(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, TriStar, MGM / Courtesy: Everett Collection)
36 Essential Kids Halloween Movies
Looking for a scary movie to watch with the kids and family? Or a horror movie that won’t necessarily send you scrambling beneath the covers, with a 6,000 watt night light plugged in? Then you’ve come to the right ghoulish place with our guide to some of the best children’s movies for Halloween!
There’s something for everyone, from the very young (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Coco) to the…well, still young, but we bet they think they’re so grown-up (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Addams Family). We’ve got animated funhouses (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, Monster House), ’80s fantasies and creepfests (The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz, The Monster Squad), and ’90s classics present and accounted for (The Witches, Hocus Pocus, Casper).
But what’s a little mayhem for the young mind without some Steven Spielberg productions like Poltergeist and Gremlins? Or the maestro of palatable twisted dreams: Tim Burton, who’s represented by Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.
Meanwhile, modern-day fare like Goosebumps and The Addams Family will keep the torch burning well into the years. Whatever scary family movies you’re looking for, the ones you need are in our guide to the essential kids Halloween movies!
Adjusted Score: 52.027%
Critics Consensus: A meandering, mindless family movie that frequently resorts to special effects and transparent sappiness.
Based on the popular cartoon character, this family-oriented "ghost story" is about a not-so-scary spirit who bonds with a little... [More]
Adjusted Score: 51.212%
Critics Consensus: The Watcher in the Woods boasts plenty of spooky atmosphere and a typically strong performance from Bette Davis, but it builds to a conclusion so dissatisfying that it undermines all that came before.
This chiller represents one of Disney's first attempts at a more serious horror movie as it chronicles the travails of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.962%
Critics Consensus: Goosebumps boasts more than enough of its spooky source material's kid-friendly charm to make up for some slightly scattershot humor and a hurried pace.
Upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.368%
Critics Consensus: Monster House welcoms kids and adults alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun.
A suburban home has become physically animated by a vengeful human soul looking to stir up trouble from beyond the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.152%
Critics Consensus: True terror and typical Disney wholesomeness clash uncomfortably in Something Wicked This Way Comes.
After a carnival comes to Green Town, the good citizens are compelled to follow their deepest desires, caught under the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67.068%
Critics Consensus: The movie is peppered with amusing sight gags and one-liners, but the disjointed script doesn't cohere into a successful whole.
The eccentric lifestyle of the Addams family is threatened when the family attorney and a greedy mother/son team conspire to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.394%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Young Lukas Haas is visited by the ghosts of ten children, all of whom had been molested and murdered. Haas... [More]
Adjusted Score: 51.219%
Critics Consensus: The Addams Family's starry voice cast and eye-catching animation aren't enough to outweigh its saccharine handling of the delightfully dark source material.
Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.288%
Critics Consensus: Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.
From creative genius Tim Burton comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.544%
Critics Consensus: With a deliciously wicked performance from Angelica Huston and imaginative puppetry by Jim Henson's creature shop, Nicolas Roeg's dark and witty movie captures the spirit of Roald Dahl's writing like few other adaptations.
A little boy and his kindly grandmother thwart the efforts of a coven of witches to rid Britain of children... [More]
Adjusted Score: 56.047%
Critics Consensus: Return to Oz taps into the darker side of L. Frank Baum's book series with an intermittently dazzling adventure that never quite recaptures the magic of its classic predecessor.
This '80s follow-up to The Wizard of Oz is based upon two of L. Frank Baum's later Oz books. In... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.614%
Critics Consensus: This Disney two-fer may not be the most reverent literary adaptation, but it's remarkably crafted and emotionally resonant.
Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a two-part Walt Disney cartoon feature based on a pair of well known stories. The... [More]
Adjusted Score: 42.051%
Critics Consensus: Harmlessly hokey yet never much more than mediocre, Hocus Pocus is a muddled family-friendly effort that fails to live up to the talents of its impressive cast.
The people of Salem capture and execute three witches for practicing witchcraft. Before their deaths, they vow to return to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50.066%
Critics Consensus: Hotel Transylvania's buoyant, giddy tone may please children, but it might be a little too loud and thinly-scripted for older audiences.
Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula's (Adam Sandler) lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 25.659%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
In this chiller, a young woman discovers that she, like her ancestors, is a witch. Using her newfound powers, she... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.713%
Critics Consensus: Like the bestselling series of books that inspired it, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark opens a creepy gateway into horror for younger genre enthusiasts.
It's l968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind... but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.74%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
The new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, reteaming the company with Focus Features after the groundbreaking Academy... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.699%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Both a classic movie for kids and a remarkable portrait of childhood, E.T. is a sci-fi adventure that captures that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.913%
Critics Consensus: With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining.
Coraline Jones is a girl of 11 who is feisty, curious, and adventurous beyond her years. She and her parents... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.568%
Critics Consensus: As can be expected from a Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride is whimsically macabre, visually imaginative, and emotionally bittersweet.
Tim Burton returns to the dark but fanciful animated style of The Nightmare Before Christmas with this stop-motion black comedy.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 45.159%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Scooby and the gang reunite and head to Moonscar Island in the Louisiana bayou to investigate a haunted mansion. After... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61.332%
Critics Consensus: A fun '80s adventure with a slightly scary twist, The Monster Squad offers tween-friendly horror with just enough of a kick.
A quintet of classic movie monsters invades a small town looking for a lost amulet that will help them rule... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.6%
Critics Consensus: Clever, funny, and delightful to look at, Monsters, Inc. delivers another resounding example of how Pixar elevated the bar for modern all-ages animation.
After exploring the worlds of toys and bugs in the two Toy Story films and A Bug's Life, the award-winning... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.715%
Critics Consensus: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone adapts its source material faithfully while condensing the novel's overstuffed narrative into an involving -- and often downright exciting -- big-screen magical caper.
The best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling (titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in England, as was this film adaptation)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.104%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Eccentric inventor Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis) and his faithful if often perplexed dog Gromit are back in their first... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.489%
Critics Consensus: Smartly filmed, tightly scripted, and -- most importantly -- consistently frightening, Poltergeist is a modern horror classic.
With Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, Steven Spielberg had his first great success as a producer. Released around the same... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.23%
Critics Consensus: Remixing Roger Corman's B-movie by way of the Off-Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors offers camp, horror and catchy tunes in equal measure -- plus some inspired cameos by the likes of Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
It started as a 1960 Roger Corman horror comedy, filmed in two days; it then inspired a lavish 1982 Broadway... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.841%
Critics Consensus: The Dark Crystal's narrative never quite lives up to the movie's visual splendor, but it remains an admirably inventive and uniquely intense entry in the Jim Henson canon.
The last of the Gelfings, Jen and Kira join forces and embark on a dangerous journey to "heal" a precious... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.945%
Critics Consensus: The first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands is a magical modern fairy tale with gothic overtones and a sweet center.
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands opens as an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price) lovingly assembles a synthetic youth named Edward (Johnny Depp).... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111.918%
Critics Consensus: Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly -- and deeply affecting -- approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death.
Despite his family's baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.14%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly bizarre and overflowing with ideas, Beetlejuice offers some of Michael Keaton's most deliciously manic work - and creepy, funny fun for the whole family.
Thanks to the carelessness of a cute little dog, newlyweds Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are killed in a freak... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.39%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
This animated production features Charlie Brown and his friends. It's Halloween again, and everyone goes trick-or-treating except for Linus. He... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.021%
Critics Consensus: While it's arguably more interesting on a visual level, Labyrinth provides further proof of director Jim Henson's boundless imagination.
Fifteen-year-old Sarah resents her baby brother Toby and secretly wishes that he will just disappear. Her wish comes true when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.668%
Critics Consensus: An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray's hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns.
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson star as a quartet of Manhattan-based "paranormal investigators". When their government... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.577%
Critics Consensus: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.
"Don't expose him to bright light. Don't ever get him wet. And don't ever, ever feed him after midnight." This... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.749%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job... [More]