Nothing quite gets families in the spirit of Halloween like coming together to celebrate. Whether that means planning a party, making your own haunted house, or just decorating and watching the best movies of the season, you’ll need a something that satisfies both children and adults in the process. Essentially, you’ll need something visually impressive for the kiddos and something more complex and endearing for the adults, too.
The films in this list could give you exactly the direction you need to make the best of this autumnal, spooky season with the ones closest to you. It could be your birth family, your marriage family, your chosen family, your work family, or otherwise – turn up the heat on that popcorn, get out the plastic spiders and eerie lights, and invite everyone over for this movie marathon.
This list includes the top ten best Halloween films for families, so you should find that elders, children, and everyone in between has something to love in each option. For the Halloween season this year, carve a pumpkin or two and toast the pumpkin seeds with delicious spices to the sounds of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Halloweentown,” or “ParaNorman.” You won’t regret your choice, for it will truly bring the people you love together in all the right ways.
The stop-action animation film from Laika Entertainment productions in 2012, “ParaNorman,” addresses dark themes with a decidedly light heart. The protagonist of this film is a young boy named Norman Babcock who lives in an unusual and haunted Massachusetts town, and he has the ability to see and speak to the dead. Norman’s not the most social kid, so he actually prefers the company of those who’ve passed along – until they come bearing a heavy message.
It’s actually Norman’s dead uncle who comes to tell Norman of a witch ghost who’s about to wreak havoc on the town through her centuries-old curse. Of course, our meek protagonist becomes brave as he accepts the mission imparted to him to save his town, and the twist at the end is brilliant – it will certainly give the adults something to talk about, too.
From the stunning animation to the clever hero and the comedic supporting characters (both alive and dead), everything in “ParaNorman” is entertaining and expertly-made. The children in the room might get a little creeped out by the familiarity Norman has with ghosts, but if everyone can handle the film’s scariest elements, it’s sure to be a family hit in no time.
Originally released as a pair of Disney channel movies in 2005 and 2007, “Twitches” and “Twitches Too” makes use of several Disney tropes while employing two of the decade’s greatest blossoming child stars: Tia and Tamara Mowry. The premise of the first “Twitches” film is actually similar to the premise of the ABC TV show these twins starred in in their youth – “Sister/Sister” – where the girls played twins who were separated at birth only to meet later in life, to both of their benefits.
Subsequently, “Twitches” follows the lives of two twin witches who’ve been separated at birth and kept from the secrets of three things: first, their twin-ness; second, their magical abilities; and third, their royal blood. Because, of course, these twin witches are also twin princess witches who are set up to inherit an empire that faces a terrible threat.
On their 21st birthdays (of course, this date happens to be Halloween), the girls learn of their inner truths and then, in a fashion like “The Neverending Story,” the Mowry twins face the evil entity intimidating their hidden fantasy kingdom, and the evil’s name is simply “the Darkness.”
Working on their kingdom like the mythical “Nothing” from “The Neverending Story,” the Darkness comes in and threatens everything they now hold dear, including their birth mother, their future teachers, and the subjects and landscapes they will come to love. When it comes down to it, the mythology of this film and its artistry will entertain older viewers, while teenagers are its obvious target.
Children viewers will be fascinated by the mythologies, too, and they’re sure to enjoy all the visuals, the magic, and the script’s humor. If you can get your hands on these Disney channel Halloween gems, grab them! You and your family will be glad you did.
Based loosely on the original book series by R.L. Stine, the 2015 film version of “Goosebumps” refreshes old concepts from the 1990s and gets rather meta with the whole situation, to the point of rejuvenating the series. After this Halloween-season filmic reincarnation of Stine’s world was released and did well in 2015, its popularity hinted that a sequel would do well, so this year (in 2018), the sequel to “Goosebumps” is set to be released just in time for Halloween.
The best qualities of the recent “Goosebumps” film series are threefold. First, the films feature Jack Black as R.L. Stine, a metatextual role which is both interesting and hilarious.
It’s interesting to see Black play Stine, for the sake of the role’s seriousness in relation to his overall career, and it’s hilarious in the context of the story, which is to be expected for any role Black would deem worthy to play. Second, the films throw millennials back to the books that ruled their childhoods by portraying familiar villains and (in the first film) the literal books of the series.
Third and finally, “Goosebumps” stands as a quality, fabulous Halloween series because it satisfies all ages of viewers. It might be a little creepy for the youngest of viewers, but children in general should love the fantastical and fear-controlled world of R.L. Stine that’s been made into films. Teens will appreciate the teen-centric plots while young adults will recognize the stories and themes from their youths.
Finally, older viewers will get the more subtle and cheeky jokes in the films, so they’ll achieve a whole other level of enjoyment. Certainly, the “Goosebumps” series will keep everyone in the family captivated during movie night this Halloween season. Don’t forget to see the new one, too!
Another Disney channel original series graces this Halloween list, but in this case, the films are about Disney’s “Halloweentown.”
Interestingly, some things about this series are almost the same presented in “Twitches” and “Twitches 2,” the other Disney channel original series on this list. Notably, the magical realm in both series exists on another plain that the young witches have to travel to before they can learn their true potential. Additionally, the witches in question don’t learn they’re witches until directly after the film begins.
In fact, these two similarities also align the “Twitches” and “Halloweentown” series with the world of Harry Potter, but the lack of originality in the “Halloweentown” plots doesn’t affect the stories whatsoever, for their worthwhile innovations are focused on Halloween.
In this Disney trope of self-revelation through others, the protagonists’ potentials open up right as the film starts, which leaves viewers excited to explore a whole new world along with the characters they’re already impressed by. This type of storyline is endlessly captivating, which is possibly why it’s so popular for Disney productions as well as for Warner Bros. with their work on Harry Potter. For both children and adults alike, the hidden potential of magic is alluring, so when the trio of young witches in “Halloweentown” learn of their abilities, the audience is basically already along for the ride.
Across the four films that comprise this series, you’ll encounter made-for-TV cinematic innovation, general storyline cheesiness, unimaginable human potential, questionable and challenging friendships, daring characters with great costuming, university settings along with beautiful towns and high schools, evil warlocks, student exchange programs, and teenage angst. All of that clearly leaves something for everyone in the family.
6. Monster House
In the world of “Monster House,” one young boy’s anxieties get the better of him at Halloween, but that doesn’t mean his suspicions were wrong! On the contrary, in fact. In this animated film from 2006, DJ Walters is left alone for the weekend right around Halloween-time. Sure, DJ has a problematic babysitter to keep him company, but he still gets into trouble with friends (old and new), and he still maintains a drastic concern for the house across the street.
The house across from DJ’s, owned by Horace Nebbercracker, has always been the talk of the town. Things go missing there all the time, and kids never want their balls or bikes to fall into that lawn. DJ thinks there’s something more happening here than just a matter of coincidence, however, and when he starts to investigate the house with neighbors Chowder and Jenny, he realizes there’s something alive in the house itself making it a monster.
With a style of animation made from tracking the movements of real people and real bodies, “Monster House” is sure to impress viewers of all ages with its realistic expressions of humanity and monstrosity.
Furthermore, the twist at the end of this film will keep adults and elders engaged while giving younger viewers something to tie everything else together (if their filmic concerns even reach that far). As a mix of a haunting film, a comedy, a horror flick, a friendship adventure, and a monster flick, “Monster House” should definitely be on your family’s list this Halloween.