenthal/20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

7. Edward Sccissorhands (1990)

Best for: Teens 

This candy-colored dark comedy is now a horror classic, the film that launched the career of Tim Burton and turned Johnny Depp into a movie star. It's probably more stylized than you remember: those houses, those dresses, those stilted conversations. It's also probably more cruel—Edward has a rough time of it. This is a film to watch with your older kids and tweens. Rated PG-13.

8. IT (1990)

Best for: Tweens, teens

Stephen King's infamous story of a killer clown named Pennywise has terrorized generations, and this TV film is where it all began. Venture to Derry, Maine, where Pennywise takes on many forms to prey on innocent victims. A group of friends encounters the demon at its worst, but they promise to stick together—even if it comes back. We have a feeling that you'll never look at sewers and red balloons the same way again. (Apologies in advanced.) 

Advertising
The Addams Family
The Addams Family
Photograph: Courtesy Melinda Sue Gordon/Orion Picture

9. The Addams Family (1991)

Best for: Tweens, teens

Being reunited with loved ones is always exciting, but something is a bit...strange about Uncle Fester's homecoming (even for his standards). The entire kooky clan begins to pick up on his unusual ways, and soon everyone suspects this man isn't the Addams he claims to be. We must ask, "Will the real Uncle Fester please stand up?" Rated PG-13.

Courtesy Disney Enterprises Inc.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Best for: Big kids

What happens when the Pumpkin King is totally over Halloween? If you're Jack Skellington, you tumble into Christmas Town and set your mind to making this the best Christmas ever—even if that means kidnapping Santa. He puts his plan into action to goofy and macabre results. It seems the residents of Halloween Town can’t exactly master the art of making toys most kids like (cue evil wooden ducks and carnivorous wreaths). The film is a little dark for younger kids, but it’s a visual delight, and it's full of over-the-top Halloween-themed songs that will get your toes tapping. Rated PG.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Disney Enterprises Inc.

11. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Best for: Big kids, tweens and teens

What makes a better Halloween movie than three evil witches? Head to the 1600s, where Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) cast a spell that killed a little girl and turned her brother into an immortal black cat. Then, fast forward to the '90s and meet Max Dennison, who just moved from Los Angeles to Salem, Mass, with his parents and his little sister. He’ll do anything to impress his cute neighbor, Allison, who just so happens to have access to the old Sanderson House. He even lights the Black Flame Candle, which as legend has it, will bring back the Sanderson sisters—and does! But hey, who believes in all that hocus pocus, anyway? Rated PG.

Addams Family Values
Addams Family Values
Courtesy Paramount Pictures

12. Addams Family Values (1993)

Best for: Tweens, teens

As it turns out, Uncle Fester is sitting on some serious cash. His worth has garnered the attention of the Black Widow, a money-hungry woman who will stop at nothing to get a man's wealth—even if it means killing him. (Which she's done many times.) She goes undercover and attempts to pose as Wednesday, Pugsley and newbie Pubert's babysitter while sinking her teeth into Gomez's beloved brother. The results? A crazy summer camp, new faces and the usual creepy, kooky fun...but not for Debbie the Black Widow. Rated PG-13. 

Advertising

13. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)

Best for: Little kids, big kids

Nothing quite like a classic Mary-Kate and Ashley flick! In true Olsen twin fashion, the duo sets out on a quest to save the day—this time, from their evil Aunt Agatha, who got her malicious power from a green moonstone and trapped her twin sister inside a mirror. Looks like the girls have their work cut out for them. Not rated. 

MSDCASP EC003
MSDCASP EC003
Photograph: Universal/Everett Collection

14. Casper (1995)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

Instead of inheriting her father’s millions (as expected), Carrigan Crittenden gets only his broken-down mansion. She soon realizes that in order to claim the house (and the hidden fortune that may be inside), she needs to boot the troublesome ghosts that call it home. Crittenden hires Dr. James Harvey, an experienced afterlife therapist who moves into the mansion, and his daughter Kat meets Casper (the only friendly ghost of the bunch). They all work together to help the spirits cross over to the other side (expect some mild cursing in the process). Will they be able to pull it off? Rated PG.

