1. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Disney version of this classic book is a perennial favorite of kids and adults alike at our house. The short cartoon is very faithful to the spirit of the Washington Irving book, but a good deal easier to understand.
I also happen to think than any story would be greatly improved by being narrated and sung by Bing Crosby. He's the BEST.
This short is really funny, and also has some genuinely scary parts. I think that's great for Halloween, and I approve of it for my kids in general. We have already watched it this year and my two and four year olds watched it along with us, and loved it.
You can watch it on YouTube here.
But if yours scare easy, perhaps you should just move on to . . .
2. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Honestly I don't know why. This one doesn't have the truth and beauty of the Christmas Pageant scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Nor does it have the commentary on the commercialization of a Christian holiday. Frankly it's pretty odd (what is with the Snoopy vs the Red Baron part?!), and the kids are awfully unpleasant to one another, and I think it's making fun of Santa. But my kids love it and think it is totally hilarious.
I do love the scenes where Charlie Brown gets rocks in his trick-or-treating bag and doesn't get to kick the football. Again.
4. Winnie the Pooh's Halloween Stories
Fun and sweet and a tiny bit spooky, this one is appropriate for all ages, probably even for more sensitive-type kiddos.
3. Toy Story of Terror
New this year, this short from Pixar showed on ABC. Our whole family watched it and even the grownups were entertained. It's a spoof on horror story conventions, but never really gets scary itself. Combat Carl is hilarious (and motivational) and it's nice to see the focus on Jessie in this one.
If you have cable, you've got a couple more chances to catch it, otherwise keep an eye out for it next year.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas, etc.
I like stop-motion animation, and there is something about it that is particularly well suited for spooky movies.
I know it's not for everyone, and it's certainly not for all kids, but I really enjoyed this movie as did my kids, and I found the subject matter and presentation to be entirely appropriate, and lots of fun. It's refreshing to not have a bunch of extraneous pop culture refrences thrown at me while I'm trying to watch a movie.
It's actually quite similar in feel to classic Christmas stop-motion like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. It's just that everything in this town is Halloweenish. Things aren't jumping at you and trying to scare you, there isn't suspenseful buildup and big scary moments, it's just that the people and things in this town are all creepy.
I love how they all, but especially Jack Skellington, really are just trying to help, but everything goes terribly wrong. I know the feeling.
The one exception to this is when the character Oogie Boogie kidnaps Santa Claus. There is the feeling that Santa is emperiled, which could be scary for kids, but it all works out and Santa comports himself with great dignity throughout.
Also in the stop-motion genre, I like Corpse Bride (but it's really a movie for grown-ups that just happens to be animated) for the way it presents marriage vows as something REAL that once said, mean that the world is different. I also like Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which is silly fun and not really scary and is appropriate for kids, although as usual with Wallace and Gromit there are jokes that go over the kids' heads.
And now I need your help . . .
We were thinking about watching Frankenweenie this year, Stephen Greydanus gave it a positive review. And I wanted to see Coraline, since we just listened to the book, but Cari says it's no good and takes great liberties with the source material, so perhaps we'll skip that one.
I'd love to show the kids some old school horror films, but I haven't seen any of them myself and I don't know how they hold up. Has anyone seen the old black and white Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein? Or the 1920s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (we just listened to that book as well)? How about Nosferatu, the vampire movie from the Vatican Film List?
And for all of my waxing on about zombies, I haven't seen any of the old zombie movies, or even Shaun of the Dead. But I'm pretty sure none of those would be appropriate for my all-under-twelve-set.
Hopefully none of you guys is as forgetful/naive as I was and think it would be a good idea to watch Ghostbusters with your five year old (this was years ago with my oldest). Yikes! What the heck was up with all the movies when I was a kid? Ghostbusters has scenes that are totally not appropriate for my kids (Goonies too, sad face). But maybe E.T. is okay? I've been scared to try any more 80s movies after being burned by those two. Maybe I just need to get better with my muting skills.
Anyway, I hope you all have a fun Halloween, however your family celebrates, and a blessed All Saints and All Souls.
And thanks to the lovely Hallie of Moxie Wife for hosting Five Favorites. Since there are FIVE of these, I'm linking 'em up.
No, wait, today it's Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee, who as you might remember lived in Rome and got to meet Pope Benedict and us. So, ya know, pretty big year.