Best horror movies for kids

Anthony Marcusa

Top kids’ horror movies

Kids deserve to be scared and startled just like adults, and there are plenty of horror films geared towards adolescents and teens that are up to the task. Horror movies for kids tend to forego violence and gore for more restrained scares, but that doesn’t mean they aren't unnerving just the same. They tend to focus on younger main characters to emphasize the stakes and are just as entertaining for adults as well.

There are plenty of horror films for kids that are recent as well as some that have been around for decades. Kids and their parents will be the best judge of what they can watch and enjoy; these are some of the best options to consider.

Best horror movies for kids

“Coraline”: available at Amazon

The first film from Laika studios was met with much fanfare and acclaim. This dark stop-motion animated story follows a young girl as she discovers a portal to another dimension, where what she initially thinks are fantasies quickly turn to nightmares. The visuals are terrific and the film has just the right amount of creepy and clever to appeal to both kids and adults.

“Hocus Pocus”: available at Amazon

This classic Halloween film has earned cult status over the years for its absurdity, silliness and energy. It’s inspired and entertaining all the same. The Sanderson sisters — witches three — are resurrected in Salem on Halloween, where they wreak havoc and run amok, attempting to steal enough children’s lives to live forever themselves. Their reign isn’t particularly scary, but a musical number is unforgettable.

“Super 8”: available at Amazon

This J.J. Abrams homage to Steven Spielberg and “ET” is the perfect blend of sci-fi, drama and horror that’s a great movie for both teens and adults. Set in 1979, it follows a group of teens as a government accident throws their small town into chaos as strange happenings start taking place. This monster movie is well-acted, well-written and a terrific way to introduce youngsters to a variety of beloved genres and storytelling devices. It’s definitely best enjoyed on a high-quality smart TV

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”: available at Amazon

Though there’s some debate whether this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, there’s no denying the iconic characters, catchy songs and moving story. From Tim Burton, there are countless weird and downright scary creatures in this film that follows a wayward Jack Skellington in search of meaning. As he looks to welcome some yuletide spirit to Halloweentown, the evil Oogie Boogie has other plans. 

“Labyrinth”: available at Amazon

This might be the scariest offering on the list, as this imaginative 1986 film populated with unnerving characters and scenes has frightened many youngsters over the years. 16-year-old Sarah is tasked with saving her baby brother in a labyrinthine world with magic, goblins and mind-bending challenges. It’s a wild ride filled with Jim Henson puppets and practical effects that will shock and inspire in equal measure.

“Frankenweenie”: available at Amazon

Another Tim Burton film, this animated remake of Burton’s own live-action short film follows a dog that’s brought back to life by his inventive owners. This story is both creepy and strangely emotional, filled with Burton's signature creative imagery and foreboding overtones.

“ParaNorman”: available at Amazon

Another film by Laika, this movie, like “Coraline,” follows a savvy teen on a startling adventure. The titular Norman sees and speaks to ghosts, but these apparitions are friendly and sweet. When he and his friends unwittingly disturb a sacred grave and the undead rise, the fearful town is sent into a frenzy. The traditional horror setup doesn’t follow the standard path, and what unfolds is a heartwarming and charming tale of love and friendships with a chilling finale.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”: available at Amazon

This more recent film is based on a series of short stories that surely terrified many youngsters. Recreating some of the more iconic monsters from the tales onscreen, this film produced by Guillermo del Toro focuses on a group of teens that stumble upon a haunted house. There are definitely plenty of scares, and the movie does well to challenge the mettle of even the bravest of kids.

“Monster House”: available at Amazon

Geared for younger kids, this animated feature is a more wholesome and nicely packaged scary movie. Enjoyed by both critics and audiences, “Monster House” tells of a literal haunted house that terrorizes a neighborhood and the young kids tasked with solving the mystery. Families introducing some mild scares to their kids may want to start here.

“Little Shop of Horrors”: available at Amazon

Another cult classic on the list, this comedic musical is absurd and weird, perfect to engage younger viewers. The songs are catchy, the story wild and while there are some adult themes, it’s definitely a staple of any cult horror fan. For those who take well to it, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” can be next.

“Gremlins”: available at Amazon

This creature feature from the '80s may be terrifying for some and silly to others, but it’s definitely unforgettable. “Gremlins” introduced the world to Gizmo, a sweet and lovable little creature — but his kin are not so kind. His devilish counterparts soon run wild, and while there's murder and mayhem, it’s mostly rather cartoonish. Some blood is also shed, but much of it is the green goo of the violent gremlins in the story.

“Beetlejuice”: available at Amazon

The last Tim Burton movie on the list may be his most beloved. There are a few adult moments in “Beetlejuice,” so exercise caution with kids, but the creatures are creepy and the scenes stunningly set. A musical number is the most memorable movie scene in this absurd tale.

Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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