It can get tough being a kid around the Halloween season. Even though everything is designed to cater towards children and trick or treating, if you’re young and getting into the horror genre, you’re surrounded by titles catered to an older crowd. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers… movies you’re not quite old enough to watch yet.
But there are so many great Halloween classics that are aimed at children. Now that the Halloween season is upon us again, I thought it would be worth it to go back and check it out.
While some of these have earned their titles as animated classics, a few of them are a bit more obscure. But all of them help get kids—and adults, for that matter—into the Halloween spirit.
Tales from the Cryptkeeper
Any collection of this Saturday morning animated series feels like an anthology film—which is cool, as the old VHS collections of Tales from the Crypt—felt the same way. These stories are aimed at kids, but still pull from the same EC Comics material and still feature John Kassir as the voice of the Cryptkeeper, which is a great balance that should please young and old fans alike.
I’ll admit, this movie feels more like a Christmas movie than a Halloween film, but all of our main characters come from the land of Halloween, so it’s close. It’s still a great, great animated classic about trying to fit in, figuring out your place and what you want to do vs. what you feel like you’re supposed to do. The music is great, the voice cast is great, so make sure it’s on the list for this Halloween season.
I didn’t expect this movie to be as interesting and funny as it was, and it wasn’t until later that I discovered it was co-written by the great Dan Harmon of Community and Rick and Morty fame. It’s a really inventive take on the traditional spooky house story that should have enough to please both the older and the younger crowd.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
While the Mr. Toad segment is worth watching just for its weirdness, the true appeal here is Disney’s remarkable adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s got all the laughs and cartoony atmosphere you’d expect from classic Disney, but it’s also genuinely creepy. This is one that scared a lot of kids, but not in a harmful way. We had fun being scared by it and that helps kids to realize how harmless horror or any scary entertainment really is.
Helmed by Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Sellick, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline was kind of destined to be a win. It has a great sense of style, a great story, and while it’s an animated feature aimed at children it deals with some deeply adult themes. There’s a lot to recommend about this one.
ParaNorman feels aimed at an older audience in a way that is still fun and exciting and full of action-adventure. The fact that it’s animated is really the only thing stopping it from being a ghostly, zombified version of The Goonies. It feels like a spiritual successor to films like Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad. And that, of course, is why I love it.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This is kind of the big one. This is the all-time animated Halloween classic that everyone gravitates toward. It’s the one people watch over and over. It doesn’t need much of an introduction, but to give it one anyway, it’s a great exploration of what Halloween means to a kid and why it’s beloved so deeply.
The Halloween Tree
Even more than Great Pumpkin, Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree is—to me, at least—the animated Halloween classic. It captures the spirit of youth, the atmosphere of autumn, the sense of imagination and wonder we attached to the holiday when we were young, and on top of that it’s an educational—yet exciting—journey exploring the history of Halloween and the different ways the holiday has been celebrated over time.