halloween movie reviews

Each movie listed includes: 

(1) Title (2) Rating (3) Genres (4) Starring (5) Synopsis (6) My Personal Review (7) Scoring 1-5

 

 Click on the pictures to pin them on Pinterest for later.

100% Wolf (2020)

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Jane Lynch

Synopsis: Freddy Lupin is the heir to a proud family line of werewolves.  Positive he’ll become the most fearsome werewolf ever, Freddy is in for a shock when his first “warfing” goes awry, turning him into a ferocious-poodle.

Review:  This was really good.  I was interested and engaged in the story the whole time.  If you’re an adult who doesn’t particularly enjoy animated films, this may not be for you.  This is a good family film but might be a little scary for very young ones.  There were some nods to Lion King that I thought were done well but were too similar.  I did enjoy the overall message of believing in yourself.

Scoring: 3

The Addams Family
Rated: PG-13
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, and Christina Ricci
Synopsis: For 25 years uncle Fester has been missing. An evil doctor finds out and introduces a fake Fester in an attempt to get the Adams Family's money. The youngest daughter has some doubts as to the sincerity of the new uncle Fester. The fake uncle adapts very well to the strange family. Can the doctor carry out her evil plans and take over the Adams Family's fortune?
Review:  A fun movie version of the TV show. We get to know the family and all their eccentricities along with many colorful characters. The story is original and entertaining. A movie I don’t mind seeing over and over again. 
Scoring: 4

The Addams Family (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Tituss Burgess, Snoop Dogg, Oscar Isaac, Allison Janney, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Chloe Grace Moretz, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Charlize Theron

Synopsis: The eccentrically macabre family moves to a bland suburb where Wednesday Addams' friendship with the daughter of a hostile and conformist local reality show host exacerbates conflict between the families.

Review: There were times, especially at the beginning, that I thought might be too dark for the youngest viewers, hence the PG rating.  It’s got lots of funny moments for children and adults along with the antics you expect from the family.  This has a message of being one’s own self and accepting others for their differences that is more overt than other Addams Family movies.  It’s a great message for children and a great way to start a conversation as a family.

Scoring: 4

Addams Family Values

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Joan Cusack, Dan Hedaya, and Christina Ricci

Synopsis: The Addams Family try to rescue their beloved uncle Fester from his gold-digging new love, a black widow named Debbie.

Review: In a fun sequel to the first movie, we get to see the contrast between the girliest girl and an Addams. The movie splits into two equally funny stories when we see the kids at camp with “normal” children and Fester falling for the nanny. This movie may be more outrageous than the first but it’s another I love to rewatch.

Scoring: 4

All Hallows’ Eve (2016)

Rated: NR

Genres: Family, Fantasy

Starring: Lexi Giovagnoli, Ashley Argota, and John DeLuca

Synopsis: As Eve celebrates her 18th birthday on Halloween night, she discovers she’s a witch and accidentally summons an old relative who wants to enslave the town.

Review: This is a cute movie.  I’d say it’s geared toward preteens but anyone could watch.  It’s a little blah at points and I had to force myself to pay attention more than I’d like but a younger viewer may feel differently.

Scoring: 2

Arthur And The Haunted Tree House (2017)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Synopsis: While trick-or-treating, Francine meets an elderly woman with a mysterious past; Blinky finds himself at Mr. Ratburn’s amazing haunted house; and Arthur, Buster, and Ladonna fear the tree house may be haunted.

Review: Age-appropriate Halloween scary for young children told in a way adults may still enjoy making it a good family viewing.  Unlike the other Arthur movie I saw, this one isn’t focused on one story but rather several shorter stories woven together.

Scoring: 3

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Tamara Smart, Oona Laurence, and Tom Felton

Synopsis: A babysitter embarks on a mission to save a child who’s been abducted by monsters.

Review: A great movie for preteens showing girls as powerful and brave.  It is an interesting look at those monsters in our nightmares.  It even has some good humor.  It’s probably best for preteens but could be good family viewing.

Scoring: 2

The Batman vs. Dracula (2005)

Rated: NR

Genres: Action, Animation, Fantasy

Synopsis: Batman faces off against the original creature of the night, Count Dracula, who has been unintentionally resurrected by the Penguin.

Review: I’m more a fan of the campy Batman than the darker gothic versions, like this one.  Even so, I was getting into the story and then it just felt like it was dragging.  I was actually bored.  If this is your genre, you should love this.  If not, save your time.  Also, it’s not rate but it’s definitely not for young children.

Scoring: 2

Beetlejuice 
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy 
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Michael Keaton, Catherine O’Hara, and Winona Ryder
Synopsis: Adam and Barbara are a normal couple...who happen to be dead. They have given their precious time to decorate their house and make it their own, but unfortunately a family is moving in, and not quietly. Adam and Barbara try to scare them out, but end up becoming the main attraction to the money making family. They call upon Beetlejuice to help, but Beetlejuice has more in mind than just helping.
Review:  This is a classic for a good reason. It’s silly, fun, and full of many eccentric characters. The best twist is that the most normal characters are the ghosts in the house. 
Scoring: 4

The Black Cauldron (1985)

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy

Synopsis: A young boy and a group of misfit friends embark on a quest to find a dark magic item of ultimate power before a diabolical tyrant can.

Review: I was so bored watching this.  You’d think fighting evil and a pig who can tell the future would be enough to garner a little attention, if not enthusiasm.  It’s just like watching paint dry.  Disney dropped the ball on this one.

Scoring: 1

Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Peter Ustinov

Synopsis: On the Carolina coast, Godolphin College’s new track coach lodges at Blackbeard’s Inn, run by the Daughters of the Buccaneers, who claim to be descendants of the notorious pirate, and who risk losing their hotel to the local mobster.

Review: There were a few moments that were entertaining but overall, it was a yawn.  There were too many times where the story lagged.  If you like old-school Disney, give it a shot.

Scoring: 2

Blippi And Friends: Halloween Special (2020)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Synopsis: Enjoy this special Moonbug Halloween-themed compilation with some of our favorite characters such as Blippi, Morphle, ARPO The robot, and Gecko’s Garage.  In this educational yet entertaining video for kids, your kids will follow Blippi as he visits the pumpkin playground, Mila and Morphle as they go trick or treating, Gecko as he makes Halloween ice cream, and lots more exciting cartoons.

Review: A very cute and educational Halloween special for young viewers.  I would say probably 5 and under are the target audience.  There are songs and lots of fun.  Most adults won’t care for it.

Scoring: 3

Boo!  A Madea Halloween

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Horror

Starring: Tyler Perry

Synopsis: Madea winds up in the middle of mayhem when she spends a haunted Halloween fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies while keeping a watchful eye on a group of misbehaving teens.

Review:  This is a typical Madea movie.  If you like Madea, you’ll love this.  You’ve got all the funny lines and characters mixed with Halloween antics.  It even has the life lessons you’d expect.  It’s laugh out loud funny.

