As Halloween quickly approaches, and a bountiful number of horror fans prep by viewing marathon sessions of classic scream-inducing films like Halloween, The Exorcist, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, some of us are much happier on our couches sipping on our pumpkin spice lattes and trembling with fear over the trick-or-treater who shows up wearing the mask from Scream. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and you too, can still enjoy Halloween with the best of them. So here is the second edition of Halloween Movies for Kids and Cowards:
With a sequel currently in theaters, it’s only appropriate to watch the original at home before venturing out to catch the new one. Plus, it’s probably the best movie Adam Sandler has made in the last five years, take that how you will. Sandler recruits some of his favorite costars, including Kevin James, David Spade, and Steve Buscemi, to come visit him in his Dracula-run hotel that serves as a sort of vacation home for monsters. Hotel Transylvania is a fun way for Halloween lovers to ease their children into the world of vampires, mummies, and the like before they come across some of the more fearsome versions on Halloween night.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I know this isn’t exactly a Halloween movie, and there are no actual “monsters” by definition, but there are witches and wizards and an abundance of magic and butter beer, which in my book are equivalent to both tricks and treats. The earlier Harry Potter movies contain enough hocus pocus to keep children on the edge of their seats, but lack the doom and gloom of installments four through seven, which mature in theme and intensity as the characters do the same. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just feels like fall, with its seasonal excitement and sense of new adventure, not to mention the best game of chess ever played.
One of Pixar’s critical darlings, Monsters, Inc. helped make monsters funny and, dare I say, cute, in this film about a city that’s fully powered by the scares of children. John Goodman and Billy Crystal teamed up to voice a pair of monsters who must return a young girl to her town after she has wandered into Monstropolis. Children will learn that monsters aren’t so fearsome after all, and adults will be entertained by the antics of Goodman and Crystal and impressed by the film’s animation, which was particularly cutting edge for 2001.
Henry Selick’s 2009 stop motion feature Coraline, based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, earned both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Animated Feature. Dakota Fanning provides the voice of Coraline, who discovers a secret world she desires to join behind a hidden door in her family’s new home. Although Coraline contains more haunting, mature elements than some of the other films on this list, it’s worth the risk to expose younger viewers to this thoughtful and gorgeously told story.
2014 brought with it a tight race for the Oscar of Best Animated Feature, and many movie fans were vehemently outraged by the winner, insisting that either The Lego Movie or Boxtrolls should have walked away with the trophy. In addition to it’s important themes about love and universal family acceptance, Boxtrolls brings with it an extra touch of nostalgia for adults, many of who can surely remember donning similar cardboard boxes as their own makeshift Halloween costumes. So if your child loves this film, which is almost a certainty, there’s a high chance your job as costume coordinator could be simple this year.