It’s natural for a parent to want to introduce their youngsters to their favorite things. But for horror fans, that can be tenuous territory. You don’t want to scar your kids, but you also want to be able to find a common ground. Thus, some suggestions.
We don’t mean to suggest that these films are not scary. Some of them definitely are, but the titles we have chosen are absent the explicit sex, excessive nudity and gratuitous violence that are found in many horror pictures. These are titles that you can feel safe showing children who are old enough to distinguish between fantasy and reality. As a parent, it’s ultimately your call as to what is appropriate to show your children, but these are 13 suggestions for horror films you don’t have to feel guilty about sharing with your kids.
Every day this month we're bringing you a different Top 13 list from the world of horror. You can find them all here.
The Witches is definitely a bit on the scary side and probably not appropriate for very young children. But older kids will find much to appreciate about this tale of a young boy and his friend who are turned into rats by a group of witches staying at the same hotel as they. There is absolutely no nudity and no harsh language to speak of in The Witches. It is the kind of horror flick that will allow you to pass down your love of genre cinema without inducing nightmares.
The Watcher in the Woods
This film is a great introduction to horror for a variety of reasons. It’s a Disney picture so you can rest assured that there won’t be anything too shocking on display. The Watcher in the Woods has a respectable cast that includes Bette Davis and it boasts an entertaining sci-fi/horror storyline that delves into both the occult and parallel universes. This flick will likely appeal to youngsters without boring their parents to death; and there are a few legitimately creepy moments throughout.
While The Gate is rated PG-13, there really isn’t anything in it that’s terribly objectionable. The film carries the PG-13 rating because it is frightening, not so much because of sexual innuendo or excessive language. This is a great flick that really influenced my interest in horror as a youngster. I saw it on TV shortly after it was first released and it stuck with me for years. If I had kids, this would be the type of picture I would want to share with them to pass down my love for all things genre film.
The Monster Squad
Like The Gate, The Monster Squad also carries the PG-13 rating. There are some thematic elements that are sexual in nature but most of that went right over my head in my youth. The Monster Squad is really no worse than The Goonies in that regard and as such, should be appropriate for children that are mature enough to watch films like The Goonies. The great thing about The Monster Squad is that it provides an introduction to the classic Universal monsters but does so in a format that’s appealing to young kids. This flick is a great way to open the door to sharing the classic Dracula or Frankenstein films with your children.
The Bad Seed
The scares in The Bad Seed are almost entirely implied. And there is no severe language or nudity contained in the film’s runtime. As such, you can quite safely share this with your brood. The film is really driven by Patty McCormack’s sinister performance as Rhoda. And for the most part, she does a very good job carrying the film, particularly at such a young age.
Joe Dante’s 1984 creature feature Gremlins is an awful lot of fun. It has a couple of moments that might be too intense for very young children but kids that are old enough to understand the difference between what’s real and what comes from the imagination of a visionary director should have a wonderful time watching this flick.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
This film is probably best experienced at a young age. I saw it later in life and I wasn’t as taken with it as some of my peers who caught it for the first time in their formative years. Regardless, Something Wicked this Way Comes is a picture that delivers some legitimately frightening moments without going too far over the top or going in directions that might make it uncomfortable for you to watch with your offspring.
This cheese-fest is a fun and over-the-top introduction to supernatural fare that will definitely not scar younger viewers. It’s more teen comedy than horror film but it definitely features some horror elements and boasts a supporting appearance by the late great Zelda Rubenstein! If you have somehow missed this one, it’s worth checking out with your kids for the camp factor alone!
While it’s not always categorized as a horror picture, I consider Stay Tuned to be just that. It revolves around a sadistic television station in hell that attempts to entrap unsuspecting consumers that don’t read the fine print in their cable contract. Though it has a couple of mildly frightening sequences throughout its runtime, Stay Tuned was made with families in mind and thus should serve a good introduction to genre filmmaking.
Joe Dante is well known for making family friendly fare, so it’s not surprising to see more than one of his pictures pop up on this list. The Hole is equal parts touching and frightening. The central relationship between the two brothers is authentic and really makes the film. Most of the tension and frights are the result of what you do not actually see and because of that, The Hole makes for a great gateway to the world of horror.
My Best Friend is a Vampire
This all but forgotten classic from 1987 is very toned down in terms of onscreen carnage and language. There is some fairly mild onscreen sexuality but it’s pretty tame by today’s standards. This is an overlooked gem from yesteryear. It’s a lot of fun and should make for a great opportunity for you to expose your youngsters to the horror genre without causing undue trauma.
There are plenty of versions of The Mummy available and nearly all of them will work as an introduction to horror. But this is my personal favorite incarnation, which is why I am spotlighting it as opposed to one of the various other adaptations. The Mummy is slow burn but the payoff is well worth the wait. There is a respectable body count in the film but there is nearly no onscreen bloodshed. The intense atmosphere and great performances from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee keep the picture afloat beautifully and the lack of violence makes this a great choice for inducting your youngsters.
The Car is a fun, silly, supernatural horror film. It chronicles the exploits of a satanic automobile. It is a terrific choice for those interested in introducing their offspring to the world of genre pictures. There is no nudity or explicit sexuality and much of the carnage is implied, rather than explicitly chronicled onscreen. It’s also a whimsical and highly enjoyable picture that doesn’t take itself too seriously.