Welcome, October! It is finally the kickoff of the holiday season (Halloween is now included, ok?), and we’re busting out our coziest sweaters, fall nail colors, and enjoying all the festive flavors the season has to offer. But before you put on your costumes and head out to trick or treat, there are some must-see movies that require a viewing (or two.)
So grab your coziest jammies, blankets, and yummiest snacks, then snuggle up with the family to watch these family-friendly Halloween movies that are certain to get you into spooky season spirit.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Is it a Halloween movie? Or is it a Christmas movie? The great thing about The Nightmare Before Christmas is that it’s the perfect movie for both, a celebration of the extended Halloween-to-Christmas holiday season. Tim Burton’s story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, and his eye-opening adventure to the land of Christmas are the heart of this entertaining, spooky classic. And in these days of overused CGI, the Claymation is even extra impressive, a wonder to take in.
For those of a certain age (say, the mid-to-elder millennial), there’s one film that comes to mind when you think Halloween: Hocus Pocus. Released in 1993, it tells the story of three witches (played by the incredible cast of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) who are resurrected by a teenage boy and brought back to life in modern-day Salem, Massachusetts… on Halloween night, no less.
One of the first-ever Disney Channel original films, Halloweentown became an instant classic which has spawned three sequels. The movie tells the story of two teenage girls whose mothers carry a secret — they’re both witches. Part a family drama, part a coming of age tale, and a fun Halloween adventure, all the same, Halloweentown has withstood the test of time and is a perfect family watch for this time of year.
The story of Frankenstein is a Halloween staple, but most versions of it may be a bit creepy for the young ones. Enter Frankeweenie, Tim Burton’s animated re-telling of the classic Frankenstein tale. This time, Dr. Frankenstein is a young boy who wishes to resurrect his pet Bull Terrier, Sparky. But all of Dr. Frankenstein’s friends want to know how he did it, resulting in hijinks and chaos. With fun black-and-white animation and memorable voice performances from Catherin O’Hara, Martin Short, and Winona Ryder, Frankenweenie is a fun watch for all ages. And, it pairs nicely as a double feature with The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton’s other Halloween classic.
The protagonist of ParaNorman has a lot on his shoulders. At just 11 years old, Norman can communicate with ghosts, and his powers lead him to a pretty big assignment — to end the 300-year curse placed on his Massachusetts hometown by an evil witch. While this all might sound a little heavy, what follows in ParaNorman is an exciting and fun adventure that kids will enjoy just as much as adults. The film was made by the renowned Laika animation studio, which has also made well-regarded animated films like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings.
Hotel Transylvania series
In 2012, Hotel Transylvania was released, the story of a Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) who is not quite the vampire you’d expect. This one manages a hotel, which gives monsters, zombies, and ghouls a place to rest and relax. Dracula throws a birthday party at the hotel for his daughter (Selena Gomez), but an unexpected guest somehow arrives — a 21-year-old human being. The film was a big success with family audiences, spawning a franchise that followed up with Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018), and an upcoming entry due out this year.
The Addams Family (2019)
The Addams Family — the story of a family that lives a macabre and ghoulish lifestyle among “regular” people — dates back as far as cartoons from the 1930s. After a popular 1960s television series and two live-action films in the 1990s, the franchise was revived for family audiences in 2019 with an animated movie starring the voices of Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron as the famous parents Gomez and Morticia Addams. In this modern re-telling, the family becomes the scorn of a reality TV host who wants to rid the otherwise idyllic town of the Addams clan. The fun, fast, and quirky comedy spurred a sequel which is due out later this year.
Coco isn’t a Halloween movie, but its setting presents the perfect aesthetic for a fall family movie night. Coco tells the story of Miguel, a 12-year-old boy living in a world where music has been banned by his family. But music runs deep in Miguel’s family legacy, as his great-great-grandfather was Ernesto de la Cruz, Mexico’s most famous musician. Miguel is surprisingly swept into the Land of the Dead, where he must find Ernesto and return the beauty of music to his family. The story is based on the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), which takes place on November 1-2.