Saturday, October 18, 2014

Halloween for Kids on Netflix Streaming: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For my inaugural Netflix Stream Team sponsored post, we're going to look at the kids' Halloween-type movies streaming has available. I'm going to tell you about a few I really like, a bunch that are kinda meh, and a few that you should NOT SHOW TO YOUR CHILDREN. This is how you do sponsored posts, right? I'm KILLING this selling out thing.

If you are logged into your Netflix account, clicking on the titles of the shows should take you to them in Netflix.



See this post . . .

HALLOWEEN MOVIES TO SPOOK THE WHOLE FAMILY

for my full review of of The Nightmare Before Christmas and four other Halloween favorites. But, the short version is that my kids and I really, really like this movie. It's creepy but not TOO scary, and has a great message about following your vocation, not just your dreams. Stephen Graydanus also has a great review at Decent Films.






I guess the marketing folks at Disney would like you to watch this compilation year-round, so they've called it House of Villains, but it's 100% Halloween. It's made up of fun classic Disney cartoons featuring Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, with lame new filler transitions in between.

Like the movie above, what I enjoy about these cartoons is that they ARE a little scary. I think my kids can handle that. I want them to be able to handle that.

The individual cartoons vary in style and substance, but I wasn't troubled by any of them. The first, especially, is definitely in the "make fun of the devil" (in this case a witch with a broom named Beelzebub) tradition championed by some. While that's not the focus of OUR family's Halloween, it doesn't bother me any. There's one starring Mickey about how too much technology in your home could well result in your house attacking you. Pay attention kids. The one starring Goofy is wordless, which always enraptures my little ones.



This isn't a Halloween movie, per se. But it is magical and creepy, both good ingredients for Halloween. The giant bugs and the evil aunts are both pretty monstrous, but for different reasons.

The movie is very true to the spirit of the book, and I didn't notice any major plot deviations (except that in the movie the aunts survive being squished by the titular giant peach).

It's an intense story that includes James being mistreated by his aunts, and the fanciful, stylized deaths of his parents (they are eaten by an angry rhinoceros). There are scenes of peril, but it's a story about teamwork and making the best of things.



This indie musical cartoon from France (but in English now) has a VERY devoted following. We watched it on the airplane a couple years ago, before I was watching things with blog-eyes, so I'm not ABSOLUTELY certain that there's nothing questionable in it. But the kids and I enjoyed it. There's singing, and action, and perilous situations, and bad guys who aren't who you think they are and vice versa. Lessons are learned about not jumping to conclusions about people.

It doesn't reference Halloween that I recall, but there's a monster and some steampunky mad science.

If you're looking for a seasonal movie the whole family can sit through, and Tim Burton isn't your cup of tea, A Monster in Paris should do the trick.



Not to worry, everyone, The Musters IS available via Live Streaming on Netflix. I know you've been concerned. I tried watching a few of the Halloweeny shows in the category below with the kids and they were just so. very. very. dumb. that we decided to put on an episode of The Munsters instead.

And, granted, it's also kinda dumb. But it's dumb in an old fashioned, campy, occasionally clever way. We watched the very first episode and it was fun to see how they introduced all the characters. My kids all thought it was hilarious, and it was a show that was in a spooky setting, about creepy characters, but with lots of winking humor and without any real scares that would be too much for little ones. All my age groups enjoyed it.




I watched a couple of episodes of this show from the mid-90s on my own, and was really pleasantly surprised. It's suspenseful and pretty darn scary, without being gory. And, unlike the newer R.L. Stein show I tried (see below) the kids and families in the two episodes I watched were likable.

If you have middle grade kids who are looking for a good clean scare, check it out.

And one more . . . with a caveat



This newest incarnation of the iconic series is really, really well-done. It's smart and funny and stylish. And it's COOL. They made Scooby Doo cool again.

But. But. But.

