Spooky Not Scary: Family Movie Night


Spooky Not Scary: Family Movie Night

Isn’t it funny how many of our beloved memories are tied to a song or movie? I spent many a happy evening curled up on the couch with my family, eating popcorn and watching The Sandlot, Homeward Bound, and The Princess Bride, among other cinema classics. Family Movie Night has naturally become a favorite pastime for my family now that I’m an adult, but Halloween brings its own special challenges to the table. 

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a big scaredy-cat. But with three- and five-year-old kids, it can be hard to find fun fall and Halloween themed movies that won’t give them (and, let’s be honest, me) nightmares. Every kid is different, so use your judgment for your specific kids to know which of these is appropriate for them.

There are some spoilers ahead mentioning possible scary moments. I’ve included streaming availability where applicable:

  • Mickey’s Monster Musical: This Mickey Mouse Clubhouse TV special is a one-hour extravaganza with a fun twist for parents. With a quirky storyline a la the opening of Rocky Horror Picture Show, this cute musical is sure to get your little ones in the mood for the Monster Mash! Available in the DisneyNOW app.
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: This special may only be 20 minutes long, but it’s a classic. Not scary. Also, the Peanuts gang members are kind of terrible role models. My three-year-old kept calling Lucy a bully, and he’s not wrong. Available on the ABC app.
  • Halloweentown and sequels: Although I’ve only seen the first Halloweentown Disney Channel Original Movie, it was mostly tame. The monsters and witches are fairly docile, but the villain is rather frightening to look at. The mother and grandmother characters also become incapacitated, but are fine at film’s end. Available in the DisneyNOW app.
  • Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble: Granted, I haven’t seen this since I was a kid myself. But it has Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, so surely it can’t be too frightening? Available on Hulu.
  • Invisible Sister: This sweet movie about sisters involves a science experiment gone wrong and two squabbling sisters having to work together. Available in the DisneyNOW app.
  • Casper: This friendly ghost’s live actor was definitely a childhood crush of mine, and I loved Christina Ricci before she was only in movies that scared me. Things to be aware of include the ghost pranks on humans, including turning one man’s head backwards, and a bit of talk about parent death (and an actual parent death, but it is ultimately reversed). Available on Starz, Amazon Prime with Starz subscription.
  • Twitches/Twitches sequel: Tia and Tamara Mowry star in this fun movie that I remember loving in middle school. Available in the DisneyNOW app.
  • Hocus Pocus: This is one of my favorites, but I know my kids aren’t ready for it. Beyond me not being prepared to answer questions pertaining to the word ‘virgin,’ there is a child’s death, a hanging, lots of talk of drinking children’s souls, and a little sister in jeopardy as a trio of witches actively hunts down a trio of kids. Available on Freeform.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: This works for both Christmas and Halloween, depending on how deep your Jack Skellington love runs. Available on Hulu, Freeform.
  • Ghostbusters: Great song. Questionable adult behavior. Your call. 1984 available in Amazon Prime streaming. 2016 available FXNow, Fox Now. 
  • Coraline: This PG movie does have some frightening scenes, especially if you aren’t fond of spiders. A main plot point includes missing parents that must be rescued, and their imposters require defeating. Available on Netflix.
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: This Disney animated adaptation of the headless horseman tale shows both the real person pranking poor Mr. Ichabod and how Ichabod perceives it, which makes it potentially frightening for younger viewers (or me, who only watches it in daylight, because #scaredycat). Available on iTunes.
  • Monster’s Inc: So it isn’t technically Halloween, but it’s still monsters! Working together to save the world — theirs and ours. Available on iTunes.
  • There are many, many more Halloween themed Disney Channel Original Movies on their app. Check out some of your childhood memories there!

Bonus: For a sweet and salty movie snack, mix candy corn in with your popcorn. Yum!

If Halloween isn’t your thing, there are plenty of fall movies too!

  • Brave: The music and the setting are a bit fall-y, to me at least.
  • Homeward Bound: If you’ve got a pet lover, proceed with caution. My pet fanatic lost it not at the ‘no this can’t happen that’s too heartbreaking please don’t let it be’ moment, but at the ‘we’re going on vacation and leaving you with a friend’ moment. True story. But it’s a great story about doing the right thing, and there are some hilarious cat versus dog rivalry jokes along the way.
  • Beauty and the Beast: It’s fall when Belle sets off to find Maurice and do we really need additional reasons to sing Be Our Guest?
  • Winnie the Pooh (2011 or other): The Hundred Acre wood is perpetually between summer and fall, with blustery days fluttering fall leaves around. It’s a lovely place to spend a day.
  • Coco: The marigold leaves. The potential for discussion on other cultures. The importance of family. And the message that there’s always a third option. Plus, that song. Remember me…

What are your favorite fall and Halloween movies?

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Christine Derr
Hey, y’all! I’m an adventurous wanderer who put down roots here in East Tennessee back in 2014. My little family moved here from the wilds of suburban Alaska in 2014. We love exploring Knoxville and the surrounding areas, especially the Smoky Mountains. I’m a freelance writer and teacher who loves looking at the mountains when my nose isn’t in a book. I’m a mom to two bookish kids, a wildly clingy dog, two cats, and a fish I’d be in trouble for not mentioning. Since becoming a mom, I’ve been able to add Lincoln Log architect, LEGO contractor, and mediator to my resume. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, as I’ve been a tutor, teacher, circus instructor, bookseller, amateur baker and, of course, writer. I remind myself of this as I tell my kid not to sit on my other kid’s head while stopping the dog from chasing the cat and the other cat from jumping on top of the fish tank. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and am currently pursing my Master of Fine Arts while keeping all these creatures who live in my house alive. I survive on coffee, writing fiction, reading, Disney, and snuggles. You can read more of my work at www.pawprintsinthesink.com.


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