Halloween Movies to Spook the Whole Family

by | Oct 30, 2013 | A Few of My Favorite Things, Catholic Mom TV Review, Five Favorites, Halloween, October | 13 comments

I’ve already posted about some of the spooky books we like to read/listen to around Halloween, but there are also some shorts and movies we like. Here are five of our favorites, then I need YOUR advice for where we go from here!

1. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Disney version of this classic book is a perennial favorite of kids and adults alike at our house. The short cartoon is very faithful to the spirit of the Washington Irving book, but a good deal easier to understand.

I also happen to think than any story would be greatly improved by being narrated and sung by Bing Crosby. He’s the BEST.

This short is really funny, and also has some genuinely scary parts. I think that’s great for Halloween, and I approve of it for my kids in general. We have already watched it this year and my two and four year olds watched it along with us, and loved it.

You can watch it on YouTube here.

But if yours scare easy, perhaps you should just move on to . . . 

2. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Honestly I don’t know why. This one doesn’t have the truth and beauty of the Christmas Pageant scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Nor does it have the commentary on the commercialization of a Christian holiday. Frankly it’s pretty odd (what is with the Snoopy vs the Red Baron part?!), and the kids are awfully unpleasant to one another, and I think it’s making fun of Santa. But my kids love it and think it is totally hilarious. 

I do love the scenes where Charlie Brown gets rocks in his trick-or-treating bag and doesn’t get to kick the football. Again. 

4. Winnie the Pooh’s Halloween Stories

Fun and sweet and a tiny bit spooky, this one is appropriate for all ages, probably even for more sensitive-type kiddos.

3. Toy Story of Terror

New this year, this short from Pixar showed on ABC. Our whole family watched it and even the grownups were entertained. It’s a spoof on horror story conventions, but never really gets scary itself. Combat Carl is hilarious (and motivational) and it’s nice to see the focus on Jessie in this one.

If you have cable, you’ve got a couple more chances to catch it, otherwise keep an eye out for it next year.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas, etc. 

I like stop-motion animation, and there is something about it that is particularly well suited for spooky movies.

I know it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for all kids, but I really enjoyed this movie as did my kids, and I found the subject matter and presentation to be entirely appropriate, and lots of fun. It’s refreshing to not have a bunch of extraneous pop culture refrences thrown at me while I’m trying to watch a movie.

It’s actually quite similar in feel to classic Christmas stop-motion like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s just that everything in this town is Halloweenish. Things aren’t jumping at you and trying to scare you, there isn’t suspenseful buildup and big scary moments, it’s just that the people and things in this town are all creepy. 

I love how they all, but especially Jack Skellington, really are just trying to help, but everything goes terribly wrong. I know the feeling.

The one exception to this is when the character Oogie Boogie kidnaps Santa Claus. There is the feeling that Santa is emperiled, which could be scary for kids, but it all works out and Santa comports himself with great dignity throughout.

Also in the stop-motion genre, I like Corpse Bride (but it’s really a movie for grown-ups that just happens to be animated) for the way it presents marriage vows as something REAL that once said, mean that the world is different. I also like Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which is silly fun and not really scary and is appropriate for kids, although as usual with Wallace and Gromit there are jokes that go over the kids’ heads.

And now I need your help . . . 

We were thinking about watching Frankenweenie this year, Stephen Greydanus gave it a positive review. And I wanted to see Coraline, since we just listened to the book, but Cari says it’s no good and takes great liberties with the source material, so perhaps we’ll skip that one.

I’d love to show the kids some old school horror films, but I haven’t seen any of them myself and I don’t know how they hold up. Has anyone seen the old black and white Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein? Or the 1920s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (we just listened to that book as well)? How about Nosferatu, the vampire movie from the Vatican Film List?

And for all of my waxing on about zombies, I haven’t seen any of the old zombie movies, or even Shaun of the Dead. But I’m pretty sure none of those would be appropriate for my all-under-twelve-set.