Scoring: 4

Boo 2!  A Madea Halloween

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Horror

Starring: Tyler Perry

Synopsis: Madea, Bam, and Hattie venture to a haunted campground and the group must run for their lives when monsters, goblins, and the boogeyman are unleashed.

Review:  All the fun, characters, and silliness of the first Madea Halloween but with some more scare thrown in.  I couldn’t stop laughing. 

Scoring: 4

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (2010)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Victoria Justice, Chase Ellison, Anna Galvin, Brooke Shields, and Brooke D’Orsay

Synopsis: When high school geek Jordan becomes a werewolf after moving to Romania, she must elude her own brother who seeks to slay her. 

Review: A little cheesy but a typical coming of age/monster movie.  Brooke Shields is amazing here.  This is more a preteen girl style movie.  They will enjoy how Jordan goes from self-conscious to confident.  Families could enjoy it.

Scoring: 2

Bride of Boogedy (1987)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Mimi Kennedy and Richard Masur

Synopsis: A family with a great love for practical jokes is haunted by the family ghost, Mr. Boogedy.

Review: This is a sequel to “Mr. Boogedy”.  The best way I can think to describe it is as ghostbusters for kids.  It’s a little silly but that keeps it from being overly scary.  Some of the best scenes are when the father is possessed by Mr. Boogedy.  Made for kids but adults may enjoy it.

Scoring: 3

Casper
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Kathy Moriarity, and Eric Idle
Synopsis: A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by three mischievous ghosts and one friendly one.
Review:  A fun movie for the whole family. Kids will love special effects like the ghosts eating and the food going through them. A good message about kindness and acceptance. 
Scoring: 3

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About Halloween (2016)

Rated: G

Genres: Animated, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Martin Short

Synopsis: The Cat in the Hat takes Nick and Sally on a Halloween ride filled with howlers and shockers and scary fandangles, big laughs and music and fun from all angles.  Their fright-filled adventure takes them deep into the Oooky-makooky Closet where Nick and Sally discover the best costumes ever.

Review: This is a fun way for children to explore Halloween.  It’s exactly as advertised.  I don’t think adults will enjoy it as much as many animated specials but it’s still enjoyable.  The Seuss character and language is entertaining and this would be a good family movie.

                                                     Scoring:

Coraline

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher

Synopsis: An adventurous 11-year-old girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.

Review: This movie was creepy and I feel that may be an understatement.  It’s not one I’d watch again but I don’t particularly care for creepy and weird.  If you liked The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, and similar movies, I believe you’ll like it.

Scoring: 2

Corpse Bride
Rated: PG
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, and Tracy Ullman
Synopsis: When a shy groom practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from the grave assuming he has married her.
Review:  I know I say this for every one of his movies but, Tim Burton. If you’re not a fan, this isn’t the movie for you. I found it to be a sweet love story with some original story elements. I seems implausible that a movie about a ghost in love would make sense but somehow it works. 
Scoring: 3

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest (2013)

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Starring: Frank Welker

Synopsis: George jumps in leaves, picks a pumpkin, and does other fun Halloween traditions.

Review: This is very cute.  I wish they’d left the songs out but other than that it’s adorable.  I enjoyed it.

Scoring: 3

Dark Shadows (2012)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, and Ava Green

Synopsis: An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

Review: This is most definitely a Tim Burton movie.  If you enjoy his sort of twisted humor, you will like this.  If you don’t, you may not.  It suffers from an identity crisis.  It can’t decide if it’s about a family, a romance, or a comedy.  It switches back and forth.  I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind watching again but I tend to like Burton’s work.

Scoring: 3

Death Becomes Her (1992)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis

Synopsis: When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival.

Review: I think this movie is quite funny.  It’s not at the level you’d expect with Streep, Hawn, and Willis starring.  It’s tongue-in-cheek and more than a little silly with some really interesting special effects.  It’s one I enjoyed enough to watch again but I recommend tempering your expectations.

Scoring: 3

Descendants (2015)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Kathy Najimy, Kristin Chenoweth, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson, Mitchell Hope, and Sarah Jeffery

Synopsis: The teenage son of the king and queen or Auradon, Belle and the Beast, offers the trouble-making children of villains a chance to attend prep school in the kingdom.

Review: Personally, I loved this movie.  I really enjoyed the songs and the choreography.  I liked seeing the fairy tale characters from the villains’ point of view.  Even if they were the children of the villains, which just added another layer of interest.  Perfect family movie.

Scoring: 5

Descendants 2 (2017)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson, Mitchell Hope, and Sarah Jeffery

Synopsis: Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay try to adjust to life in Auradon, but Mal becomes overwhelmed with pressure and returns to her roots.

Review: I liked this a little less than the first movie.  Maybe the novelty of the concept added to the enjoyment of the first one.  This also has good music and dancing.  The story is just not quite as good.  It’s still a great movie, just not as great as the original.

Scoring: 3

Descendants 3 (2019)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson, Mitchell Hope, and Sarah Jeffery

Synopsis: The teenagers of Disney’s most infamous villains return to the Isle of the Lost to recruit a new batch of villainous offspring to join them at Auradon Prep.

Review: This was also a good movie but not nearly as good as the first one.  I enjoyed it but not as much as the original.  I liked seeing how the familiar characters were progressing but it felt like a lot of the same.

Scoring: 3

Don’t Look Under The Bed (1999)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Family, Fantasy, Horror

Starring: Erin Chambers and Ty Hodges

Synopsis: A teen enlists the help of an imaginary friend named Larry Houdini to deal with a prank-playing bogeyman, who’s framing her for his dastardly deeds.

Review: I’m on the fence with this one.  I found it to be weird and awkward to watch.  That being said, it might be fun for kids, if they can follow the story.

Scoring: 2

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest

Synopsis: A deceased inventor’s creation becomes a celebrity when a cheery suburbanite brings him home.

Review:  I’m not sure why so many lists have this as a Christmas movie. A very small part of it takes place at Christmas.  Being a Tim Burton movie, I think most people either love it or hate it.  I just don’t get it.  What’s the point?  If you’re different you’re special until they get tired of you?  I don’t know.  It’s considered a classic but it’s not for me.

Scoring: 1

Frankenweenie
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Short
Synopsis: When a boy's beloved dog passes away suddenly, he attempts to bring the animal back to life through a powerful science experiment.
Review:  What else can you say but Tim Burton. Bizarre and really weird. A movie about raising the dead isn’t one I’d recommend for children but for adult Burton fans you may enjoy it. I didn’t care for it. 
Scoring: 2

The Ghosts of Buxley Hall (1980)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Dick O’Neill, Victor French, and Louise Latham

Synopsis: Ghosts and a young cadet try to save a military academy from being closed.

Review: This is definitely a 1980 Disney movie.  Children will probably enjoy it but I was quite bored.  It’s not a bad family film but it’s not exactly exciting, either.

