Halloween is upon us! And that means once the tricks and treats have been dished out, your little ghouls and goblins will want to hear some super scary tales – campfire style! But as a parent, how does one manage to keep the little troops entertained, but protect yourself from waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of nightmare-induced screams and tears? More importantly, if you don’t want to burn your house down, how do you avoid the campfire? Thankfully, That’s It LA has you covered with all of the best specials and shows that you and your kids will love on streaming this Halloween season! Here are our top 10 picks!
10. Toy Story of Terror (Disney+)
Woody, Buzz, and all your favorite toys are back! And this time they’re doing a send up of 50s horror films, in this fun, colorful, surprisingly mature 30-minute Halloween special. The action this time around centers on Jesse, who, when the gang is stranded in a motel during a dark and stormy night, must confront her fears to save her friends as they disappear one-by-one. As expected from Pixar, Toy Story of Terror is hilarious, adorable, and has a terrific good message about confronting your fears to become a stronger individual capable of dealing with internal traumas. Your kids will love it!
9. Bugs Bunny’s Howl-o-Skreem Spooktacula (HBO Max)
If you’re looking for just good old fashioned slapstick fun, Looney Tunes-style, look no further than this year’s all-new Halloween Special, Bugs Bunny’s Howl-o-Skreem Spooktacula. Much like classic Looney Tunes collections like Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters, this year’s special collects a number of hilarious and dark Looney Tunes shorts from this new era of the characters, including a Bugs Bunny mummy story, a Porky and Sylvester adventure, a trip to a graveyard with Daffy and Porky, and even a Witch Hazel cartoon. If you love the Looney Tunes, and want to see them at their Halloween best, look no further than this zany, hilarious Halloween special.
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney+)
The quintessential Halloween classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas is required viewing for all the little ones every year. The gorgeous effects and animation – the first animated film to be nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars in fact – the look and feel of this gothic family friendly comedy has made it an annual staple during the Halloween season. What happens when ambitious but gentlemanly Jack Skellington wants to put his stamp on Christmas? Absolute disaster with wickedly hilarious results. If your kids haven’t seen this one, it’s time they finally do!
7. Monster House (Hulu)
A terrifically underrated Halloween film, that was also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2006 Oscars, Monster House tells the story of a neighborhood battle between 3 brave young friends and the terrifying house across the street, this is actually inhabited by the spirit of an old, mistreated carny, and her long suffering husband. Oddly much darker for a kids movie, Monster House is terrifically macabre and yet somewhat touching as well. There’s a lot of action and a truly terrifying villain with a twisted story. But is thankfully also not too scary for the little ones. Definitely worth a view if you haven’t seen it!
6. Beetlejuice (HBO Max)
Another staple of your Halloween library, it’s fun to spend 2-hours every year with The Ghost with the Most. Tim Burton’s classic is a hilarious send up of haunted house movies, subverting expectations by having the ghosts try and get rid of the living, rather than the other way around. Beetlejuice however belongs to the hilarious and energetic performance delivered by the great Michael Keaton, who owns the movie in just 15 minutes of screentime. Dark and fantastically gothic, but also zany and bright, this is a perfect Halloween film for families given its demented but hilarious nature.
5. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (HBO Max)
Tim Burton really just owns Halloween, doesn’t he? In the grand tradition of Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton’s second stop-motion film features a heartwarming, and poetic story that’s utterly charming. When Victor Van Dort (voice by Johnny Depp) accidentally places his engagement ring on the finger of a skeleton in the woods, a comedy of errors takes place when the eponymous Corpse Bride, Emily (played by the wonderful Helena Bonham-Carter), awakens to fall in love with him and bring him to the Land of the Dead. Filled with amazing colors, and a bright and optimistic spirit, along with some jazzy numbers courtesy of Danny Elfman, Corpse Bride is a beautiful, soulful, whimsical good time for you and your kids this Halloween season.
4. The Addams Family/Addams Family Values (Paramount+)
The first of two Anjelica Huston vehicles on this list, the 90s Addams Family movies are classics. Filled to the brim with macabre humor and a biting wit, the film delivers staller performances from a terrific, chemistry-laden ensemble featuring Huston, the late-great Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, and more. We couldn’t recommend just one film, because, while the first is so good, the second is even better. So give yourselves two snaps, and watch both films with the family in a spirited double feature!
3. Paranorman/Coraline (The Roku Channel)
We’ve had 2 stop-motion animated spooky family films on this list so far. But the geniuses at Laika are here to show you what the pinnacle of stop-motion animation and storytelling looks like, with 2 amazing, criminally underrated classics: Paranorman and Coraline. Coraline is one of the creepiest kids movies to come out in theaters in history, beautifully directed by the master of stop-motion, himself, the great Henry Selick (who did The Nightmare Before Christmas). Dark, funny, but thankfully not too terrifying, it’s a perfect, super weird story for the kids. In contrast, Paranorman was directed by the terrific Laika mainstay, Chris Butler, and tells a deeply rich, beautifully melancholy story of a kid who can see the dead, and must stop the ghost of a vengeful witch from destroying a town that frequently bullies him. It’s also tremendously animated, but has a deeper, beautiful story about the effects of bullying, and how to overcome trauma through the beauty of understanding and empathy.
2. The Witches (HBO Max)
This one is downright terrifying – in the best most family friendly way possible. The second Anjelica Huston entry on the list comes from a time where family horror was a lot less censored than today’s offerings. Beautifully adapted from Roald Dahl’s legendary novel, The Witches tells the story of an orphaned boy and his grandmother, as they battle the evil forces of The Grand High Witch and her minions at a seaside hotel. From Jim Henson’s amazing work to Huston’s completely deranged performance, The Witches is terrifying for kids, but without needing to be gory, bloody, or overtly violent. A must see if you haven’t seen it yet.
1. Hocus Pocus 1&2 (Disney+)
One does not simply create a family friendly Halloween list without putting The Godfather of all Halloween family movies at #1: Hocus Pocus. Set during Halloween, and anchored by the amazing chemistry between Sanderson sisters, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nijimy, this hilarious, spellbinding family farce features some pretty dark and twisted moments, coupled with classic Disney family comedy. And now, with a worthy (if slightly lesser) follow up with Hocus Pocus 2, which sees the witches returning but the chemistry between them not diminishing in the least, you and your family can make it a double-feature Halloween night with 2 perennial Halloween classics to watch year-after-year for generations to come!