It's not a kids' show. Really. It's not intended for kids. It's intended for grownups who liked Scooby Doo when THEY were kids. So it's just too edgy for my twelve and unders. The girls are rather . . . forward. Velma and Shaggy are a couple, and Daphne is after Fred, but he's oblivious, being utterly obsessed with building traps for monsters. It's pretty funny, but, ya know, a bit much for kiddos. When she asks him about the swimsuit magazine in his couch, he says he only reads "Traps Illustrated" for the articles.

*I* just might watch it again though.

THE BAD*

Some of these my kids have watched, some of them I have watched some of, some of them we haven't watched at all. But to my knowledge there isn't anything objectionable in any of them. It's just that they're SO LAME.

I'd much rather my kids watch something clever, even if it's scary, than watch an insipid super duper Halloween fun cartoon. I'm pretty sure I'd sit my kids down to watch Psycho before I'd sit them down to watch Barney's Halloween Party.

But that's just personal preference. Maybe you feel differently. And I couldn't find a comprehensive, recent list of kids' Halloween shows available on Netflix Streaming anywhere on the internet. Including on Netflix Streaming.

So here are ALL the Halloween shows and movies I could find.

1. Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Frankie loves Curious George. Maybe we'll watch this at some point. But I like scary for Halloween.

This is one of the Netflix customer reviews:
The music was... ok. The plot was down-right pathetic. Really, a headless scarecrow that kicks off people's hats? How is that scary in the least bit? Even to a kid! Stupid. There are so many more better movies that they could've used. I enjoy the show, it's pretty cute (except the Man with the Yellow Hat really needs to not let George get away with so much stuff). Oh... And one more thing, how does everyone, including the "intelligent" adults, believe in No-Noggin? And seriously... No noggin? Really? That's supposed to be scary.I don't have if a Halloween movie is scary, especially with the kids that can't handle scary movies (I couldn't, myself). But, don't pretend to be scary just because it's a Halloween movie. Just take the "no-noggin" part out and put in a usually Curious George story. About him getting into shenanigans.BUT, on the other hand... My son did like it. And that's the most important part. It doesn't matter if I liked or not, it matters if HE likes it or not. So, 4 out of 5 stars just for the simple fact that my son liked it. If he didn't, it probably would have been a 2 (and that's only out of respect for Curious George).
I like how this guy thinks. I think we can trust him.

2. Barney: Halloween Party

Don't know, didn't watch it. Won't. Ever.

3. Dreamworks Spooky Stories: Scared Shrekless and Monsters vs Aliens, Mutant Pumpkins

My kids watched this one and found the three shorts just really loud and confusing and odd. And they like pretty much everything, so that's really saying something.

4. Casper's Scare School

Weird computer animation. Stars Bob Saget.

*"bad" as in "not great cinema," not "you shouldn't let your kids watch this."

THE UGLY*

There aren't a ton of scary movies aimed at kids available on streaming, so I was tempted to watch these with my kids.

But the reviews I found on them were troubling, so I thought I'd better preview them before I let the kids watch, but I haven't had time to get through all (most) of them.

So, if you've seen any of these, I'd love to hear what you thought of them.

1. The Addams Family

I know I saw this as a kid, and liked it. I remember it as being about a quirky but loving family. But the Common Sense Media review of it freaked me out a bit. "Strong sexual innuendo, especially between Gomez and Morticia. The couple can be heard having an orgasm while in public. There are several subtle references to sadomasochism, and a quick reference to child molestation relating to Uncle Fester. Much of this will go over the head of young viewers."

Please tell me they're overreacting?

2. ParaNorman

Common Sense Media didn't mind this one, but Stephen Graydanus was pretty convincing in his dislike.

3. The Haunted Mansion

The Common Sense Review: "Go on the Disney ride instead. It's over sooner." Ouch.