Scoring: 2

Ghostbusters (1984)
Rated: PG
Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramos, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts
Synopsis: Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.
Review:  While the premise is quite unbelievable, the plot is even more so. However, that’s part of the fun. The silliness and plot twists keep you thoroughly entertained. If you can handle corny, this is for you. 
Scoring: 3
Girl Vs. Monster 
Rated: TV-PG
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Olivia Holt
Synopsis: Skylar finds out that her parents are monster hunters after she accidentally releases some monsters from a secret containment chamber; so she and her techno friends must recapture all the monsters and also save her mom and dad from these monsters who are out for revenge.
Review:  This movie may appeal to school age children but it was a little too expected and silly for me. I didn’t mind watching it but I won’t watch it again. That being said, kids may enjoy it. 
Scoring: 2
The Good Witch
Rated: PG
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy 
Starring: Catherine Bell and Chris Potter
Synopsis: A darkly beautiful and mysterious woman comes in to town and inhabits the local haunted mansion, making everyone wonder if she's a witch or "The Grey Lady".
Review:  This is the movie that started the Good Witch movies and then TV series. Cassie’s odd ways and mysterious home and shop intrigue the town and, of course, love ensues. 
Scoring: 3

Good Witch Halloween

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Catherine Bell, Bailee Madison, and James Denton

Synopsis: Whilst Cassie deals with the newest guest at Grey House, Grace seeks no advice to help deal with school bullies calling her a witch.

Review:  I enjoyed this as much as all the other Good Witch stories.  It’s got the usual town hijinks mixed with fun and drama.  As with the others, it’s easier to follow if you watch the series.  If you don’t, this might make you want to.

Scoring: 3

Good Witch: Secrets of Grey House

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Catherine Bell, Bailee Madison, and James Denton

Synopsis: The author of a series of magic-and-romance-filled novels comes to Grey House to celebrate the release of her newest book, titled "The Enchantress Unites." But it's Cassie who ends up doing the uniting, bringing together the people of Middleton to put on the special event while also coming to a special realization about Sam.

Review:  Another wonderful Good Witch story.  It blends just the right amount of mystery with romance.  It’s light and easy.  It may be difficult to follow if you don’t watch the series and aren’t familiar with the story.  If you watch the series, you know you’ll love it.

Scoring: 3

Good Witch: Spellbound

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Catherine Bell, Bailee Madison, and James Denton

Synopsis: The business owners compete for the best-decorated shop. A prophecy is unearthed in the basement of City Hall; when predictions start coming true, the citizens fear it's a terrible curse. Cassie and Sam may be the key to saving their town.

Review:  I believe this may be one of my favorite Good Witch adventures.  The twists and turns and townspeople reactions to the predictions makes it extra entertaining.  As with the other Good Witch stories, it will be easier to follow and enjoy if you watch the series.

Scoring: 4

Good Witch: Tale Of Two Hearts
Rated: G
Starring: Catherine Bell, James Denton, and Bailee Madison
Synopsis: Everyone in town prepares for the Halloween Harvest Festival’s competition with rival town Blairsville. New mayor Abigail tries to outdo former mayor Martha, creating rivalries within the town as well. When a 100-carat ruby known as The Heart of Middleton is stolen from the museum where the festival’s gala is to be held, the town’s Halloween romance suffers, and Cassie suspects a Grey House guest is the culprit. 
Review:  If you’re a fan of the Good Witch series this is a must see movie as it’s a continuation of the show’s story line. If you don’t watch the series you may have trouble figuring out the characters and relationships. That being said, it’s as charming as the series with the expected Halloween magic. 
Scoring: 4

Halloween Dance

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Synopsis: It’s Halloween and besties BeezBee the bee, Peanut the giraffe, and Brooklyn the lion already picked out their Halloween costumes.  Now it’s just about discovering where the best candys are found.

Review: This is a mash-up of (1) a story and (2) music with dancing.  This was definitely made for very young children but trying to follow the story when it’s interrupted with long dances may be difficult.

Scoring: 2

Halloweentown (Movie 1 Of 4)
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, and Robin Thomas
Synopsis: On Halloween the Piper kids' grandmother Aggie comes to visit. Aggie wants to start Marnie's witch training before her 13th birthday or Marnie will lose her powers forever.  After Aggie leaves to return to Halloweentown, the children follow her onto the return bus. Soon afterwards, Gwen follows the children to Halloweentown. While there, Aggie & Gwen are attacked by the dark force in a movie theater. Marnie, Dylan & Sophie race to get the ingredients to activate Merlin's Wand to stop the evil.
Review:  While this movie was made for children it appeals to the child in all of us. It’s silly and corny yet delightfully enjoyable. All the creatures of Halloweentown are whimsical and magical without being too scary. The family relationships are easily relatable. 
Scoring: 4
Halloweentown High (Movie 3 Of 4)
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, and Emily Roeske
Synopsis: In the third Halloweentown movie, Marnie and her pals from Halloweentown are interested in attending high school in the nearby mortal community, where they'll be able to spend more time with kids their age, and with the help of her grandmother Aggie, she's able to convince the town council to go along with the suggestion. However, there's a catch, if anything dangerous happens as a result of their presence in the mortal school, Marnie’s family will lose their magic. Trouble does make its way to the school, but not in a way anyone expected. The Knight of the Iron Dagger comes to the mortal world determined to wipe out Marnie and her magical companions.
Review:  Yet another fun sequel. We get to see magical creatures wearing human costumes to fit in. It demonstrates that no matter how different we are there are so many ways we are alike. High school is high school whether magical or mortal. As with the other movies we see the ever evolving relationships within the family. 
Scoring: 4
Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (Movie 2 Of 4)
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman, Emily Roeske, and Robin Thomas
Synopsis: The Cromwell clan live in the real world, except for their grandmother who lives in Halloweentown, a place where monsters go to escape reality. But now the son of the Cromwells' old enemy Kalabar has a plan to use the grandmother's book to turn Halloweentown into a grey dreary version of the real world, while transforming the denizens of the real world into monsters. Only Marnie, a fledgling witch, can thwart the evil scheme.
Review:  This sequel to the original is just as magical as the first. We get to see how their relationships develop and change as the children age and magic becomes a bigger part of their lives. We get to see all the fun Halloweentown characters again. 
Scoring: 4

Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Movie 2 of 8

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Mark Williams, Tom Felton, Kenneth Branagh, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: An ancient prophecy seems to be coming true when a mysterious presence begins stalking the corridors of a school of magic and leaving its victims paralyzed.

Review: This second movie of the series continues introducing us to magical things.  It’s a little darker than the first but it’s also got more funny moments.  The Kenneth Branagh character is strange but shouldn’t a wizarding world be just that.  Again, we learn that people and things are not always what they seem.

Scoring: 5

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

Movie 7 of 8

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: As Harry, Ron, and Hermione race against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, they uncover the existence of the three most powerful objects in the wizarding world, The Deathly Hallows.

