Treva is a pop culture fan who has been writing about the entertainment world for over a decade.
There are plenty of great Halloween cartoons that air on television every year, with just about every popular animated series having its own Halloween special. But if you're looking for something longer to keep your kids entertained while you decorate the porch with pumpkins and cotton spiderwebs, check out some of the animated Halloween movies on this list. Many of the 13 fun and freaky films below are still a bit spooky, but at least they'll keep your kids from becoming sticky Halloween candy monster messes for a little while.
1. 'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' (2005)
This British gem is one of my favorite animated movies for kids and adults alike to enjoy as Halloween approaches. It takes something harmless—an adorable fluffy bunny—and turns it into a vegetable-inhaling monster. It's one of the funniest animated flicks on this list, and you can't help but love hapless Wallace and his intelligent dog Gromit for trying to take on a humane pest control venture that results in the dynamic duo finding themselves up to their necks in bunnies. It's the best animated rabbit horror flick since Watership Down.
2. 'Kiki's Delivery Service' (1989)
For kids who can't get enough of worlds of witchcraft and wizardry, this is definitely one of the best animated movies for them to check out as Halloween nears. It might not be as well-known as some of master animator Hayao Miyazaki's other masterpieces, like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, but it's still full of the same magical charm of the movies that are considered his best.
This Studio Ghibli classic focuses on Kiki, an enterprising young witch who uses her broom to start a delivery service. She and her adorable feline familiar Jiji go on many exciting adventures together as the somewhat accident-prone sorceress tries to make her own way in the world. It's actually one of the few animated Halloween movies on this list that was made using traditional animation. However, it doesn't feel dated, and don't be surprised if you find yourself getting happily lost in Kiki's bright and colorful world.
3. 'Coco' (2017)
This Oscar-winning Pixar movie is actually about a holiday that shares one of its dates with Halloween: the Day of the Dead. For families who don’t celebrate the Latinx holiday, it’s the perfect movie to open up a dialogue with kids about different cultures and their beliefs and customs.
Some of the themes in Coco might be a bit scary for really young kids, like murder and a young boy who is basically beginning to die by slowly turning into a skeleton. However, this colorful film full of bony dead people is a living work of art that introduces viewers to a delightful new world full of amazing music and fleshed-out characters. It also delivers a great message about the importance of balancing your love for your family with being true to yourself.
4. 'Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island' (1998)
You can't have a list of Halloween movies without the stars of some of the most-beloved spooky cartoons of all time. Scooby and his friends head out on a different kind of mystery adventure in one of the few instances where the gang ever encounters real monsters. The cowardly dog and his crew of meddling kids come face-to-face with real fear on an island inhabited by the usual masked men/monsters and something a lot more frightening. It's quite a bit darker than the original cartoons, but a lot more entertaining and less predictable. If you're a fan of the new Doo, a sequel titled Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island came out this year, and it features a guest appearance by the legendary Elvira.
5. 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)
This is perhaps one of the most well-known and beloved of all movies with a Halloween theme, and kids can enjoy it from October all the way until Christmas since it focuses on their two favorite holidays. When Halloween Town resident Jack Skellington hijacks Christmas, the bony "Pumpkin King" believes that he can make the holiday better. Unfortunately, the results of his idealistic endeavors are more macabre than merry. This is one of the most visually stunning animated movies on this list, and it's definitely worth watching just for the amazing character and set design. However, it might be a little too creepy for some kids; I know bug-stuffed bag man Oogie Boogie still gives me nightmares, even though he can be thanked for one of the movie's many amazing earworms.
6. 'Corpse Bride' (2005)
As impossible as it seems to make a dead bride with maggots in her head look as lovely as a Disney princess, somehow Tim Burton and his amazing team of animators manage to do it in what is probably the darkest of the animated movies on this list.
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In the Corpse Bride, a man becomes torn between two worlds—that of the living and that of the dead—when he accidentally becomes engaged to a hauntingly beautiful dead bride who turns out to be a surprisingly complex, sympathetic character. If this visually stunning movie weren't animated, it would probably be terrifying, but it's as entertaining as it is dark and twisted. However, as delightful as this unique movie is, it's one that some very young kids might not enjoy.
