Miguel (12 year old Mexican boy) plays guitar for his smiling grandmother, Coco (elderly Mexican woman) in a scene from the Pixar film, 'Coco.'
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Best Halloween Movies for Families

There’s nothing that warms my cold, dead heart more than good old family fun.

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Halloween is honestly the best family holiday there is. There’s nothing better than Halloween when you’re a kid. You get to dress up in a spooky costume and run around all night shaking down your crotchety neighbors for candy. And they don’t get to yell “stay off my lawn!” because they can’t. Because that wouldn’t be very Halloweeny now, would it? And your dad can threaten to put the hurt on them more than any movie monster could. And as an adult, you get to dress up your kids in adorable little costumes and fleece those neighbors you hate for all the candy they’re worth. Even if some of that candy is weirdly dick-shaped. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s also fun in your twenties, but it’s mostly just an excuse for us to dress up as bats and have sex with each other. And I don’t need society to tell me that I can only do that one night of the year. I can do that anytime I damn well please.

So, if you’re at the age where bat sex has lost its appeal, and you want to spend your time doing family-oriented things, then here’s a list of family movies you can show your kids this Halloween. And maybe if you expose them to Halloween stuff young enough, they won’t turn to bat sex in their adult life to fill their unmet childhood Halloween needs.

Coraline

Coraline in the stop-motion animated film 'Coraline'
(Laika)

Ooooo Coraline is a spoooky one! Seriously though, it’s actually downright frightening at points. It’s about a little girl named Coraline who moves into a sleepy little town in Oregon with her whack parents. Seriously, her parents are super not fun (unlike you) and spend all their time doing their jobs and not paying attention to Coraline and her unmet Halloween needs. But then, just as all hope for a cool and fulfilling childhood seems lost, she discovers a strange little doorway in her house that leads her to a mystic Other World. In the Other World, she meets her Other Mother and Other Father, who are totally cool, attentive, and caring, and it would all be totally okay if they didn’t have creepy black buttons for eyes.

Hocus Pocus

Disney's 'Hocus Pocus' cast
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

This movie is an absolute classic and is one of those films that simultaneously does and does not hold up. It’s one of those movies that was completely critically panned and bombed at the box office when it came out but is loved by audiences everywhere. It concerns a group of kids in the town of Salem, who come up with the spooky idea to visit a witch-cottage-turned-museum and fuck around inside. One of these little virgins (it’s a plot point) decides that it would be a good idea to light one of the candles inside the cottage, which resurrects a trio of evil witches who were executed years before.

Spirited Away

An animated young girl looks nervous as an older woman with a wart on her face stands behind her in "Spirited Away"
(Studio Ghibli)

Spirited Away isn’t the first movie that comes to mind when you say “Halloween,” but it should be. This movie has all the fixings of what makes a great family Halloween flick. It focuses on a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro, who is being ferried across the Japanese countryside by her parents in order to move into their new home. Chihiro’s dad decides to commit the horror movie sin of taking “a shortcut”, and gets the family lost in the countryside. There, they discover a mysterious tunnel that leads to an abandoned town.

Monster House

A small boy stands in front of the Monster House (Columbia Pictures)
(Columbia Pictures)

Monster House is a film for all the suburban kids who know that the abandoned house at the end of their street was totally haunted. This film validates all of those childhood fears! The house in Monster House isn’t totally abandoned, it’s inhabited by both the spirits of the dead and the mostly dead. It’s home to a cranky old man with one foot in the grave himself, but a group of neighborhood kids begin to believe that the old geezer is hiding more in his house than prune juice and episodes of MASH on tape.

Coco

Miguel (12 year old Mexican boy) plays guitar for his smiling grandmother, Coco (elderly Mexican woman) in a scene from the Pixar film, 'Coco.'
(Pixar)

The hero of Coco, a young boy named Miguel, dreams of disappointing his parents and becoming a musician. Inspired by legends of his famous troubadour great-great-grandfather, he seeks out music wherever it is to be found. During Dia de los Muertos, his search leads him to the Land of the Dead, and consequently to the animated remains of his dead relative!

Corpse Bride

A sickly Victorian man walks up the isle of a spooky church with his zombie bride to be in "Corpse Bride"
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Unlike most 20-year-olds having casual bat-themed sex, some people decide to seek out marriage and commitment during spooky season. One of these people is Corpse Bride‘s Victor, a Victorian-era man who is nervously preparing to wed his bride-to-be. While practicing his wedding vows in the woods (like you do) he mistakenly places the wedding ring on a corpse. The freshly dead young woman then reanimates and claims that she and Victor are married—Victor wants a divorce.

Beetlejuice

Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in 'Beetlejuice'
(Warner Bros.)

20-year-old Halloween promiscuity may be linked to childhood trauma. You can’t prevent your child from being traumatized, but by showing them Beetlejuice you can at least control how they are traumatized. After a couple dies in a car crash, their spirits return to their old home. Meanwhile, a spooky young girl and her family have moved into their home, and the couple’s restless ghosts attempt to scare the family away with the help of an evil spirit named Beetlejuice. Sounds cute, right? Just wait til you watch the ghost wife pluck out her eyes and put them in her own mouth. Then you’ll understand what I mean by “traumatized”.

Monsters Inc.

The animated cast of Pixar's classic Monsters Inc. standing together.
(Pixar)

Childhood trauma is in many ways unavoidable, that’s why some enterprising monsters worked it into their business model. Monster’s Inc. tells the tale of Sully and his partner Mike, two monsters employed at the titular company. What do employees of the company do? Go into the human world, scare the daylights out of unsuspecting children, capture their screams, and use them for energy. It’s a profitable enterprise, until one day an adorable little human girl finds herself lost in monster world, and Sully has to protect her from the monsters that wish her harm.

Paranorman

A spooky looking girl frowns while talking to a boy in the woods in "Paranorman"
(Focus Features, LAIKA)

Paranorman is a love letter for weird kids. You know, oddballs. Misfits. The type of kids to eschew employment and marriage and spend their adult lives chasing Halloween-themed kink. And that’s okay! Norman is a young boy who can see dead people, and instead of seeking out therapy from a ghost, he uses his powers in order to rid his hometown of an ancient witch’s curse!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The nightmare before christmas
(Disney)

C’mon. This movie is the classic to end all classics. It’s got everything. It’s got spooky claymation monsters. A sweet romance. A scary villain. And a soundtrack of banger songs. I’ll tell you the plot, but you probably already know it. And if you don’t, educate yourself right now. It’s about the cultural King of Halloween: Jack Skellington, who has already been immortalized in a Blink-182 song. Jack lives with a bunch of other monsters in a place called Halloweentown and is responsible for scaring the pants off of everyone. HOWEVER, one day he gets bored of Halloween and ventures out into the wilderness, where he finds a door to Christmas Town. He becomes instantly enamored by Christmas Town and wants to spread the Christmas spirit in Halloweentown. The result … doesn’t quite go as planned. This movie is a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie and can be watched multiple times a year. Put it on again during Christmas to make double sure that you squelch your child’s budding bat sex urges once and for all.

(featured image: Disney)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.