Review: I personally like the innocence and wonder of the first few films.  This one is a lot darker.  The battle to defeat Voldemort is the primary plot.  The pacing here is a little slow and I found myself less interested, particularly in the middle.  This is another that you will probably only enjoy if you’re watching the series.  It’s well done but how much you’ll enjoy it depends on how much you like the darker and more dramatic storyline.

Scoring: 4

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Movie 8 of 8

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: Harry, Ron, and Hermione search for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord as the final battle rages on at Hogwarts.

Review: After 7 movies of build-up to a finale, this one, thankfully, doesn’t disappoint.  The special effects are marvelous.  Even though I knew how it would end, having read the books, the movie still created an edge of your seat feeling.  The only negative is the ending.  We see the main characters sending their own young ones off to Hogwarts.  It makes me want to see the next steps even more.

Scoring: 5

Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire (2005)

Movie 4 of 8

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Robert Pattinson, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: Harry Potter finds himself competing in a hazardous tournament between rival schools of magic, but he is distracted by recurring nightmares.

Review: With this movie we get a little bit of the wonder of magic back.  We get to see other wizards, Quidditch, lots of funny moments, and the beginning of feelings between Ron and Hermione.  I really enjoyed this one. It has the drama and intensity it should at this point in the series but it embraces magic again.  Please note the first 3 movies were rated PG but this one and all the rest, except for one, are PG-13.

Scoring: 5

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Movie 6 of 8

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: As Harry Potter begins his sixth year at Hogwarts, he discovers an old book marked as “the property of the Half-Blood Prince” and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort’s dark past.

Review: Of all the series, this film is the most forgettable.  It helps us learn more about Voldemort’s past but it doesn’t do as much to move the series forward as the other movies do.  The focus on romance and love potions lightens the movie but also distracts from the danger.  It’s as if we’re watching a teen romance and drama mash-up.  If you’re watching the series, you shouldn’t skip this.  It has one very important character affected-I won’t spoil it.  As a stand-alone, you don’t need it.

Scoring:

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (2007)

Movie 5 of 8

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: With their warning about Lord Voldemort’s return scoffed at, Harry and Dumbledore are targeted by the Wizard authorities as an authoritarian bureaucrat slowly seizes power at Hogwarts.

Review: This is where the series really gets dark.  There’s always been an enemy and an element of danger but here it feels as if they are always under attack.  The childish wonder is no more.  We see Harry, Ron, and Hermione are no longer young children.  They are growing up.  That being said, there is magic, used for both good and bad.  We meet new characters and another level of the wizarding world.  Umbridge was brought to life very well.

Scoring: 4

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Movie 3 of 8

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their third year of study, where they delve into the mystery surrounding an escaped prisoner who poses a dangerous threat to the young wizard.

Review: This movie is a good story but there are changes that are noticeable.  The new Dumbledore has a very different appearance to the previous Dumbledore.  It’s not just the different actors, it’s the beard, costume, and so on.  Also, this movie felt very dramatic and very heavy and was missing the wonder of magic.  Magic is treated as a prop rather than a big part of the plot.  I did like seeing how they brought the dementors to life.  It was done very well.  You could feel the fear of them.  I still enjoyed it.

Scoring: 4

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Movie 1 of 8

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, and Robbie Coltrane

Synopsis: An orphaned boy enrolls in a school of wizardry, where he learns the truth about himself, his family, and the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.

Review: This movie is my favorite of the series.  I think it’s because we are being introduced to their world along with Harry.  It’s light and magical.  The later movies get darker with each one.  Truly fantastical.

Scoring: 5

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Jack Black and Cate Blanchett

Synopsis: A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

Review: I found it to have lots of magic which I found very interesting but the story moved at an erratic pace.  I’d get interested, then bored, then interested, then bored.  The characters at time were interesting.  I think this is the type of movie that most people will like or not with no in between.  I found it to be mostly forgettable.

Scoring: 2

The Haunted Mansion
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Tilly, and Wallace Shawn
Synopsis: A realtor and his wife and children are summoned to a mansion, which they soon discover is haunted, and while they attempt to escape, he learns an important lesson about the family he has neglected.
Review:  Based on the ride at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, this movie doesn’t disappoint. It takes all the parts of the ride and expands them into a family tale. The family’s adventures introduce us to whimsical characters and teach the importance of family. 
Scoring: 3

Haunted Transylvania 2 (2018)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Synopsis: Turn your house into a Halloween haunted house party.  Sing-along and dance with this fun Halloween celebration for kids of all ages.

Review: This isn’t really a movie. It’s basically just as billed, a dance party. The pros: Many of the dance steps are simple enough that preschoolers could do them and you won’t mind the music. The cons: Certain scenes seem to be the same few movements over and over with the same music until you’re ready for them to move on to the next song.. 

Scoring: 2

Haunted Transylvania 3 (2019)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Synopsis: Turn your house into a Halloween haunted house party.  Sing-along and dance with this fun Halloween celebration for kids of all ages.

Review: Like the part 2, this isn’t really a movie. It’s basically a dance party. The pros: Many of the dance steps are simple enough that preschoolers could do them and you won’t mind the music. The cons: Certain scenes seem to be the same few movements over and over with the same music until you’re ready for them to move on to the next song.. 

Scoring: 2

Haunted Transylvania: Mighty Mummy Madness (2020)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Synopsis: Follows Rags the little mummy and his bestie dragon, Tickles, on a sleuthing mission looking for the yummiest Halloween treats in the world.

Review: This is mostly dancing like the others in the series.  The story is not the main event.  If your children like the others, they will like this one.

Scoring: 2

Hocus Pocus
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Thora Birch
Synopsis: 300 years have passed since the Sanderson sisters were executed for practicing dark witchcraft. Returning to life thanks to a combination of a spell spoken before their demise and the accidental actions of Max, the new-kid-in-town, the sisters have but one night to secure their continuing existence.
Review:  My favorite Halloween movie. As the kids go on their adventure the hilarious adventures of the witches, like discovering paved roads, keep the story light.  It might be frightening for very young children but it’s a family favorite. 
Scoring: 5
Hotel Transylvania 
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy 
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, and David Spade
Synopsis: Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count's teenaged daughter.
Review:  I love this movie. All the varied creatures are fun and not scary. There’s so many funny moments but some very sweet father-daughter moments. Fun for all ages. 
Scoring: 4
Hotel Transylvania 2
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy 
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, and David Spade
Synopsis: Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.
Review:  As much fun as the first. We see Mavis in the human world and the remaining creatures in theirs. It’s got so many funny moments and a quick pace.  You can watch it separately from the first but I think it’s better to watch them both. 
Scoring: 4
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy 
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, and David Spade
Synopsis: Count Dracula and company participate in a cruise for sea-loving monsters, unaware that their boat is being commandeered by the monster-hating Van Helsing family.
Review:  Most movies, by the third sequel, lose their appeal. This isn’t the case here. They build on the funny aspects of each character and add in the group dynamics.  Taking place on a monster cruise makes it seem very different while keeping the characters we love. This movie could also stand alone but watching them in order makes them even better. 
Scoring: 4

Hubie Halloween (2020)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family

Starring:  Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, George Wallace, Kenan Thompson, Shaquille O’Neal, Ben Stiller, Jackie Sandler

Synopsis: Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it's up to Hubie to save Halloween.

Review: At first I thought this would be similar to The Waterboy.  It’s not really.  Yes, the main character appears to have some challenges but that’s the main similarity.  It’s silly, sometimes juvenile, sometimes kind of stupid.  The overall message of kindness and giving and good coming to good people is sweet.  If you like Adam Sandler give this a try.  If you don’t, skip it.

Scoring: 3

Into The Woods (2014)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Musical

Starring: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Tracy Ullman, and Johnny Depp

Synopsis: A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.

Review: While I was looking forward to seeing numerous beloved tales woven into one, and done by a star-studded cast, I was disappointed.  I liked the story alright but the constant rhyming and singing literally gave me a headache.  I love musicals but this one was just too much and over the top.  It never gave you a break to catch your breath.  If you like fairy tales you may want to try it for yourself but if you don’t, or you don’t like lots of singing and music, skip it.

Scoring: 2

Invisible Sister (2015)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Rowan Blanchard and Paris Berelc

Synopsis: Cleo’s Halloween science project goes awry, causing her popular older sister, Molly, to go invisible.

Review: I like the message of how we are invisible, meaning not noticed by others, often comes from inside us.  The sister who decided she was just a nerd so no one popular would ever like or notice her, learned her value.  I also like the relationship between the sisters.  Despite their differences, they have each other’s backs.  The turning invisible storyline was a little silly for adults but well done for young children and preteens.  A nice family film.

Scoring: 3

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Comedy

Starring: N/A

Synopsis: The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin.

Review: Another classic from the Peanuts gang.  Poor Charlie Brown, pitiful costume and all, doesn’t get candy.  Linus convince Sally to wait with him for the Great Pumpkin.  The best part is how Linus believes with all his heart, no matter what everyone says.

Scoring: 5

The Legend of Hallowaiian (2018)

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Vanessa Williams, Mark Hamill, and Tia Carrere

Synopsis: When three young friends uncover ancient Hawaiian legends, they unleash a giant pineapple-headed monster wreaking havoc on the island and it’s up to them to save their hometown.

Review: You have to look past the flawed animation and look at the story.  It’s not too scary for children.  It has a good message of respecting and acknowledging family and ancestors as well as friendship.  It’s a bit silly but fun for family viewing.

Scoring: 2

Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales (2021)

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Starring: Christian Slater

Synopsis: Dean, Poe, and BB-8 must face their fears, stop an ancient evil from rising, and escape to make it back to their friends.

Review: If you enjoy Lego Star Wars, you’ll love this.  It’s just silly enough to keep it from getting too scary but it has enough Star Wars to keep it interesting.  I think I may have liked the characters even more than the story.

Scoring: 3

Liar, Liar, Vampire (2015)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family

Starring: Rahart Adams and Brec Bassinger

Synopsis: When Caitlyn, the most popular girl in school, mistakes new kid Davis for a vampire, he gains instant celebrity status.  Davis enlists the help of his next-door neighbor, Vi, to dial up his vampire act.  Together, will they fool the school?

Review: This movie is probably best for pre-teens.  It’s got all the peer pressure and social issues faced at school.  The story handles these issues pretty well while being honest but keeping it at a G rating level.  My only issue was that it seemed to wrap up to quickly and neatly.

Scoring: 3

Little Monsters (1989)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Howie Mandel, Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Daniel Stern

Synopsis: A boy discovers an incredible and gruesome world of monsters under his bed.

Review: This isn’t really for young children.  There’s language and some scenes that may be scary to them.  Other than that, it’s a cute family film.  It won’t make children afraid of monsters, in fact it might do the opposite.  We learn it just takes light to make them go away.  There are lots of hijinks and pranks that will keep you laughing. It’s hard to explain without giving spoilers.  It’s silly and funny and, well, fun.

Scoring: 3

The Little Vampire (2017)

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Jim Carter

Synopsis: The story of Rudolph, a thirteen-year-old vampire, whose clan is threatened by a notorious vampire hunter. He meets Tony, a mortal of the same age, who is fascinated by old castles, graveyards and - vampires. Tony helps Rudolph in an action and humor packed battle against their adversaries, and together they save Rudolph's family and become friends.

Review: This was a really cute movie that families can enjoy together.  I liked the message of not judging people before you know them and the value of friendship. 

Scoring: 3

Maleficent (2014)

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning

Synopsis: A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Review: After growing up with the story of “Sleeping Beauty”, I enjoyed seeing this fresh take on the evil Maleficent.  We get to know her, how she lives, why she has the feelings she does, and how being magical affects her.  It is a departure from the good guy/bad guy Disney and shows Maleficent to be both.

Scoring: 4

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Harris Dickinson

Synopsis: Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.

Review: As with the original Maleficent, we get to see characters that are both good and bad.  Unfortunately, the characters aren’t as relatable and as likable as they are in the first movie.  As with too many sequels, this one doesn’t quite live up to the first one.

Scoring: 3

Midnight Masquerade 
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family, Romance
Starring: Autumn Reeser and Christopher Russell
Synopsis: Elyse, a rich heiress, meets Rob, a bullied lawyer, and the two fall in love during a costume ball.
Review:  While this is more a movie that takes place at a Halloween rather than about it, it’s still enjoyable. A twist on Cinderella where Elyse is doing the searching and Rob is the masked one. A sweet love story. 
Scoring: 4

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Samuel L. Jackson

Synopsis: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

Review: I would describe this as an introduction to scary movies for children. Not very young children as the story could be difficult for them to follow. Even I didn’t get how they were managing a time loop at the end. This is a Tim Burton film and it has his weirdness stamp but it doesn’t have the lighthearted whimsy. 

Scoring: 3

Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire (2000)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Caroline Rhea, Laura Vandervoort, Charles Shaughnessy, Robert Carradine, and Jake Epstein

Synopsis: Two children are grounded but the son wants to go to a concert and the daughter on a date.  They decide to set their mom up on a date so she won’t be home and they can go out.  All goes well until they suspect her date is a vampire.

Review: As silly as the premise is, I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s one of those sit back and relax but still be entertained movies.  It’s not really scary and I think it would be great for families.

Scoring: 3

Monster Class: Halloween (2020)

Rated: NR

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Dracula teaches the class of monsters all there is to know about Halloween.

Review: I found this to be very educational and interesting. The problem is you have to sit through an awkward voice over of Dracula with way too many pauses and the back and forth between the cartoon class and live people videos, which are repeated. I think it’s in an unusual place. The animation will be a turn off to older kids but the content is too advanced for younger kids. Give it a try and see what you think. 

Scoring:

Monster House
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kevin James
Synopsis: Three teens discover that their neighbor's house is really a living, breathing, scary monster.
Review:  I don’t even know what to say. This may possibly be the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. Definitely not for young children. I was quite bored and felt like the pace lagged a lot. Not one I’ll watch again. 
Scoring: 1

Monster Island (2017)

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Rose and Katie Leigh

Synopsis: When Lucas finds out he comes from a long line of monsters, he sets out in search of his family.

