Everyone's entitled to one good scare on Halloween, but some are way too young for the serious stuff.
Luckily, there are tons of options for younger family members that might not be ready for much of a fright or for those who simply aren't into movies that are absolutely terrifying. Whether they're spirited adventures, animated journeys through strange worlds, or multi-generational favorites, the Halloween season offers plenty of movies that can bring families together for some pre or post trick-or-treating fun.
Below, A.frame presents 10 movies with spooky vibes that the entire family can enjoy.
The primary plot of 1991's The Addams Family, based on the '60s TV series and Charles Addams original cartoons, is all about bringing family together. Christopher Lloyd plays a man who may or may not be Uncle Fester, sent by a domineering mother to infiltrate the Addams Family, led by Raul Julia as Gomez and Anjelica Huston as Morticia, with Christina Ricci as Wednesday and Jimmy Workman as Pugsley. They may be creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, but the Addams clan is as welcoming as any. The sequel, 1993's Addams Family Values, also focuses on family togetherness, and even features a memorable Thanksgiving sequence.
Family, both traditional and found, is actually at the center of Tim Burton’s creepy early masterpiece. The recently deceased Maitlands (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) struggle to deal with the Deetz family taking over their home and call upon the titular ghost with the most, Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), to help rid them of their living guests. When Beetlejuice goes rogue and takes things too far, both families unite to send him back to the underworld. The horror comedy co-stars Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara.
The Book of Life is an animated adventure through Mexican folklore in the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten, all stemming from a bet made by two deities on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) must travel through the spirit worlds to be reunited with his true love (voiced by Zoe Saldaña), and write his own destiny. Produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, the vivid world of The Book of Life is brought to life through stunning animation. The voice cast includes Kate del Castillo, Hector Elizondo, Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman, Ice Cube, and Eugenio Derbez.
Director Henry Selick gave families another eerie adventure with the stop-motion animation adaptation of Neil Gaiman's award-winning novella, Coraline. The titular heroine, voiced by Dakota Fanning, discovers a seemingly ideal alternate universe through a doorway in her new home, save for one strange difference: everyone has buttons sewn over their eyes. The "other" world has its temptations, but hides something far more sinister beneath its cheery veneer. Selick captures Gaiman's unsettling tale wonderfully, packing every frame with incredible detail, earning the film an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.
Ghostbusters certainly has its share of adult jokes, but there is something still child-like about four goofy guys (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson) suiting up to get rid of ghosts. The stakes are raised when Dana (Sigourney Weaver) and her nerdy neighbor (Rick Moranis) get possessed and roped into bringing about the end of the world. The ghosts populating the world of the movie are memorably scary in some scenes, but the tension is cut when the big supernatural baddie in the ending is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
The 2023 adaptation of Disney's spooky theme park attraction captures the spirit of the ride (pun intended) with a macabre sense of humor. The film's ensemble cast includes Lakeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, and Tiffany Haddish, with appearances from Jared Leto and Halloween queen Jamie Lee Curtis. The scary, and sometimes melancholy, ghostly moments are met with even more thrilling and funny ones that keep the movie feeling like a thrill ride.
Hocus Pocus stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the wicked Sanderson sisters, three witches determined to suck the life out of the children of Salem before Halloween night is over. That sounds scary at first, but thanks to delightfully over-the-top performances from the leads, including a show-stopping musical number, and a solid blend of adventure and humor, things never get too intense. Hocus Pocus also boasts incredible sets and costumes, capturing the Halloween spirit in timeless fashion.
In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) has grown tired of his day-to-day job leading the charmingly creepy citizens of Halloweentown, and longs for more. When he stumbles onto the magic of Christmastown, he decides to take it over as his own, with spooky results that aren't quite what he had in mind. Based on characters and a story conceived by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selcik, this stop-motion animation film has become a holiday classic in the 30 years since its release. The enduring appeal of the film's goth-adjacent aesthetic is in making the creepy comfortable and welcoming, with several catchy tunes and Oscar-nominated visual effects.
Produced by Laika studios, leaders in stop-motion animation, ParaNorman tells the story of young Norman, who lives in a fictional Massachusetts town and can see and speak to ghosts. No one believes in his abilities until he's tasked with saving the town from a witch's curse as zombies begin roaming the streets. ParaNorman, which features a talented voice cast that includes Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alex Borstein, John Goodman, and Elaine Stritch, received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is widely considered to be one of the greatest animated films ever made, thanks to its stunning visuals and excellent storytelling. The film follows 10-year-old Chihiro, whose parents are turned into pigs after they all stumble into the spirit world. Chihiro must work to save herself and her family before they're trapped forever, and meets a fantastical series of spirits, witches, and supernatural beings in her quest. There are a few eerie moments, but the young heroine of the story handles them bravely, inspiring viewers of all ages to do the same. Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.