Advertising
halloweentown
halloweentown
Photograph: Courtesy Singer White/Ventura Valley Film/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

15. Halloweentown (1998)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) is toughing it out in a household that can’t stand Halloween, but little does she know she’ll soon be living out every tween’s dream: She’s actually a witch and has magical powers. After overhearing a conversation between her mother and grandmother, Marnie sets off to see for herself if Halloweentown is real—and boy is it ever! But remember that whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing? It’s the truth, and Marnie (alongside her brother and little sister) encounters more trouble than she bargained for. Rated TV-G.

Monsters Inc
Monsters Inc
Courtesy Disney

16. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Best for: Little kids, big kids

As we all know, monsters live in a parallel world: Their job is to scare us, and they can only pull that off if they hide that we actually terrify them. When a regular day of spooking children doesn’t go quite as planned, two monster pals end up with an adorable kid in tow (eeek—what could be scarier!), and need to get her home safely. Monsters, Inc. has the feel-good ending you'd expect of a family film, and with leading voices from John Goodman and Billy Crystal the film became an instant Haloween classic. Rated G.

Advertising

17. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

Best for: Big kids 

Jim Evers didn't mean to bring his work on vacation with him. It just sort of happened! When the realtor plans to take his family on vacation, he is asked to stop at a creepy-looking home he's to sell. The visit becomes a debacle when he realizes the humble abode is haunted and the spirits need his help. Rated PG. 

Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros.

18. Harry Potter (2001–2011)

Best for: Big kids, tweens and teens

First, let your kids read the books. Then, let them watch these films, as literature's greatest child wizards come to life in the fantastical world of muggles, monsters and mystics created by J.K. Rowling. Fact is that Harry Potter is now a cultural touchstone, and these vivid stories deal with loss and heartache as well as friendship and overcoming adversity. Besides, the magic is really cool. You should note that this eight-film series grows progressively darker: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) is suitable for seven-year-olds, but the two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011) is better saved for older kids. Rated PG and PG-13.

Advertising
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

19. Corpse Bride (2005)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

Victor just can't seem to get his wedding vows down pat. When the nervous nelly is preparing for his big day, he attempts to recite his speech. In the process, he accidentally proposes to a dead bride...though his actual bride is very much alive. What was once a difficult situation is even more complicated when Victor attempts to get things back to normal. But you will find yourself rooting for multiple quirky characters in this delightful Tim Burton tale. Rated PG.

MCDWAAN EC025
MCDWAAN EC025
Photograph: DreamWorks/Everett Collection

20. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Best for: Big kids

Things take a spooky turn for absent-minded inventor, Wallace, and his trusty canine companion, Gromit, in this stop-motion, claymation flick based on the popular series. The pair create one of their infamous contraptions in order to help their friends protect their gardens from hungry rabbits. A malfunction results in the creation of a giant, rabbit-like monster, which gets Wallace into trouble in more ways than one. Rated G.

Advertising
Monster House
Monster House
©Sony Pictures Imageworks

21. Monster House (2006)

Best for: Big kids

One house on the street is not like the others, and teenager DJ knows it. Unfortunately, it’s harder than expected for him to convince the police and his babysitter that their neighbor’s home is actually a living, breathing monster. DJ and his friends must embark on a crazy adventure in hopes of saving the people the house has eaten (and ideally destroying it afterward). Anxiety-prone kids should pass on this one, but young horror fans will dig this film for its relatable characters and heartwarming ending. Rated PG.

coraline
coraline
Courtesy Laika Inc./Universal Pictures

22. Coraline (2009)

Best for: Big kids

When Coraline moves into her new house—which just so happens to be old—it's quite a snooze fest. Her mom and dad are wrapped up, and she's left bored as a result. All of that changes when she finds a hidden door and an alternate universe behind it. How's that for an interesting abode? In this new realm, everything seems perfect, but nothing truly is. You won't be able to say no to a screening of this Neil Gaiman book-turned-movie when autumn swoops in. Rated PG. 

