My family loves to watch movies together and we usually spend one night a week eating dinner in front of one. As Halloween approaches, my boys are insisting that they are ready to watch scary movies. They really, really, really want to see something scary! Hum... What to offer them? Scary but not too scary. Exciting but not violent. It's a great opportunity to introduce them to some classic films so some old black and white pictures are definitely to be considered. Here are some suggestions for appropriately scary movies to watch with your kids. Bear in mind that my boys are 10 and 12. I feel comfortable showing them any of the following films but you are the best judge of what is right for your kids.
Them from 1954. I love this movie, one of the best to explore America's new fear of nuclear radiation. Giant ants roam the desert and wind up in a final confrontation in the drain pipes of the LA river. The black and white cinematography is fantastic and the acting is superior to much of what you see in movies of this type. A true classic.
The Blob, the original from 1958 staring Steve McQueen. This film is a little gory because the blob gets redder and redder as it spreads its way through the small American "any-town", consuming whoever lies in its path. But the deaths are not graphic and the whole thing is so absurd that kids can enjoy being scared with out getting freaked out.
Murder by Death from 1976 is not a horror movie per say but it is a murder mystery and it would be great to watch before Halloween. Written by Neil Simon the movie is funny in a clever and kid friendly, slightly wacky way. It's not a perfect film, the ending left us all a little confused, but it's so much fun that it's worth seeking out.
It Came From Outer Space, 1953. An alien space craft lands in the Arizona Desert and nobody believes the amateur stargazer who saw the whole thing until it's almost too late! The Aliens take over the citizens a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
And speaking of that...
Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1978. Though it's rated PG I strongly caution that this one is for kids at least 11 years old. It's just too creepy for younger kids (plus there are some adult situations.) The 1956 version is milder but this one is so good it gets my vote. We watched it last summer and my 11 year old LOVED it. I am shuddering thinking about the ending...
For the younger set (but really who doesn't love these guys) Any of the "Abbott and Costello meet..." films are a great choice; Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man. You can't go wrong with kids 7-8 and up.
So, where to get these films? Well, Netflix has a lot of them and so does the well stocked CD universe. Click on the link to be taken to their Halloween selection page. If you are here on the west side of Los Angeles you can take your kids to the wonderful Vidiots at 302 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica. The store is a treasure trove of hard to find movies. The Godzilla collection alone is worth the price of membership. I am not usually one to go for a lifetime membership to anything ( often too expensive and it gives me a weird kind of trapped feeling) but in this case it has been a terrific deal and you should ask about it if you are joining for the first time.
If you'd like to actually take your kids to a theater for a Halloween movie treat there are 2 great choices happening Halloween weekend;
On Saturday the 30th at 7:30 The American Cinematheque in Hollywood is showing Ghostbusters and on Sunday the 31st The Aero on Montana Ave in Santa Monica is showing The Monster Squad at 5pm.
If you have any great suggestions for movies please share them in the comment section. Happy Halloween everybody!