10 Spooky Movies the Whole Family Can Enjoy!
Halloween is seldom considered a time for a family movie night. The film franchises and genres most heavily associated with the holiday tend towards…adult audiences. Adult audiences who don’t mind copious amounts of organs being splashed around.
But if you do find yourself with a house full of rugrats needing some entertainment, here’s a couple of titles to consider. And because we like to challenge ourselves, we’re omitting animated films. Sorry Coraline fans.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY/THE ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
Let’s start with a popular double feature. The 90s remake of the classic TV show and comic series was surprisingly faithful to the dark, gothic nature of the original without losing any of the charm or humour. The focus is on the Addams, a family who delight in the darker aspects of life but are otherwise brimming with affection and love for their friends and family. Despite the outward appearance these films are packed with warmth and quotable lines from the pitch-perfect cast, especially the young Christina Ricci.
GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN
This is a rare entry into the list as it came in the last ten years. Last ten weeks, in actuality. We’re picking the newly released sequel because it builds an original story rather than relying on nostalgia for the books. Some of the monster designs are very clever, everything being based on classic Halloween costumes and decorations. Plus that gag about King stealing an idea from Stine was worth a chuckle.
Man, the 80s really gave us peak PG films. Nowadays it tends to be a kids film with some rude words and fart jokes in the mix. The rating used to give us stuff like Gremlins. What starts a fairly charming Christmas movie featuring an adorable puffball it takes a dark turn when the unusual Mogwais mutate in the mischievous and deadly Gremlins. The reptilian goblins wreck havoc in a small town, forcing family members to band together to destroy the menace before they spread further. Whilst packed with humour the creature are unrestrained in how much violence they cause.
RETURN TO OZ
This genuine, licensed, 100% official sequel to one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time is 100% nightmare fuel. Dorothy, played by a young Fairuza Baulk, is strapped in for some electroshock therapy to dislodge delusions of Oz out of her head before a storm hits and she is returned to the magical world. She finds the Emerald City is ruins and infested with our first night terror, the Wheelers.
Following this we have a horrendous living pumpkin, a queen who collects still-living heads for her own use, a severed moose head brought to life and called ‘The Gump’ and the stop-motion horror that is the Gnome King. The whole thing is bleak, odd and disturbed.
Roald Dahl books have sometimes drawn attention for their dark themes and imagery, especially given their young target audience. This 1990 film is a very close adaptation of one of his more twisted tales, the adventure of a young boy and his grandmother who stumble upon a meeting of witches. The ‘Grand High Witch’, Angelica Huston once again appearing on this list with a delightful appearance, is scheming to distribute a potion-laced chocolate to the world’s children so that they will be turned into mice and easily killed.
Yeah. If you think that’s nasty just wait until you see the witches reveal their true appearances. If you like your family fare with a dose of the macabre this might be your pick.
THE DARK CRYSTAL
It was a close call between this and Jim Henson’s other classic Labyrinth, but this wins out of scaring the jeebles out of most children. Henson and long time collaborator Frank Oz have crafted a unique fantasy world with completely original creatures. Partly due to the amazing puppetry on display, the villainous Skeksis are haunting to say the least.
BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS
Whilst the House of the Mouse is better known for animation in this day and age they have an impressive collection of big budget, live action cinematic releases under their belt. Their 1970 effort Bedknobs and Broomsticks is an unusual experience to say the least. We follow a group of children being evacuated from London during WWII, which is already horrifying, but they soon learn that their new carer is a witch. They embark on a colourful adventure on a flying bed and then…summon a ghost army to fight invading Nazis.
THE NEVERENDING STORY
Nonsensical title and funky theme song aside, this movie scared the life out of me and every other child who saw it upon release. After an opening featuring a boy being pushed by his father to get over his mother’s death and some weirdly committed bullies we are whisked off to the magical Fantasia to see a horse give up on life and allow himself to suffocate in a swamp, the depressed Rockbiter, that FUCKING WOLF HEAD IN THE ROCK (sorry, never quite dealt with that one) and finally The Nothing, a very essence of non-existance.
The Maitland’s enjoy an idyllic marriage up to and beyond the tragic accident in which they lose their lives. Now left haunting their house they are dismayed to find a dysfunctional family of yuppies moving in and turning their dream cottage into a modern-art disaster. Desperate and helpless they summon self-styled bio-exorcist and con-ghost Beetlejuice only to find themselves regretting opening their lives up to this character. The movie has some surprisingly freaking visuals, but Burton’s cartoony style and Keaton’s show stopping performance make it accessible to a range of ages.
Finally we have the all-time greatest fusion of scares and gags adults will enjoy with characters and a concept that children will love. A group of scientists run out of funding for their paranormal investigations and, in a true capitalist fashion, they monetise their venture by becoming ‘Ghostbusters’, charging people to come out a catch the spooks making their lives miserable. It’s cool, it’s hilarious, it’s packed to the brim with character and some classic effects work…it’s the complete package.