4. R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour

This one is a TV series from 2010, based on the author's book series. I was intrigued, because the girl who plays young Snow White in Once Upon a Time is on the cover. But I quit watching after just a few minutes of the first episode. It's probably fine, but it was all her demanding dolls and stuff and her parents giving in to her. Maybe she learns her lesson, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style, but I wasn't getting a good vibe from it, so I moved on.

*potentially, you tell me

Okay, first sponsored post in the books. I'm supposed to put in the logo. Done.



And, now, it's your turn. Tell me in the comments about what you've been watching on Netflix Streaming and/or for Halloween. Or, for this month, if you've got a blog, link up your Hey Watch This! posts below and let us know what we should or shouldn't be watching.





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33 comments:

  1. We've been watching the Curious George:A Halloween Boo Fest and my 3.5 year old LOVES it. It's definitely been on repeat a few times in the past couple of weeks. I would agree that it's a typical Curious George episode that's just longer and involving the fall festival and costumes aspect of Halloween. My little one is not into scary stuff (she covers her ears or closes her eyes during the rats part of Tinkerbell) so finding a happy medium of "something involving the season of Halloween" and "not scary" can be tricky. For us this is a "Good" Halloween Netflix option. :-)

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  2. I would also like to defend Curious George. I mean, the plot is pretty basic George but to be fair it is in the "Movies for ages 2-4" category. And throughout all the episodes of the show, Bill hasn't figured out George is a monkey and George is allowed to cook in a restaurant kitchen. What I'm saying is suspend some disbelief for the kiddos and the movie holds up just fine.

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  3. Yeah my little ones love Curious George Boo Fest as well, but like the two comments above, my kids are 4 and under. The review you read about The Addams Family is pretty spot on, although I don't remember a molestation reference but it wouldn't surprise me. And I love Scooby Doo so I will probably be watching that one during nap time today :)

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  4. Hmmm...This list makes me glad that we switched to Amazon Prime a few years ago. Nothing on that list, except The Nightmare Before Christmas, makes me want to run out and get a new Netflix membership. We've been enjoying Charlie Brown, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Wallace and Gromit, Hugo, Veggie Tales, and a lot of books on tape on Amazon Prime where the illustrations are slightly animated along with the reading (really good and kind of a book/movie hybrid). That little list contains just the free Halloween-esque movies that come with Prime membership, and we watch other classics that we rent if we feel like spending money. But we usually search the free stuff, and there are plenty of free things to watch. There are also plenty of bad shows (Barney!) on Amazon Prime, but it seems like there are also significantly more exciting movies and shows. I hope that helps Netflix consider their selection, because I know I'm not much of a help to them other than that.

    Has anyone seen The Spiderwick Chronicles? Opinions? It got a pretty safe rating from Catholic News Agency and other reviewers, but I'm curious to hear any other opinions. It looked too scary for the youngest kids.

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    1. I saw Spiderwick as a teen and didn't care for it much. The costumes and the general art direction were fabulous, but it's pretty dark. It has a sort of Victorian treatment in the tragedies of the three orphans.
      I don't remember much beyond that, though.

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  5. Haunted Mansion had some weird "stealing another guy's wife because you believe she is your dead wife reincarnated" stuff. Better to stick to the ride.
    I also love the Curious George Halloween movie. It isn't super annoying, and I can potentially sleep through it. Not a ringing endorsement, but it makes my "I have a toddler and a newborn and need some sleep" cut.

    Not on Netflix streaming (but should be): Wishbone "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" episode, and Hocus Pocus. The Wishbone episode has the cute dog for the littles and a level of creepy for biggers. Hocus Pocus actually imparts that the devil is a real person who is working in the world concept (with a nod to the guy-in-a-red-suit-as-a-devil thing.)

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    1. I love the Disney Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but haven't seen the others.

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    2. Wishbone was always my favorite as a kid.

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  6. Good to know about the options on Amazon Prime! I'm wondering how the best Halloween movie of all time, HOCUS POCUS, wasn't mentioned in this post or the comments...???

