Grown-ups love being scared by slashers and psychological thrillers that mess with our minds. Kids generally don’t. If you’re stuck baby-sitting a younger child on Halloween, sometimes it can be tempting to think, “Child’s Play has a kid in it; they’ll be fine.” Instead of traumatizing children for life, however, these Halloween movies are a little more kid friendly, and just pretty darn entertaining.
I loved Hocus Pocus when I was a kid, and to this day it’s the movie I reference Sarah Jessica Parker and Thora Birch as being from. The movie is about three witches brought back to life by a fifteen-year-old virgin who decide to consume the souls of all the children in town, and it’s up to three children and a zombie cat to stop them. This is a pretty scary kid movie. It’s only rated PG, but that doesn’t make the danger any less real. The movie starts with the witches killing a little girl. Not just making it look like they’re killing her, but they actually kill her. That sets the pace for the whole movie, making us believe that our child heroes are in real danger.
Hocus Pocus is pretty racy for a Disney film, though. Let’s ignore the part where the brother-sister team of Gary Marshall and Penny Marshall have a cameo appearance as a married couple, which is pretty disturbing. Max, the virgin who accidentally brought the witches back to life, is constantly teased throughout the movie for being a virgin. He’s only fifteen. Even the zombie cat gets a crack in, and he was only a teenager when the witches cursed him. This actually makes it a little fun for older audiences to watch, too.
Ernest Scared Stupid
When I was a kid, the movie Ernest Scared Stupid scared me stupid. Our favorite bumbling hero Ernest P. Worrell awakens an evil troll in this installment of his popular franchise. The troll goes around and starts turning kids into wood as part of an evil scheme. It’s up to Ernest to stop the troll and save the kids. That was the part that scared me as a kid. Ernest always meant well, and yes, inevitably he would win, but it was up to him to save children from certain death by a supernatural troll? I felt that not just the kids in the movie were screwed, but all kids everywhere.
Ernest Scared Stupid is only rated PG and it’s really one of the better Ernest films. As long as the older audience members are familiar with the fine work of Jim Varney, it can be an entertaining experience for them as well.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
For some, The Nightmare Before Christmas being a Halloween movie is up for debate, but either way, it’s still scary fun for kids. Jack Skellington has become bored with Halloween, and upon discovering Christmas decides that he wants to be Santa Claus. Of course, knowing nothing but the life of Halloween, his well-intentioned plans go horribly wrong. There are parts of the movie that still stick with me, such as any scene with Oogie Boogie. The Nightmare Before Christmas has the benefit of being creepy and heartwarming all at once.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is only rated PG, and is a holiday classic that is enjoyed by people of all ages. It also sums up this time of year – once Halloween is over, it’s time to start getting ready for Christmas.
Grown-ups like being scared in ways different than children do. If you get stuck watching a kid on Halloween, it can be tempting to introduce them to their first adult horror movie no matter how bad that seems. However, these kid-friendly movies can be scary for kids and entertaining for older audiences as well.
“Hocus Pocus.” IMDB
“Ernest Scared Stupid.” IMDB
“The Nightmare Before Christmas.” IMDB
Emmaleigh R. Hall, “The Nightmare Before Christmas: Halloween or Christmas Classic?” Associated Content