1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: This classic TV special feels like a rite of passage for anyone who grew up watching it and the perfect movie to share with your kids.
Scary scenes: None.
2. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: It’s a pretty faithful adaption of Washington Irving’s eerie short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Scary scenes: The final scene, where Ichabod Crane encounters the Headless Horseman, is a bit creepy.
3. The Witches (1990)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Witches and Halloween go hand in hand.
Scary scenes: The scene where the Grand High Witch (played devilishly by Anjelica Huston) removes her disguise for the first time is nightmare-inducing — so this movie might be better for kids 7 and older.
4. Ghostbusters (1984)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: The movie is a comedy classic and a fun take on the paranormal.
Scary scenes: Some of the ghosts are mildly scary (looking at you, library ghost). Also there is a bit of adult humor and a sexually suggestive scene (implied oral sex).
5. Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Ernest accidentally unleashes a band of trolls — that turn children into wooden dolls — upon a small town on Halloween and must work to set things right.
Scary scenes: None. But the trolls are a bit creepy looking.
6. The Addams Family (1991)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: The movie is a wonderfully macabre adaptation of the classic 1960s TV show.
Scary scenes: None.
7. The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: The movie is a supernatural mystery about Jan, a teenage girl who moves with her family to a creepy rural English manor. After living there, strange things begin happening to her, which lead her to investigate the 30-year-old disappearance of young girl named Karen.
Scary scenes: Quite a few scenes — so this movie works better for older kids — but most notably the scene were Jan enters the fun house (always a bad idea) and the ghostly image of blindfolded Karen appears in the hall of mirrors, crying out for help.
Also, the film’s score will give you the chills.
8. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Because it is the best and most important part of Halloween.
Scary scenes: The opening scene features the three Sanderson sisters sucking the soul out of a little girl and killing her in the process.
9. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name, the movie revolves around the arrival of an eerie carnival in a small town in Illinois.
Scary scenes: One of the main characters wakes up in the middle of the night to find hundreds of tarantulas crawling all over his bedroom.
10. Casper (1995)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: It’s a sweet story of young girl who, along with her ghost-chasing dad, moves into a creepy mansion where she befriends Casper, the friendly ghost of 12-year-old boy.
Scary scenes: None. But beware, this movie may cause sexual awakenings.
11. Tower of Terror (1997)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Journalist Buzzy Crocker (played by Steve Guttenberg) and his niece Anna (played by Kirsten Dunst) investigate the story of what really happened on Halloween night 1939 at The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Scary scenes: None.
12. The Monster Squad (1987)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: It’s a fun monster movie, set in 1980s suburbia, and features the classic Universal Monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and The Gill-man.
Scary scenes: YES! This is definitely an older-kids movie; it features a good amount of violence, profanity, and sexual innuendos. Also, The Gill-Man is pretty terrifying.
13. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Tim Burton’s now-classic film is one of the rare movies that works well as both a Halloween and a Christmas movie.
Scary scenes: The maggot-filled villain, Oogie Boogie, might be a little intense for very young children.
14. Gremlins (1984)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, this film — about a small town terrorized by monsters during Christmastime — works well as both a Halloween and a Christmas movie.
Scary scenes: The movie does have some genuinely scary scenes in it — particularly the gory kitchen scene.
15. Return to Oz (1985)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Disney’s first Oz film really works well as a sort of horror movie for children.
Scary scenes: HELL YES! Arguably, the scene where a headless Mombi chases after Dorothy — with her wall of decapitated heads screaming in terror — is the scariest thing ever shot for a children’s film.
16. Monster House (2006)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: Overall this is a fun movie that does not shy away from being just the right amount of scary for kids.
Scary scenes: There are a few scenes that are tailored to frighten kids.
17. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: It is an awesome and fun take on werewolf movies.
Scary scenes: None. Unless your kids are scared of Claymation characters.
18. ParaNorman (2012)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: The main character, Norman, is just your average kid who sees dead people.
Scary scenes: Some slightly scary scenes featuring zombies.
19. Frankenweenie (2012)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: The movie is not only a wonderful homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein, but also to B-horror movies of the 1950s.
Scary scenes: None. But the overall theme about the loss of a pet is heartbreaking.
20. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Why it’s a great Halloween movie: While this is mostly overlooked in terms of being a Halloween movie — the alien/supernatural plotline lends itself quite nicely to this time of year. Also, one of the movie’s most iconic scenes takes place on Halloween.
Scary scenes: The scenes of E.T. dying can be a bit intense for little ones, and of course the ending, while not scary, is a real tearjerker.