Truth be told, Halloween is just a fun time to be alive. As grown ups, we pay for that fun on November 1st with hangover headaches more frightening than anything we’d seen the night before, but as kids, you wake up happy and eager to tell your friends about your spooky night, the candy you got from strangers, and the costumes that secretly made you shit yourself. One place parents tend to draw a line, however, is the kind of horror films they allow their children to watch. I grew up on the genre, so it took me several years to realize that kids my age weren’t allowed to watch the same violent films that I was watching. I took it upon myself then to inform them of family friendly horror films that they could probably get by with watching, and I’m doing the same for you now. Here are 10 horror films that your entire family can enjoy!
The Hole (2009)
Directed by Joe Dante, The Hole is a movie that’s fun for all ages. The plot follows two brothers who stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares. With a more-than-capable young cast that features the increasingly popular Haley Bennett and several creepy moments, The Hole is certainly one of the family friendly horror films that should be in your collection.
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is a direct-to-video horror comedy based on the wildly popular cartoon. In the film, Scooby and the gang reunite after a year-long hiatus from Mystery, Inc. to investigate a bayou island said to be haunted by the ghost of a pirate. With a darker tone than the original series, Zombie Island sees the gang uncover a deeper mystery on the island, as well as having their first encounter with a genuine supernatural threat. This is one of my personal favorite family friendly horror films.
This Jack Black starring horror comedy is based on the ultra-popular R.L. Stine novels of the same name. Rather than taking a separate approach to the monsters of the novels, however, this film mixes the lot together and makes for a wildly entertaining ride. The horror is a bit intense at times, but the comedy hits hard enough to ensure that your children will have a good time without becoming too afraid.
Based on Neil Gaiman‘s novel of the same name, this Laika production makes beautiful use of stop-motion animation and delivers a dark fantasy about a young girl who finds a parallel world behind a secret door in her new home. The alternate world contains a dark and sinister secret that is horrifying even by adult standards. Coraline is freaking scary, y’all. But it’s animated, so your kids will love it!
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Hocus Pocus is undoubtedly one of the most popular family friendly horror films, and deservedly so. With an insanely talented cast that includes Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and ALMOST Leonardo DiCaprio (or so the rumor goes), the film follows a trio of witches inadvertently resurrected by a male teenager in Salem, Massachusetts. With annual airings on the Disney Channel and Freeform, Hocus Pocus quickly became a cult favorite and never looked back. Honestly, most things with Doug Jones in the cast deserve that kind of recognition.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein (1999)
Another direct-to-video animated film for our catalog, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein finds the chipmunks performing at Majestic Movie Studios, a spoof of Universal Studios Hollywood. While taking a break, the chipmunks become lost and are subsequently locked inside the park. They eventually make their way to the “Frankenstein’s Castle” attraction, where a real Dr. Victor Frankenstein is discovered to be working on his monster. Chipmunks is much lighter in tone than Zombie Island and will certainly please your younger children while serving a nice dose of Chipmunk nostalgia for older viewers.
Is Gremlins more of a Christmas film? Sure. Do I give a damn? Not so much. To be honest, your kids won’t care much either. Joe Dante‘s second appearance on our list is a universally popular collaboration between himself, Chris Columbus, and Steven Spielberg. The film tells the story of a young man who receives a small creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into destructive, evil monsters. Though the film is a bit more intense than others on this list, it remains one of the most famous and likable family friendly horror films.
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Ah, the perennial Jim Varney classic is as timeless and enjoyable as cheesy films come. Jim Varney is a sorely-missed every-man hero who starred in amazing films, perhaps none as famous (if you don’t count Toy Story) as Ernest Scared Stupid. The fifth film to feature Varney’s Ernest character finds him accidentally unleashing a troll upon a small town on Halloween. Sound great right? This is one of the funnest family friendly horror films you’ll ever see. If you’d like to read more about this film, you can do so here.
The Witches (1990)
While Hocus Pocus remains a fun Halloween film for your children, The Witches makes for a horrific counterbalance. Based on the children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, the story follows witches who masquerade as normal women so that they can turn children into mice and feast upon them. I’m not lying, this is a children’s movie! One of the darker kids movies you’ll ever see, The Witches makes for a perfect transition from family friendly horror films into the real thing.
Alas, we come to what is arguably my favorite film of the list. Produced by Laika, this stop-motion animation film features a dynamite voice cast that includes Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, and many more. The story follows Norman, an 11-year-old who can see and speak with the dead. When his town is rendered helpless against an ancient curse, Norman and his rag-tag group of friends/family must step in and save the day. ParaNorman pays homage to so many famous horror films that you can’t help but smile like a giddy child, and I assure you that your kids will be smiling too. ParaNorman is one of the all-time great family friendly horror films.
That does it for our list of family friendly horror films! Hopefully you’ve been turned on to something that both you and your children can enjoy over the next couple of weeks! Are you a fan of these films? Do you have any suggestions to add? Be sure to let us know!