‘Tis the season for free candy and being terrified of everything that goes bump in the night. If your fear factor maximum is more on the end of kindergarten classroom decorations than haunted houses, then maybe I can suggest some movies more your speed that still fall in with the season.
Here are seven Halloween movies that are just pure fun — no scary nuns, clowns or anything like that in sight.
1. “The Addams Family” and “The Addams Family Values”
The Addams Family aren’t your typical neighbors. Their greatest joy comes from everything the ordinary person finds only suited for Halloween, and they’re always dressed for a funeral. Not to mention that the parents, Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia), don’t find it odd at all that their daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci) keeps trying to kill her siblings with various torture instruments.
When long-lost uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) shows up in the first movie, the family takes him in and shows him their close-knit lifestyle, giving him the home he never had. The second movie surrounds the birth of the youngest Addams, Pubert (Kaitlyn & Kristen Hooper), and his new babysitter, Debbie (Joan Cusack). Fester, in love with Debbie, abandons his family to be with her despite the obvious signs that she’s up to no good.
Meanwhile, Wednesday and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), her other younger brother, are sent to summer camp and must interact with normal kids while the family tries to convince Fester to come home. Despite the macabre exterior, the Addams family are a loving bunch, and the only mildly freaky thing about them is their spooky mansion and the babysitter Debbie.
This one is a Disney original movie about 13-year-old Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) whose grandmother wants to train her as a witch in Halloweentown, but Marnie’s mother won’t allow anything Halloween related.
Piper sneaks along with her grandmother to visit and falls into a plot with demons and other monsters, all within the Disney spirit. And if you really like this one, there’s also “Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge.”
3. “Hocus Pocus”
When the Sanderson sister witches of Salem, Massachusetts, kill a little girl to retain their youth, they’re hung as witches, but not before setting a curse to come back when a virgin lights the black flame candle. That was in 1693.
Three hundred years later, Californian Max (Omri Katz), who doesn’t believe in curses, lights the candle on Halloween night to impress his classmate Allison (Vinessa Shaw), bringing back the eccentric witches who now need the life forces of all the kids in Salem to become immortal. Top it off with a musical number, and you’ve got yourself a spirited classic.
4. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
The Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), ends up in Christmas town one day and wants to bring a different sort of holiday cheer to his people. However, they aren’t quite sure what to make of it, since they have only celebrated Halloween every day for all their lives.
Created by Tim Burton, this movie dances with the macabre, but with all the fun music and visually striking cast of characters, it would be a shame to not include it on a list for best Halloween movies for all ages.
5. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”
Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang are back for Halloween. Again Linus (Christopher Shea) is waiting for the Great Pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, hoping that he will appear. The others go trick-or-treating, mocking Linus for waiting and not coming to get candy with them.
It feels weird trying to describe this holiday classic because it has become so embedded in the childhoods of so many to the point where specific dates are set aside for airing the movie. If you’re curious, this year it’s Oct. 18 and Oct. 26 on ABC.
6. “The Haunted Mansion”
Eddie Murphy stars as Jim Evers in this kid’s movie based off the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World. When his wife insists that they take a vacation, Evers makes a stop along the way to sell a mansion. The weather forces the family to stay overnight, and their stay becomes disturbing as they learn the history of the owner and his butler.
It’s got ghosts and surprises straight from the ride, making this one a fun addition to a spirited night.
7. “Young Frankenstein”
This Mel Brooks comedy stars Gene Wilder as Doctor Frederick Frankenstein who insists that he is nothing like his infamous grandfather, the mad scientist Victor Frankenstein. Upon the death of his great-grandfather, he inherits the family’s Transylvanian estate and goes to inspect it.
Because this is a parody of the 1931 Frankenstein movie, Frederick naturally resumes his grandfather’s obsession of reanimating the dead. It’s also filmed in black and white and uses some of the old set from the original movie, so although it’s not spooky, the older feel and Frankenstein theme gives this comedy an impressive backdrop.