Tuesday, October 12, 2010

31 Days of Halloween: Halloween Movies for Kids and Kids-at-Heart

Halloween always brings out the kid in me. I'm sure most of you feel the same way! The excitement...the wonder...the eagerness...the pure, unadulterated joy we feel when autumn rolls around! This holiday, more than any other, really brings out the kid in me. I am pure energy this time of year, just giddy with excitement for the hallowed holiday of All Hallow's Eve!

And so, along with my innocent wonder at all things ooky and spooky, I crave the comforts of kids' Halloween flicks! This time of year I am all over any kind of cartoon, movie or TV show that is made for children and prominently features Halloween in its story or setting. I still like my Halloween-flavored adult horror flicks, but the Halloween productions made for kids really speak to my feelings of nostalgia around this time of year.

So, without further ado, below you will find a few of my favorite Halloween movies for kids and kids-at-heart. I discover new ones every year, so this isn't a definitive list...if you have suggestions please post a comment! Also note that some kid-friendly horror films like Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and so on have already appeared on my list of Top 13 Halloween Movies. I didn't want to "double-dip" with my lists, so I've omitted these previously listed choices from this particular list.

Lady in White (1988)

Locked in a school closet during Halloween 1962, young Frank witnesses the ghost of a young girl and the man who murdered her years ago. Shortly afterward he finds himself stalked by the killer and is soon drawn to an old house where a mysterious Lady In White lives. As he discovers the secret of the woman he soon finds that the killer may be someone close to him. (via IMDB.com)

Lady in White is a charming ghost story that is spooky without being overtly frightening. This is a PG-13 movie, and while it may not be suitable for kids under 13, I think kids-at-heart will enjoy the nostalgia of experiencing autumn small town when growing up. I love watching this film during Halloween, especially seeing Frankie in his costume as well as the bright, fall colors around the small town.

Sadly, "The Raven" from Season 2 isn't 
included on the Treehouse of Horror DVD

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror

In this annual trilogy of terror, Homer attempts to kill his family in "The Shinning," Homer tries to fix a toaster and winds up altering the fabric of time itself in "Time and Punishment," and Principal Skinner serves students for lunch in "Nightmare Cafeteria." In this Halloween-themed anthology, advertising icons go berserk in "Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores," Groundskeeper Willie invades the children's dreams in "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace," and Homer enters a 3-D world of computer animation in "Homer 3." This Simpson showcase features a terrifying look at Bart's evil twin in "The Thing and I," Lisa creating a miniature world in "The Genesis Tub," and aliens stealing the identities of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in "Mr. Kang Goes To Washington." In "Hex and the City," a gypsy curses Homer, bringing misery to everyone he loves. In "House of Whacks," a computer (Pierce Brosnan) takes over the Simpson house and attempts to kill Homer for Marge's love. And in "Wiz Kids," Bart and Lisa are students at a school for wizards, where they foil the evil Lord Montymort. (via Amazon)

Gotta love The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors! I love watching this DVD every year, though I wish they would release another DVD of that was a collection of ALL the Simpsons' Halloween episodes! Can someone please get on that? 

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

On a grim and gusty October day, two young boys encounter a distressed man who foretells of danger blowing their way. Soon after, the town is visited by a seductive stranger named Mr. Dark and his Pandemonium Carnival. Terrifying things begin to happen when the adventurous boys stumble onto the carnival's deadly and destructive secret! Beware: SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES...and frightening surprises follow! (via Amazon)

Ray Bradbury's great novel comes to exuberant life in this film, and his words just swirl around you like blood-red October leaves! Everyone, from the child actors to the adults, do a fantastic job, plus the film has a creepy vibe that works beautifully with its autumnal atmosphere. Definitely one of my favorite "kids' movies" to watch in October!

The Halloween Tree (1993)

Based on Ray Bradbury's book, The Halloween Tree tells the story of four close friends who must face their greatest fears as they travel through time to save their dear comrade, Pip. It's Halloween night, Pip's favorite holiday, and the friends are baffled to spot his spirit running through the woods when they've just seen his body hauled off in an ambulance. Mustering their courage, they follow the spirit and meet Moundshroud (Nimoy), the mysterious black-caped proprietor of a haunted house. Moundshroud challenges them each to gain a deeper understanding of the origins of this ghostly holiday as he leads them on an educational journey through faraway places and time periods. From Egyptian sarcophaguses to Mexican graveyards, the children learn the legends behind Halloween and the importance they place on their friendship with Pip. (via Amazon)

Another undisputed Bradbury classic is The Halloween Tree. This animated cartoon, based on another Bradbury tale, is a Hanna-Barbera made-for-TV production that is shown on The Cartoon Network. For some ungodly reason, this sweet, nostalgic and beautifully illustrated animation has never been released on DVD (for SHAME Warner Brothers!!) and is currently only available on VHS. However, it is very, very much worth the trouble to seek it out and watch...not only is it gorgeous, but it has a wonderful message: always respect the traditions of Halloween!

Halloweentown series (Halloweentown/ Halloweentown II, Halloweentown High, Return to Halloweentown)

I had never seen this series before (the lead actress just bugs me), but now I'm glad I watched them! Despite my dislike for the lead (I don't even know why I don't like her...I just don't), these are cute movies with tons of cool Halloween decorations and costumes. Yes, they are Disney and there aren't any scares, but they are just plain fun!! How can you turn down a film set in a place called "Halloweentown" anyways?? 

I like all of the films in the series, but I especially like the last two, Halloweentown High and Return to Halloweentown. They just seem better put together (and look better) than the first two. However, I also really like the first one because it takes more time to explore Halloweentown and the second one because of two great Halloween party scenes it features! So really, you can't go wrong with any of the Halloweentown flicks!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

In a small town named Sleepy Hollow, a gangly schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane comes to town. Despite his unattractive appearance, he quickly proves to be a ladies man who charms the local beauty, much to the local tough, Brom Bones', displeasure. A subtle rivalry erupts, only to have Crane continually gaining the upper hand. The situation changes when Brom learns of Crane's superstitions and exploits them as he musically tells the legend of the fearsome Headless Horseman to frighten the teacher. That night, Crane's lonely night ride home becomes more lively than he ever imagined as the Horseman appears to chase him. (via IMDB.com)

Washington Irving's classic tale comes to life in this animated re-telling by Disney. From the funny bits where Brom is unsuccessfully trying to get rid of Ichabod to the thrilling chase climax, this is a another fun animated film to watch in October!

When Good Ghouls Go Bad (2001)

Twelve-year-old Danny Walker is shocked to learn that the small Minnesota town he just moved to can't celebrate Halloween because of a local curse centered on the "accidental" death of a local boy called Curtis Danko. With the help of his recently deceased (but still kicking) Uncle Fred, Danny must battle an army of prankster ghouls rising from the ground to break the curse once and for all - and bring back the magic of Halloween. (via Amazon)

 Curtis Danko, I *heart* you!

Based on an R.L. Stine book of the same name, WGGGB is a fun and innocent Halloween tale with lots of atmosphere, kooky characters (Christopher Lloyd plays the kid-at-heart Uncle Fred) and even a young goth "villain" by the name of Curtis Danko who was killed in an "accident" and is out for justice against his killers. The creature design for Danko is especially neat...he is resurrected and comes back as a skeleton with glowing green eyes. Yes, it's pretty low-budget, but at least the effects are mostly practical and the film has a wonderfully Halloween-y vibe that's quick to get you into the spirit!

Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985)

Garfield's Halloween Adventure finds the portly hero and airhead-sidekick Odie the dog scrounging through owner Jon's attic to find perfect costumes, then going trick or treating where they stray a little far from home and encounter a scary old man who steals their candy and locks them in his haunted house to deal with some menacing ghosts!

Even after all these years I STILL love this cartoon! Garfield was a very big deal for me growing up, and so the nostalgia this cartoon brings back is just priceless. The creepy old man (as seen above) scared the poo outta me as a kid, and he still freaks me out as an adult! I also think the spirits in the cartoon are pretty spooky.

Of course, there are several other must-see Halloween movies for kids and kids-at-heart, but they are included on my list of Top 13 Halloween Movies! Go check it out!

Also, check out PART 2 of this list, which includes even more movies, TV shows and specials for kids and kids-at-heart!


  1. Great list! I'm a big fan of Lady In White, I'll have to check out Halloween Tree.

  2. Gerat list, also a big fan of Lady in White...and who does not love Something Wicked This Way Comes. I never miss a chance to watch that one again.

    Thanks for the reviews.



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