The 10 Best Family Halloween Horror Movies

Horror is for all ages!

paranorman halloween

Horror is good for everyone’s soul. actually, shared horror strengthens bonds. Nightmares and fears are powerful, luminous beings. They reveal the innermost labors of love, anxieties, hopes, dreams and regrets of every single person. The person I am today is actually largely due to regular horror screenings, with my mum excited to come home with a rented copy of scream 3 or Darkness Falls (or Python) for each of us to enjoy. However, with horror comes different barometers. What scared me didn’t scare my sisters or vice versa. As a result, it can be difficult as Halloween approaches to find that horror-loving sweet spot, a film brimming with genre appreciation that won’t risk weeks of sleepless nights.

In honor of another magical month of terror and mayhem, I’ve put together a guide to some of the best family horror offerings. A mix of something old, something new, and a healthy dose of animation, these ten titles are guaranteed to inspire genuine thrills and bona fide family bonding.

The Watcher in the Woods

Watch: DVD (because Disney Plus is really Disney Minus the Horror)

Based on the 1976 novel by Florence Engel Randall, The Watcher in the Woods sees two sisters – including horror mainstay Kyle Richards – shrouded in a supernatural mystery after they move to the English countryside. With a remarkably spooky Bette Davis, thick, sensational fall themes and some genuine scares despite its Disney origins, The Watcher in the Woods it endures 40 years later as the zenith of grounded, gothic portal horror. Melissa Joan Hart directed Lifetime’s 2017 remake. Still, as with most things, audiences are better off with the original this Halloween, no matter how tempting Anjelica Huston’s turn may seem.

Something bad is coming from here

Watch: DVD

Much like The Watcher in the Woods, fans of the classic Disney horror template will be remiss to hear that it’s also missing from an otherwise pretty notable mix of classic Disney fare. It’s also a shame, as I’ve noted before how top-notch Bradbury’s adaptation of Jack Clayton is. Possibly one of the strongest works of sluice horror ever made, Something bad is coming from here there are evil men in top hats, big Halloween emotions and a spider attack that sets Arachnophobia for shame. Although it’s readily available on DVD, it’s a shame Something bad is coming from here it’s not yet, well, it got to streaming.

The Halloween tree

Watch: Prime Video

Speaking of Bradbury, he creates some great cartoon antics in his screenplay for The Halloween treemade for TV adaptation released in 1993. The Halloween tree follows a group of friend-lovers and their mission to rescue one of them from the evil Mr. Moundshroud (Leonard Nimoy). Bradbury himself narrates several key sections, and as a brief foray into Halloween history, few others come close. Scary, funny and remarkably touching, The Halloween tree it deserves to be a seasonal staple.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Watch: Disney Plus (finally) and Prime Video

Half of Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Jade, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow may be Disney’s most accomplished animated horror film to date. A faithful adaptation of Washington Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow it’s terribly frightening. Gorgeous hand-drawn animation complements each scene with living, breathing color. The musical interludes are top-notch and Bing Crosby’s narration is as smooth as butter. Although there are fewer severed heads than Tim Burton’s interpretation, this is still the definitive adaptation of Irving’s work. This is a must watch on Halloween.

Night notebooks

Watch: Netflix

Night notebooks made me cry David Jaroweski’s adaptation of JA White’s 2018 novel of the same name has a lot in common with the upcoming entry The house with a clock in the walls. Thanks to the involvement of producer Sam Raimi, Night notebooks goes for a more visceral horror than often seen in the PG space. Some of these scares are intense, especially a prolonged chase in the third act. What raises Night notebooks beyond just being scary is his sheer admiration for the weird horror in all of us. Main character Alex Mosher (Winslow Fegley) just wants to write scary stories and share them with the world. Come for Krysten Ritter, stay for the Halloween heartstrings.

Over the garden wall

Watch: HBO Max

What else is there to say? I already called Over the garden wall as primary fall i look Still, it remains even better when watched with family and friends. Patrick McHale’s sensational work here is amazing. One of the best miniseries ever produced, it appeals to kids and adults alike. It’s funny, tender, warm to its pumpkin, hayride core, and even has some truly nightmarish imagery for horror fans who think they’ve seen it all before.

The house with a clock in the walls

Watch: Prime Video

While Eli Roth’s name being associated with PG, family-friendly horror fare may surprise some fans of the genre, that disbelief is soon dispelled. To Eli Roth The house with a clock in the walls, adapted from John Bellers’ 1973 novel of the same name, is remarkably tender and, yes, at times extremely frightening. Granted, Roth never quite reaches Hostel levels of savagery (and for good reason), but his inimitable understanding of childhood fears is clearly abundant. There are possessed pumpkins, evil dolls and a creepy Kyle McLachlan. As a mixture of horror and fantasy, The house with a clock in the walls overcomes some juvenile additions and emerges as a serviceable, frightening foray into more mature horror.


Watch: Prime Video

It’s a shame that Laika, the American stop-motion animation studio, remains a niche curiosity. While the likes of Coraline and Kubo and both strings may be well known, their box office performance remains average at best. Their adaptation of Coraline it may be their bread and butter. And yet it is with Paranorman, an original effort that they achieve perfection. It’s an ode to the horror genre and outsiders everywhere. Norman Babcock’s (Cody Smith-McPhee) journey in speaking with the dead is tender, deep, and yes, downright scary at times. Plus, the stop-motion animation is so incredibly beautiful that it’s a visual delight for even the most horror-hating families.

Scooby Doo! and The Witch’s Ghost

Watch: Prime Video

Nostalgia may win here, but Scooby Doo! and The Witch’s Ghost is definitively the end of the nineties Scooby Doo! outing The Mystery Inc. gang. travels to the small New England town of Oakhaven to meet with famed horror writer Ben Ravencroft (Tim Curry). Sarah Ravencroft, an alleged witch executed centuries ago, is back to wreak havoc. As always, it’s up to the inimitable dog and his human sidekicks to save the day. Like most of the Scooby Doo! fly direct to video, the threat here is a real supernatural phenomenon. While human malice is still at work, Sarah Ravencroft is a true ghost of a witch, and she is utterly terrifying. Throw in goth-rock band The Hex Girls and you’ve got a terrifying Scooby Doo! a masterpiece my friends.


Watch: Prime Video, Shudder

I promise this one isn’t here by mistake. While Halloween is widely regarded as one of the scariest films ever made (with good reason, Michael Myers rules), it remains uniquely accessible to the burgeoning horror fanbase. The lack of overt violence, along with Carpenter’s uniquely calibrated tension, makes it something of a springboard to more modern, visceral horror. While it won’t work for everyone’s family, it was one of the first I saw growing up. Although it scared the crap out of me at the time, it also kindled a lasting passion for horror. Results may vary, though I encourage readers everywhere to check To Brian Kelper piece on the subject.

Although there are a lot of people here who didn’t quite make it…Adams Family, Casper, so many more – part of the joy of the season is that the breadth of horror stretches so far, there’s undoubtedly something for everyone. Get out there, find your family’s thing, and let the season of horror overwhelm you.

Tags: family halloween

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