Get into the spirit of the season with a family movie night! Many of these movies can be borrowed for free from your local library and can be requested online.
October is also National Popcorn Poppin' Month, so make a big batch to celebrate and snuggle up on the couch with the family!
Preschoolers and Early Elementary Age
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (NR) These animated adaptions of classics The Wind in the Willows and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow shouldn't frighten even the youngest viewers.
The Book of Life (PG) The journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.
Casper (PG) The iconic cartoon character of your youth returns. Dr. Harvey, an afterlife therapist hired to exercise the ghosts living in a house, and his daughter, Kat, move in and soon Kat meets Casper, the friendliest ghost. But Casper's uncles are still determined to drive all the "fleshies" away.
Escape to Witch Mountain (G) Two mysterious orphaned children have extraordinary powers and are chased by a scheming millionaire. But where do these kids really call home?
Hotel Transylvania (PG) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (PG) The Hotel Transylvania, run by Dracula, is a unique, high-end resort catering only to the finest monsters and their families. Drac's daughter Mavis falls in love with, and eventually marries, a human, and hotel policy changes to expand its clientele.
Monsters University (G) and Monsters, Inc. (G) Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sully" Sullivan are a pair of mismatched monsters who became the best of friends. These two movies tell the story of their friendship, from when they met at college to when they made their biggest mistake at the scream-producing factory in Monstropolis.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG) Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, tries to bring the magic of Christmas to Halloween Town and kidnaps Santa.
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie (G) It's Lumpy's first Halloween and he's excited! But when Pooh eats all the Halloween candy before Trick-or-Treat time, it's up to Lumpy and Roo to catch the Gabloon and wish for more candy before Halloween is over.
Older Elementary Age
The Boxtrolls (PG) Based on the children's novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow, this is the story of a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors.
Frankenweenie (PG) Young Victor conducts a science experiment that will bring his dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous consequences.
Ghostbusters (PG) The paratroopers of the paranormal face their greatest challenge when a woman discovers that her refrigerator leads directly to the gates of hell! With the whole world watching, it's up to the Ghostbusters to keep Manhattan from becoming a madhouse! (In case you don't remember, there is some foul language in this one.)
Goosebumps (PG) After moving into a small town, Zach Cooper meets Hannah, his neighbor and the daughter of R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps stories. Although Stine keeps all the monsters in the series locked up in his books, they unintentionally get released. The trio teams up to put the monsters back where they came from.
Labyrinth (PG) When Sarah wishes that Goblins would come take her baby brother, the King of Goblins complies. Sarah has 13 hours to solve the puzzle of the Labyrinth to get her baby brother back.
Maleficent (PG) A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the girl may be the only one who can restore peace to the troubled land. The "other side" of the story of Sleeping Beauty will have you rooting for the Evil Queen.
Monster House (PG) A group of kids discovers that a neighborhood house is actually a monster. To solve the mystery of the house they must go inside it before it takes everyone that crosses its path.
ParaNorman (PG) Norman must use his special powers to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer will soon find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.
Tweens and Young Teens
Beetlejuice (PG) After Barbara and Adam Maitland are killed in a car crash, they find themselves trapped as ghosts in their home. Their peaceful "existence" is disrupted when a yuppie family buys the house, but things go from bad to worse when the Maitlands call on Beetlejuice, a people-exorcizing ghost, for help. (We tried this movie when our sons were 7 and 9, and it was too scary for them.)
Coraline (PG) Coraline Jones is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door that leads her into a world that's just like her own — but better! But when this fantastical adventure turns dangerous, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness and bravery to get home.
Corpse Bride (PG) After messing up his wedding vows at the rehearsal, Victor recites them for practice as he is traveling through the woods. He finally gets them right and ceremoniously puts the wedding ring on a finger-shaped stick, which turns out to be a rotted finger of a murdered girl who appears as a zombie and insists that she is now Victor's wife.
Gremlins (PG) An inventor gives his son an odd little creature with three very specific instructions on how to care for it. The rules are inadvertently broken and the young man unleashes a horde of miniature monsters upon his town.
Harry Potter series (PG & PG-13) The story of the Boy Wizard and his fight against Lord Voldemort has potions, spells, magic, and creepy characters along with wonderful lessons about friendship, loyalty, and love.
Hocus Pocus (PG) Three witch sisters are resurrected on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to their reign of terror once and for all.
Poltergeist (PG) The classic tale about a family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and hold the youngest daughter captive, the family must come together to rescue her before she disappears forever. (The original is rated PG, but that was in the days before PG-13 existed, so parental discretion advised. The remake, which I've never seen, is rated PG-13.)
The Sixth Sense (PG-13) Eight-year-old Cole sees dead people and is terrified. It's up to his psychologist to help him. In the process, they both discover new things about themselves and each other.
Warm Bodies (PG-13) A Halloween version of Shakespeare's classic tale of star-crossed lovers, this movie is about a zombie named R who falls in love with Juliet, one of humanity's last surviving humans. It's campy and funny as heck.
Young Frankenstein (PG) A finely-tuned parody of the old Frankenstein movies, in which Gene Wilder's Dr. Frederick Frankenstein returns to the old country to clear his family name. Like most Mel Brooks movies, it is ripe with slapstick comedy, juvenile gags, and some sexual innuendos. (Would probably earn a PG-13 if it were re-rated by today's standards.)
Older Teens and Adults
Carrie (R) After merciless taunting from classmates and abuse at the hand of her mother, Carrie's anger — and her telekinetic powers — are unleashed. And when a prom prank goes horribly wrong, events spiral out of control until the terrifying conclusion of this powerful, pulse-quickening horror story. (The is also a 2013 remake.)
The Conjuring (R) Based on the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world-renowned paranormal investigators, who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their secluded farmhouse.
The Exorcist (R) Based on the novel about the last known Catholic-sanctioned exorcism in the US, performed on a young girl named Regan. Both the priest and the girl suffer numerous horrors in the process.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (R) Several teens are terrorized by Freddy Krueger, an evil being from another world who gets to his victims by entering their dreams.
The Others (PG-13) A woman with two photosensitive children lives in a dark and eerie mansion on the Channel Islands in Jersey, and after three mysterious servants arrive, she becomes convinced that the house is haunted.
Pan's Labyrinth (R) When Ofelia and her mother go to live with her new stepfather on a rural military outpost, she finds herself in a world of unimaginable cruelty. Soon Ofelia discovers that the creatures of her imagination have become a reality and she must engage in a terrifying battle to save both her mother and herself.
The Ring (PG-13) A disturbing video starts making its way through a small town and anyone who watches it gets a phone call predicting certain death in seven days. A group of teens scoffs at the legend ... until they all die seven days later. (This is the last really scary movie that I watched when my hubby and I were still newlyweds ... it freaked me out so much I might be done with scary movies forever!)
The Shining (R) Based on the Stephen King novel, directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Jack Nicholson, this is the story of a writer who goes mad with his wife and son at a snowbound Colorado hotel. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Zombieland (R) A cowardly shut-in teams up with a seasoned zombie slayer in order to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Along the way to find the Last Twinkie on Earth, they meet up with two others, and the foursome become partners in the battle against the undead. It's both scary and hilarious.
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