I don’t have any kids (not human ones, at least), and I never intend to. If I did have children, however, I would want to share my love for my favorite holiday, Halloween, with them. In addition to traditions such as carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, and trick-or-treating, watching movies is another great way to celebrate the holiday. Horror movies are a natural fit for Halloween, but it can be difficult to gauge if a movie is too scary for kids; therefore, the safest solution is to choose kids’ movies that take place on October 31st. That way you’re guaranteed to get into the Halloween spirit without traumatizing the kiddos! Here are some movies that take place on Halloween and are suitable for the whole family.
1. Haunted Mansion (2023, PG-13)
Although the majority of the movie does not take place on Halloween, the final few minutes do. Nevertheless, with the setting being a mansion inhabited by 999 ghosts, there are Halloween vibes throughout! Note that this movie is rated PG-13 and contains a few jump scares, and so it may not be suitable for younger children. Personally, though, I think Beetlejuice is much scarier, and that’s only rated PG! Haunted Mansion has a runtime of 2 hours 4 minutes and is available for streaming on Disney+.
2. Spooky Buddies (2011, G)
The only thing cuter than a puppy in a Halloween costume is five puppies in Halloween costumes! For those who are unfamiliar with the Buddies, these direct-to-video movies follow the five puppies of Air Bud the basketball-playing Golden Retriever. Despite having a G rating, this movie abounds with surprisingly dark themes including ritual sacrifice. But, I mean… Puppies!!! Spooky Buddies has a runtime of 1 hour 33 minutes and is available for streaming on Disney+.
3. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005, G)
For nearly 100 years, Winnie the Pooh has been a beloved character for both the young and the old. In this chapter in the chronicles of Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys, Pooh and his friends introduce Luffy the Heffalump (which is basically just a purple elephant) to Halloween in the Hundred Acre Woods. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie has a runtime of 1 hour 6 minutes and is available for free on YouTube.
4. Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular (2003, NR)
This is the one movie that I HAVE to watch every year, or else it doesn’t feel like I actually celebrated Halloween. Some viewers may find the blocky computer animation to be a bit jarring, but I think it’s charming. At the very least, it’s certainly unique and memorable! The theme song is pretty bangin’, too. Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular has a runtime of 48 minutes and is available for free on YouTube. You can also add in the sequel, The Revenge of Jimmy, which is only 46 minutes long and therefore would bring the total runtime up to 1 hour 34 minutes: just 1 minute longer than Spooky Buddies.
5. Hocus Pocus (1993, PG)
Walk into any Halloween store and you’ll see what a lasting impact Hocus Pocus has had on the holiday. Even 30 years later, the Sanderson sisters continue to be a popular Halloween costume, and you can find just about any kind of interior decor—pillows, doormats, drinkware, you name it—with quotes from this movie on it. The downside to watching this film with especially young children, however, is that there’s a risk that they might ask you what a “virgin” is; so either have a clever response planned or be prepared to give at least part of The Talk. Hocus Pocus has a runtime of 1 hour 36 minutes and is available for streaming on Disney+. The 2022 sequel has a runtime of 1 hour 43 minutes, but I confess I haven’t watched it yet myself.
6. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966, NR)
Do your kids have too short of an attention span to sit through a full feature-length movie? You can still expose them to Halloween cinema via this classic, and maybe even inspire them to believe in The Great Pumpkin alongside Santa Claus. This short came out before the MPA age restriction guidelines were invented, so it’s up to you to gauge whether or not the 1960s humor (such as poor Charlie Brown’s infamous “I got a rock…”) is appropriate for modern children. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has a runtime of 25 minutes and is available for streaming on Apple TV+.