7. 'Monster House' (2006)
In this fun twist on your typical Halloween haunted house movie, children encounter a whole different kind of haunted house: one that seems to be a real living, breathing (and extremely evil) being. Monster House actually has a pretty good plot as far as animated movies aimed at kids go, and the murderous house is rather frightening.
8. 'Frankenweenie' (2012)
In 2012, director Tim Burton breathed new life into a deceased canine character with this full-length movie inspired by his 1984 short film of the same name. This visual delight is unusual in that it’s a modern animated movie filmed in black and white, but it features that familiar, slightly stilted stop-motion style and macabre humor that Burton fans have come to love.
Frankenweenie is a creative horror spoof that re-imagines Victor Frankenstein as a young boy who uses electricity to reanimate his beloved dead dog, the appropriately-named Sparky. There’s also a splash of Pet Sematary thrown into the story, which partially functions as a cautionary tale about what happens when you try to resurrect dead pets. Hopefully, the other monstrous reanimated animals in the movie will be enough to discourage your kids from digging up Fluffy’s backyard grave and trying to shock his corpse back to life.
9. 'Mad Monster Party?' (1967)
If you want to see where Tim Burton may have gotten some of his stop-motion animation inspiration from, check out this movie that looks like "The Monster Mash" brought to life. Baron Von Frankenstein is retiring from the monster business and invites some of his frightening best friends and grooviest ghouls—including the Werewolf, the Invisible Man, and the Mummy—to his retirement party. Boris Karloff lends his voice to the film, and although it resembles a Rankin-Bass Christmas special, there's a bit more adult humor involved. Luckily, kids probably won't get most of the dirtier jokes; they'll just enjoy the fun visuals and terrifying tunes.
10. 'Hotel Transylvania' (2012)
There have certainly been more than a few mad monster parties at the Hotel Transylvania. In fact, part of the plot of this movie centers on the planning of a birthday party for Dracula’s daughter Mavis, a stylish 118-year-old who serves as the perfect Halloween costume inspiration for young aspiring goths with her fang-sharp bangs and funky red and black striped tights.
All your favorite horror movie monsters are here, but instead of terrorizing humans, the werewolves, mummies, vampires, and zombies that we’ve come to fear are trying to hide from us. However, this doesn’t mean that they no longer crave human flesh, as Mavis’s mortal love interest Johnny finds out. Underneath all the decaying flesh, fur, and fangs, this is a film about learning not to judge one another based on our differences and past experiences, and it’s also about how it’s better to face our fears instead of spending our lives hiding from them. If your family enjoys this movie, you might want to check out its two sequels, Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018).
11. 'Monsters, Inc.' (2001)
If your child is afraid of monsters in the closet, then this is probably one of the best animated movies on this list for them to check out. The spooks that lurk among socks and shoes are transformed into a lovable, shaggy giant and a wise-cracking goofball in this entertaining and creative kids' movie. It's a fun look into the lives of different monsters than those that inhabit the typical horror movies of Halloween.
Viewers who want to see more of Mike and Sulley’s adventures can check out the prequel to this Pixar gem, Monsters University. The story of how the two pals first met is a silly spoof of crazy college movies like Animal House.
12. 'Monsters vs. Aliens' (2009)
Two groups of popular Halloween spooks face off in one of the best animated movies for young sci-fi fans. In this movie, however, the monsters are sympathetic good guys; they're kept in captivity by the government until their help is needed to fend off an alien attack. It's a fun spin on classic sci-fi movies, and one that adults and kids alike should enjoy watching on Halloween. As an added bonus, Stephen Colbert plays the President. (Why can't life imitate art?)
13. 'Coraline' (2009)
This is another dark story that's rather similar to some of Tim Burton's tales. It's about a young girl named Coraline who stumbles across an alternate world that's both alluring and disturbing, where her "Other Mother" and "Other Father" have buttons for eyes. It's a unique and interesting movie full of interesting characters, but, once again, it may be a little too dark of a Halloween movie for very young kids.
So if you're looking for family-friendly Halloween movies that are visually stunning, any of the movies on this list make great companions to the slew of special cartoons about the howl-iday that will air on TV all October, and they'll keep your kids preoccupied for a lot longer.