Horror logo

Next Stop, the Twilight Zone! 13 Horror Movie Gems for a Child-Friendly Halloween

Whether you are a parent or a babysitter, this list can introduce kids to nostalgic stories that they're sure to enjoy.

By Karina ThyraPublished 6 years ago 6 min read
[Credit. Warner Bros.]

Halloween is neigh. Cue the pumpkins, candy, good ol’ horror classics and Disney’s roster of family-friendly Halloween movies, because nothing can beat a good fright on Halloween night.

A lot of horror movies came out this year, but It has emerged as a fan favorite. While It had young protagonists, one wouldn’t exactly consider the film a child-friendly fare. Whether you are a parent or a babysitter and don’t want to sit through Hocus Pocus or Casper yet again, this list can introduce kids to nostalgic stories that they're sure to enjoy.

  • Release Date: 1986
  • Director: Frank Oz
  • Who's in it: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin,
  • IMDB score: 6.9/10

If you’re looking for a movie that has all the necessary elements, such as monsters, an unlikely hero and awesome musical numbers, look no further than Little Shop of Horrors. At a glance, the movie can be considered a comedy with a cast that consists of Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, James Belushi, and Bill Murray. However, the horror starts when a talking Venus Flytrap starts eating humans and becomes hellbent on taking over the world.

  • Release Date: 1984
  • Director: Joe Dante
  • Who's in it: Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, Howie Mandel
  • IMDB score: 7.2/10

This movie is a personal favorite of mine. I couldn’t stop watching the entire series as a child, even though the gore may seem a little too much for some children. This movie serves as a precautionary tale to follow instructions down to a tee – especially when it comes to having pets. Imagine the shock today’s youth will have when that cute little gremlin spawns hellish creatures!

  • Release Date: 1990
  • Adapted from: The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • Director: Nicolas Roeg
  • Who's in it: Anjelica Houston, Mai Zetterling, Stanley Myers
  • IMDB score: 6.8/10

If the Sanderson Sisters’ plan to abduct and eat children isn’t scary enough for you, then it’s time to step up the game by watching The Witches.

In this movie, witches have all sorts of creative ways to commit genocide against children – because children apparently smell horrible to witches – by turning them into mice. In her role as the Grand High Witch, Anjelica Houston may scar a faint-hearted kid for life, so make sure you only show this to children who can handle Roald Dahl's themes of horror.

  • Release Date: 1986
  • Adapted from: The Body by Stephen King
  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Who's in it: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland
  • IMDB score: 8.1/10

Stand By Me is not your typical Halloween movie, but with Stephen King's influence, every story is appropriate for Halloween. The movie focuses on four boys trying to find a dead body to become heroes and have their face all over the news. This coming-of-age film may need adult supervision (foul language, underage smoking, and some violence) but will induce emotions of delight and disgust all at the same time. The ending will also leave you simmering in your own thoughts long after the credits roll, which makes Stand By Me all the more worthwhile.

  • Release Date: 1988
  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Who's in it: Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin
  • IMDB score: 7.5/10

Beetlejuice is a dark comedy that can give a genuine scare. When the Maitland couple unfortunately die from a car accident, they discover that the afterlife is run by bureaucrats. So, before moving on, they have to live in their house for 125 years.

However, when the Deetz family with their gothic teenage daughter Lydia move in and tastelessly transform the house, the Maitlands do everything in their power to wreak havoc to the new family. In the process, they even summon a ghoul called Betelgeuse, a freelancing “bio-exorcist” to help get rid of the Deetz family. But unlike other movies where ghosts couldn’t cohabit peacefully until the very end, this one had a great ending for everyone.

  • Release Date: 1990
  • Director: Tim Burton
  • Who's in it: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne West
  • IMDB score: 7.9/10

Tim Burton is the poster boy for creating creepy characters packed with a lot of heart. In Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp, and Winona Ryder proved that love isn't all about appearances and first impressions – and is a must-watch Tim Burton classic.

  • Release Date: 1987
  • Director: Fred Dekker
  • Who's in it: Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Duncan Regehr
  • IMDB score: 7.1/10

We are all too familiar with the stories of Count Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy, and the creature from the black lagoon. Hotel Transylvania even showed us what these movie monsters would be like if they were all retired and have their own families. But in this ‘80s movie, the team were far from having midlife crises, and instead look to wreak havoc and rule the world. The only thing that can stop these monsters is a group of preteen movie monster geeks!

  • Release Date: 1983
  • Adapted from: The Twilight Zone TV series by Rod Serling
  • Director: Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller
  • Who's in it: Vic Morrow, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow
  • IMDB score: 6.5/10

Twilight Zone: The Movie was adapted from Rod Serling’s TV series of the same name, featuring three remakes of classic episodes and an original story. The Twilight Zone tackles issues such as prejudice, racism and war, which are all masked behind a rich storytelling of science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal.

Even if one hasn’t seen the original TV series, the film adaptation of Rod Serling’s brainchild will not only inspire children to learn more about science, history, and other fascinating subjects, but the life lessons packed in each of the stories will also make them want to be decent human beings when they grow up – unless they want to be transported into the Twilight Zone!

  • Release Date: 1990
  • Adapted from: Tales from The Darkside TV Series by George A. Romero
  • Director: John Harrison
  • Who's in it: Christian Slater, Deborah Harry, David Johansen
  • IMDB score: 6.2/10

Tales from The Darkside is based on the TV anthology series of the same name. It’s stories within a story – told by a paperboy – as a way to stall a suburban witch from cooking and eating him. All three of his stories were from the book called Tales From the Dark Side and none of them had happy endings.

  • Release Date: 1989
  • Adapted from: Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  • Director: Mary Lambert
  • Who's in it: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby
  • IMDB score: 6.6/10

Pet Sematary is one of the best adaptations of King’s work and was a rare case when the movie is slightly better than the book. It’s a story that explores a person’s desire to reclaim life, and what happens when you don't let the dead rest in peace.

  • Release Date: 1983
  • Adapted from: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  • Director: Jack Clayton
  • Who's in it: Jonathan Pryce, Jason Robards, Vidal Peterson, Shawn Carson
  • IMDB score: 6.8/10

Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade visit a mysterious traveling carnival. The very name of the traveling show, Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival, didn’t raise necessary red flags for the two leads and they almost lose their immortal souls for it.

  • Release Date: 1982
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Who's in it: Heather O'Rourke, Dominique Dunne, JoBeth Williams
  • IMDB score: 7.4/10

When you watch Poltergeist as an adult, it isn't all that scary. Sure, there’s some jump scares here and there, but nothing that will truly haunt you. Poltergeist is more like an exciting family adventure than a horror movie, but skeletons, angry spirits, and getting yanked into a creepy dimension make it one of the scariest horror movies out there for kids.

  • Release Date: 1978
  • Adapted from: Magic by William Goldman
  • Director: Richard Attenborough
  • Who's in it: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret
  • IMDB score: 6.8/10

What if a ventriloquist dummy suddenly comes alive? You can expect that no matter what, it's not going to be pleasant. Magic is perhaps the scariest movie on this list, and might even be scarier than Annabelle or The Boy, both of which have creepy figurines and are intended for adults.

Movies become timeless because of two things, relevance to the audience at a particular time and their effects on the audience's psyche. Regardless of how cheesy some of these movies may seem for modern audiences, a lot of these stories have earned a cult following over time – and absolutely deserve it.

Have you seen any of these movies?

movie review

About the Creator

Karina Thyra

Fangirl of sorts.

Twitter: @ArianaGsparks

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.