Top 10 Halloween Movies to Watch With the Whole Family

Nolan Patton, Video Editor

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Halloween is approaching fast, and there’s no better way to celebrate the season than by watching fun movies that get you in the spirit. While many people enjoy watching horror movies this time of year, some high school students still have younger siblings or other relatives that aren’t old enough to watch the scarier stuff. So, here is a ranked list of the best Halloween movies that you can watch with the whole family.
If you’re looking for films that are a little spookier than the ones on this list, you should read this Herald article listing the top 10 horror movies to watch around Halloween. For even more movie recommendations, here is another Herald article that lists some JPII staff members’ favorite films to watch on the holiday.
10. Hotel Transylvania
Adam Sandler stars in this 2012 animated children’s comedy. This is definitely not the best Halloween movie, but for a film obviously intended for small children, it’s surprisingly entertaining. A lot of the jokes are pretty funny, and by the end of the movie most people are interested in the outcome of the story. This one would more likely be something to put in the background than to sit down and watch quietly, especially for older kids; but overall it’s still a fun movie.
9. Beetlejuice
I’ll be honest, it’s been a few years since I’ve watched this movie all the way through, but I have nothing but fond memories of it. Crazy visuals and effects, hilarious jokes, and an entertainingly spooky storyline all make this movie perfect for the holiday. It’s only so low on this list because it’s not the most family-friendly film, so I recommend having your guardian view IMDB’s parental guidance section before letting any small children watch it. Still, it’s a very fun and creepy movie.
8. Ghostbusters
Similar to Beetlejuice, this may not be the best movie to watch around small children, but it’s still a very fun film to watch on Halloween. The ghosts are spooky, the jokes are hilarious, and the storyline is captivating. This movie is rightfully considered one of the holiday’s classics, and I recommend watching it, whether with family or friends.
7. Halloweentown
This Disney Channel Original Movie perfectly captures the holiday of Halloween. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s cheesy, and it even gets a little spooky once or twice. By far the best part of the movie is Debbie Reynolds’s performance as the main characters’ grandmother, who also happens to be a powerful witch. Even if you don’t get invested in the film’s storyline, the great sets that make up Halloweentown and the fantastic character design of the various monsters make this one worth viewing. Its initial popularity sparked Disney to produce three sequels, but in my opinion the first movie carries the most charm.
6. Hocus Pocus
If you’ve watched the Freeform channel at any point this October, you’ve probably seen this movie at least once. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the film’s release, and in those years Hocus Pocus has grown a pretty big fan following, solidifying its place as one of Halloween’s classics. This movie was technically produced by Disney, which definitely shows in some of the film’s cheesier moments, but overall Hocus Pocus is great Halloween-time fun. Fantastic costumes and character design, an investing story, and even some comedic moments. It has its flaws, but the good stuff works very, very well. I definitely recommend this one.
5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This TV special from the late 60s still holds up extremely well today, encapsulating perfectly the modern spirit of Halloween. The 30-minute special shows the antics of the classic Peanuts cast, spanning the entire day of Halloween and the morning after. Like all of the Peanuts specials, Great Pumpkin carries a lot of charm, and the comedy is surprisingly well-written, even having a couple jokes for older audiences. This one works for all ages, and its short length makes it perfect for viewing at any time.
4. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
This is another 30-minute TV special, this time from 1985. While I would consider its quality to be on par with the Charlie Brown special, I rank this one higher on the list simply because it has a more investing storyline, while The Great Pumpkin simply shows the Peanuts’ antics on a normal Halloween day; however, which special is better is simply up to personal preference. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure also spans the entire day of Halloween, and not only does it show the Garfield cast’s antics throughout the holiday, it also transitions smoothly into a spooky ghost pirate adventure towards the second half. The comedy is spot-on throughout, and it shows similar charm to the Charlie Brown special in its classic characters and perfectly spooky storyline.
3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
This Disney animated short from 1949 retells the classic Washington Irving story in 34 jam-packed minutes. The film has only two voice actors, Bing Crosby and Pinto Colvig, who share all of the roles in the story. I love this short for both its spot-on comedy in the first half and truly spooky story throughout the second half. Disney’s Sleepy Hollow is a timeless animation, serving as both a perfect Halloween-time movie and a great way to introduce younger children to classic American literature. If you haven’t seen this short recently, go watch it; it’s truly fantastic for the holiday.
2. Over the Garden Wall
Over the Garden Wall is technically a television miniseries, not a movie; but the whole thing is ten episodes, each of which are ten minutes long, and therefore you can binge-watch the entire show in the time it takes to finish a feature-length movie. I discovered this series in October of 2016, and it has quickly become one of my absolute favorite things to watch during the Halloween season. Creator Patrick McHale took nearly ten years to develop the series’ story, and it definitely shows in the final product. This show, in my opinion, is pure genius; it’s hilarious, it’s fun, it’s spooky, and at some points it’s downright disturbing. While clearly intended for a younger audience, over time the show gets less lighthearted and more complex. I don’t want to spoil the series’ amazing ending, but trust me when I say that everything you see during the course of the show has a deeper meaning that all ties together in the conclusion. One of the first things you’ll want to do after finishing the show is go online and research some analyses of the show, because everything on screen has a meaning beneath the surface – there’s even a prevalent theory that the entire thing is an allegory for Dante’s Inferno. (Yes, this was shown on Cartoon Network, during daytime children’s programming.) I love this miniseries, and I highly recommend it to everyone who’s a fan of Halloween, and the Autumn season in general. It has something for audiences of all ages, and is perfect for family viewings.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton’s 1993 masterpiece has remained one of the best Halloween movies of all time, which is impressive for a film that has “Christmas” in the title (the Herald has another article about this very topic). This movie perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Halloween for me. The whole story strongly shows that charming and fun kind of spookiness that makes the holiday so special. If you haven’t seen this movie, gather your family or some friends and watch it as soon as possible. There’s not much to say about this one; if you’re looking for something to sit down with family or friends and have a lighthearted time during the Halloween season, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the absolute best film for the occasion.
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