Laura Macfehin lays out some spooky viewing suitable for the whole household.
Halloween season is upon us (and yes, it is a season) and if you are considering a family movie night as part of your celebrations here are a couple of suggestions I think are suitable for a wide range of viewers…
Tim Burton’s 2012 animated feature Frankenweenie is a heartwarming boy-and-his-dog story, an homage to classic Universal horror films, an impassioned plea for the importance of the sciences and a revel in the spooky aesthetics of Tim Burton’s mind. It is clever enough for the whole family, a party for the eyes and has a happily ever after ending soft enough for the most sensitive of tots. Suitable for all ages but absolutely lovely for tweens and parents to watch together, especially fans of Burton’s world.
The Addams Family (1991)
This 90s film adaptation of Charles Addams’ famous cartoon family is a lovely dark romp. The enduring appeal of the Addams Family is that despite their macabre appearance they have a warm, family centred heart– they are oblivious to other’s response to their gothic life– they feel themselves to be the norm and it is their generous and optimistic receiving of others who would disdain them that makes them so endearing. The film is not without its flaws but it remains a much beloved family flick full of fiendish fun!
With its sequel in cinemas now it might be a good time to check out this film adaptation of the much-loved book series by R.L.Stine. You don’t have to have had read the books to watch (although there is plenty of fun to be had for fans seeing the various creations and creatures come to life) but you do have to have a reasonable tolerance for Jack Black as he Jack Blacks all over the show in this one. It is not particularly scary but might of more interest to tweens with its high school romance sub-plot than to younger viewers.
Coraline is based of the Neil Gaiman book by the same name and as you might expect from its origins has a slightly darker tone than the other films on this list. A small girl finds a door to an alternate world with parents who seem more fun and attentive than the ones in her reality– but it turns out to be a trap laid by a rather spooky entity who has been pretending to be her ‘other mother’. Everything turns out ok but sensitive viewers might find this a bit freaky!
One of my favourite films and perfect for freaky family viewing Beetlejuice does have a few frights and some scary effects, although it is all delivered with humour and a jaunty Danny Elfman score. It was written by one of my favourite horror authors; Michael McDowell and has all of his amazing imagination in evidence. The Banana Boat song sequence has rightly become a classic movie moment and the feel good ending will get the whole family dancing. Definitely one to enter into regular rotation if it’s not already!
Who you going to call for Halloween viewing? Any iteration of the Ghostbusters of course! In my house we love all the versions so it’s up to whether you go for the 1984 original or the charming lady version of 2016. There are some jump-scares but in general they’re good ghosty fun– perfect for kids around the 8-12 year old mark and their older siblings and parents.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Although it bombed somewhat when released Hocus Pocus has rightly obtained a cult following since then. It really has everything– an impossibly charming trio of ghastly witches, cute kids, full Americana Halloween action and a talking cat. There’s even a musical number. Great viewing for the whole clan, with just enough of a sense of danger but safely contained in a Disney package.