Family Halloween movies can coast along amicably without scaring the pants off anyone and still end up being favorites. But you have to be selective. Forget the gory movies. In order to find a few family Halloween favorites, you'll need to find family safe movies.
Fright Factor vs. Fear Factor
The fright factor is one notch down from the fear factor. Fright factor is when something frightening happens in the movie, then is swallowed up by plenty of good things happening. Fear factor is when you remember the scene long after the movie and end up checking under the bed every night, or constantly worrying that it'll never be safe to go back into the water. Just when you think it is, someone will suggest you watch Jaws again.
Jaws is one of those great movies that crosses the fright and fear barriers. While there are some very scary moments, Jaws tends to be a favorite among both adults and the younger segment of the population. Suspense mounts in this movie from the beginning until the end, carrying with it angst that settles with the popcorn in the pit of your stomach for the entire movie. While the movie has a PG rating, it's best to think of how your own children would react to a shark fest. Remember, throughout the entire movie people are being eaten alive by a monstrous white shark that does not look mechanical.
The Legend has a few bits of both the fear factor and the fright factor. Aside from the fear factor scenes where the evil entity, Darkness, appears or speaks, there are a few additional frights in store. Legend is a family-friendly movie as long as the youngest your family is at least 10 years of age. The movie features a young Tom Cruise, enough magic, elves, fairies and unicorns to keep the younger children happy, and enough of the fright factor to keep the older kids clutching their popcorn bowls for dear life. The evil entity has a devilish quality that is truly frightening. His mission is to turn everything into darkness, hence his name. To accomplish this trick, he has cut the horn off one of the last two remaining unicorns. Once the second unicorn is killed, the Earth will be submerged into darkness forever.
With a cast of comedy stars including Dan Aykroyd, Rick Moranis and Bill Murray, Ghostbusters plays its frightening moments for laughs rather than shock value. The special effects will keep the kids entertained, while the relationships are satisfying for adults. Unlike some other films featuring Saturday Night Live alumni, there are no raunchy moments where you'll want to cover your child's eyes, just a few off-color jokes and situations that will go over most kids' heads. There are a few genuinely scary moments, but the final battle against the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man is funny enough to chase the nightmares away. This is a good choice if the kids in your family are at least eight years old.
Twilight is a vampire movie that's perfect for Halloween movie night, especially if you have 'tweens or a teens in the house. There are some scary moments, but just about everyone who sees the movie has already read the book and is well aware of what happens. There's some blood and violence on display, but nothing worse than you'd find on dramas shown on network TV. 'Tweens can't get enough of this vampire series, but younger kids who aren't interested in a love story may find it boring.
Directed by Jim Henson, co-written by Monty Python's Terry Jones and executive produced by George Lucas, Labyrinth is a musical with David Bowie, the King of the Goblins, at its center. Bowie's goal is to turn young Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly, into his goblin bride. The movie gets rolling when Sarah is left to babysit her little brother. Frustrated with his crying, she wishes the goblins would take him away. When they do, she's frantic to get him back. Her search takes her through an ever-changing labyrinth populated by creatures created by Jim Henson's masterful puppeteers and craftspeople. While the ever-flatulent Bog of Eternal Stench may be a bit crass for adult tastes, there's nothing in the film that should upset children over the age of five.
The wizards, witches and magical creatures of the Harry Potter series are a perfect fit for Halloween. These films continually show the triumph of love and virtue over greed and selfishness, set against a magical backdrop that offers new details to discover with each viewing. The stories may be too complicated for the youngest children to follow, but kids eight and older, as well as their parents, will delight in the action and well-paced storytelling. Kids who are afraid of spiders may want to avoid Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or at least the scene where Harry and Ron meet Aragog and his thousands of spider babies.
Every household needs a few good family movies on the shelf for those times when everyone just wants to sit down together and relax.
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