(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! —Alex Vo
Adjusted Score: 53135%
Critics Consensus: A meandering, mindless family movie that frequently resorts to special effects and transparent sappiness.
Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson) is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When specialist James... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50101%
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.
A teenager (Lynn-Holly Johnson) and her younger sister learn their eerie landlady's (Bette Davis) secret at an English country manor.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84574%
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 the big city to a small town, young Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80908%
Critics Consensus: Monster House welcoms kids and adults alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun.
No adults believe three youths' (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner) assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59468%
Critics Consensus: True terror and typical Disney wholesomeness clash uncomfortably in Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) brings his traveling carnival to a small Midwestern town and grants wishes, for a price.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69279%
Critics Consensus: The movie is peppered with amusing sight gags and one-liners, but the disjointed script doesn't cohere into a successful whole.
When a man (Christopher Lloyd) claiming to be Fester, the missing brother of Gomez Addams (Raul Julia), arrives at the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68256%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Locked in the cloakroom after school as a Halloween prank, Frankie (Lukas Haas) meets the ghost of a young neighborhood... [More]
Adjusted Score: 54505%
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.
Members of the mysterious and spooky Addams family -- Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Grandma -- are readily... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96909%
Critics Consensus: Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.
Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend:... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95621%
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.
While staying at a hotel in England with his grandmother, Helga (Mai Zetterling), young Luke (Jasen Fisher) inadvertently spies on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 56224%
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.
Dorothy discovers she is back in the land of Oz, and finds the yellow brick road is now a pile... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94866%
Critics Consensus: This Disney two-fer may not be the most reverent literary adaptation, but it's remarkably crafted and emotionally resonant.
Two animated adaptations of classic literature make up this Disney film. In "The Wind in the Willows," wealthy Mr. Toad... [More]
Adjusted Score: 39393%
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.
After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50013%
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.
When monsters want to get away from it all, they go to Count Dracula's (Adam Sandler) Hotel Transylvania, a lavish... [More]
Adjusted Score: 19275%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
After learning she is a witch, a girl (Kimberly J. Brown) helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91394%
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.
The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large in the small town of Mill Valley for generations. It's in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96106%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead -- and he often prefers their company... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109788%
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.
After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101668%
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.
While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92493%
Critics Consensus: As can be expected from a Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride is whimsically macabre, visually imaginative, and emotionally bittersweet.
Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria's (Emily Watson) families have arranged their marriage. Though they like each other, Victor is nervous... [More]
Adjusted Score: 34465%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Scooby (Scott Innes) and the rest of the Mystery, Inc., crew encounter creepy characters at a haunted house on a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 57178%
Critics Consensus: A fun '80s adventure with a slightly scary twist, The Monster Squad offers tween-friendly horror with just enough of a kick.
Members (Andre Gower, Robby Kiger) of a monster fan club meet Count Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy and Gill Man.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104182%
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.
Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is one of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89182%
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.
Adaptation of the first of J.K. Rowling's popular children's novels about Harry Potter, a boy who learns on his eleventh... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102770%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Adjusted Score: 91304%
Critics Consensus: Smartly filmed, tightly scripted, and -- most importantly -- consistently frightening, Poltergeist is a modern horror classic.
Strange and creepy happenings beset an average California family, the Freelings -- Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), teenaged... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94451%
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.
Meek flower shop assistant Seymour (Rick Moranis) pines for co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). During a total eclipse, he discovers an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80384%
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.
Jen (Stephen Garlick), raised by the noble race called the Mystics, has been told that he is the last survivor... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94101%
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.
A scientist (Vincent Price) builds an animated human being -- the gentle Edward (Johnny Depp). The scientist dies before he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 124595%
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 generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88865%
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.
After Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85490%
Critics Consensus: Performed and animated with the comics' signature melancholy warmth, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! celebrates the spooky season in true Peanuts style.
Linus waits in the pumpkin patch for the elusive Halloween symbol to appear. ... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78450%
Critics Consensus: While it's arguably more interesting on a visual level, Labyrinth provides further proof of director Jim Henson's boundless imagination.
Teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) journeys through a maze to recover her baby brother (Toby Froud) from a goblin king (David... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102431%
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.
After the members of a team of scientists (Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray) lose their cushy positions at a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90428%
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.
A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103410%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual... [More]