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    1. I know you can rent Hocus Pocus on Prime for $3.00, but we haven't done that yet. I loved it when I was a kid. I see one person recommended it. I am more careful about witches and the occult in movies now. I want the symbolism to be at least somewhat accurate, like not making witchcraft fun or intriguing. I haven't decided how to handle HP yet -- Any thought?

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    2. Elizabeth, I haven't seen Hocus Pocus, so I don't know about that. But as far as Harry Potter goes, the way *I* see it! is that there is a distinction between "the occult" and "magic." The occult is cooperating with satan to get power or favors. If a book or movie deals with the occult, it needs to have the appropriate consequences. Disney's Princess and the Frog is a good example of that done well.

      Harry Potter, on the other hand, deals with "magic" not the occult. They just live in a world that has magic in it. There are people who use it for good and people who use it for evil, but no one is calling on the devil. Narnia, Lord of the Rings, fairy tales, all just have magical worlds. I don't have a problem with that. At all.

      The confusion comes because the word "witchcraft" is used to describe both. I agree that we shouldn't make the occult look fun and consequence free, but it's okay with me if magic is fun.

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    3. Karen, Netflix streaming is pretty much the only way we watch TV, so I didn't mention Hocus Pocus because I haven't seen it! But I'd love to hear what others think.

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    4. I love that explanation, thank you! I hadn't pinpointed why I was fine with magical worlds but other magicky things bug me. Tipping my hat to Once Upon a Time again, for their lovely good v evil plots with magic AND consequences. Even if Jesus is just there allegorically.

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    5. I was VERY scared of Hocus Pocus as a kid. The opening scene is the scary part. Beyond that, I think it was fine.

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  7. Good reviews and recommendations! Just put several of these, and Hocus Pocus, on our watch list. A comment about Haunting Hour - my kids like it more than the Goosebump series. There are usually some consequences for the characters' bad choices and there is a good fear factor there too. My kids are 12 and 8 and aren't bothered by spooky or scary stuff; wouldn't recommend for the under 7 crowd and I usually watch with them in case there's something that needs explaining.

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  8. For the older kids, how about The Twilight Zone?

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    1. That's a great suggestion. I don't think I've ever seen The Twilight Zone.

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    2. I was going to suggest the same thing - Twilight Zone is one of my favorite scary-but-not-too-intense shows to watch! Most shows have amazing messages too (that's what you get when your show was produced in the late 50s and 60s). Some are pretty freaky but you can find a list of all the episode descriptions on Wikipedia to sort out the too-scary from the regular scary. My husband and I watch them all the time! (Plus they're only 20 minutes each, usually, so it's not a big time-investment.)

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  9. My kids love the Curious George Halloween Boofest and I think it's good. The songs are horrible, it is true, but the animation is sweet and attractive and *my* kids have fun being scared of No Noggin. For little kids it has just the right amount of creepy and there's nothing inappropriate like in the Scooby Doo (which we had to stop letting our kids watch for similar reasons.)

    I don't really think it's fair for you to call something Bad if you've never seen it. Watch it and then tell me how much you disagree with me - like we usually do! ;)

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    1. Fair point, Bonnie. But in my defense . . .

      1. I didn't call them "bad," I called them "bad *asterisk*." An asterisk changes everything.
      2. It was my intention to be very clear that I didn't think that there was anything objectionable about the shows, just that they weren't my personal preference.
      3. I can only barely tolerate the Curious George books. They live at Gramma's. I love a naughty anthropomorphic animal as much as the next mom, but I prefer them to get what's coming to them, Peter Rabbit-style. I'm fairly confident I won't like it.

      But, because of my commitment to excellence in blogging, I will watch it and report back.

