Geeky Parent Guide: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Halloween Movies for Kids

Halloween is an exciting time for families. Kids and their parents get to decide what kind of costume they want to wear, to think about all of the candy they’re going to eat, and to enjoy some spooky tales on the TV. Even if a parent doesn’t want to dress up for Halloween, it’s an exciting time to let our kids choose whatever character they want to be. As a parent of two (currently 5 and soon-to-be-7), my wife and I have seen our kids dress up as Pete the Cat, a dinosaur, Miraculous Ladybug, a multi-colored, polka-dotted cat, a skeleton, and several others. As a parent, it’s one of the easiest opportunities to let your kids have some form of independence. Plus, giving kids the freedom to wear them again in the future, even if it’s not Halloween, allows them to extend the fun feelings they have when dressed up in character.


Now, when it comes to trick-or-treating, it’s not always easy to explain how going to a stranger’s home and asking for candy makes any sense. This is exceedingly difficult when one of the earliest things we address with our kids is “Do not talk to strangers” and “Do not accept candy from strangers.” So, to somewhat recognize this tricky dichotomy, my wife and I started a simple tradition that has branched out over the years. Initially, we took our kids to my wife’s parents’ neighborhood to visit lifelong friends. Even though our kids were very young, it made it much easier on us when our youngsters’ first response when seeing a door open was to then walk inside.

As our kids have gotten older, we’ve kept a somewhat similar approach, but we’ve gone in groups with friends in our neighborhood. In some way, someone always seems to know someone and the entire experience usually involves someone in the group saying “hi” to friends as we walked up to their house. This type of neighborhood trick-or-treat also allows our kids to have the added bonus of spending time with friends, while also cheering every single time candy gets placed into their buckets.

Another safety precaution we apply to our kids’ bounty of candy is a safety inspection. We simply go through each piece of candy to see if there are any open pieces, punctured wrappers, or if there’s anything we see that we want to eat. (The last one was a joke… maybe.)


Now, when it comes to adventuring into movies, it’s not always easy to recognize what’s spooky and what’s downright scary. So, let’s take a look at some appropriate movies for kids (the good), movies to stay away from until a little older (the bad), and ones your (pre) teens will probably want to watch (the ugly). Since our kids are in the 5-to-7 range, these movies and my responses will be focused on this age group.

The Good: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

This classic cartoon is a must have for all-ages. The Peanuts crew is always welcome on our TV, because the lighthearted humor and easy to point out “that’s not nice” behavior (I’m looking at you, Lucy.), is a great way to have a fun family movie night.

The Bad: Coraline (2009)

Now, unfortunately, it was my mistake to let my kids begin to watch this movie – and they did not finish it. I believe the buttoned-eyes really present a scary appearance that my kids did not appreciate, as well as some vivid nightmarish sequences that led to our kids own nightmares. I recommend an older age before letting your kid watch this.

The Ugly: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead is a flesh-eating classic. This film is a great look into the horror genre, where teens can compare and contrast against a newer age of films, such as Dawn of the Dead, Train to Busan, and comedic horrors like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. This is not meant for kids.

The Good: LEGO Scooby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood (2016)

This is the animated film my kids love, and it was their gateway into the Scooby-Doo franchise. LEGO movies are a great way for kids to be introduced to action sequences or scary characters, so this is an easy choice for families looking for a little haunting during their Halloween.

The Bad: Beetlejuice (1988)

I loved this movie as a kid, and I can’t wait for my own kids to watch it; however, with semi-frequent nightmares in our home, I’m waiting until they’re a little older to introduce them to some fairly creepy elements. I was eight when I first saw this film, so they’re not too far behind.

The Ugly: Tremors (1990)

I re-watched this film over and over, but it’s safe to say the violence and scary sequences will lead parents to letting their teens watch it. Tremors is an action, comedy, and horror film all wrapped into one, with Kevin Bacon as the lead. So, if your kids are mature enough to handle underground creatures that can grab you and pull you underneath, then this movie is definitely entertaining.

The Good: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This film not only presents a seemingly limitless number of characters to want to dress up as for Halloween, but it absolutely captures the imagination. Despite the flying monkeys and the scary, green wicked witch, my kids adore this film and the lovable characters. This movie might be the ultimate definition of the overall package for a kid’s movie. There are amazing scenes, filled with lessons for kids to learn along the way.

The Bad: The Witches (1990)

I love the Roald Dahl book, The Witches, and it’s probably the best way to introduce this story to your kids. I also enjoy the film adaptation, but I will say the moment when Anjelica Huston (as the Grand High Witch) and her coven remove their skins to show their true selves – I think it’s a tad too much for my kids who find Scooby-Doo a little creepy.

The Ugly: The Dark Crystal (1982)

I watched this film a year or so ago, for the first time since the '80s, and my reaction was a surprise. I thought, “How did I watch this movie at such a young age?” It was the first time I truly thought, “There is no way I’m letting my kids watch this movie.” It’s not that I dislike the film, but I watched it to assess if it would be appropriate for my kids age at the time. With that mindset going in, and creepy creatures draining the life force from others, it’s an easy pass until my kids are older. With the new series on Netflix, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, it might be a perfect opportunity for your older kids to dive into the original.


Whatever your traditions are, I hope you and your family have a fun and safe Halloween. This holiday is a perfect opportunity for kids to be kids, becoming fully immersed in fun characters, exploring for candy, and seeing all of the amazing decorations. Share with us your favorite costumes or movies you and your kids love to watch. Plus, don’t forget to head over to Facebook and Twitter to share with all of your friends.

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.

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