Review: While there is plenty of monster fun for the whole family, the main themes are the importance of family and self-acceptance.  A monster wants to be human and a human wants to be a monster.  Rather than embracing who they are they want to be like others.

Scoring: 3

Monsters University 
Rated: G
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, and Sean Hayes
Synopsis: Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn't always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn't stand each other. "Monsters University" unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.
Review:  Set up as a prequel to the first movie, it’s okay. It introduces lots of new characters but it doesn’t quite have the magic the first movie did. This may appeal to younger children. 
Scoring: 2
Monsters Vs. Aliens
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Seth Rogan, and Paul Rudd
Synopsis: When a meteorite from outer space hits a young California woman named Susan and turns her into a giant monster, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters also rounded up over the years. As a last resort, under the guidance of General W.R. Monger, on a desperate order from The President, the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to combat the aliens and save the world from imminent destruction!
Review:  This is one of those animated films that appeals to children and adults. It moves at varying paces but I loved the nods to old science fiction movies. The heart of it is Susan’s journey. Funny moments and action sequences make this a good one. 
Scoring: 3
Monsters, Inc.
Rated: G
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Ratzenberger, Jennifer Tilly, and Bonnie Hunt
Synopsis: In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think.
Review:  A lovable story with colorful monsters and the cutest toddler. A movie that appeals to adults and children. Lots of laughs and more than a few ahhhs. 
Scoring: 4

Mr. Boogedy (1986)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Family, Fantasy

Starring: Richard Masur, Mimi Kennedy, Kristy Swanson, Benji Gregory, and David Faustino

Synopsis: A novelty salesman moves his family into a new house.  Initially dismissing incidents as more of their father’s practical jokes, the family soon learns that the house is haunted by people who lived in the house 300 years previously.

Review: This is a good scary movie for children.  It’s just scary enough but there’s a lot of silliness and the scary scenes are also funny.  I think it would be a good family movie night.  I will say that children who are easily scared or very young children may not be up for it.

Scoring:

Mummy, I’m A Zombie (2014)

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Synopsis: In the sequel to Daddy, I’m a Zombie, the fate of the planet is again in Dixie’s hands as she fights to end a battle between the living and the dead, while also balancing her popularity and campaigning for student council.

Review: This movie was okay.  I think it’s geared towards preteens and older children but I honestly didn’t mind it.  I wouldn’t watch it again unless I was watching it with a child.  My favorite part was Dixie having to learn that with the social politics in her school she had to make a choice between her friends, who aren’t popular, and the popular girls who suddenly took an interest in her.  This would make for a good conversation to help children deal with similar issues at school.

Scoring: 3

Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Will Forte, John Stamos, Darren Criss, Taraji P. Henson, Yvette Nicole Brown

Synopsis: On Halloween night, Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.

Review: I want to preface this with the warning that how you perceive the movie may be affected by your familiarity with the ride at Disney.  I’ve ridden it countless times so that may be why I liked the movie so much.  Unlike the previous movie with Eddie Murphy, this one is truer to the ride and makes many familiar references.  The Muppets are their usual quirky selves so if you love them you should love this.  It is PG and may be scary to very young viewers but I think children will love it and it’s a great family film.

Scoring: 4

Nightbooks (2021)

Rated: TV-PG

Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Starring: Krysten Ritter, Winslow Fegley, and Lidya Jewett

Synopsis: Follows Alex, a boy obsessed with scary stories who is imprisoned by an evil young witch in her contemporary New York City apartment.

Review: I suggest you preview this before showing it to children to ensure it isn’t too scary for them.  Besides that, it’s an imaginative tale but I felt like it was akin to a jigsaw puzzle with some missing pieces.  If you can look past that and fall into their world, it’s a new concept and fun to watch.  Ritter does an amazing job.

Scoring: 4

The Nightmare Before Christmas 
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Fantasy, Musical
Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, and Catherine O’Hara
Synopsis: Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.
Review:  The best way to describe this movie is with two words-Tim Burton. If you enjoy his movies you’ll like it. If not, this probably isn’t for you. A bizarrely macabre group of characters keep it unexpected . The reflection on holiday traditions and how they are twisted and turned is definitely interesting. 
Scoring: 3
October Kiss
Rated: G
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance 
Starring: Ashley Williams and Sam Jaeger
Synopsis: Poppy Summerall is hired near Halloween as a temporary nanny by Ryan Lawson, a widowed, work-obsessed executive. Through a series of adventures, the eternally optimistic Poppy sets out to teach Ryan and his two young children what's important in life - unconditional love, family and the joy of everyday occurrences.
Review:  A lovely story that embraces the joys of Halloween, treats not tricks. Poppy’s sweetness and enthusiasm make this movie fun to watch. It has the expected happy ending but it’s fun getting there. 
Scoring: 4

The Others (2001)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Family, Fantasy, Horror

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan, and Alakina Mann

Synopsis: A woman who lives in her darkened old family house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that the home is haunted.

Review: I saw this movie with a friend.  She said she saw the ending coming from the beginning but I didn’t.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen.  It was suspenseful in the best way in that it wasn’t gory or violent.  The story just unfolded perfectly to keep you a little creeped out with the spooky feeling it evoked.

Scoring: 4

Pac’s Scary Halloween (2016)

Rated: TV-Y7

Genres: Animated, Fantasy

Synopsis: When Dr. Pacenstein schemes to swap bodies with Pac during a Halloween party, Cyli, Spiral, and Count Pacula scramble to save their pal.

Review: First off, it triggered horrid memories of my college philosophy class and the brain in a jar argument so it made me not really want to watch it.  In my opinion this isn’t made for adults but it isn’t horrible to watch.  Kids should find it very entertaining.

Scoring: 3

ParaNorman
Rated: PG
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, and John Goodman
Synopsis: A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.
Review:  Another animated film that may be too scary for young ones. A boy sees and talks to the dead. He has to use his abilities to save the town from a girl killed as a witch for being a medium. It’s okay. A little slow. If you like the subject matter you may like it. 
Scoring: 2

Phantom of the Megaplex (2000)

Rated: G

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Mickey Rooney, Taylor Handley and Corinne Bohrer

Synopsis: A young man working at a cinema on a special premiere night, finds that the films being shown are full of strange and eerie occurrences.

Review: This is a funny, silly, and scary movie for families.  It doesn’t have the best acting but Mickey Rooney is always a must see.  It’s trying to make a modern Phantom of the Opera in a movie theater and there are some similarities.  It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s kind of good.

Scoring: 2

Practical Magic

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Aiden Quinn, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, and Goran Visnjic

Synopsis: Two witch sisters, raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town, face closed-minded prejudice and a curse which threatens to prevent them ever finding lasting love.