Hopefully none of you guys is as forgetful/naive as I was and think it would be a good idea to watch Ghostbusters with your five year old (this was years ago with my oldest). Yikes! What the heck was up with all the movies when I was a kid? Ghostbusters has scenes that are totally not appropriate for my kids (Goonies too, sad face). But maybe E.T. is okay? I’ve been scared to try any more 80s movies after being burned by those two. Maybe I just need to get better with my muting skills.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fun Halloween, however your family celebrates, and a blessed All Saints and All Souls. 

And thanks to the lovely Hallie of Moxie Wife for hosting Five Favorites. Since there are FIVE of these, I’m linking ’em up.

No, wait, today it’s Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee, who as you might remember lived in Rome and got to meet Pope Benedict and us. So, ya know, pretty big year.


  1. Emily

    We loved the Toy Story of Terror! We NEVER watch TV together or even turn it on when the kids are up and my husband came in all excited and said, "Let's get the boys ready for bed so we can all watch this show tonight." It was awesome. We want that lizard for a pet. So so cute.

    • Kendra

      The same thing happened to us! We happened to see an ad for it during a football game I think, and decided to just roll the dice and watch it. And we really liked it.

  2. Maia

    I am so glad you posted these! I'm excited to watch and share. I'm really grateful for all the reviewing you share and wisdom you blog!

  3. Hafsa

    I started The Nightmare Before Christmas but haven't finished it yet. I really like it so far and I am a Tim Burton fan so there you go. I agree about Coraline, it was definitely dark and weird in most parts. I'm on the fence about it still as to whether I liked it or not. But I'm absolutely sure I will never allow my kids to watch it. Sad face about the Goonies too and I had tried to watch Ghostbusters and eventually turned it off. It's horrible. Your movie suggestions sound pretty good. Might have to check out the Toy story and Winnie the Pooh

  4. Molly

    Coraline is a recent addition to our Halloween movies – one of my favorites and the scenery and town it shows is based on Ashland Oregon where I used to live (hence all the Shakespeare references because of our Shakespeare Festival). If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it!

  5. Caroline

    Did you ever see the cartoon Monster House? Based on your examples I think you'd love it! It actually is one that adults and children would like – not one of those awful "family friendly" pieces of garbage that are crude and boring all at once. And I love The Great Pumpkin! We watched that every year at my house.

  6. Bethany S.

    Have you seen the old Disney Channel Halloweentown movies? I saw them years ago and remember liking them, but wasn't watching with screening for kids in mind since I was still a teenager at the time.

  7. Amy

    We took our girls to see ET with some friends. Totally shocked! Thankfully, they didn't pick up on anything. . .I don't think, but it wasn't how I remembered it at all. I don't recommend ET to the 12 and under set. (There were a few parts that they looked over at me like, "that wasn't appropriate". I guess I should be proud that they knew right/wrong?)

    • Kendra

      Oh no, really?! Seriously, why can't you behave, 80s movies?

      And yes, I think you should. But it's annoying that you have to!

    • Amy

      Loved the Toy Story Tower of Terror though. . .the kids did too 😉

  8. Leigh

    The Disney movie, Coco, is pretty good and one we like to watch for All Saints’ Day!! I did not like Coraline… very odd movie to me. I think the button eyes really were creepy to my kids. Thank you for your other movie suggestions!

    • Kendra

      I didn’t love Coco. I try to avoid the whole Little Mermaid/Brave genre of kids’ disobedience resulting in the parents learning that the kids were right the whole time. I loved the imagery of the movie but it really felt like it was missing its Catholic soul.

  9. sklejeski

    Have you ever watched old Abbott and Costello movies? They have a few monster movies (Frankenstein, Mummy, etc.) and one ghost story where they need to right a wrong so they can move on to their eternal reward (The Time of Their Lives). If I recall correctly, the last one is the most little kid friendly.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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