Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hotel Transylvania -- they’re the stuff of gentle Halloween legend, making the family-friendly rounds on every DVD player across the country as kiddies and their parents carve pumpkins, put the finishing touches on costumes, and add just a few more bones to the impromptu graveyard out in the front yard.
And yes, those very same movies and more are part of my own family’s annual Creepy (but not too creepy) Halloween Movie Countdown. While they’re loved for sure -- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is required watching, obviously -- this year, a welcome twist on the usual flicks is in the works at our house.
Here are five family-movie picks that unexpectedly fit into the spookified All Hallow’s Eve theme. Kind of like a vegetarian zombie.
Halloween might be the only time our kids ever see cavemen, making this romp through the rubble a surprisingly heartwarming pick. Following the first modern family as they embark on an epic journey into the unknown, this fast-paced adventure isn’t spooktacular, but it sure is good for a laugh.
Many of us have married into Star Wars, meaning our honey-bun-loving, droid-coveting kids are dyed-in-the-wool space opera fanatics, thanks to moms and dads with Yoda impressions that are spot on. As if the pshwoom of glowing lightsabers wasn’t enough to draw everyone in, just think of all the fantastical creatures and critters -- inspiration for half of the Halloween costumes out there by the way -- packing every parsec of these fast-paced journeys into a galaxy far, far away.
Ok, so patch eyes and peg legs alone don’t exactly scream All Hallow’s Eve. But barnacled, undead pirates who come together to form a cursed zombie army sure do. Add hauntingly beautiful cannibalistic mermaids and epic journeys to the edge of the world and back, and you have one humdinger of a Halloween viewing experience. Softened slightly by a battle of the cheekbones only Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley can provide, any movie from the Pirates franchise is sure to please little scallywags of a certain age.
A tale about a boy wizard who has a pet owl, attends a magical school and battles against symbiotic evil? This franchise smacks of Halloween, and though the first film in the series is especially exciting because it’s the very first time fans are introduced to and enthralled by the parallel world hidden right within London on the big screen, any of them are enough to encourage a little witchcraft and wizardry.
A felonious mastermind with an impressive proboscis who ends up playing dad to three mismatched orphaned girls alongside freeze rays, fart guns and Twinkie-shaped, gibberish-speaking sidekicks named Phil, Stuart, Kevin and Dave? That’s just part of the standard-issue fun to be had in this series of two films that bounce from nefarious plots to need-a-tissue tearjerker moments with plenty of hilarity in between.
Got a favorite un-Halloween movie you watch at the holiday? Tell us below.