The school bell's barely rung before stores start stocking costumes and pumpkins. What better way to introduce children to the traditions of this annual celebration than through film? While Halloween is notoriously shrouded in all things creepy, crawly and downright scary, we've compiled a list of not-too-spooky Halloween flicks--some more obscure than others, but all available on DVD--certain to get your family into the "spirit" of the season.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Now an American tradition, this film airs annually on Halloween and provides an entertaining perspective on this fall celebration. Join the Peanuts gang as they dress up, trick-or-treat, and attend Violet's Halloween party while Linus waits for the elusive Great Pumpkin.
Monsters Inc./Monsters U.
This heartwarming PIxar classic is a wonderful way to quell kids' fears about monsters, whom we learn are actually terrified of children. When young Boo evades her bedroom door and ends up inside Monsters Inc., she is befriended by top scarers Mike and Sulley, who work to protect her and return her to her home before it is too late. Its prequel, Monsters University, showing how Mike and Sulley met at scare college, comes out on DVD/Blu-ray just in time for Halloween on Oct. 29.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Bored with Halloween's frightful happenings, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington stumbles upon Christmastown and becomes captivated by the idea of Christmas. Determined to bring the joyful holiday to Halloweentown, Jack even assumes the role of Santa Claus, but his plans don't turn out quite the way he anticipates.
The Legend of Smurfy Hallow
In this Smurfy spin on the classic Washington Irving story, Gutsy Smurf sets out to investigate Brainy Smurf's annual success as the reigning champion of the Smurfberry Hunt. Gutsy soon finds himself in Smurfy Hollow and Gargemel's trap. Friendship, honesty, and good sportsmanship are modeled in this not-too-spooky short film.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Disney's 1949 classic featuring the voices of Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone has animated shorts of The Wind in the Willows and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In the first short, Mr. Toad becomes captivated by a shiny motorcar, while the second finds Ichabod Crane aspiring to sweep Katrina Van Tassel off her feet. When a rival challenges Ichabod Crane with Halloween superstitions, will it be enough to scare him out of Sleepy Hollow?
Spookley the Square Pumpkin
Celebrating differences and having the courage to embrace them and believe in yourself are the themes presented in this adorable film, best suited for younger tots. Spookley, a square pumpkin, bemoans his odd shape only heightened by the teasing he has to endure from the other pumpkins. When a storm threatens his entire patch, he learns that his unique shape may be advantageous.
What do you do to get rid of unwanted houseguests? You call Beetlejuice, of course (three times at that!). TIm Burton's quirky, never-too-scary film about a ghost couple haunting the new inhabitants is filled with humor and heart, etched together with fantasy and horror….perfect for the Halloween season.
This classic adventure film follows the story of a group of misfit friends who learn that their homes will be foreclosed on. When they happen upon a Spanish treasure map, they set out to find the long lost fortune of the legendary 18th century pirate chieftain, in hopes of saving their homes. Magic, scares, creepy underground passages, scary characters and lots of fun.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Often compared to Mary Poppins, Disney's live action/animation hybrid tells the story of three children who's caretaker just happens to be a witch. The time is World War II and thus Miss Price's plans involve saving England from the Nazis by way of a spell. Traveling on a magical bed, they set out for Naboombu in search of the right spell and end up experiencing a flight of magical adventures.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy are three witches resurrected after 300 years who wreak havoc on Salem, Mass. Sure it's hokey, but kids (over say, 8) will love this--as will kids of the '90s.
Always a joy for kids (and kids at heart)--who doesn't love Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man? If you haven't already introduced your young ones to this '80s classic, do. It. Now.
There are many more great movies to show kids at Halloween. What are your favorites? Comment below.