Ten Family Safe Halloween Films

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1) The Ghost and Mr. Chicken:

This 1966 mystery/comedy film stars Don Knotts as Luther Heggs, a downtrodden typesetter at a small town newspaper. The meek and mild Heggs is suddenly elevated to town hero after he spends the night at the reputedly haunted Simmons mansion for the chance to write a feature article. As the story goes, Mr. Simmons killed his wife and then himself in the now abandoned, spooky old house. Various towns people even claim to have heard the ghost of Mr. Simmons playing the old organ after dark. The night Luther stays there is the 20th anniversary of the murders and, of course, he sees plenty of strange things, including the organ playing by itself at midnight. Luther’s news story gets the whole town talking . . .and inspires the Simmons’ nephew to sue Luther for libel. There are lots of laughs and only a few scary moments on the way to the film’s exciting and surprising conclusion.

2) Blackbeard’s Ghost:

This 1960s live-action Disney film with Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones, and Suzanne Pleshette is pure movie fun. In the film, Jones plays Steve Walker, the new coach for the hopelessly bad Godolphin high school track team. The coach gets some unexpected (and extremely comical) help when he accidentally conjures up the legendary ghost of Blackbeard. Apparently, Blackbeard’s soul has been suspended in limbo until he does a selfless and good deed to make up for his wickedness in life. Now, the gruff but amiable pirate is determined to help the Godolphin track team to victory, whether Coach Walker wants him to or not! Lots of humor and a little bit of romance and action make this a favorite for all ages.

3) Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit :

This adorable 2005 British stop-motion animated production offers laughs for the whole family. Produced by Dream Works Animation, the film follows the adventures of the eccentric (and not too bright) inventor Wallace, and his much more intelligent but mute dog, Gromit. The cute and entertaining story involves Wallace’s quest to save the village’s annual vegetable competition after a giant, mutated rabbit begins to terrorize the gardens and greenhouses. The cast of voices includes Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.

4) Scooby-Doo:

A 2002 live-action film based on the beloved 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon Scooby-Doo. The cast includes Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Fred, Linda Cardellini as Velma, and Neil Fanning as the voice of Scooby-Doo. In the film, the Scooby gang has split apart after years of solving mysteries together. Velma works for NASA, Fred is a celebrity, Daphne is a martial arts expert, and Shaggy and Scooby are well. . .Shaggy and Scooby. The gang is surprisingly reunited when each of them is invited to investigate the strange goings on at a theme park known as Spooky Island.

5) The Moon-Spinners:

A 1968 Walt Disney feature film in which Hayley Mills plays an English teenager who finds romance and mystery while vacationing with her aunt in a village in Crete. The film is similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s lighter fare with Mills’ character wondering just who she can trust in the puzzling affair of a jewel theft. There are a few darker moments in the film that earned it a PG rating, including a scene with a hearse and menacing masked paraders, a moment of danger in an underground crypt, and a dangerous ride on a windmill.

6) The Trouble with Harry:

This 1955 comedy/suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock stars John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Mathers. The story starts on a clear autumn day when a strange man turns up dead in a patch of forest land in a small Vermont town. Three of the main characters mistakenly believe themselves to be responsible for the man’s death. Captain Wiles worries he may have shot him when he was out hunting. Miss Ivy Gravely thinks she delivered the fatal blow when she hit the stranger with her boot after he approached her in a threatening manner. And, the dead man’s estranged wife, feisty young Jennifer Rogers thinks she killed him when she cracked a bottle over his head. The hero of the film is Sam Marlowe, a local artist, who decides to help his neighbors conceal the inconvenient Harry from the local authorities’ attention. In the course of the day, Harry is buried and dug up again multiple times, as each new piece of evidence comes to light revealing that none of the three characters was guilty in Harry’s death. In the meantime, all this strange behavior catches the eye of Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs. The twist at the end is both humorous and surprising.

7) Arsenic and Old Lace:

Slapstick, madcap humor abounds in this delightful 1940s Frank Capra film starring Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, and Peter Lorre. Grant plays drama critic Mortimer Brewster, who ruins his reputation as a confirmed bachelor by getting married. On the day of the wedding–Halloween– Mortimer stops by the old family home in Brooklyn to share the news with his aunts, Abby and Martha, and his eccentric brother Teddy (who believes himself to be Teddy Roosevelt and spends his time digging the “Panama Canal” in the cellar). Although he intends to stay only a few minutes, Mortimer finds his honeymoon plans derailed after he discovers a corpse in the window seat of his aunt’s living room. It seems that Teddy isn’t the only crazy one in the family—Mortimer’s well-meaning but insane aunts have been poisoning elderly bachelors whom they perceive as being in need of relief from terminal loneliness. To complicate matters even further, Mortimer must deal with the sudden appearance of his brother Jonathan, a sinister gangster, who needs to use the house as a hiding place for his own murder victim.

8) The Wizard of Oz:

The classic 1939 American musical has just the right amount of scariness to make it Halloween appropriate. Dorothy’s perilous journey through the strange and magical land of Oz has always been a childhood favorite, despite the film’s darker aspects. Adults and children alike will enjoy the stunning sets, fun musical numbers, and frequent moments of suspense. The talented cast includes Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan.

9) Darby O’Gill and the Little People:

This live-action Disney flick is a fun tribute to Irish folklore, with a talented cast featuring a young Sean Connery. In the film, Darby O’Gill is the elderly estate caretaker whose job is about to be usurped by Connery’s character. O’Gill is naturally worried how he will provide for his daughter once his income is gone. His worries seem to be over, however, once he catches the king of the leprechauns. This film’s special effects are still quite impressive and the scene with the banshees is sure to have just the right amount of spook for younger viewers.

10) Bed Knobs and Broomsticks:

This wonderful fantasy/children’s film absolutely sparkles with wit and warmth. Angela Landsbury stars as an English spinster who takes a mail-order course in witchcraft in hopes of aiding the British World War II effort through spell casting. Her plans are interrupted, however, when she must take in three youngsters evacuated from London. The kids aren’t long in discovering her secret, of course, and the magical journey that ensues involves such fantastic events as travel to an animated island ruled by animals, and a strange battle between German soldiers and armor that has been magically brought to life.


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