Ready to get spooked from the comfort of your own living room? We’ve got your list of kid-friendly scary movies with age recommendations so that everyone can get in the Halloween spirit!
Little Kids (Ages 6+)
Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest
In typical Curious George fashion, all scary images and concepts are treated with some giggles and a very mild “boo” factor. Our favorite monkey and his world are just as adorable as ever as he and his friends navigate Halloween together.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The gang’s all here—Charlie, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Sally and more! The kids tell tales of the Great Pumpkin, bob for apples, and go trick-or-treating. Some of the Halloween imagery (ghosts, skeletons), and name-calling among the kids may require guidance for the very youngest viewers.
It’s the monsters’ job to scare kids and collect the energy of their screams. (That might need some explaining) In true irony, the monsters are more afraid of kids than kids are of monsters. There are comedic peril and cartoon violence throughout the storyline, but it’s easy to figure out that (most of) the monsters are actually friendly and want to help kids.
If you’re not familiar with Day of the Dead traditions like skeletons and makeup to look like skeletons, there’s potential for a few frights. Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
It’s just a bunch of puppies—what could be so scary? Actually, a few things. Overall a story with lots of dark, ominous music and special effects, the pups and kids are regularly in danger from two mischievous villains. They’re chased, threatened, captured, turned to stone, and, in some cases, they vanish. There are also pratfalls, visits to a graveyard, a haunted house, black cats, rats, zombies, flying villains, explosions, and fires.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
A giant were-rabbit is stomping through the town at night, ravaging the squashes and pumpkins, and threatening to shut down Tottington Hall’s annual Giant Vegetable Competition. Like a werewolf, the rabbit visibly transforms into a beast by way of teeth, fur, paws, and snout. Wallace and Gromit are on the case. The townsfolk and one hunter, in particular, pursue the were-rabbit, with guns and garden tools (following classic horror conventions).
Older Kids (Ages 9+)
Coraline is an only child who’s unhappy about moving to a new house with eccentric neighbors and parents that are a bit too busy. She discovers a secret passageway to a parallel otherworld where everything appears to be better. Coraline’s dream world is conceptually creepy, but nothing that really screams “boo.”
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington decides he needs to bring Christmas to Halloweentown, but his plans don’t exactly turn out. There’s a coffin-shaped sled pulled by skeletal robo-reindeer and snakes that devour Christmas trees. At one point, the military is called out to shoot down Jack’s sled from the Christmas Eve skies. Characters take off their own heads and limbs, there are skeletons, nasty toys, and a creepy villain named Oogie Boogie. Odd, but not scary.
Like most of Tim Burton’s movies, Frankenweenie’s tone is dark and a bit creepy. A very young Frankenstein reanimates his beloved pet dog who had previously died. Undoubtedly frightening at times, like when resurrected animals are unleashed onto the town festival. However, humor and heartfelt grief are the highlights of the story. Frankenstein doesn’t seem like a mad genius — just a young boy who misses his favorite creature in the world.
Norman, a middle-school misfit, lives in a small town famous for a centuries-old witch hunt, and he can see and speak to the ghosts who live there. He and his friends must read from a special book to end a curse on the town. Full of ghosts, corpses, zombies, and witches. There are chases, “jump” scenes, characters in peril, frightful zombies with body parts flapping and falling off, and creepy houses with looming shadows.
Chihiro is a sullen 10-year-old girl who wanders into a world ruled by witches and monsters, where humans are changed into animals. When her parents turn into pigs, she must overcome her whiny self in order to enter the spirit world and win them back. There are dozens of freaky-looking creatures that threaten each other or Chihiro, and a beloved character in the shape of a dragon returns from a journey injured, bloody, and on the verge of death.
The boxtrolls have yellow eyes, make hissing noises, and have a creepy reputation—and that’s about it. They’re believed to be bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters who have carried off a crying baby one dark night (they did, but to raise the baby as their own). The spookiness comes from the imagination of the townspeople—fixated on imagining and describing all the things the boxtrolls might do to them if caught.
300 years ago in Salem, MA, 3 witches murdered a little girl and cursed her older brother by turning him into an immortal cat. Just before the witches are hanged for the crime, another witch casts a spell to bring them back to life on a future Halloween night. When present-day high schooler Max lights a bewitched candle, he unwittingly performs the exact act that will bring the witches back to life. With the help of the cat, Max and his friends do their best to outwit, outrun, and outlast the witches. Simply a playful, and spooky spirit of Halloween all around.
Tweens/Teens (Ages 12+)
A young married couple comes to grips with the fact that they’re dead and trapped in a sort of limbo in their own house. When a new (alive) family moves into their house, their attempts to scare them off fails miserably. The teenager is only one who can see the ghosts and tries to help by summoning Beetlejuice, “the afterlife’s leading bio-exorcist.”
Some pretty creepy imagery: people in various gory states of deadness, a chase scene with giant worms, and someone shrivels up like a mummy in a matter of seconds.
Luke overhears witches planning to wipe out all the children in England by turning them into mice and sees it start to happen. The witches capture him and turn him into a mouse. With the help of his grandmother, he steals some of the potion, and puts it into the witches’ soup. Luke finds a notebook listing the addresses of all the witches in America, and he and his grandmother plan to go after them. A twisted plot and detailed costuming with minimal spookiness.
The Corpse Bride
Practicing for his own wedding in the woods, Victor accidentally puts a ring on the finger of a corpse bride. There are multiple references to dead bodies, skeletons, decay, and death. Ghoulish imagery all in good fun. The corpse bride’s eye pops out occasionally, to show the talking maggot who lives inside and offers romantic advice—cute!
Lots of humor is used to neutralize some frightening moments of exterminating ghosts in NYC. Some are scary-looking with decomposing skeletal appearances and wicked grins, and some are just slimy green blobs. Two characters are possessed by large dog-like creatures and one ghost that has arms grabs a woman through a chair. You can pick: original, or all-female reboot.
The Watcher in the Woods
sense of foreboding from some of the residents of the village, a sense of doom Almost immediately after the Carstairs family moves to the countryside for the summer, strange events take place. The bedroom mirror cracks in a perfect X, the teen daughter has visions in the mirror of a girl who appears blindfolded and kidnapped. Sudden bursts of suspenseful music, eerie whispering, and haunted house creakings. Your choice: 1980 original with Bette Davis, or the 2017 remake with Anjelica Huston.