Best Scary Flicks for Family Fun
The latter part of 2012 featured the release of a trio of films that delivered family friendly frights. “ParaNorman” followed a young boy as he learned to adapt to his ability to communicate with the dead. “Hotel Transylvania” features hotel owner Dracula, who invites all of the famous monsters to his daughter’s birthday party, only to find a human in the mix. In “Frankenweenie,” a young scientist uses the power of electricity to bring his dead dog back to life. Though these movies are all animated, the list of scary movies suitable for children includes both live-action and animated classics.
Tim Burton directed “Frankenweenie” as well as “Beetlejuice,” a 1988 film that sounds rather dark on paper but is comedy, right down to its unforgettable dinner dance scene. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin star as the Maitlands, a married couple who are killed in a car accident and return to their former home as ghosts. When a new family moves in, led by insufferable parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones), the Maitlands decide to spook them out of the house. The couple’s gothic daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder), who can see ghosts, complicates matters. Michael Keaton’s titular character is a smarmy “bio-exorcist” the Maitlands hire to help get rid of the family. Keaton is only onscreen for about 20 minutes, but those are the most iconic scenes of the film.
Tim Burton was behind another hair-raising family friendly film, though he served as the co-writer and co-producer on this title. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a stop-motion animated film featuring Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as he pursues his dream of being Santa Claus for a change in holiday pace. The residents of Halloween Town are darkly rendered but have a wide range of personalities that make it easy for children to find a favorite. Sally, Jack’s love interest, assembled like Frankenstein’s monster out of rag doll parts, has a sweet and protective disposition. The only character that might spook small children is Oogie Boogie, a singing and dancing bogeyman who threatens Santa. This film achieved cult status, and is particularly popular around the Halloween season.
“Hocus Pocus” is another popular film with a Halloween theme. The 1993 live-action movie starts in the past, during the times of the Salem Witch Trials, and introduces the Sanderson Sisters. The trio of sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy) is caught sucking the life out of children to gain eternal youth and beauty. While attacking one girl, the witches turn her brother, Binx, into a cat. The witches are killed by a mob, but issue a curse that if a virgin lights a candle during a full moon, the sisters will return. That happens in the 1990s when Max (Omri Katz) lights the candle to impress a girl and lures the witches onto the trail of him and his kid sister Dani (Thora Birch). The children, aided by the talking cat Binx, attempt to outwit the witches.
“The Witches,” Jim Henson’s classic film based on a Roald Dahl story, is much more sinister than “Hocus Pocus.” A young boy (Jasen Fisher) stumbles upon the fact that a group of women has formed a witch society and is planning to turn all the world’s children into mice. It is up to the boy and his plucky grandmother (Mai Zetterling) to take down the head witch, portrayed by a delightfully evil Angelica Huston. There are some genuine scares in this film as the witches’ true appearances are less than pretty.
“Gremlins” has a pair of teenagers spending the night evading creatures somewhat more scaly than the characters in “Witches.” After Billy (Zach Galligan) receives a mysterious Mogwai named Gizmo, he’s told three rules for the upkeep of his new pet: don’t get him wet, don’t feed him after midnight, and never expose him to sunlight. After the first two rules are violated, Gizmo sprouts some new Mogwai, who have a much meaner disposition. It’s a race across town for Billy to destroy the evil Mogwai and keep his friends and family safe.
When selecting a family friendly movie with scary elements, it’s important to consider the ages and specific fears of the children involved. While “Arachnophobia” is appropriate for most ages, it wouldn’t be wise to show it to a child who is already afraid of spiders. For the best message, choose films where the heroes, with the help of family or friends, win in the end.
Movies & TV
TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me on Letterman
TV on the Radio performed “Wolf Like Me” on The Late Show with David Letterman – September 12, 2006 New HD version is available at www.youtube.com
tv Video Rating: 4 / 5
Category: Movies & TV