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The 20 Best Halloween Movies for Kids

Less frightening, more fun: Our round-up of the best Halloween movies for kids guarantees a great night in when the trick-or-treating is done.

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It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownPhoto:

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

How can you let the season pass without watching the Peanuts gang dress up in costumes?

Best for: Kids age 4 and up. Only the youngest viewers will be spooked by the tame Halloween imagery on display.

Consider trying these last-minute Halloween costumes!

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Monsters Inc.Photo:

Monsters, Inc.

A two-year-old girl named Boo stumbles into monster world and frightens the daylights out of two endearing ogres—Mike and Sulley. Soon Boo befriends the monsters, who try to save her and fight the evil corporation they work for.

Best for: Kids age 5 and up. This faux-frights are meant to be funny, but younger children might get spooked.

Check out the best Halloween costumes for dogs.

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. ToadPhoto:

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

A classic animated double-feature, one part of this movie notably tells the story of the Headless Horseman—a perfect pick for a dark Halloween night.

Best for: Kids ages 6 and up. The villainy on display could frighten younger sprouts.

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Little Nemo: Adventures in SlumberlandPhoto:

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

An under-the-radar fantasy with enchanting hand-drawn visuals, Little Nemo is a story about temptation and consequences filled with startling baddies.

Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Some sequences of evil run amok might leave small children a bit shaken.

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Jason and the ArgonautsPhoto:

Jason and the Argonauts

Stop-motion monsters make this a fun, ghoulish alternative for kiddos tired of typical Halloween fare.

Best for: Kids age 6 and up. Mild violence and completely unrealistic creatures may alarm tots.

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Harvey, a paranormal expert, is hired to banish the ghosts from an abandoned mansion and comes across Casper, the friendly ghost, who forms a friendship with Harvey’s daughter, Kat.

Best for: Kids age 6 and up. There’s some mild violence and a lewd joke or two.

We’ve rounded up a few famous ghost stories with totally logical explanations.

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E.T. the Extra TerrestrialPhoto:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

After being stranded on Earth when a spaceship leaves without him, a friendly Extra-Terrestrial (affectionately known as E.T.) develops a close relationship with 10-year-old Elliot and his siblings. The kids protect their new friend, help him build a communications device to “phone home,” and even dress him up for Halloween. This heartwarming story of friendship is a delight for the entire family.

Best for: Kids age 7 and up. There’s some naughty language and intense drama.

Did you know that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was the highest-grossing movie of 1982? Check out more of history’s biggest box office hits.

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The Nightmare Before ChristmasPhoto:

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Perhaps one of the greatest classic kids’ Halloween movies, a ghoulish tale gets transformed into a stunning animated film. You’ll watch with fascination as the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown falls in love with the idea of Christmas and tries to recreate it in his own town.

Best for: Kids age 7 and up. Some of the characters are creepy in both manner and appearance.

Need to tickle a skeleton’s funny bone? Try one of these corny Halloween jokes!

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The Dark CrystalPhoto:

The Dark Crystal

This “good vs. evil” muppet-fest is serious fun—and more than a little haunting, with scores of odd creatures running around.

Best for: Kids age 7 and up. Some of the characters, evil or not, are weird enough to legitimately unnerve.

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The WitchesPhoto:

The Witches

This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel is a gripping treat for both kids and adults. An orphaned boy moves with his grandmother to an English hotel, where a group of witches plots to transform all children into mice.

Best for: Kids age 8 and up. The nefarious witches’ plot to harm youngsters may prove overwhelming for some viewers.

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The Neverending StoryPhoto:

The Neverending Story

Who said all kids’ Halloween movies have to have ghosts and witches? Kids who could do without vampires and other played out Halloween monsters will find a lot to like in this mystical adventure film based on the popular novel.

Best for: Kids age 8 and up. Some of the fantastical creatures might creep out the little ones, and there are some intense sequences.

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Batman: Mask of the PhantasmPhoto:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

The caped crusader grapples with what appears to be a murderous apparition in this critically-acclaimed (and moody) animated feature.

Best for: Kids age 9 and up. Some violence and dark subject matter make this a spooky superhero flick for older kids.

Don’t miss these fascinating facts about your favourite superheroes.

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Scooby-Doo: The MoviePhoto:

Scooby-Doo: The Movie

Scooby-Doo and the gang reunite on Spooky Island for this live version of the original animated television series. Kids will enjoy the silly and spooky adventures of the Mystery Inc. gang.

Best for: Kids age 9 and up. Skimpy costumes and freaky imagery might be too much for young children.

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A young girl discovers another world where the grass seems greener—but is soon tormented by the twisted beings within.

Best for: Kids age 9 and up. This fairytale presents some mature themes, and the villains are menacing.

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For an entertaining evening with the family, rent Beetlejuice. A ghost couple tries desperately to chase away a new family that has moved into the home they inhabit. When all else fails, they hire Beetlejuice to get rid of the new owners of the home. But things don’t go as planned…

Best for: Kids age 9 and up. The plot has dark overtones, and there’s some bizarre imagery.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanPhoto:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

What better time than Halloween to revisit the students of Hogwarts, the enchanting school of witchcraft and wizardry? Show other films in the series to make it a complete marathon of these great kids’ Halloween movies.

Best for: Kids age 10 and up. There’s serious peril, and even some of the good guys look frightening.

Take a look at the hidden messages in the Harry Potter books you never noticed.

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Spirited AwayPhoto:

Spirited Away

The sheer volume of odd creatures on display in Spirited Away makes it a perfect fit for Halloween night—and the exciting adventure elements certainly don’t hurt.

Best for: Kids age 11 and upSpirited Away has its share of troubling curses and threatening spirits.

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Hocus PocusPhoto:

Hocus Pocus

Our kids’ Halloween movies list wouldn’t be complete without these three scheming witch sisters who are back to achieve immortality after their hanging 300 years ago—and they’re casting spells through song and dance along the way. Hocus Pocus is the right potion for Halloween fun.

Best for: Kids age 11 and up. There’s mischief afoot here—in addition to some spooky imagery.

Make sure you follow these Halloween etiquette rules this year.

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Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost ArkPhoto:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Creepy crawlies, foreboding crypts, and dazzling action sequences abound in this classic adventure flick.

Best for: Kids age 11 and up. The fisticuffs are fairly intense, and a man’s face gets melted by ghosts.

Can you name the romantic movies in this picture?

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Looking for something scarier? Poltergeist is one of the scariest kids’ Halloween movies.

Best for: Kids age 13 and up.

Next, learn about the horror films that are inspired by true events.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest