The Sanderson Sisters artwork

The Sanderson Sisters artwork (Photo by HabibaDesign-92 on Shutterstock)

Halloween is the time of year to binge some scary movies, but they might not be appropriate to watch for the children in your life. That’s where these kid-friendly movies come in! StudyFinds has scoured the internet and has put together a list of the best Halloween movies for kids to watch during the spooky season.

When the kids are in bed, parents can finally put on the adult-themed scream flicks they want to watch. A recent survey of 2,000 Americans with streaming subscriptions finds Freddy Krueger is the favorite horror movie character for 54 percent of respondents. Other spooky icons people love include Chucky (39%), Ghostface (34%), and Jack Torrance (31%). Despite stealing people’s hearts and dreams, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is NOT the most iconic horror movie. That title belongs to “Friday the 13th” (41%), followed by “Carrie” (35%) and “An American Werewolf in London” (33%).

Along with scary movies, Halloween also comes with gobs of candy. A recent poll shows that 81 percent of kids end up eating their entire candy haul within the first week! One in four won’t even make it to Nov. 2. Forty-two percent of parents even admit that their kids don’t think they get enough candy at the end of the night.

Are you looking for a kid-friendly Halloween movie? StudyFinds has listed the top five best Halloween movies for kids to watch this year. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

Family watching TV
Family watching TV (© Monkey Business – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Halloween Movies for Kids, According to Experts

1. “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

First on the list is the classic Halloween movie “Hocus Pocus,” starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. Even though the sequel came out in 2022, nothing is better than the original. “What makes a better Halloween movie than three evil witches?” writes Time Out. “Head to the 1600s, where Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) cast a spell that killed a little girl and turned her brother into an immortal black cat. Then, fast forward to the ’90s and meet Max Dennison, who just moved from Los Angeles to Salem, Mass, with his parents and his little sister. He’ll do anything to impress his cute neighbor, Allison, who just so happens to have access to the old Sanderson House. He even lights the Black Flame Candle, which as legend has it, will bring back the Sanderson sisters—and does!”

"Hocus Pocus" (1993)
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

“Taking place on Oct. 31, this Halloween-themed fantasy-comedy stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson sisters — the malevolent spirits of three 17th-century Salem witches (complete with pointy hats, brooms, warts and all) that were burned at the stake and accidentally resurrected by a group of kids, who in turn attempt to kill the children as a show of gratitude,” says The Hollywood Reporter. “Eating children? Rather dark for a Disney-produced children’s flick, wouldn’t you say?”

A sequel to “Hocus Pocus” starring the original witches came out on Disney Plus in 2022. “It’s long been a yearly tradition to watch the witchy Sanderson Sisters wreak havoc over Salem on Halloween night as a group of teens — and some supernatural allies — try to stop them,” notes Good Housekeeping. “But now, after decades of waiting, someone finally lit the Black Flame Candle again.”

2. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation picture, is a must-watch for children during the Halloween season. “Equal parts romantic and dark, this film is kid-friendly Tim Burton at its best,” says PureWow. “Even the younger ones can enjoy the stop-motion animated magic—just be aware that the smallest and most sensitive kids might be spooked by the bug-filled ‘Oogie Boogie’ and some of the stylized imagery in general.”

 "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993)
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

“What’s this? The Nightmare Before Christmas is a cross-holiday classic, blending Halloween and Christmas in a giddy stop-motion animated musical,” writes Entertainment Weekly. “Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, discovers the neighboring land of Christmas Town and becomes fascinated with mysterious concepts like snow, presents, carols, and flying reindeer. Jack decides that he can improve the experience, so his minions kidnap ‘Sandy Claws’ while he puts on a slender red suit to deliver terrifying presents to the world’s unsuspecting children. The inventive mix-and-match of holiday staples and catchy songs by Danny Elfman make this a satisfying watch for the whole family.”

You can catch the film streaming on Disney Plus. “This Tim Burton classic follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, on his mission to bring Christmas to Halloween Town. But when he kidnaps Santa Claus, things go a bit awry,” notes Woman’s Day.

