Halloween Movies for Scaredy Cats

Halloween is a holiday based around scary stuff – ghosts, monsters, supernatural beings, mean neighbors who won’t give out candy – so it’s not surprising that 99.999% of all Halloween movies are horror movies. But not everyone likes to be scared. There are some grown-ups who can’t sleep on their own if they’ve watched a horror movie in the last week. I believe everyone should be able to have a Halloween movie marathon with their friends and their leftover trick-or-treat candy, so I’ve compiled this list of Halloween movies for scaredy cats. Most of them are made for kids, but fraidey cat grown ups will like them too.





E.T.

E.T. is the heartwarming story of a friendship between a little boy (Henry Thomas) and a stranded alien who’s trying to get home. But more importantly – it happens on Halloween. So instead of watching a terrible monster spray blood everywhere, watch a funny, cute one as he fools all the neighbors into thinking he’s a kid with the best costume ever. Halloween’s not central to the story, unfortunately, and it’s a little sad at the end, but sad is better than scared when you’re trying not to take the train to nightmare town after you go to bed.

Buy E.T. on DVD.




IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN

It’s only 25 minutes long, but It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Halloween classic. Chronic loser Charlie Brown fails to get any candy trick-or-treating but at least he’s not like Linus, stalking a pumpkin patch in the hopes that the Great Pumpkin, which is like a mythical Halloween Santa, will come. Charlie Brown’s exploits are always a little depressing, but there’s nothing scary about this Halloween special, and Snoopy’s battles with the Red Baron provide some crucial cute-factor. Tack on the Rugrats and Fairly Odd Parents Halloween specials and you’ll kill as much time as a movie. Give Garfield a pass, though. That one’s actually pretty scary.

Buy It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on DVD or on Blu-Ray.




EARNEST SCARED STUPID

Also known as Earnest Saves Halloween, this movie is part of a series following the exploits of a loveable moronic loser named Earnest P. Worrell (Jim Varney). Earnest, in his incredible idiocy, accidentally unleashes a troll that turns kids into wooden dolls (sort of like Medusa) while trying to make the kids like him. This is less scary than it sounds but exactly as pervy as it sounds. So of course it falls to Earnest and some kids who always get picked on to defeat the trolls and, by association, bullydom everywhere. It’s not the most intelligent film out there, but it’ll do in a pinch. Kids can tolerate Earnet’s eye-rollingly stupid antics much better than grown-ups.

Buy Earnest Scared Stupid on DVD.




CASPER

Everyone knows Casper the Friendly Ghost, but not everyone has seen this early-CGI rendition of Casper where he interacts with live people, namely Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman. Some annoying people who have inherited a house full of ghosts hire Christina and Bill to get rid of them so they can find a hidden treasure, but instead they get a lovestruck cartoon ghost pining over a teenage girl and scheming to take her to the school’s Halloween dance. I think we can all agree that although there’s plenty weird about that, there’s nothing scary about it.

Buy Casper on DVD.




HOCUS POCUS

Usually when you put witches, magic, death, and Halloween together, you get a horror movie, but not when you give it to Kenny Ortega (the High School Musical guy) to direct. Instead, you get a funny story about 300 year old witches who want to eat kids trying to deal with modern day things like cars and vacuum cleaners and eventually getting beaten by bullied kids who need to learn to appreciate Halloween more. It’s a fun movie full of big names (the witches are played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) that’s developed quite a cult following.

Buy Hocus Pocus on DVD.




SPACED INVADERS

E.T. discovered it was possible for aliens to fool people into thinking they’re human on Halloween. Spaced Invaders flips this on its head. What if you really wanted to be taken for the vicious, dangerous, invading alien that you are, but no one believes you because they think you’re a kid in a Halloween costume? That’s the premise of Spaced Invaders, where a little girl spends her Halloween trying to keep a gaggle of pint-sized, hilariously moronic aliens from vaporizing her neighbors. It’s fun to watch and funny too, and the little girl has the best Alien inspired costume ever.

Buy Spaced Invaders on DVD.




HALLOWEENTOWN

Halloweentown is a Disney movie about a mom who’s trying to raise her kids in ignorance of their witchy heritage. This, of course, does not work, and on Halloween they sneak away to follow their (good) witch grandmother to a magical place called Halloweentown where they can begin their training and hopefully defeat an evil demon who is making people disappear. So essentially, it’s like The Three Ninjas but with magic instead of martial arts. It was popular enough to spawn three sequels, the last two of which feature the kid who plays Ryan in High School Musical.

Buy Halloweentown on DVD.




THE HALLOWEEN TREE

Most Halloween movies, especially the ones aimed at kids, focus on witches or ghosts or other things people commonly dress up as on Halloween. But The Halloween Tree, a feature length cartoon based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, is different. It starts out with a group of kids going trick-or-treating and the usual spooky stuff, but then their pal disappears and have to go to ancient Egypt, Druid England, early France, and Mexico in order to save him, thereby learning about the history and heritage of their costumes. Totally different and neat. Definitely rent this one.

Watch The Halloween Tree on YouTube.




THE ADDAMS FAMILY

The Addamses are quite possibly the world’s weirdest family. They live in an enormous, creepy old mansion. Where normal American families favor the bright and cheerful, they enjoy the macabre and ghoulish. Dad Gomez enjoys crashing toy trains. Mom Morticia cuts the heads off roses. Children Wednesday and Pugsley play with electric chairs. Yet they’re one big happy family, except for one thing – they’re missing their uncle Fester. Their unscrupulous accountants feed them a fake Fester as part of a plot to steal their enormous fortune, but is he really fake? The Addams Family is ghoulish, but in a funny way rather than a scary way, and it ends with a Halloween party.

Buy The Addams Family on DVD.




THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

The Nightmare Before Christmas technically takes place during Christmas, but Christmas is being overrun by things traditionally associated by Halloween, so it still counts. This unusual situation comes about when Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, decides he’s tired of Halloween and he wants to try something new. Tim Burton directed this gruesome, creepy musical extravaganza rendered in stop-motion animation, and it’s been voted one of the top 250 movies of all time by IMDB. Despite the fact that it’s got the world “nightmare” in the title, it’s not actually scary.

Buy The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD or on Blu-Ray.




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