Halloween movies on the lighter side

Screenshot from Halloweentown
Cast of Halloweentown

Family-friendly spooky flicks for the season

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor

Halloween! By the time you read this, it will have just passed. But in this writer’s opinion, it’s never a bad time for horror movies. For my final column in this spooky series, I’ll be giving some picks that are a little lighter in tone. These movies won’t fill you with terror, and they’re quite acceptable to watch with young ones, or anyone who wants to sleep at night.

Beetlejuice (1988)

In Tim Burton’s debut, husband and wife Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) find themselves recently deceased, much to their chagrin. Things only get worse when a pesky human family moves into their home. Everyone quickly gets more than they bargained for when the Maitlands hire the shape-shifting, wisecracking specter Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to exorcise the living.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

As the entire Peanuts gang prepares for a Halloween party, young Linus eagerly awaits the Great Pumpkin, who supposedly appears in the most sincere pumpkin patch every Halloween. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown struggles with his ghost costume, and Snoopy gets carried away dressing up as a World War I flying ace. Genuinely heartwarming and charming, this is perhaps the most beloved Halloween special of all time.

Goosebumps (2015)

Based on the bestselling children’s book series, this hilarious movie is likely to give a nostalgia rush to anyone who grew up reading them. Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) thinks the small town he just moved to is boring—until he meets the mysterious girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush), and her reclusive father (Jack Black). Said father happens to be world-famous children’s horror writer R.L. Stine, who reveals that the Goosebumps books are all based on actual monsters. Things get out of control when the monsters break free from the books and invade the town.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This Claymation musical by Tim Burton is an iconic flick appropriate for October or December (or any other time of the year—it’s never a bad time for Jack). In Halloween Town, the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) has grown bored with the same old tradition every year. One day, he stumbles upon another land where, as he exclaims joyfully, “They’re busy building toys and absolutely no one’s dead!” Inspired by Christmas Town, he attempts to bring the holidays together—but naturally, things go horribly wrong. 

Ghostbusters (1984 or 2015)

Who you gonna call? There are two versions of the franchise, the original starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, and the female-fronted reboot with Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. While the 1984 version is no doubt the better movie, the new one is pretty fun as well. Both have similar plots: Paranormal researchers set up shop in New York City to, well, bust ghosts. Despite ridicule from the disbelieving public, the team faces a great evil that threatens to destroy the city.

Halloweentown (1998)

A family classic that spawned three sequels, this movie is broadcast on cable incessantly every October. Thirteen-year-old Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) is upset that she’s never been allowed to celebrate Halloween. One day her witch grandmother (Debbie Reynolds) comes to town—and that’s when Marnie discovers she’s also a witch. If that isn’t enough, Grandma then travels to a mythical monster-filled land known as Halloweentown, with Marnie and her siblings in stowaway tow. When a demon attempts to take over the town, Marnie must save everyone before it’s too late.