Halloween is such an amazing time of year. You don’t have to like having the be-jeezus scared out of you in order to enjoy it, either. Forget serial killers or zombies. Ignore the word “haunted” anything. Ask any kid what they love about Halloween and they’ll list three things: Candy, costumes and staying out late. As adults, we might add things like “bonfires” and “an excuse to decorate” to our list, too.
October 31, and the several days (or weeks) preceding it are nothing short of fun. Of course, there are people who live in a particularly cold part of the world or in a city where you can’t have a bonfire, though. How do those people get into the Halloween spirit? From “fall-themed” snacks, jokes, and Halloween party games to just sitting down watching Autumn-set movies under a cozy blanket, you still have options.
“But Halloween movies are always so scary!” you may mumble. Nah, girl. Not all of them. These are some of our favorite Halloween and Halloween-esque movies you can watch without peeing your pants, though they might make you pull your blanket up to your chin. (If you can stream them for free, we’ll let you know where to go.)
Halloween Movies For Kids
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
“But, Willy Wonka isn’t a Halloween movie!” you exclaim. But, isn’t it? Two big elements of Halloween: Candy and costumes. Two big elements in Willy Wonka: Candy and costumes. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, or Vudu.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Adults. It’s okay if you hate this movie. Many people do. It’s still a classic, however, and we’d be remiss to leave it off our list. Also, it’s 100 percent safe for even your littlest kiddos. Watch it on Apple TV+. Rent/buy it on FandangoNOW.
This is our second Roald Dahl book-adaptation on the list. Matilda was absolutely magical and Mrs. Trunchbull was totally terrifying. It’s the perfect Halloween “fright” that won’t give kids nightmares but still help them get in the feel of things. Watch on Fubo or Freeform. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
Monsters Inc. (2001)
Hi. Hello. Monsters? This should be so easy, but it’s often overlooked. Monsters are a Halloween must. Furthermore, isn’t Boo in a costume for the entire movie? Definitely a Halloween movie. Watch on Disney+. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
As much as we love suggesting non-traditional Halloween movies, Hocus Pocus is another Halloween classic that would create a ton of hubbub if left out. And, honestly, who doesn’t love the Sanderson sisters? Watch on Disney+. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
While Day of the Dead isn’t exactly the same thing as Halloween, it’s close enough in theme and season. Plus, the movie is littered with gorgeous costumes, ghosts, and skeletons. It’s like the Target Halloween section exploded into a lovely, heart-rendering movie. Watch on Disney+. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
Have your read or seen Coraline? The song Coraline’s dad sings to her says it best, “She’s a peach, she’s a doll, she’s a pal of mine.” Coraline is 100 percent lovable… if not a little bit creepy. And, when she meets the Other Mother, her world takes to weird and slightly creepy twists. The movie is great. But, we’d also like to make a case for reading the book (by Neil Gaiman) as a bedtime story throughout the month of October. Watch on Starz. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Costumes, imagination, weird food, and a recognizable villain. What else could you need for a Halloween movie? Watch on Fubo or Showtime. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
If you’re an adult wondering how on Earth Fantasia ever counted as a kids’ movie, you’re not alone. It’s creepy as Hell. That makes it the perfect choice for Halloween. Watch on Disney+. Rent/buy on Google Play or YouTube.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
We’re not going to solve the decades-long debate whether this is a Halloween or a Christmas movie, but it’s a Tim Burton film, features lots of pumpkins, skeletons, and frightful imagery. (Make sure your kids are old enough to watch this, otherwise, add this to the tweens and teens category below.) If you’d like, you can see this as the perfect Halloween movie that serves as an appetizer for Christmas. There, debate solved. Watch on Disney+. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Halloween Movies For Bigger Kids/Tweens/Teens
Any of the iterations of Casper the Friendly Ghost would totally play well around Halloween. However, our favorite is the one starring Christina Ricci and Devon Sawa. We’re putting it in the bigger kids’ realm because of the slight romance involved. Watch on Netflix. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
The Goonies (1985)
Hey you guys! Hear us out! Just like we send our kids out into the streets on a treasure hunt for candy, that’s exactly what the Goonies do in the film. Also: Sloth. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, or Vudu.
Not only is Beetlejuice a legit Halloween fashion icon, but he’s also exactly the kind of lovable villain you need on Halloween. Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Be-Well, okay… maybe we don’t like him that much. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The working title for this list was, “A List of Tim Burton Movies” because, let’s face it, he’s the king of Halloween. If it’s been a hot second since you watched this one, we suggest doing your research to decide if it’s appropriate for each of your kids. Nothing really happens in the waterbed scene, but it’s definitely a little dicey. Watch on Starz. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Some of us think this movie is scary AF. Some of us are cold-blooded killers. The costumes in this film are enough to warrant a watch on Halloween. Plus, isn’t it time to introduce your kids to David Bowie? Watch on Amazon Prime or Tubi. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
The Addams Family (1991)
Another perfectly typical and wonderful Halloween film. Watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Starz, or CBS All Access. Rent/buy on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Raise your hand if you watched this when you were a little too young! Gremlins is decidedly dark, despite the cute creatures. And there are definitely some adult moments. Still. It’s a pretty low-key Halloween movie. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Vudu, or YouTube.
The Dark Crystal (1982)
It’s a little eery, a little dark, and full of amazing costumes. That makes The Dark Crystal a perfectly unique option for Halloween film fest. Watch on Netflix. Rent/buy on Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or YouTube.
Halloween Movies For Adults
If you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween once the kiddos are in bed, the options are nearly infinite. Of course, if you can’t watch a horror movie without needing a nighttime bathroom escort for a month afterward, your options are more limited. These are our favorites:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Stream it: Amazon Prime Video, Hoopla, Kanopy, Dove Channel, Epix, Tubi, PopcornFlix
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (2005)
Rent/buy it: Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Vudu, YouTube
Stream it: HBO Max
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Stream it: Netflix
Sweeney Todd (2006)
Stream it: Amazon Prime Video
But if you are into the terrifying, here are some classic and more contemporary horror films to keep you up until next All Hallows Eve:
Best of the ’80s & Before
The Excor (1973)
The Shining (1980)
The Thing (1982)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Near Dark (1987)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Best of the ’90s
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Stephen King’s It (1990)
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Best of the ’00s
Let the Right One In (2008)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
28 Days Later (2003)
The Descent (2006)
Paranormal Activity (2009)
The Ring (2002)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
Get Out (2017)
A Quiet Place (2018)
Train to Busan (2016)
The Babadook (2014)
It Follows (2014)