Whether your kids are not a fan of trick or treating and want something else to occupy them on Halloween, or if you just love movies and want to get your fill this weekend, here are your top 27 best Halloween films for children and families.
Not all these films are scary, because a LOT of kids and grown ups don’t love scary films, but they do embody the spirit of this magical weekend with imagination, fantasy and brilliant characters at their core!
If you have some suggestions to add, please drop them in the comments section at the end of the post!
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – perfect for Halloween AND Christmas, this rich animation is classic Tim Burton, and is filled with whimsy, weirdness and wonder, and some unforgettable characters. It is a little spooky in parts, and warning, Santa is captured by some little meanies!
- Bridge to Terabithia – Not your typical Halloween film at all, but it is imagination fuelled, and does cover death, which after all Halloween is about… this film is clever and beautiful and sad and full of magical adventure. Spoiler alert/ Trigger Warning: a child dies by drowning, but you don’t see anything and it is dealt with very well.
- E.T: The Extra Terrestrial – As if this needs any introduction or summation. But, just in case: not only does this film feature a friendly alien, it also covers halloween and trick or treating in a memorable extended scene. Touching and funny and adventurous with its own bit of magic, its not one to miss this October.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service – classic Studio Ghibli, this fantastic animation, young witch Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone, to complete her witch training. Soon after she becomes a fixture in the community Kiki loses her magic and has to get it back! A tail of personal triumph, tradition and magic!
- Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang – You think the magic all comes from wicth-like Nanny McPhee, acted expertly by Emma Thompson, but there is all kinds of magic in this film. Funny, quintessentially British, full of little adventures, this will make you laugh out loud, and cry real tears! Perfect Sunday family film.
- Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns – Another magical babysitter, Mary Poppins is a much loved favourite across the world, so why not put it on this Halloween for those who are not a fan of anything scary! Full of whimsy, music, magic and fun!
- Frankenweenie – one for animal lovers, this is a sweet and spooky story of friendship, dark comedy and heart! In true Tim Burton style this is weird and wonderful, with a fantastic music from Danny Elfman, and terrific voice acting from Burton regulars.
- Matilda – Who doesn’t love this empowering story of a young girl who finds magic in books, only to discover she has her own magical powers lying wait inside her! This is a classic, and one of the few films that is just as good as the book.
- Monster’s Inc. A Disney-Pixar modern day classic that’s premise is built on monsters scaring kids, but is probably the least scary film on this list! Cute and funny monsters charm us with this sweet and funny story of rebellion and friendship.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – The classical magic tale that we all remember. I still believe there are magical worlds at the back of old wardrobes – don’t you? This one is for halloween and Christmas and all the days in between. An evil witch, talking beavers, dryads, nymphs, giants, Pegasus horses, magical fawns, and an all powerful lion, you dont get much more fantastical and magical than this!
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks – An oldie but a goodie, in the ilk of Mary Poppins. A witch in training, a magical bed, talking animals, and fantasy worlds… a story of resilience, escapism and family. I used to love this as a child…
- The Spiderwick Chronicles – Full of adventure and magical creatures, a live action with CGI family expedition perfect for over 8s.
- Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone… and sequels – It is very possible this absolutely does not need any introduction, but just in case – a school of witchcraft and wizardry, young wizards trying to find their way, magical owls, griffins, spells, charms and so much more… Warning: the end of the first film is a little creepy for young children.
- Coraline – Based on Neil Gaiman’s book, and directed by Henry Sellick, this is a Burton-esque film that explores a creepy alternate universe with strange characters with button eyes, and a twisty plot that keeps on giving until the end…
- Room on the Broom – A short animation based on Julia Donaldson’s children’s book. Expertly animated and narrated, this is a must see for all children. It is innately funny, clever and witty, so adults will enjoy this just as much, whilst even the youngest child can enjoy the witchy antics without being scared!
- Spirited Away – Another Studio Ghibli film which explores spirits, gods and witches. It definitely has weird and spooky concepts and characters but it is spectacular storytelling.
- Song of the Sea – Something a bit different – an Irish folktale with an Owl Witch, faeries, sulkies and magic seashells. This is a beautiful film, and definitely one for families who want some whimsical magic and no scares this Halloween.
- Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – I mean is any holiday complete without Charlie Brown and Snoopy? With leaf piles, pumpkin patches, trick or treating and Charlie Brown’s usual cynical humour and tender takes on friendship, this is another one for those who want to stay away from the scary stuff.
- The Book of Life – Drawing on Mexican folklore The Book of Life is bursting with vibrant colours and magic. It explores life and death and the afterlife in a beautiful celebratory way.
- Coco – Another Mexican tale which explores the world of the dead, with colour, celebration, music and family. Its vibrant and lovely, with characters perfect for halloween and the day of the dead.
- Mary and the Witch’s Flower – A final entry from Studio Ghibli – masters of fairy tales and ghost stories. A perfect tale for halloween this tells the story of Mary finding an old broomstick and the Fly-by-Night-Flower, which makes her a witch for just one night…
- Corpse Bride – Another Tim Burton masterpiece, this time dealing with the Victorian underworld and a murder mystery. A beautiful gothic love story full of twists, turns and of course, stunning animation.
- Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Ware Rabbit – More animation genius in this stop-motion feature from Aardman. It is a clever parody of classic monster movies and Hammer Horror flicks, where the loveable duo find themselves against a big bunny consuming the town’s crops, whom Wallce is convinced is a terrifying ware rabbit. Hilarious chaos ensues!
- The Witches – the 1990 version – an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. A young boy comes across a sinister collective of women that are in fact trying to rid the world of children! With his pet mice in toe and loving grandma on his side, he battles to fight the witches so that good can prevail! A dark comedy horror that’s probably a bit scary for little ones, but well worth a watch!
- The Dark Crystal – another oldie, from 1982, this sits alongside Labyrinth, Legend and Willow in the classic 1980s fantasy films. The Dark Crystal is directed by Jim Henson and embodies his trademark for rich puppetry and storytelling. A magical adventure with clear sides of good and evil, this is a perfect family watch.
- The Never Ending Story – There is not a story more fantastical and weird than the adaption of Michael Ende’s book. This film stays in your heart and mind for years, and be warned there is a very sad scene near the start, which still brings me to tears even on the 50th time of watching. However, a great adventure follows and all is put right with great bravery and belief in magic!
- Soul – One of Pixar’s most recent offerings, it is the first to feature an African-American as its protagonist. The film explores ideas around the soul and the body, the afterlife and reincarnation in a gentle, funny and tender way. This film is perfect for those who do not want anything scary, but are still interested in the concept of the veil between the living world and the dead world…