Halloween is a great time for Horror films, but most Horror fare isn’t exactly family friendly– and there are some who simply don’t like the Horror genre overall. But there are films that are perfectly Halloween-y or have a dark enough tone that all ages can enjoy them this month, regardless of genre.
The following films are rated either G or PG, and are listed by recommended age ranges; however, different kids have different reactions to movies. Keep in mind what your kid can handle before you show them a movie they might not be ready for.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Recommended Ages: 5-7
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has some pretty intense moments. The Queen’s transformation, Snow White running from the Huntsman, the magic mirror, the Queen’s death– it’s a much darker movie than you probably remember. In fact, the dark ride at the Disney parks is called Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and originally didn’t feature much of the dwarfs or Snow White at all, focusing on these darker scenes. However, it’s also the classic Disney and Disney Princess film, so it also has its lighter and softer moments to keep the tone from getting too scary. Also, the Signature Edition is available for purchase now, so get a copy before they stick it back in the Vault.
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
Recommended Ages: 8-10
Don Bluth is a Disney animation alumn who specializes in darker films and themes, like a film about accepting the death of a parent, another about the plight of Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms by immigrating to America, and this film, which is an adaptation of the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The movie is about a group of lab rats and mice that escape the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) after learning how to read. The main character, a field mouse named Mrs. Brisby (name changed for reasons), is the widow of Jonathan Brisby, one of the mice of NIMH and one that saved many of the escapees on their way out. Mrs. Brisby needs to move her family out of the field before the farmer tills it to begin the planting season, but one of her sons is sick. It’s much darker than the average Disney film– like, it uses a lot of blacks and browns and many key scenes take place at night or in places with little light. There are some intense moments, so it’s really not for younger viewers, but older kids will find it engaging and imaginative.
Recommended Ages: 11-13
Okay, so this should be on everyone’s list already. Ghosbusters is a comedy classic, with great characters, great writing, and a great premise. This was made back when PG actually meant something though, so there’s some language that might not be appropriate for kids under the fourth grade, but a lot of the more inappropriate content is often missed by younger viewers. It’s a great movie all year round, but especially during Halloween.
Recommended Ages: 14-15
Tim Burton. I’m not sure there’s a movie he’s been involved with that wouldn’t be appropriate for Halloween. But if you’ve already shown them Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas, now that they’re older, why not try Beetlejuice? Beetlegeuse–
–has a raunchy sense of humor that a kid in middle school would appreciate, and is significantly darker than many of the other films on this list. Plus, if you haven’t introduced your kid to any of Tim Burton yet, this has almost all of his tropes– imaginative set up, black and white stripes, stop-motion animation, etc. If this were made today, it’d be a hard PG-13, so probably not for young children and preteens, but definitely for the young teens.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Recommended Ages: 15-17
Directed by Mel Brooks, and starring the late, great Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein is a perfect film for Halloween. Of course, Mel Brooks being Mel Brooks, this is definitely for older teens, but it’s not Blazing Saddles levels of inappropriate. It’s great for Halloween, being a parody of one of the most famous monster movies of all time, and it’s a classic in its own right– certainly required viewing for any film junkie in the making. It’s also a great way to test the waters for future Mel Brooks viewing– Men in Tights and The Producers (the original one) are great future picks if they like Young Frankenstein.
Any movies I missed? Any concerns over these? Let me know in the comments. Also, like if you can, and follow or subscribe!