FAMILY & PARENTING

18 Scary Movies That Will Teach Children To Appreciate A Good Scare

by Angela Andaloro

Watching something scary with your kids can feel counterintuitive. We’re the ones who protect them from scary things.

But we can also be the ones who help them develop an appreciation for a good scare.

The key is to go age-appropriate. Only you can determine what will give your kids a healthy jolt and what might traumatize them. It’s important to watch your kids as they watch movies and see what they react to and how. Before you debate taking the scary movie movement to the next level, think about how kids react to villains in more child-geared movies.

Maybe you’re looking for something spooky for the lead-up to Halloween.

Maybe it’s family movie night and you can only watch the Frozen movies so many times. Either way, we’ve found some of the best movies to help introduce kids to horror flicks. Scary movies can make for unforgettable nights of family bonding.

'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

This Tim Burton classic that introduces kids to a lot of the major players in horror movies: werewolves, vampires, zombies, and more. The musical numbers and romantic subplot keep the movie far from a fright-fest.

Stream Now: Disney+ | Amazon

'Dracula'

Vampires can be scary, but one of the blessings of old horror movies is that the gore is implied rather than graphically depicted. This horror classic can also help your kids develop an appreciation of the world before color TV and film.

Stream Now: Peacock | Amazon

 

'Coraline'

Coraline is based on a short story by Neil Gaiman. The titular character discovers a door to an alternate universe where her family isn’t too busy to spend time with her. She falls for her “Other Mother,” who turns out to be more monster than mother.

Stream Now: Starz | Amazon

'Jaws'

Jaws was rated PG at a time where PG-13 didn’t exist, so proceed with caution. There’s blood, but not in an overly-gory way. With beach season behind us, older kids, tweens, and teens can likely handle the thrilling film.

Stream Now: HBO Max | Amazon

'Corpse Bride'

Kids will get a kick out of a groom who doesn’t realize his bride’s a corpse. As they travel back to the Land of the Dead, romance and horror do a delicate dance that won’t leave kids too spooked.

Stream Now: iTunes

'Ghostbusters'

Ghostbuster is a scary movie dressed up as a comedy in all the best ways. It’s also a classic your kids will surely enjoy. There’s definitely some scary moments throughout the film, but the comic relief more than balances it out.

Stream Now: FX | Amazon

'Casper'

Casper is more heart-heavy than horror. It deals with the loss of parents for both Casper and Kat, so be sensitive to that fact when considering if it’s right for your kids. It opens up the idea of the afterlife in a way that’s not so scary.

Stream Now: Amazon

 

'Little Shop Of Horrors'

If your kids are into musicals, Little Shop Of Horrors can be a great way to introduce them to scary elements. It’s got all of the ’80s funniest comedians, plus a man-eating plant.

Stream Now: Hulu | Amazon

'Beetlejuice'

Beetlejuice is on the darker, weirder side of the PG spectrum, but blends comedy and horror elements well. When a ghost family can’t get a live family out of their haunted house, they get some help from a demon from the underworld.

Stream Now: Peacock

'Gremlins'

It’s time to let your kids in on the feeding after midnight joke. The Gremlins have come to wreak havoc during Christmastime. The deeper metaphors will be over kids’ heads, but the balance of cute and gross monsters will keep them engaged.

Stream Now: HBO Max

'The Dark Crystal'

The Dark Crystal blends fantasy and horror in a way that’s really accessible and intriguing for kids. The magical creatures can be creepy, but not too creepy.

Stream Now: Amazon

'The Witches'

The scene where Anjelica Huston transforms into the Grand High Witch will be burned into your memory forever. If you’ve ever seen the illustrations that accompany Roald Dahl’s books, you know exactly what to expect.

Stream Now: iTunes

'Spirited Away'

Watching a Hayao Miyazaki movie is always a treat, whether or not it’s scary. This one happens to deliver in both areas in the story of a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new neighborhood. There, she finds all kinds of creatures, even monsters.

Stream Now: HBO Max | iTunes

'ParaNorman'

ParaNorman is an introduction to zombie movies at its core. When Norman figures out he can speak to the dead, he also realizes he’s the only one who can save his town from a ghostly curse. Along the way, he discovers who the real monsters are.

Stream Now: Amazon

'Frankenweenie'

Frankenweenie is a modern, kid-friendly retelling of Frankenstein featuring a kid who loves STEM. The stop-motion animation makes the spooky Tim Burton flick complete.

Stream Now: Disney+

'Goosebumps'

Goosebumps is pretty safe for even the easiest to scare. It’s got creepy elements but keeps clear of it in favor of group antics and comedy breakaways.

Stream Now: Amazon

'Hocus Pocus'

Hocus Pocus has become a cult classic in its own right. The film features a witch coven brought back to life after killing a girl by an unknowing teenager. Now, they have to outsmart the witches to save the day and their town.

Stream Now: Disney+ | Amazon

'Addams Family Values'

Addams Family Values is more dark comedy than horror, but it’s still a lot of fun. See what happens when the creepy cast of characters tries to be more like an average family, with a few major exceptions. This will become a family favorite.

Stream Now: Amazon