Today is day two of our look at spooky videos to get you and your family in the Halloween spirit this month. Yesterday we looked at 25 spooky videos you can stream online. Today, we’ll focus on ten films especially geared toward younger children that the whole family can enjoy together. Joining me for the rest of this series is GeekDad contributor Mariana Ruiz. Together, we will break down ten films a day, each aimed at a specific age group.
Today’s entry is aimed at younger children. While there is no clear definition of who is or isn’t a “younger child”, we agree that the following films are most likely intended for and most appropriate for children ages three to eight years old, though they can certainly be enjoyed by those much older. Please keep in mind that these are only our general guidelines. Each child’s sensitivity to certain images and themes is unique to that child. You know your child better than Mariana and I, so use your best judgement in deciding which of the following to view with your families.
1) It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Joey: The 1966 classic is a perennial “must watch” every October in the Mills house. I grew up watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and my wife and I have continued the tradition with our own children. There’s nothing for families to dislike about this holiday special, which airs every year on the ABC Network. If you don’t want to wait for the broadcast, the entire show can be streamed below.
2) Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Mariana: This is the first featured animated film of Wallace and his dog and partner Gromit. A fun reference to horror mystery films, the action is set in Tottington Hall, where the annual Giant Vegetable Competition is approaching. The winner of the competition will be awarded with a Golden Carrot.
Since they all want to protect their vegetables from damage and rabbit infestation; Wallace and Gromit are earning big bucks by running a vegetable security and “humane” pest control business, called “Anti-Pesto”.
Of course, they do not kill the rabbits and are running out of space in their home, so Wallace comes up with the brilliant idea of brain washing them to avoid vegetables as nourishment. When the experiment goes awfully wrong, a giant Were-Rabbit begins to break havoc in the terrorized village.
3) Spookley the Square Pumpkin
Joey: Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a 2005 direct-to-DVD release based on the book of the same title by Joe Troiano. Spookley is a seasonally-adjusted take on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story. Spookley is picked on by the other pumpkins in the patch because he is square instead of round. Spookley even competes in the film’s version of reindeer games in the form of scarecrow Jack’s “Jack-a-Lympics”. Spoiler warning: Spookley saves the day/the pumpkins who teased him when a freak weather occurrence endangers the pumpkin patch. How? By using his difference–his shape–to his advantage. Seriously, all that’s missing is an Island of Misfit Halloween Candies.
The film premiered on Cartoon Network in 2013 and has since aired annually on Disney Jr. The film can be streamed in its entirety below.
4) Hotel Transylvania and 5) Hotel Transylvania 2
Mariana: Mavis is about to turn 118 and his father wants to regale her with a surprise party. Above all, he doesn’t want her little girl to grow up and leave the nest, and he has plans for that, (with the help of his old pals: Frankenstein, Werewolf, the Mummy and the Invisible Man). With a vampire than can literally hover over you all the time, talk about helicopter parenting!
When a human shows up, all his plans go awry, as they must.
In the sequel, Mavis is now a mother, and her little boy is the best thing that ever happened to grandpa Dracula. The baby is half human, and if he doesn’t turn out to be a monster really soon, the entire family will leave the Hotel. When Mavis decides to take on a vacation with her husband and leave young Dennis under her dad’s care, thing begin quickly to get out of control.
Joey: This 1995 film–based on the character first conceived in 1939 and who debuted as a Noveltoon feature in 1945–mixes live action and computer animation. The cast features an Bill Pullman and an impossibly-young Christina Ricci as Dr. Harvey and his daughter Kat, who are summoned to Whipstaff Manor to investigate the house’s haunting. The pair are befriended by Casper, while the spirit’s uncles–The Ghosly Trio–attempt to scare them away.
7) The Little Vampire
Joey: Based on the book series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, this 2000 film stars the precocious child actor from Jerry Maguire, Jonathan Lipnicki, as California boy Tony Thompson, who is uprooted when his family moves to Scotland. Tony is mistaken for a vampire by a young vampire named Rudolph, and the two become fast friends as they run from vampire hunters and get back at the local bullies who have been tormenting Tony.
I’m not a big fan of the “vampires are our friends” take on the genre, but at least Rudolph doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight. Strip away the genre trappings and what you have is the story of friendship between a fish-out-of-water and the loner outsider who the adults think is dangerous but is really just misunderstood.
8) Monsters University and 9) Monsters, Inc
Mariana: The great thing about this movie is the Factory Business approach: what if all the monsters under children beds where working together? In this Pixar success, they do: by using an ingenious transportation system from the factory that leads them directly to each kid’s closet. They need the children to be afraid of them, (and to scream at them), since children screaming energy is their source for all electricity in their side of things.
When a little girl strolls out from her door and falls in love with James P. Sullivan–a very cute monster to her loving eyes–everything he and his partner Mike Wazowski believe in become questionable: are kids really toxic to monsters? Should they be afraid of them, and treat their occupation as hazardous, or not really? Is really screaming the only source of energy for them?
Clean energy and a new relationship with kids may be around the corner…
This prequel to its very famous counterpart has many fun elements: there is a University where you can learn everything about being an engineer at Monsters Inc. As young Wazowski eagerly approaches to his first class, he confronts with a very obnoxious JP Sullivan. However, they wound up expelled, and must create a competitive group out of other outcasts in order to get back into the monster’s race. A Monster competition, scary groups and “healthy” monster fun, what’s not to like? Did I mention JP Sullivan is a cheater? Everything will go wild after that…
10) Book of Life
Joey: This 2014 film is absolutely beautiful in its depiction of Dia de Muertos imagery. For that alone it is worth a look. Add to that a story full of mythological symbolism, particularly the hero’s journey through the land of the dead, becoming and believing in his true self, and return from death into a richer and more full life. Comparative mythology geeks like myself find a new angle upon repeat viewings, while children immediately and intuitively fall in love with Manolo’s story.
Which of these makes your Halloween playlist? Did we miss your favorite spooky movie aimed at youngsters? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check back tomorrow when we reveal out top ten spooky films for older kids/pre-teens!