Putting the Happy Back in Happy Halloween!
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When I think of Halloween, I embrace the true “children’s” Halloween versus the “horror” Halloween. Halloween is a time for carving pumpkins, parties, dressing up in costumes, and Trick or Treating. Therefore, I am dedicating this post to Halloween (oriented) movies and TV shows that families can watch together. You know your children best. Some children may be able to handle these programs before the age range, and some may need to wait longer because of a variety of reasons. I am primarily writing about potential scary situations in a movie, but there might be other factors that raise the age appropriateness number.
Common Sense Media ® has a wonderful post that I will share in my Twitter and Facebook posts about age appropriateness of the different movies children watch at Halloween time.
If you plan to show any of these at school, make sure parents are aware. Some religions and belief systems forbid anything Halloween. Many times, schools will have an alternative program in place for this occasion. When I taught, we had a Halloween Parade and Witch Switch Day. There was a classroom where students were involved in non-Halloween related activities.
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So, break out the popcorn, kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy the show.
1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (cartoon) Rated: NR-Not Rated, Ages: 4+
(Scares: Ghost & skeleton scene)
This classic Halloween cartoon special used to come on TV every year when I was a child, and it signaled the Halloween was fast approaching. It is still my favorite Halloween movie.
While almost the rest of the Peanuts gang goes out Trick or Treating, Linus convinces Sally to join him in the pumpkin patch as he eagerly awaits the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. Snoopy’s alter ego, the flying ace war hero, also makes an appearance.
2. Monsters’ Inc. (Animated) Rated: G-General Audience, Ages: 6+ (Potential Scares: Anytime monsters are trying to scare children, When a monster straps down a little girl to try and steal her screams
This is an adorable and funny movie. The monsters are created to appear humorous rather than frightening in this film. There is plenty of music in this movie.
In this movie, it is literally the monsters’ full-time job to scare children and harness their screams to make energy for their factory. The irony is that the monsters are more afraid of the kids than children are of the monsters in many cases.
Award(s) & Recognitions: Nominated for many Academy Awards, Won for Best Original Song, & Was #1 at the Box Office
3. Beauty & The Beast (Cartoon Version) – Rated: G-General Audience, Ages: 6+(Potential Scares: The way the Beast is illustrated at times combined with sinister music, Dungeon scene, Wolves attacking, Mob scenes, Fight between Gaston & the Beast, and the outcome)
This is one of my all-time favorite movies! The soundtrack is amazing and entertaining!
Belle lives with her corky inventor father in a small village. She loves to read and wants adventure beyond the town’s borders.
One day, her father heads out to a fair, but only his horse comes back home. Frantic, Belle searches for her father in the deep dark unknown forest. Her horse leads her to the castle where her father is being held by a Beast. Belle brokers an arrangement where she will stay at the castle, and her father will be set free.
Will Belle ever see her father again?
This movie is a feast for the eyes! The animation was masterfully created!
Award(s) & Recognition(s): Won 2 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globes, 5 Grammy Awards, & Los Angeles Film Critic Association “Best Animated Film” & Nominated for several other awards
4. Hotel Transylvania 1, 2, & 3(Animated) Rated: PG-Parental Guidance, Ages: 7+
(Potential Scares: Scene where Dracula’s wife dies, Mob scene, Facial expression of Dracula when he is angry (HT 1 only)
Although many people liked the first one better, I enjoyed both equally as much! These are the quintessential hilarious Halloween movies. You’ve got it all with the major movie monsters (Dracula, werewolves, mummy, Frankenstein, the invisible man…) a spooky forest and hotel.
Hotel Transylvania is where monsters go to take a luxury vacation. Until one day, the scariest monster of all intrudes on the holiday, gasp, a human.
The sequel picks up where the first movie stops.
