You have your Halloween movie lineup. All the best slasher films and gore-fests galore ready to go for when the kids go to bed on All Hallows Eve – the holiest of holidays for horror lovers. You settle in, finger on the play button when suddenly the sound of little feet padding across the floor reaches your ears. Uh-oh, better swap that R rating for something that won’t scar your offspring for life.
Never fear, we have you covered with a top ten list of kid-friendly Halloween movies. These are all appropriate for young eyes and listed in order of “scariness” for your convenience. Additionally, the highest age rating of any movie on this list is PG-13.
Pull up a blanket, snuggle up with your little monsters, and put on one of these wholesome holiday favorites. If you don’t have little monsters, that’s cool too. Full disclosure, I absolutely watch these even without kids around, they’re that good. Here are the 11 best Halloween movies for kids:
1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
“The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin.”
Rating: Not rated (great for everyone) Kid Scare-factor: 0/10
The enduring Halloween classic kids movie, watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is as traditional as watching all those claymation Christmas classics throughout December. It’s not scary at all, just a feel-good, seasonally themed way to bridge childhood memories across generations.
2. Halloweentown (1998)
“After learning she is a witch, a girl helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures.”
Rating: TV-G Kid Scare-factor: 1/10
Originally a made-for-TV film on the Disney channel, Halloweentown is a light-hearted, wholesome watch for the season. Kids and adults alike adore this movie for its fantastic cast and story. How can you not love a movie with Debbie Reynolds in it? This is a great non-scary movie to introduce little ones to the world of Halloween monsters; witches, goblins, and skeletons, oh my! There are a couple of sequels as well and they are decent, but isn’t the original always the best?
3. Hotel Transylvania (2012)
“Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenaged daughter.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 2/10
Hotel Transylvania has an all-star comedic cast and has a good mix of kid jokes as well as adult jokes (tame ones, don’t worry), making it a great film to watch with the little ones. If I’m honest with myself, the kid jokes – especially the toilet humor – are my favorite part of this movie. It keeps the scare-level low while extensively representing all the classic Halloween monsters.
4. The Book of Life (2014)
“Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 3/10
Wow, I watched this movie with my daughter and I cried. It centers around the Day of the Dead (El Dia de Los Muertos) and has a beautiful sincerity and great story. The animation is unique, with the characters represented by CGI wooden puppets. It also touches on dealing with death in a very intelligent way and is a must-watch for Halloween.
5. Casper (1995)
“A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by three mischievous ghosts and one friendly one.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 4/10
Any kid who has ever felt alone can identify with the Kat and Casper. It’s a cute and winsome film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. There are a few “scary” moments but nothing that will give a kid nightmares. As a kid my favorite characters were Casper’s more traditional ghost uncles – a trio of goofy troublemaking ghosts who serve as the antagonists and cause no end of trouble for Kat and her dad. A wonderful Halloween classic.
6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
“A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 5/10 (*mostly for emotional moments)
Some people forget that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial takes place around Halloween. The second oldest entry on this list, E.T. is also arguably the most cinematic. Be aware of the many emotional moments though. My normally stoic daughter, who didn’t even cry when watching The Lion King, was devastated at the emotional climax of this film. Not scary, per se, but be sure you’re ready to handle the waterworks that will surely ensue.
7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
“Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 6/10
A gorgeously executed claymation that has stood the test of time, The Nightmare Before Christmas should be on the annual Halloween watchlist of everyone. However it might not be suitable for extremely young viewers (under five years old, maybe?) due to the somewhat macabre Halloween Town characters. The musical numbers in this film will stay in your head forever.
8. The Little Vampire (2000)
“A lonely American boy living in Scotland makes a new best friend, a fellow nine-year-old who happens to be a vampire.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 7/10
As a young teen, I watched this film about thirty consecutive times one year. I may have been vampire-obsessed back then, but I recently re-watched this with my daughter and was still incredibly charmed by it. There is something about the lovely Scottish landscapes, the gothic and adorable vampire family, and that super cute kid from Jerry Maguire that just makes this film a delight to watch.
9. Goosebumps (2015)
“A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 8/10
Jack Black is a delight in this film that appeals particularly to both kids and adults who loved reading Goosebumps back in the day. It’s a fun take on the Goosebumps stories and highly enjoyable to watch. There are a few “boo” type scares in the movie, and some of the monsters might leave an impression on faint-hearted kids, but that’s kind of the point, right?
10. The Addams Family (1991)
“Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.”
Rating: PG-13 Kid Scare-factor: 9/10
Here we are getting into somewhat macabre territory. Unless you’ve seen The Addams Family already, you might want to give it a pre-watch before showing it to the kiddos. It’s rated PG-13, but that was in 1993, and it might have received a stricter rating if it were made in 2018. The Addams family is dark comedy humor and there are a few light adult situations in the film, but it is my nine-year-old daughter’s favorite Halloween movie. It’s a fun gothic watch and definitely a timeless Halloween classic.
11. Hocus Pocus (1993)
“A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.”
Rating: PG Kid Scare-factor: 10/10
This is my all-time favorite Halloween family film, and also the “scariest” movie on this list. There is a good reason it shows up on the top shelf of every family-friendly Halloween movie list, every year. All the acting is superb, the effects have held up well over time, the story is wonderful, and also it has Bette Midler – an absolute goddess. If you’ve never seen Hocus Pocus, what are you doing? Go. Watch. It. Now.