Happy September everyone! It is officially Spooky Season! (Unless you’re me and start in August.) A few days ago, after resharing an article I did on DAPS Magic about Disney’s Spooky Shorts and with some input from Twitter, I started putting together a Letterboxd list of family-friendly spooky features that are a fun gateway into horror for kids. I’ve done a couple of lists already on general horror that I thought it would be neat to write one that the whole family can enjoy!
We all had our start with horror. Movies we all probably saw when we were a bit too young. For me, it was Jaws. I thought it would be fun to put a list together of features that were a great gateway into the genre for kids, tweens, and teens. Here was how I compiled this list:
- The features added could be movies or shorts but not necessarily episodes of a show (this would have been harder to do on Letterboxd).
- These family-friendly spooky features needed to be made with younger audiences in mind. There are plenty of horror movies that aren’t too scary for kids but for the purposes of this list, they needed to be made for them.
- They needed to be on Letterboxd since that was where I made the list.
- It should be noted that not every movie on this list will be appropriate for all ages so use your best judgment and when in doubt, check the parental guides on IMDB. These are great resources!
I know that list seems really daunting so I’ll share 5 of my favorites that are worth checking out!
- The Haunted Mansion – “Workaholic Jim Evers and his wife/business partner Sara get a call one night from a mansion owner, Edward Gracey, who wants to sell his house. Once the Evers family arrive at the mansion, a torrential thunderstorm of mysterious origin strands them with the brooding, eccentric Gracey, his mysterious butler, and a variety of residents both seen and unseen.” I know this movie gets a lot of hate but I truly love it. Do I wish we had been given a scarier take on the titular attraction? Sure. However, this movie is a lot of fun and has so many great nods to the ride.
- Hocus Pocus – “After 300 years of slumber, three sister witches are accidentally resurrected in Salem on Halloween night, and it is up to three kids and their newfound feline friend to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror once and for all.” Hocus Pocus is one of my all-time favorite Halloween films. It was actually released on my birthday (albeit different years) so it feels like a match made in heaven. This one made a big impact on me as a kid and I’m glad it is finally getting the love it deserves.
- ParaNorman – “In the town of Blithe Hollow, Norman Babcock can speak to the dead, but no one other than his eccentric new friend believes his ability is real. One day, Norman’s eccentric uncle tells him of a ritual he must perform to protect the town from a curse cast by a witch centuries ago.” This is a film that is grossly underrated! Not only is it spooky but it has great social commentary and gorgeous animation. If you’ve been sleeping on this one, you definitely need to change that.
- Return to Oz – “Dorothy, saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, finds herself back in the land of her dreams, and makes delightful new friends, and dangerous new enemies.” For the longest time, I thought this movie was something I made up in my head from my childhood. I remembered seeing it in daycare (along with Mr. Boogedy) and being so scared by it. Disney really needs to get back to its 80s sorta-horror roots and make more films like this one!
- The Addams Family – “When an evil doctor finds out Uncle Fester has been missing for 25 years, he introduces a fake Fester in an attempt to get the Addams family’s money. Wednesday has some doubts about the new uncle Fester, but the fake uncle adapts very well to the strange family.” I would be amiss not adding The Addams Family to my favorites. This movie is just such a quintessential family-friendly spooky feature that it is an absolute must-watch. It is so perfectly cast that I guarantee if you haven’t seen it, you’ll fall in love with it.
I hope you enjoying sharing these family-friendly spooky features with your loved ones! I have such fond memories of gateway horror titles from my childhood that I’d hate to think kids won’t get that same experience! What were some of your favorite spooky movies as a kid? Let me know in the comments below!