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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

List: Halloween Movie Tricks and Treats!

posted by Nell Minow

Halloween gives kids a thrilling opportunity to act out their dreams and pretend to be characters with great power. But it can also be scary and even overwhelming for the littlest trick-or-treaters. An introduction to the holiday with videos from trusted friends can help make them feel comfortable and excited about even the spookier aspects of the holiday.

Kids ages 3-5 will enjoy Barney’s Halloween Party, with a visit to the pumpkin farm, some ideas for Halloween party games and for making Halloween decorations at home, and some safety tips for trick-or-treating at night. They will also get a kick out of Richard Scarry’s The First Halloween Ever, which is Scarry, but not at all scary! Witches in Stitches, is about witches who find it very funny when they turn their sister into a jack o’lantern. And speaking of jack o’lanterns, Spookley the Square Pumpkin is sort of the Rudolph of pumpkins. The round pumpkins make fun of him for being different until a big storm comes and his unusual shape turns out to have some benefits.

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Kids from 7-11 will enjoy the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the silly fun of What’s New Scooby-Doo, Vol. 3 – Halloween Boos and Clues. Try The Worst Witch and its sequel, about a young witch in training who keeps getting everything wrong. Kids will also enjoy Halloween Tree, an animated version of a story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury about four kids who are trying to save the life of their friend. Leonard Nimoy (Dr. Spock on the original “Star Trek”) provides the voice of the mysterious resident of a haunted house, who explains the origins of Halloween and challenges them to think about how they can help their sick friend. The loyalty and courage of the kids is very touching.

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Older children will appreciate The Witches, based on the popular book by Roald Dahl and Hocus Pocus, with children battling three witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. And of course there is the deliciously ghoulish double feature The Addams Family and Addams Family Values based on the cartoons by Charles Addams.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas has gorgeous music from Danny Elfman and stunningly imaginative visuals from Tim Burton in a story about a Halloween character who wonders what it would be like to be part of a happy holiday like Christmas. And don’t forget some old classics like “The Cat and the Canary” (a classic of horror/comedy) and the omnibus ghost story films “Dead of Night” (recommended by the New York Times’ A.O. Scott), and “The House that Dripped Blood.”

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Happy Halloween!

  • Wendy

    Ahhh…The Nightmare Before Christmas. My friends and I used to watch this together every Halloween. It starts the whole Holiday season for me. Thanks for the other recommendations. My daughter is not quite two, so we have a year or two to go before getting started, but I enjoy reading your blogs and reviews and anticipating.

  • Mark

    ‘Great Pumpkin’ is a must see every year — just like the Christmas special. Some films I try to watch every year around this time: the original ‘Frankenstein’ (1931) — people forget how wonderful Karloff is in this film after the hudreds of sequels and remakes; the character of the ‘monster’ has become such a one-demensional icon that few remember what a moving perfromance he gave…
    I like the 1979 version of ‘Dracula’ very much too — I feel it’s overlooked and Frank Langella gives a great turn as the Count — the atmosphere, sets and music are also excellent.
    Lastly, I try to watch the original ‘Halloween’ (1978) every year — it’s simply the best film for scares and suspense and not alot (if any) of gore…unfortuantely, I’m still not brave enough to watch it alone…:)

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Wendy! I hope you get a chance to see the 3D version. It was great to see it back on the big screen.
    And thanks to you, Mark! I love those classics and agree with you about Frank Langella, a deliciously creepy performance. Can’t wait to see him as Nixon! (And I can’t bear to watch any of the “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. I’m a total sissy about slasher films.)

  • Anne

    Another family classic – Young Frankenstein. For older teenagers and up only (but still very funny) Shaun of the Dead

  • Nell Minow

    Two of my favorites!

  • jestrfyl

    A sad note to “the Witches”, this was the project Jim Henson was working on when he died. It was not his best work either, which makes me wonder if he was feeling lousy for a while before the virus took him completely.
    I have a fondness for the Abbott and Costello monster movies, too.
    To keep the Halloween Spirit all year, I suggest reading the comic strip, Lio, by Mark Tatuli. It is a great pantomime strip (with almost no words) that captures the spirit of the Addams family, the light artistry of Gahan Wilson’s creepy work, the forelorn lovelife of Charlie Brown, and the philosophical sophistication of Linus or Lisa Simpson, with the anarchic energy of “Calvin & Hobbes”.

  • http://www.zoombits.fr/cable/ hdmi

    Each year I look forward to watching the Charlie Brown Halloween special. The Great Pumpkin always brings back fond memories of my childhood Halloweens, when the most important thing in the world to me was scoring as much candy as possible- preferably chocolate bars. What horror movie series features the line “It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    That would be “Halloween,” hdmi, the original. Thanks for a great comment!

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