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    2. I don't like Curious George either. I don't ban him or anything, but I agree on the consequence issue. Nothing annoys me like a disobedient character when the story works out for the better often as a result of the disobedience. That and the, "Oh, George!" dialogue. Like mischief and disobedience are almost cute, if a little exasperating. I always want to jump into the show and give George some real consequences, and I'm always hoping my kids don't think their obnoxious behavior could ever be construed as cute, funny, or ultimately for the better!

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    3. Oh, and the other annoying thing about Curious George -- The show can't decide if it is educational or completely unrealistic. They throw in all these science lessons, but then portray the world in a completely fictional way. It's certainly possible to learn some facts from Curious George, but it is just as likely that kids will simultaneously pick up false ideas. Okay, enough Curious George bashing for now :). Haha. It just grates on me enough that I restrict it in our house.

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    4. Yes, George drives me crazy a lot but it's because of the people. Like, of course your dinosaur bones got all messed up! You brought a MONKEY to a MUSEUM and let him run around! They actually remind me of dog owners who have Granddog stickers on their vehicles.

      BUT this special differs from the regular show in that it's more about figuring out No Noggin than George causing a problem so maybe you'll like it more than you think you will.

      And now I'm confused, because I thought you were calling it "Bad" because it wasn't scary enough. I don't know what is scary enough for Frankie - maybe he's watching TWD with you! -but for my kids aged 6 and under No Noggin *is* spooky but not scary enough to give them nightmares. That is a win for me.

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  10. I love, love, love the Addams Family. And I think the key difference for us was my parents pointing out that this is exacty the OPPOSITE way people are supposed to act. That point was really driven home to me in the second movie, where their baby turns into a little cherub and Mortitia is reading him a sweet bedtime story. She skips to the end and says, "Oh no. He lives."

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    1. It's sort of a satire. :) I still crack up at every joke.

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    2. That's how I remember it. I plan to watch it again.

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  11. What age range would you suggest for The Nightmare Before Christmas? My kids are 6 and under. They say they like scary things but they do get nervous about them sometimes. (They watched Mickey's House of Villains all the way through even though it scared them. It was fun scary.) Mostly I'm wondering if it's worth bothering with it if everything is going to go over their heads. I could just stick with Charlie Brown, but I've seen it before and I know I would be bored.

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    1. I think if they can handle House of Villains, they should be fine with Nightmare Before Christmas. It's just visually creepy. It's not like a suspenseful music, things jumping out at you horror movie. All my kids have seen it. The only part that really concerns them is when Santa is kidnapped and in danger. They get really worried. But it all turns out okay.

      The Halloween Charlie Brown is about 1000 times weirder than the Christmas one. What is up with Snoopy and the Red Baron? But it's got the football-kicking part, too. Which is pretty iconic. :)

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  12. On your recommendation we watched A Monster in Paris last night, and it was a hit with all of us - me, husband, and our two girls ages "old 3" (as she says) and almost 7. There is nothing questionable in it as far as we could tell. The violence is very mild, similar to that in Beauty and the Beast, except there's a pistol. Five stars from us!

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  13. Addams family is an overreaction. Yes there is some sexual innuendo, but it's not bad, and I've been watching that movie since the age of eight, and have never picked up on it. Great film, they're overreacting.

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  14. Love your explanation of occult vs. magic in a fictional world like Harry Potter! Well done, and pretty much the way I try to describe it to my kids and others.
    We just saw the Curious George thing this am. My three and five tear olds found it scary. I liked the fact that George discovered facts to explain the mystery, but i was bothered by the adults going on about it. I am not into scary movies at all.

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  15. I tend to like Curious George. Of course, the Man is kind of an idiot, but my kids see that. They are not going to learn bad habits from the monkey. I think they learn from the natural consequenses of the crazy things George tries; its supposed to be a science-related show, not a parenting show. I always think George is kind of parallel to my one year olds. Mobile, trying things, learning, climbing, clueless!

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  16. Netflix streaming is not available currently in Australia. But purevpn netflix vpn service make it easy for all to watch netflix from geo restricted channels.

    ReplyDelete

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