3. “Beetlejuice” (1988)

Beware saying his name three times! Michael Keaton was the perfect choice to cast as the iconic Beetlejuice. “For an entertaining evening with the family, watch Beetlejuice,” writes Reader’s Digest. “A ghost couple tries desperately to chase away a new family that has moved into the home they inhabit. When all else fails, they hire Beetlejuice to get rid of the new owners of the haunted home. But things don’t go as planned.”

“Beetlejuice” (1988)
“Beetlejuice” (1988)

“Michael Keaton is pretty hilarious as the demented demon, Beetlejuice, who takes it upon himself to scare anyone who moves into his house by haunting them,” says Stuffed Suitcase. “But there are so many hilarious moments that your kids won’t break a sweat.”

“Beetlejuice” is currently streaming on Max. “After dying in a car accident, a married couple haunts their beloved house in an attempt to get rid of its whacky new tenants,” says TODAY. “When their efforts don’t work, they resurrect Beetlejuice, a maniacal spirit who, instead of helping, makes everything worse. Michael Keaton stars as the mischievous ghost in this Halloween classic.”

4. “Ghostbusters” (1984)

Who you gonna call this Halloween? “An infectiously fun blend of special effects and comedy, with Bill Murray‘s hilarious deadpan performance leading a cast of great comic turns,” notes Rotten Tomatoes.

"Ghostbusters" 1 and 2
“Ghostbusters” 1 and 2

“Who you gonna call? Apparently, four paunchy, middle-aged scientists, as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson teamed up with late director Ivan Reitman to fight ghosts and hold off the apocalypse in this 1984 comedy classic,” writes The Hollywood Reporter. “It also spawned three more movies, a Saturday morning cartoon and a series of video games, not to mention that infectiously catchy theme song by Ray Parker Jr.”

Good Housekeeping says, “Older kids hankering for something other than little-children Halloween movies may be placated by this one, which is certainly more grown-up — watch out for some sexual situations — but is just as much a comedy as it is ghost story. If they like it, they can move on to the sequel, the 2016 reboot with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy or Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which finally lets kids strap on the proton packs for themselves. A sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife is scheduled for this December.”

5. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)

Rounding out the top five is the legendary animated movie, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” “This classic covers all the Halloween bases: costumes, trick-or-treating, and the anticipation of a great pumpkin, of course,” notes PureWow. “The nostalgia comes on strong with this one but parents should be aware that the Peanuts dynamic is not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, the kids act like kids in this cartoon (i.e., they are often mean to one another). The realistic portrayal is not necessarily a bad thing though—but maybe take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your own child about bullying, or just the importance of kindness.”

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (1966)
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966)

“Every Halloween, the Great Pumpkin rises into the air to deliver toys to all deserving children — at least, according to Linus, who plans to forgo trick-or-treating to sit in a pumpkin patch and wait for him,” writes Entertainment Weekly. “In this beloved special, the Peanuts kids are all dressing up and ready for a costume party, but Linus has his own way of celebrating the season, no matter what anyone says (and his famously crabby big sister Lucy certainly has a lot to say about it). The featurette also includes an adventure for Snoopy and a classic example of Lucy pulling the football away when Charlie Brown tries to kick it. It’s a nostalgic treat for parents to share with their little ones.”

The classic 1966 movie can be streamed on Apple TV+. “The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween, while Linus skips trick-or-treating to wait for the Great Pumpkin,” says Woman’s Day. “This is a classic and, although a cartoon, will be a welcomed trip down memory lane for older kids and adults.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Matt Higgins

Matt Higgins worked in national and local news for 15 years. He started out as an overnight production assistant at Fox News Radio in 2007 and ended in 2021 as the Digital Managing Editor at CBS Philadelphia. Following his news career, he spent one year in the automotive industry as a Digital Platforms Content Specialist contractor with Subaru of America and is currently a freelance writer and editor for StudyFinds. Matt believes in facts, science and Philadelphia sports teams crushing his soul.

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