Review: While the movie mostly takes place in Fall and ends on Halloween, it’s got many of the makings of a Halloween movie.  I really liked it.  The bond the sisters have is amazing.  It kept me guessing.  It had enough spooky to keep me on the edge of my seat without being totally grossed out.

Scoring: 4

Return To Halloweentown (Movie 4 Of 4)
Rated: PG
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Sara Paxton, Lucas Grabeel, and Joey Zimmerman
Synopsis: Marnie is offered a scholarship to study at Witch University, her mother wants her to go to college in the Mortal World. Gwen forces Dylan to tag along. She meets a genie named Aneesa. She finds a box that says,"S.Cromwell."She learns her grandmother's true identity.She has to choose to either use the Cromwell Gift or not.
Review:  This sequel takes place almost entirely in Halloweentown. It shows a whole other angle and side to this world. Younger children may not find this one as engaging as the previous three but I enjoyed the story, even with a different Actress playing Marnie. 
Scoring: 4

Return To Oz (1985)

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy

Starring: Fairuza Balk

Synopsis: Dorothy, saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.

Review: If you’re hoping for a Wizard of Oz sequel, this isn’t for you.  This is based on the books and there’s nothing happy or magical about it.  It’s a dark fantasy.  I definitely wouldn’t show it to young children.  If you like the books, dark fantasy, or 1980’s special effects, you should give this a try.  It didn’t scare me but it sure creeped me out at points.

Scoring:

Scoob (2020)

Rated: PG

Genres: Animation, Comedy, Fantasy

Starring: Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Ken Jeong, and Tracy Morgan

Synopsis: Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world.  As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.

Review: This movie is good for Scooby fans and people who aren’t familiar with the series.  It’s a good family film.  It felt like a fresh take on the characters.  I was entertained and enjoyed watching but it’s not one I’ll watch again.  My niece would watch it over and over again.

                                                           Scoring: 3

Scooby-Doo
Rated: PG
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardinelli, Rowan Atkinson, and Isla Fischer
Synopsis: After two years apart, Mystery, Inc. are back together and ready to solve the mystery of Spooky Island, a resort run by one Mr. Emile Mondavarious, who is having troubles with what he believes are real spooks.  Mondavarious convinces the gang that they are needed and should work together. 
Review:  If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan you’ll like this movie. They capture the animated characters as well as humans can. The plot is straight out of one of their cartoons. Lots of silliness and a little corny but definitely fun. 
Scoring: 3
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Rated: PG
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prince, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardinelli, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, and Alicia Silverstone
Synopsis: The Mystery Inc. gang must save Coolsville from an attack of past unmasked monsters brought to life by an evil masked figure trying to "unmask" the gang.
Review:  Like the first movie, this is one Scooby-Doo fans will like. It follows the same silly adventures of the gang without being too scary. 
Scoring: 3

Scream (1996)

Review by @festive_films on Instagram

Rated: 18

Genres: Horror, Mystery

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney  Cox, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore.

Synopsis: A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

Review: Scream has to be my favourite teenage horror slasher movie. Directed by the late Wes Craven.  The movie has a fantastic cast, which brings good acting, humour, suspense and mystery to the movie.  The movie is set in a quiet town, which is the hot spot for some brutal murders, mainly of local teenagers. Which seem to be somehow connected to unsolved murders a decade ago.  The local teens decide to throw a house party with a deadly outcome.  Definitely worth a watch and rewatch if yo like me and having seen it for years! 

Scoring:

Scream 2 (1997)

Reviewed by: festive_films on Instagram

Rated: 18

Genres: Horror, Mystery

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Heather Graham

Synopsis: Two years after the events of Scream, Sidney Prescott and Rand are attending Windsor College.  They are trying to get on with their lives….Until a new Ghostface killing spree begins.  With the help of Dewey and Gale, Sidney must find out who’s behind the murders.  As the body count goes up, the list of suspects goes down.

Review: The second movie in the Scream collection is a fantastic sequel to the box office hit, Scream.  Again, this movie didn’t disappoint.  Excellent directing from the late Wes Craven.  Personally, I didn’t think this movie was as terrifying as the original movie.  The movie starts at a movie premiere of Stab, which is based around the original Scream movie.  Sidney Prescott is one of the survivors in the original movie, has moved away to college.  Whilst at college, Sidney is on the hunt to find the killer or killers.  I really don’t want to give away too many twists of the movie.  Again, this is a must watch.

Scoring: 5

The Scream Team (2002)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Kathy Najimy, Kat Dennings, Eric Idle, Kim Coates, and Tommy Davidson

Synopsis: After Frank’s passing, his widower son Richard begrudgingly returns there from Boston with his own kids including the bright Ian and bratty Claire to settle the inheritance. Ian discovers grandpa's house is really haunted, and not just - as legend holds - by Zachariah Kull who was burned at the stake.

Review: I really enjoyed this movie.  Najimy is as funny as ever and Dennings has her sharp-tongued wit.  It was funny and entertaining without being too scary.  Scenes like Ian trying to catch a ghost with a dust buster keep the feeling light.  Wonderful family film.

Scoring:

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

Rated: PG

Genres: Adventure, Drama, Family

Starring: Freddy Highmore, Sarah Bolger, and David Strathairn

Synopsis: Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world of faeries and other creatures.

Review: This is supposed to be a children’s film but it’s a little too scary and gross for children.  I think it would scare a lot of them.  Personally, I found it to be very boring.  I was a good 40 minutes in and didn’t care at all about the characters or what happened.  I felt disconnected from it. 

Scoring: 2

Spookley The Square Pumpkin

Rated: G

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Starring: Sonja Ball and Craig Francis

Synopsis: Poor Spookley is a pumpkin whose shape is square rather than round.  He’s teased and taunted by other mean, round pumpkins.  He receives help from a Scarecrow and his 2 bat sidekicks and 3 funny spiders.

Review: I actually enjoyed this, which is not always the case with animated movies and specials for very young children.  I liked the message of not judging people on their appearance.  This is a good Halloween movie for even the youngest viewer.  It’s not scary and it keeps a steady pace.

Scoring: 4

Spooky Buddies (2011)

Rated: G

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: The puppies go on a spooky adventure through a haunted mansion.

Review:  While this is rated G, it may be too spooky for very young viewers.  That said, it’s definitely made for children.  I’m not a super big fan of any of the talking dog movies but it you like those, give this one a shot.  The story is expected but may be a fun family film.

Scoring:

Spooky House (2002)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy

Starring: Ben Kingsley and Mercedes Ruhl

Synopsis: Max is a lonely, recently orphaned, young boy who is frequently bullied by other children.  One night after accepting a dare, Max wanders into a mysterious mansion, where he meets the Great Zamboni, an eccentric magician.

Review: This movie has two personalities.  The first is trying to be a comedy for children and the second is trying to be a moving story about loneliness and coping with loss.  They don’t work together in this film.  I was quite bored.  I don’t know if children would enjoy it.  There’s some fun for them but too many pauses in the fun to hold their attention.

Scoring:

 

The Super Simple Show Halloween (2018)

Rated: NR

Genres: Animation, Fantasy

Synopsis: This compilation is all about Halloween including Halloween versions of popular children’s songs.

Review: This was really cute.  It’s geared for really young children but the adaptations of songs from my childhood and the fun Halloween take on them made it decent adult viewing.

Scoring: 3

Twilight (2008)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Taylor Lautner

Synopsis: When Bella Swan moves to the small town of Forks, WA to live with her father, she falls in love with Edward Cullen, a mysterious classmate who reveals himself to be a 108-year-old vampire.

Review: I’ve seen this movie more times than I can count.  Yes, I’m one of those.  I think the romance of the story is a key point but the family element is also an important part of the story, both Bella and her parents and the Cullen family.  It’s got adventure, friendships, excitement, fantasy, and an amazing musical score that ties it all together.

Scoring: 5

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2 (2012)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Taylor Lautner

Synopsis: After the birth of Renesmee/Nessie, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.

Review: The series finishes with a bang.  We get to be introduced to all these different vampire clans from around the world.  We get to see Bella’s powers.  I won’t spoil this one but I will say the primary focus is preparing to face the Volturi and what happens when they do.  If you’ve watched the other movies, of course you’ll need to see how the series ends.

Scoring: 4

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1 (2011)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Taylor Lautner

Synopsis: The Quileutes close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses a threat to the Wolf Pack and the townspeople of Forks.

Review: A vampire and a human having a child is something no one, in this story or in most stories, knows about.  The characters fear the unknown.  Spoiler Alert: The breaking up of the Wolf Pack because Jacob will protect Bella rather than stay with the pack is an interesting turn.  Other than that, the story is quite slow.  It feels like a lot of waiting for something to happen. 

Scoring: 3

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Taylor Lautner

Synopsis: As a string of mysterious killings grips Seattle, Bella, whose high school graduation is fast approaching, is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward and her friendship with werewolf Jacob.

Review: I won’t spoil the movie by saying why this happens but Jacob and Edward have to work together to protect Bella.  The werewolves and vampires joining forces has the necessary tension but there’s a lot of action and the movie has a good pace.

Scoring: 4

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

Rated: PG-13

Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring:  Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, and Taylor Lautner

Synopsis: Edward leaves Bella after an attack that nearly claimed her life, and, in her depression, she falls into yet another difficult relationship – this time with her close friend, Jacob Black.

Review: I have to admit, I prefer the vampires to the werewolves.  I didn’t like the way they filmed Bella’s depression.  It seemed to lack the emotional depth needed to explain the movie.  Having read the book I knew what was supposed to be communicated.  Meeting the Volturi gives viewers a good understanding of them when they are referenced in the movies that followed.

Scoring: 3

Twitches
Rated: TV-PG
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Tia Mowry-Hardricht, Tamara Mowry-Housley, Karen Holness, Arnold Pinnock, Kristen Wilson, Patrick Fabian, Jennifer Robertson, and Pat Kelly
Synopsis: In the magic realm of Coventry, the twin sisters Artemis and Apolla are saved by their protectors Illeana and Karsh from the Darkness and brought to another dimension. They are adopted by different families but in their twenty-first birthday, their protectors force them to meet each other. Alex Fielding lost her mother three months ago and is alone seeking a job while Camryn Barnes lives with her beloved wealthy parents. Once together they find that they have magic powers and they should return to Coventry to save their biological mother and their kingdom from the Darkness.
Review:  This family-friendly movie is loads of fun. It has the classic good versus evil with the bonus of reuniting twins and a cast of colorful characters. The comparison between one twin brought up by a struggling single mother and one brought up with great wealth and two parents is interesting. This is an annual must see movie for us. 
Scoring: 4
Twitches Too
Rated: TV-PG
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Tia Mowry-Hardricht, Tamara Mowry-Housley, Karen Holness, Arnold Pinnock, Kristen Wilson, Patrick Fabian, Leslie Sieler, and Pat Kelly
Synopsis: After using their powers to battle the forces of darkness, the sisters settle down to lead normal lives. However, the discovery that their biological father may not be dead, but residing in New York, causes confusion for the pair.
Review:  This sequel has the same magic as the first movie. We get to learn more about their kingdom and see them unite to battle evil. Another annual must see for us. 
Scoring: 4
The Witches
Rated: PG
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy 
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Rowan Atkinson, and Brenda Blethyn
Synopsis: A young boy, recently orphaned, is taken to England by his grandmother. At a hotel in which they are staying, a group of witches have gathered to prepare a plot to rid England of all children.
Review:  Based on the book by Ronald Dahl, this movie is a fantastical adventure. Anjelica Huston makes an amazing witch and children will enjoy Luke’s adventures, as a mouse, as he tries to stop the witches. 
Scoring: 3

A Witches’ Ball (2017)

Rated: PG

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Starring: Morgan Neundorf and Joey Fatone

Synopsis: A young witch has to jump some magical hurdles before joining the witching world at the ball.

Review: This is a good family film.  It includes the issues young girls face like mean girls.  The problems in the plot are resolved a little too easily but that also keeps the movie moving.  I believe preteen girls will enjoy this the most but adults may enjoy as well.

Scoring:

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Rated: R

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

Starring: Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jack Nicholson

Synopsis: Three single women in a picturesque village have their wishes granted, at a cost, when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives.

Review: I really enjoyed this movie.  The camaraderie between the three women is amazing and they have tremendous chemistry.  Nicholson as the devil is perfection.  It’s funny, it’s a little creepy, and it’s one I can watch repeatedly.

Scoring: 5

You Cast A Spell On Me (2015)

Rated: NR

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance

Starring: Ryan McPartlin and Nikki Deloach

Synopsis: Matt, the son of a prominent witch family, is expected by the Witches Council, to marry his good friend Lizzy.  But when Matt meets Sara, a psychiatrist, his magic fails him and Sara discovers that she suddenly has gained magical powers.

Review: I love this.  It’s a mix of Halloween fun and a romcom.  McPartlin and Deloach were fantastic.  It’s okay for children to watch but I think it’s more for teens and adults.

Scoring: 4

Z-O-M-B-I-E-S

Rated: G

Genres: Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Starring: Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly 

Synopsis: Students from Zombietown are transferred to a high school in a suburban town preoccupied with uniformity, traditions and pep rallies.

Review:  This is similar to the Descendants movies except the villains are replaced with zombies.  I like Descendants but the music and dancing in this film were exceptional.  It keeps a good pace and the story has a good message.  Embrace what makes you unique rather than trying hard to fit in.  The zombies aren’t gory or scary for children.  This is a fun movie.

Scoring: 4

Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2

Rated: G

Genres: Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Starring: Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly 

Synopsis: A budding Romance is threatened by the arrival of werewolves.

Review:  This feels like a forced sequel. The songs and dancing are good but it almost seems like they forced a story to work around them.  I still enjoyed it and children will like it but I wouldn’t watch a second time. 

Scoring: 2