Award(s) & Recognition(s): HT 1-Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, also for a number of Annie Awards, & 2 Awards from the Visual Effects Society, and it won Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie (Adam Sandler as Dracula) in the Kids Choice Awards
HT2: Won a Kids Choice Award, People’s Choice Award, & Teen Choice Award & Also nominated for An Annie Award, A British Academy Children’s Award, a Kids Choice Award, People’s Choice Award, Teen Choice Award, & Visual Effects Society Award
5. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Live-Action Musical) Rated: G- General Audience, Ages:7+ (Potential Scares: Spy that follows Charlie, When the children get “excluded”, Going through the tunnel)
Must see classic childhood movie! Some people want to categorize this as a Christmas movie, but I see it as a Halloween movie (candy, magic, clown-like characters).
Charlie and his family are poverty-stricken, but they find comfort in having each other’s love.
One day, Willie Wonka announces that he will have a competition for 5 children to come to his chocolate factory. If they find a golden ticket in their chocolate bars, they will win a visit to a behind the scenes visit to Wonka’s candy factory. Fortunately, Charlie finds one of the tickets, so he decides to take his grandpa as a chaperone.
Wonka’s factory is filled with many magical and stunning temptations! What is Wonka’s ultimate plan? Find out with this entertaining movie.
Side Note: In real life, I watch “The Little Couple” on TV, and William Klein mentions that people that are very short in stature prefer to be called little people, and it is offensive to call them Oompa-Loompas, munchkins, or dwarfs.
Awards & Recognition(s): Nominated for an Academy Award & a Golden Globe Award
6. The Wizard of Oz (Live –Action Musical) Rated: G-General Audience, Ages: 8+
(Potential Scares: Any scenes with Flying Monkeys, Wicked Witch & her sister, House falling on the witch, The Wizard, Tornado)
Another must-see classic childhood movie. The musical begins in Kansas in black and white where Dorothy is on her Aunt Em’s and Uncle Henry’s farm with her dog Toto. The farmhouse is lifted and moved during a tornado.
When Dorothy exits the house, she realizes she is not in Kansas anymore. At this point, Dorothy has been transported to the Land of Oz, and the movie turns to color. The residents of the Land of Oz celebrate the fact that Dorothy accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East. Glinda, the Good Witch, transfers the Wicked Witch of the East’s ruby slippers to Dorothy. This triggers the Wicked Witch of the West to seek revenge on Dorothy for killing her sister and get her sister’s slippers back.
On Dorothy’s quest to see the Wizard and get back home, she befriends a scarecrow, the Tin Man, and a lion who are all in search of missing pieces of themselves from the Wizard in Emerald City. This treacherous journey is fraught with evil plots concocted by the Wicked Witch of the West.
Side Note: In real life, I watch “The Little Couple” on TV, and William Klein mentions that people that are very short in stature prefer to be called little people, and it is offensive to call them munchkins or dwarfs.
Awards & Recognition(s): Won 2 Academy Awards for music & Nominated for numerous Academy Awards
7. Shrek (Animated) Rated: PG- Parental Guidance, Ages: 8+
(Scare Potential: fights with guards, villagers after Shrek with pitchforks, torture of the Gingerbread Man, and a fire-breathing dragon, A bird explodes, and a character is eaten by the dragon) Plenty of bathroom humor
Shrek is a green ogre who values his privacy in the swamp. Out of the blue, a large number of fairy tale characters encroach on his swamp. Shrek is disgruntled that his peace and quiet has been disrupted. He soon discovers that the fairy tale characters were exiled to the swamp by a tyrant ruler.
Shrek decides to seek out the dictator, and request that the fairy tale crew be exiled to a different location, so he can return to his solitude. On his journey to seek out the ruler, he befriends a talking Donkey. Shrek and Donkey are the bumbling heroes when they save Fiona, but Fiona has a well-guarded secret.
This movie is filled with hijinks, slapstick, and bathroom humor! If you enjoy this kind of humor, you will have a “knee-slapping” good time! This movie can be summed up in one word “fun(ny)”!
Awards & Recognition(s): Won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, 1 Annie Award, Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Animated Feature, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe, & Saturn Award
8. Beauty & The Beast(Live Action Version) Rated: PG-Parental Guidance, Ages 10+
(Potential Scares: Not a cartoon, The Enchantress crashing the party & the curse, the Beast, Dungeon scene, Wolves attacking, How Belle’s mother passes away, The background story of the Prince, Mob scenes, Fight between Gaston & the Beast, and the outcome)
This is another one of my all-time favorite movies! The soundtrack is inspiring and captivating! I am thrilled that they added several new songs, and I especially enjoy the song the Beast sang! I felt that song (the Beast’s voice) was missing from the first (cartoon) version.
Disney is the master of special effects and stays true to the animated story. However, this movie also covers the sorrowful backstory of the characters, and therefore, this might be more appealing to tweens, teens, and adults. I appreciate that they modernized the character of Lafou and gave him a backbone and personality.
The casting team did a magnificent job of casting Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Belle! Don’t worry. You forget that she was Hermione about 10 minutes into the movie. Watson is actually singing in the movie. Outside of acting, she is a strong voice for women around the world.
Awards & Recognition(s): Highest Grossing Live-Action Musical Film, Won 2 MTV Movie & TV Awards, 4 Teen Choice Awards, & Nominated for several other awards
9. The Harry Potter Series: Rated: PG-Parental Guidance (1st one) & all the rest were PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned some material might be inappropriate for children under 13, Ages: 10+ (add 1 year for each sequel ) It gets darker in each movie. The 2 part Deathly Hallows I would count as 1 movie when considering age. (Potential Scares: Ogre attack, Ghosts, Filch is creepy, Professor Snape can be creepy to some (he is my favorite character), goblins at Gringotts, 3 headed dog, Chess game, Possession & end…)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I thought the theme of witches, wizards, mystical creatures, giants, etc. is perfect for Halloween! The plot, casting, and visual effects are spectacular! Harry is an orphan, and his cantankerous aunt and uncle have taken him in, but treat him poorly. Subsequently, on the cusp of Harry’s tenth birthday magical letters start invading the house all addressed to Harry.
Shortly thereafter, Hagrid whisks Harry away to a private island where he starts to learn about his witch and wizard father. Eventually, Hagrid and Harry travel to Diagon Alley where they purchase supplies for Harry’s wizarding schooling.
There are whispers in the wind when Harry arrives at Hogwarts (wizarding school), that he is the “Chosen One,” but he does not understand what that means. Along the way, Harry befriends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, two other students that have been sorted into his Gryffindor House.
Harry works together with Hermione and Ronald as a team to try and discover the secrets that haunt him in a place things are not as they appear.
Awards & Recognition(s): The Harry Potter movies have won numerous awards and broken Box Office Records.
10. Ghostbusters Movie(Original Live –Action)
Rated: PG-Parental Guidance, Ages: 13+ (Potential Scares: Any of the ghosts, Zuul- the demonic spirit, The possession, The last giant monster/ghost * Racy sexual suggestive at a few points in the movie & smoking by some of the characters
I have not seen the remake of this film, so I will just review the original. This movie is a hilarious classic! I have seen bits and pieces of this so many times that I have memorized some of the lines.
Bill Murry, Dan Aykroyd , Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver head up the cast. I am not sure how this generation will respond to the special effects. (This goes for some of my other movie selections as well.)
A group of men form a business called Ghostbusters to remove spirits from homes and businesses throughout the city. One day, there is a sudden surge in spirit activity, and mischievous apparitions pop up all over the city. It turns out; the evil spirts want ghosts to take over the world. It is up to the Ghostbusters before it is too late.
Awards & Recognition(s): Nominated for 2 Oscars for original song and visual effects
Get in Character- Watch movies/TV shows that will reflect what you are wearing- Please be aware of content and ratings.
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