Halloween Movie Favorites from the 80s and 90s

Halloween is fast approaching. And in anticipation of All Hallow’s Eve, I’ve got scary movies on my mind. Horror movies are a favorite at my house – but if you’ve got youngsters who might wake up at 2 a.m. with nightmares, you might consider less spooky options. I’ve compiled a list of good Halloween movie choices that are a bit more kid-friendly – crowd pleasers from the 80s and 90s.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). This Tim Burton animated film has really become an instant classic. So much so, they rereleased this a few years back, remastering it for 3D viewing, which I recommend watching if anyone gets the chance. If you don’t know the story, Jack Skellington is the King of Halloween Town and is bored with the frights and scares of Halloween. Stumbling across Christmas town, Jack convinces the people of Halloween town to try to give joy and cheer. Things go awry as the town people struggle with the notion of trying to be joyous in their efforts. In the end, Jack realizes he was meant for Halloween and remains the Pumpkin King.

Private Eyes (1980). This 80’s film is great spoof on the classic Sherlock Holmes movies. Starring the great comedy team of Don Knotts and Tim Conway, you know there will be plenty of comedy. Inspector Winship and Dr. Tart are investigating a murder at a supposed haunted mansion. The laughs pile up along with the body count.

Ghostbusters (1984). “Who ya gonna call… Ghostbusters.” Three out of work parapsychology professors decide to set up their own ghost removal service. Written by, and starring, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, and joined by legend Bill Murray, this is a very funny comedy that just happens to be focused around ghosts.

Gremlins (1984). Don’t give them water, food after midnight, and keep them away from bright light. A quiet little town gets terrorized with comedic chaos when these three steadfast rules are violated, turning soft adorable pets into destructive little gremlins. Notably, this film was written by Chris Columbus, who went on to direct such hits as Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and the first two Harry Potter films.

Silver Bullet (1985). This classic is taken from the master himself, Stephen King. This is the story of a young handicapped boy in a wheelchair, who discovers the truth behind the recent string of murders in the small town of Tarker’s Mill: a werewolf! Now if he can only figure out the true identity of the werewolf, and convince all around him, he might be able to return the town back to normal.

There are lots of other really good kid-friendly films out there for Halloween, including another Tim Burton classic, Beetlejuice (1988). And there are plenty of tricks and treats to enjoy with the comical trio of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in Hocus Pocus (1993). I would love to hear other suggestions if you have them. But if you’re looking for a scream-out-loud scary sort of flick, stay tuned on Halloween for my list of Top 5 Scariest Movies of All Time.

And remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation. — Jim