5 Family Friendly Horror Movies

Kenny D October 30, 2012 2
5 Family Friendly Horror Movies

It’s time to mix things up. This entire month I have kept the lists pretty dark. For evidence of that, look no further than last weeks blood-soaked, limb-removing Foreign horror list. So what is the opposite of crazy French butchers and Spaniard rabid zombies? How about scary movies that you can watch with your kids. To preface this list, let’s not get carried away and think that I’m condoning watching any horror flick with your 3 year old. Their world should start and stop with Thomas & Friends. The following films can be watched with your kids ages 10 and up. I think I watched most of these when I was around 8…and that may explain a lot about me. So take it easy this Halloween, cook up some popcorn, and sit back with your family as you watch these mostly kid-friendly horror recommendations.

5 – Something Wicked this Way Comes
carnival, freak show, circus movie, wicked, scary kids movie, family friendly horror
Nothing menacing about midget clowns…or SlenderMan in the background…

I remember my older sister making me watch this on TV late on Saturday night when I was around 9. I instantly connected with the 2 boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. But that connection turned into dread as these boys couldn’t seem to tear themselves away from the unusual carnival that just rolled into town. Jonathan Pryce is classic as the illustrated man, Mr Dark. I just remember being terrified that there was a carousel that can age or give youth to anyone who chooses to make a deal with Mr Dark. And the worst thing is, the adults were willing to give up all for youth and full restoration. I cannot unhear “Dark and Nightshade” every time I see that the circus is in town. Thank you Something Wicked this Way Comes for ruining carnivals for me.

4 – Watcher in the Woods
watcher in woods, family horror, kid friendly horror, disney horror, disney
Did You Know? – No funhouse has ever been Fun? Evil maybe. Fun? No.

This is the kind of movie that I wish Disney still made. Yes, this movie is very dated but anyone who saw it in their youth will never be able to forget it. The anagram “nerak” may be the vanilla version of “redrum” but still provides chills and nostalgia for this 1980 movie. Between this movie and Burnt Offerings, I’ve noticed Bette Davis took on some weird horror flicks near the end of her career, and I want to see what other scary movies she was in around that time. This movie is a prime example of the “moving into a new house” situation. This family with 2 daughters are immediately victims of some spooky stuff, the most notable is that their oldest daughter is a dead ringer for a girl that disappeared 30 years earlier. Your daughters will especially be creeped out with this one.

3 – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
sleepy hollow, headless horseman, ichabod crane, pumpkinhead, pumpkin, scary disney
The first psychological thriller I ever saw

Another Disney movie, but this is the only animated short on the list. I saw this one at a very early age and I still have questions about it. It’s a pretty simple story of Ichabod Crane coming to a new town as the new schoolteacher. And right as his romantic life is going well, Brom Bones scares him to death with the story of the Headless Horseman. That’s creepy enough, but the movie actually crosses the line as the weak protagonist is hunted and chased by the Horseman. And just as the movie is about to give you hope and Ichabod is about to cross the bridge to safety, the Horseman throws his flaming pumpkin. End scene. My young mind knew he was dead, but didn’t want to believe it. The movie goes one step further to tease us in what could have happened and that Ichabod could be happy elsewhere with a family of his own, but we all know that’s not the case. Have your kids watch this and they may not want to stay out past dark for a while.

2 – Gremlins
gizmo, spike, furby, 80's movies, kid friendly horror, family horror
“I watch you sleep…”

Sorry to get controversial on you. In fact, these next 2 choices prominently show Christmas, but that doesn’t take away from the horror. This is the movie that you will have to make a judgment call on when you show it to your kids. I think at the age of 10, they are ready. I would say they should be ready for a little death, but who am I kidding, your kids have probably seen The Avengers 19 times. This movie sucks you in as you are introduced to the most adorable furby ever, Gizmo. But with the cuteness, comes severe warnings. Don’t feed them after midnight, don’t get them wet, and don’t let them near bright light. Those kind of sound like rules for taking care of a son who plays too much World of Warcraft. This is a must see for my kids when they are of age. Just make sure to watch your kids’ faces as they hear the warning of not investigating any strange sound in the house at night… “Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

1 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
jack skellington, nightmare before xmas, pumpkin king, tim burton, kid scary, family horror
Don’t commit Jack. She has major issues…

Another semi-Christmas themed movie, but how could I not include it? I know that this movie has been ruined by Hot Topic hipsters everywhere, but forget that for a while and sit back with your kids and enjoy the music and holiday fun. This movie won’t scare your kids, and may be meant for your younger kids, but that’s just fine. This may be a good palette cleanser after ruining your kids with Watcher in the Woods. And out of all of these choices, this movie ages the best and has great playback even 20 years later. This success still hasn’t been topped by Tim Burton, try as he might.


  1. Brady October 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm -

    Watcher in the Woods is the scariest movie of all time. Like, scarier than the exorcist scary. (I haven’t seen it since I was about 8)

  2. The Former 786 October 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm -

    Wait, what? Nightmare Before Christmas came out almost 20 years ago?? Great. Now I feel old.

    Also, you might want to mute the “Santa Claus” line in Gremilns if your kids are still young. That’s not how you want them to find out!

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