Advertising
frankenweenie
frankenweenie
Photograph: Courtesy Disney Enterprise

23. Frankenweenie (2012)

Best for: Big kids

Young Victor Frankenstein is unpopular at school, so when his dog (and best friend) Sparky dies in an accident, he does what any brainy boy would do, and brings him back to life. This moody and beautiful black-and-white film could only come from the mind of Tim Burton–it's actually the feature-length remake of a short from 1984–and it's filled with strange creatures and oddball humans. The stellar cast includes Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short. It's silly, but it's also fairly dark, and better suited to older kids. Rated PG.

paranorman
paranorman
Photograph: Courtesy Focus Featu

24. ParaNorman (2012)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

Sure, Norman Babcock is kind of a weirdo, but we love him anyway. Anyone can relate to not quite fitting in, but let us be clear: This isn’t your average 11-year-old. Norman can talk to the dead, and it’s not exactly normal, but his judgy town is soon to change its tune when 17th-century zombies want to come out and play. We love this film because it’s quirky and teaches compassion and tolerance for the strange and unusual. Rated PG.

Advertising
Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Dracula (Adam Sandler) i in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, an animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation.
Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Dracula (Adam Sandler) i in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, an animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation.
Photograph: Courtesy Sony Pictures Animation

25. Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Best for: Little kids, big kids

This animated film is a kid-friendly twist on your typical horror movie. Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) is operating a high-end resort situated far from humankind. When Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon it and falls for the Count’s daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), the overprotective if undead dad must make sure his guests don’t discover the human visitor. The voices of stars such as Kevin James, Fran Drescher, David Spade and Molly Shannon bring a little life to the monsters—even ghouls have fun when they’re on vacation. Rated PG.

FUN SIZE
FUN SIZE
Photograph: Courtesy Paramount Pictures/Jaimie Trueblood

26. Fun Size (2012)

Best for: Tweens, teens 

A babysitting gig on Halloween? That's a horror movie in and of itself. A high schooler is forced to watch her baby bro when her mom jets on the spookiest night of the year, forcing her to miss a huge Halloween bash. Things get even worse when she ventures out and loses her brother in a sea of trick or treaters. Will she be able to spot him in the crowd, and perhaps get to the party after all? Rated PG-13. 

Advertising
901718 - Goosebumps
901718 - Goosebumps
Hopper Stone, SMPSP

27. Goosebumps (2015)

Best for: Big kids, tweens

Nothing compares to the creepy, crawly ’90s YA horror stories of R.L. Stine, so when we heard about a live-action movie based on the series, we were a little iffy. Surprisingly, this Goosebumps film is well-done: Jack Black leads the charge with a kooky story and plenty of laughs. In the film, tween Zach Cooper has a mega-crush on his neighbor Hannah, but he can’t quite figure out Hannah’s super overprotective Dad. As it turns out, Hannah’s Dad is actually the real R.L. Stine, and he has some pretty big secrets to hide. Can the unlikely crew save the town from certain disaster? Rated PG.

28. The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Best for: Big kids

A little boy named Lewis is shipped off to live with his magic-practicing uncle in a spooky old house that makes an unusual "tick-tock" sound. Somehow the youngster manages to awaken the dead and unleashes mayhem on a once-quiet town. Rated PG. 

Advertising
The Addams Family
The Addams Family
Photograph: Courtesy Cinesite

29. The Addams Family (2019)

Best for: Big kids 

Rewind to Gomez and Morticia's nuptials, a spooky affair that caused an uproar from neighbors and forced them to leave town. The newlyweds' new horrific hometown of choice? Jersey. Fast forward a few years to the Addams clan as we know it: Now, Pugsley is preparing for a family ceremony that'll prove he's an adult, Wednesday is insisting on attending junior high and an HGTV-like interior designer with a big personality—and bigger hair—is starting to realize that the Addams' mansion doesn't fit in with her blueprint for the perfect town. See what unfolds for the creepy, kooky family in this animated adaptation. Rated PG. 

scary stories to tell in the dark
scary stories to tell in the dark
Photograph: Courtesy Lionsgate

30. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Best for: Tweens 

With odds to the close-knit IT clan, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a small group of friends who set out to uncover the horror of Sarah Bellows' book of scary stories. When they stumble upon her house, all of the fables come to life—with some frightening results. Rated PG-13.  

Show more

More fun for kids

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising