Back in 2020, Christi Bandy composed a wonderful list of 20 horror movies for tweens and kids. Since then, we’ve had more requests for a follow-up to that particular article than any other post! Twenty horror films just weren’t enough! The kids and tweens of horror fans devoured those films and needed more… MORE!!

Well, it took me a while to compile, but I’ve taken the challenge to provide today’s youngsters with the list of horror movie recommendations they need to thrive — the fine flicks that will build their foundations for becoming the horror fans of tomorrow. Provided they aren’t TOO young (please see my disclaimer at the very bottom about not traumatizing wee ones!), these 35+ horror movies will thrill and delight the tween in your life and mold them into the horror-loving spawn you’d always hoped they’d become.

These films are also perfect for introducing adults to the genre who’re nervous about getting into horror. Or for your friend who wants to share your love of horror because they love you, but “don’t really like horror that much”/”horror is too scary/violent/gross/whatever” (and that’s totally valid – I absolutely love horror, but not ALL of it is my taste and/or is just a little too much for my PTSD to handle!).

These are all horror films that provide spooky FUN and gentle thrills! Many of them are personal favorites of mine (since I’m very much a child at heart), and I know that you’ll enjoy them as much as your kid/tween will. Enjoy!

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Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters 1984  horror movie appropriate for tweens

Ghostbusters is one of THE best movies for introducing someone of almost any age to the horror genre. It’s a horror comedy (the jokes help to alleviate tension during scarier moments), the effects are fantastic but just cartoonish enough to not be TOO scary, the plot is simple, the actors are all fantastic, and it’s a pop culture phenomenon that had an enormous impact on society and was a massive influence on genre films. It’s no wonder the kids in Stranger Things dress up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween! YOUR kids will want to too!!

Some parents have mentioned getting uncomfortable during a certain scene that alludes to a ghost doing something risqué with Ray, one of the Ghostbusters (and Litterbox Comics drew a super cute comic illustrating this parental discomfort); however, depending on how savvy your tween is, you may not have to worry about providing an explanation. I didn’t realize what was supposed to be going on in that scene until I was in my late twenties!

This is a great time to say that I’m not going to mention EVERY tiny thing that may or may not be too scary or uncomfortable or whatever in these movies. Fear is very personal. Fortunately, you can easily check for potential triggers on — an invaluable resource for sensitive movie viewers that shares all kinds of information (usually in a spoiler-free way) that goes far beyond “just” whether or not the dog in a film dies. I highly recommend it!

Oh! And if your kids love Ghostbusters (1984), be sure to show them Ghostbusters II (1989). They make a great double-feature!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The Addams Family (1991)

The Addams Famiy horror for kids

The Addams Family (1991) sets the stage, introducing young audiences to the title family and all of their creepy kookiness. It’s basically Uncle Fester’s origin story, which was an unusual angle to take, but it works. The Addams Family is a lot of fun!

Pugsley and Wednesday are a special treat as they tend to play out scenes taken directly from the Charles Addams’ comic strips. Gomez and Morticia are THE example of #MarriedCoupleGoals and openly share their loving (but never inappropriate) relationship. And the side characters are all wonderful as well!

Plus, once your tween is introduced to The Addams Family, they’ll be able to enjoy Addams Family Values (a fabulous sequel that surpasses its original film!). They can also check out the Wednesday show over on Netflix and for all the gold star sticker in Horror Genre Class they can watch the 1960s TV show (it’s in black and white – how utterly grown-up they’ll feel indulging in it!).

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 39 minutes.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas Lock Shock Barrel

Looking for a holiday-themed horror film for tweens? Then you’re looking for The Nightmare Before Christmas! Which holiday? Well, that’s up to you. Personally, I think it’s more Christmas-y than Halloween-y but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I think it’s a great movie for November, when Halloween is over but Christmas is still a ways away. It’s nice for filling that gap when there’s nothing going on.

If you’re not familiar with The Nightmare Before Christmas, I’m going to have to assume that you’re an alien or a young child yourself. To which I’ll congratulate you on having read so much of my article given your limited years on this earth, either due to your age or being off-planet.

If you really don’t know: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop motion animation musical (with GREAT songs!) about Jack Skellington AKA the Pumpkin King who rules Halloween Town and is in charge of making sure Halloween, well, happens each and every year. But he’s soooooooooooo booooooooooooooooored and longs for something different. And, after discovering Christmas Town, he decides to become the new Santa Claus and be the one in charge of making Christmas happen for all! What could possibly go wrong?

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 16 minutes.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Jack Black Eli Roth horror film based on a book

Based on the book The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, this fun little film was helmed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) and stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. It tells the story of 10-year-old orphan Lewis being adopted by his eccentric uncle Jonathan …who turns out to be a warlock!

A period piece set in 1955, The House with a Clock in Its Walls has beautiful costumes and set dressing. It has a very “fantasy” look/feel to it, but that’s not a bad thing at all — horror-fantasy movies are fantastic for introducing kids and tweens to the genre! I would have put the Harry Potter films on this list (my dad absolutely insists they’re horror films), but I figured everyone who wants to share them with their kids already has!

The House with a Clock in Its Walls also has living Jack-o-lanterns, zombies, a spooky graveyard, an eeeevil warlock, living furniture, the threat of Doomsday, and other supernatural and magical points of interest as well as everyday adolescent struggles like making friends at a new school, figuring out who you really are, and getting picked last for Sports.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Casper (1995)

Casper 1995 Devon Sawa Christina Ricci

My primary memory of Casper (1995) is of watching it during a rainy day PE class in middle school and a classmate, Chelsea, involuntarily screaming out “Oh my God… he’s HOT!!” when Devon Sawa shows up in it. Chelsea was sent to the principal’s office for her outburst, but only because so many other girls (and a few boys!) started making too much noise agreeing with her. So… there’s that? I guess Casper was an “awakening” movie for many ’90s tweens.

I’m not sure if modern tweens will have the same reaction as my peers did; however, I think they’ll enjoy this sweet, simple ghost story. Casper, the title character, is the ghost of a child long dead who’s so very lonely. He lives with three other “uncle” ghosts who treat him horribly, and the house they’re haunting has recently been acquired by an evil woman who’s hellbent on finding its hidden riches.

Casper calls a paranormal therapist (Bill Pullman) for help and the doc moves into the house, along with his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci). From there, Casper and Kat have kind of a The Ghost and Mrs. Muir situation going on, where they form a lovely platonic friendship but there’s also some “crush” feelings going on (at least on Casper’s side).

It’s spooky and sweet, with few things to be afraid of. Some of the references may go over your kids’ heads (the celebrity cameos, like Rodney Dangerfield, are very dated), but the CGI special effects hold up shockingly well! And what tween wouldn’t want to take a ride on Casper’s dad’s “Up and At ‘Em!” machine?

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Bonus! Casper Meets Wendy (1998). I haven’t watched this one personally, but my dad said it was cute. It’s most notable for being Hilary Duff’s first movie.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Hotel Transylvania best kid horror movies

Films where all the classic monsters get together are always a treat, and Hotel Transylvania is especially tasty with its adorable renditions of said monsters, its fast pace, its endearing characters, its lighthearted humor, and its sweet story.

Hotel Transylvania is equal parts tender and goofy, with plenty of monster-related antics! The father-daughter relationship between Dracula and his daughter, Mavis, is really cute. Dracula has built the Hotel Transylvania as a sanctuary to keep his daughter (and other visiting monsters) safe from humans. Imagine his dismay when Johnny, a human boy who accidentally found his way to the Hotel while lost in the woods, instantly falls in love with Mavis… and Mavis likes Johnny too?! What’s a father to do!

As your tweens grow older, they’re bound to date people you don’t necessarily approve of. Hotel Transylvania shows that honest communication is key (Mavis is great about talking with her father about her hopes and fears), and that everyone deserves a fair chance (obviously Johnny’s human background is far different from how Dracula raised Mavis as a monster, but he’s a good dude!). Adorable. And perfect for all ages.

Although Hotel Transylvania totally rules, there are diminishing joy returns from every following sequel; and, for your own sanity, skip the 4th one entirely. Woof.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes.

Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Eight Legged Freaks teen scarlett johanson spider horror film

Eight Legged Freaks is SO much fun and is just SO enjoyable. The cast, which includes Scream King David Arquette and a teenage Scarlett Johansson, really gives it their all. And the script – silly as it is sometimes – is surprisingly tight. (For example, a lighter is shown early on and comes up again much, much later! Love that!).

In a desert town in Arizona, a toxic waste mishap transforms the local spiders into gigantic, hungry monsters. Similar to Tremors (1990) — another PG-13 horror movie I absolutely 100% recommend!! — the townsfolk in Eight Legged Freaks must come together to tackle this eight-legged invasion.

Eight Legged Freaks cleverly blends humor with horror, creating moments that’ll make you jump and chuckle at the same time. It’s a perfect horror film for tweens — an arachnid rollercoaster! It’s a story about bravery, unlikely heroes, and a bunch of gigantic spiders. It’s so action-packed and silly, they’ll forget to be scared.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour 39 minutes.

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Arachnophobia (1990)


Aww. RIP, Julian Sands. 🙁

I’ve mentioned before that (most) spiders are FRIENDS and that I’ve had pet tarantulas. I sold my toys and bought my first pet tarantula, Harriet, when I was in kindergarten. Some of my peers weren’t too keen on that. But you know what made me feel better? Julian Sands as entomologist James Atherton and his infectious hyperfocus on arachnids. He was just so COOL and he loved spiders too! Things *ahem* don’t exactly go well for him in the film, but it was nice to see the representation.

Arachnophobia is a suspenseful film that might leave your tween with the title phobia, if you’re not careful. I went into the film already enamored with spiders to the point of having one as a beloved pet, so I was just super stoked to see the handsome movie man sharing my interest. Meanwhile, many of my peers saw this movie and walked away from it scared as heck! So… either talk to them ahead of time about how the bulk of spiders are actually awesome lil buddies and that the movie spiders are an evil exception, or maybe just save this one for older kids who aren’t as impressionable.

Anyway, the plot of Arachnophobia is similar to that of Eight Legged Freaks (mutant spiders taking over and killing people), except that it’s played straight (it’s tense with few jokes) and the spiders are normal-sized instead of giant.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 was filmed in Ohio

Before there was Stranger Things, there was Super 8 — a tween-friendly horror film about a group of friends making a zombie movie for a film competition… who end up crossing paths with an alien!

Super 8 is perfect for kids and tweens who love sci-fi, mystery, and a dash of spookiness. There’s a mysterious creature on the loose, government secrets, and heart-pounding moments that’ll keep them hooked. It seamlessly blends sci-fi and horror elements, creating a thrilling mix that’s a perfect gateway into either genre. And the young cast is incredible!

Note: Super 8 has a lot of loud noises, starting with the core friend group witnessing a train crash. And there’s a lot done with the sound throughout in terms of auditory jump scares. I have auditory processing issues and was happy I watched Super 8 at home, where I could easily adjust the volume. (It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I thought I should mention that, for my fellow sensitive-eared kiddos!).

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

et the extra terrestrial

Confession: I’ve never watched E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. I’ve been meaning to for years, and I’ve seen so many clips from it and parodies of it that it kind of feels like I’ve watched it, but I’ve just never gotten around to it. Maybe that’ll be one of my New Year’s Resolutions or something.

When I added Super 8 to this list, I was asked why I hadn’t added E.T., since Super 8 was HEAVILY influenced by E.T. and it was because, unlike every other movie on this massive list, I hadn’t watched it myself. Now you know my secret shame.

I’ve been assured that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a worthy addition to this list and that kids and tweens will love it. It’s about kids who find an alien! As of now, I don’t have anything else to say about it because I haven’t seen it personally.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

gremlins 2 the new batch horror movie sequel

If your kids loved Gremlins (1984) from Christi’s original list of 20 Kid/Tween-Friendly Horror Flicks, then they’ll love Gremlins 2: The New Batch as well.

Gizmo, the adorable yet mischievous Mogwai, is back, and this time, the mayhem unfolds in a gleaming New York City high-rise. Gentle Gizmo and the not-so-well-behaved Gremlins run riot, creating a rowdy blend of humor and zany Gremlin antics.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is exactly the kind of chaos kids and tweens love. Plus, the phenomenal puppetry and animatronics add to the movie’s charm, making it a visual treat. It may be the film that sparks your child’s interest in practical special FX!

It’s a monster movie that’s more about laughs than screams. It’s a lesson in responsibility (remember, don’t feed them after midnight!) wrapped in a package of high-energy, laughter-inducing fun. Gremlins 2 is a wacky adventure that kids and tweens will adore.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Coraline (2009)

Coraline claymation horror film

Neil Gaiman’s book is better, but no one can deny that the stop motion animation on the film adaptation of Coraline is phenomenal. It’s a visual delight!

Coraline is a little girl with unintentionally neglectful parents who’re too consumed with their work to attend to their daughter’s emotional needs. Fortunately, she finds her way to an alternate dimension where doppelgängers of her parents give her plenty of love and attention. The fact that they have buttons for eyeballs and are overall just slightly “off,” isn’t any cause for alarm. Right…?

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Corpse Bride (2005)

Tim Burton Corpse Bride kids animated horror film

Also known as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, this is another stop-motion animated musical that’s nowhere near as good as The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it LOOKS amazing!

Corpse Bride is a very benign jaunt into ghostly horror, that for the most part is just kinda (literally) blue and sleepy-feeling. And then things pick up when the dancing skeletons appear, and they’re just so fun! And then it goes back to being a sleepy lil film.

It’s gorgeous to look at, and its complete lack of scares makes it a fine entry point for kids to get into horror, so long as they don’t get too bored.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is the story of Victor, a nervous young man, who’s supposed to marry a gal named Victoria. But, while practicing his proposal speech, he accidentally asks a corpse to marry him instead. And the corpse says, “yes!” OOPS!!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark horror movies based on books

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark takes place right around Halloween of 1968. It’s loosely based on a series of children’s books by Alvin Schwartz, and the plot almost doesn’t matter. The main draw of this movie is the outrageously cool special effects, taken straight from the Stephen Gammell illustrations the original books were known for.

This is a great film to show tweens because, when they’re rightfully enthralled by the terrifying imagery, you can mention that the super scary characters they’re gawking at are originally from a series of books. And that the illustrations in said books are even more traumatic! And then your kids will be like “Whaaaat! Word?!” and then they’ll go read the books and you two can bond over great reading material.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 48 minutes.

Monster House (2006)

Monster House kid friendly horror films

Three adventurous kids discover that the creepy house across the street is no ordinary haunted place; it’s alive! The house itself is the monster, with a jaw that chomps and a personality as big as its appetite for anything that gets too close.

Monster House is another period piece, this time taking place in 1983. It’s also another kid-friendly horror film that takes place on Halloween!

It’s a spooky adventure that teaches the value of courage and teamwork. When I first saw the trailers back in 2006, I’d hoped it was an adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always, and was disgruntled that it wasn’t. I saw it in theaters anyway, and was glad I did.

My one beef with Monster House is that flashback scenes of an obese woman being tortured in a circus’ freak show are very difficult to watch, even when you acknowledge that things were different in “the good ol’ days.” Since tweens are an especially vulnerable group when it comes to body image issues, I wanted to call that out ahead of time so you could prepare for it. You can decide if this horror film for kids is a good place to open up a dialogue about weight issues and attitudes, or if the fast forward button is a better option.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes.

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ParaNorman (2012)

Paranorman kid friendly horror movie

Norman is an everyday kid, except for one extraordinary ability: He can talk to the dead. ParaNorman is a mix of humor, mystery, and some genuinely eerie moments.

Stop motion animated zombies, witches, and ghosts provide visual thrills for kids and tweens, as they’re treated to a story about embracing who you are no matter what anyone else thinks.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 32 minutes.

The Witches (1990)

The Witches 1990 Roald Dahl horror movies based on books

Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, The Witches teaches tweens that witches are real and living among us! These aren’t friendly practitioners of the mystical arts, either — these witches are essentially female demons who’re evil to the core. And their main goal is to destroy all children!

The main character, Luke, a seven-year-old boy ends up staying in a hotel with his grandmother when she’s instructed to take a restful seaside vacation after a diabetes-related health ordeal. Unfortunately, the hotel they’ve checked into is hosting a convention of witches, including The Grand High Witch – the QUEEN of all witches! YIKES!!

Luke and a peer, Bruno, are transformed into helpless mice by the witches, leaving the fate of the world’s youth in the hands of an elderly woman and two tiny rodents. The odds are terrible, but your tween will love watching the events unfold and finding out how (or if?!) the heroes triumph against the scariest witches to ever grace the silver screen.

While I’d recommend the 1983 Roald Dahl book to any age, you may want to keep The Witches (1990) away from younger kids because it’s INTENSE. The makeup effects are fantastic (and super disturbing!) and a lot of the haunting concepts from the book hit harder when you can SEE them. For example, a little girl gets trapped inside a painting and slowly grows old until she eventually disappears entirely. Brrr.

There’s also The Witches (2020), but I haven’t watched it yet. Did anyone? Let me know!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes.

Goosebumps (2015)

Goosebumps 2015 Jack Black horror films

Speaking of horror movies for kids based on horror books for kids, Goosebumps (2015) stars Jack Black as children’s horror author R.L. Stine and is an energetic romp through the Goosebumps‘ universe.

The plot centers around a teenage boy (Zach) moving next door to a teenage girl (Hannah) and her dad. Zach shows an interest in Hannah, but her father is extremely overprotective and more than a tad peculiar. Turns out, her dad is R.L. Stine and he’s hiding a big ol’ secret: anything he imagines comes to life — and he has a horrifying imagination!

R.L. Stine has been successfully trapping the creatures his imagination produces inside of books for years, and living a secluded life alone with his daughter. But when Zach and his new friend, Champ, break into the Stine household to do a wellness check on Hannah, all heck breaks loose – literally!

The abominable snowman of Pasadena, Slappy the Dummy, the haunted car, and living lawn gnomes are among the overwhelming abundance of monsters that Jack Black’s R.L. Stine and the group of teens need to corral back inside their book prisons.

Jack Black is always a joy no matter what movie he’s in and this role is no different. Plus, as with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, you can use Goosebumps (2015) to introduce your tweens to the books it was based on. And the real R.L. Stine shows up in the movie as a drama teacher named Professor Jack Black! Hah!!

If your tweens enjoy Goosebumps (2015), they may also like The Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018). I haven’t seen that one yet, but since Jack Black pretty much is the first movie and his role was reduced to a cameo in the second one, I’m prepared for it to be on the list of disappointing horror movie sequels.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 43 minutes.

Disney’s Haunted Mansion (2023)

Haunted Manion 2023 tween friendly horror films

Haunted Mansion (2023) had a truly unfortunate release date (something it shares in common with Hocus Pocus), but hopefully it’ll find the love it deserves on streaming! It’s a perfect tween-friendly horror film you and your kids will enjoy immensely.

I’ve already written a full review of Disney’s Haunted Mansion that you can check out for more details. There are also two other films based on the Disneyland Haunted Mansion ride — The Haunted Mansion (2003) and Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021) — that are also appropriate for kids and tweens.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 2 hours and 3 minutes.

Monster Squad (1987)

The Monster Squad tween friendly horror films

The Monster Squad is one of my all-time favorite movies ever, of any genre. I’m totally biased in my recommendation here. Is it appropriate for kids? Probably not. Is it okay for tweens?? That’ll ultimately be up to you, but I’d say YES!

It’s about a group of tween boys and one little girl who have a club based around their love of horror and all things monster. But when REAL monsters show up in the form of Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Gill Man (Creature), and Frankenstein’s monster, the club becomes a monster-fighting SQUAD. The adolescent heroes are the only ones with enough horror knowledge to take down the threat!

It has amazing effects, refreshing takes on classic monsters (Dracula has zero chill, which I find both menacing and hilarious), humor, heartwarming moments (there’s one scene that makes me cry every time I watch it), and it moves along at a fast pace that will keep your tween captivated.

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 19 minutes.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Hocus Pocus 1993 kid friendly horror

Hocus Pocus is one of Christi Bandy‘s very favorite Halloween movies, and her kids loved it too! In it, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy star as witch sisters who’ve been summoned to “modern” times (the 1990s) from 1693 via reading aloud from a spooky book. The witches are after eternal youth, and try their very best to get it using quirky spells and slapstick humor.

In addition to the Sanderson sisters, there’s a talking black cat named Binx, a zombie named Billy, and plenty of atmosphere. Hocus Pocus has just a smidge of suspense as the two child leads try to defeat the witches before it’s too late which will give kids and tweens spooky thrills without being too scary.

And, if your youngsters love it, they’ll be thrilled to know that there’s a sequel, Hocus Pocus 2!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 36 minutes.

Halloweentown (1998)

Halloweentown Disney TV halloween movie

My husband introduced me to Halloweentown, and I thought it was adorable. As the title implies, it’s a perfect movie for Halloween time. It’s also a great gateway into supernatural films for even the youngest viewers.

13-year-old Marnie discovers she’s from a family of witches who originally hailed from Halloweentown, a magical realm where all the witches, monsters, ghouls, and other spooky characters reside. Along with her younger brother and sister — and their grandma, played by Debbie Reynolds! — Marnie visits Halloweentown on a journey of discovery (can she unlock her own witch powers?!) and they end up on quite the adventure!

There’s giant pumpkins, teenage goblins, and even a talking skeleton to drives a taxi. It’s perfect for kids who love Halloween and trick-or-treating (or tweens who miss it). Not to mention there are three sequels!

Rated TV-G. Runtime: 1 hour and 24 minutes.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Something Wicked This Way Comes Mr Dark hand tattoos

Based on the 1962 Ray Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes is about the circus coming to town!

Led by Mr. Dark, a charismatic and quietly menacing ringmaster (who has one of the finest hats of all horror villainy), the circus is granting the townsfolks’ wishes ala The Wishmaster or The Monkey’s Paw. They’re all getting what they want, but only in the most technical sense.

Two tween boys, Will and Jim, figure out what’s going on at the evil circus and Mr. Dark doesn’t take kindly to their nosiness. The scares in Something Wicked This Way Comes spawn from the suspense of Mr. Dark hunting them down, and learning the hard way that we should all be careful what we wish for.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

There are so many wonderful black and white horror movies, but it can be difficult to get younger audiences to engage with the medium. Introducing your tween to black and white horror via a horror comedy is a great tactic.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, like The Monster Squad and Hotel Transylvania, features all of the “core” movie monsters together in one film with plenty of comedy antics to keep antsy tweens focused. It’s fast-paced and silly, and is bound to ignite their interest in the old Universal Monsters movies.

Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hour and 23 minutes.

Any of the Old Universal Monster Movies

frankenstein meets the wolfman publicity still

Going off of the last entry, the old Universal monster films are classics for a reason! They’re fine viewing for younger kids and tweens alike, and are great for their overall horror education. My dad recommends Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman as his top pick for tween viewers; after Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, of course.

These aren’t ALL of the Universal Monster films, but this is a great starter selection:

  • Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Runtime: 1 hour and 14 minutes.
  • The Wolf Man. Runtime: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Dracula. Runtime: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon. Runtime: 1 hour and 19 minutes.
  • The Invisible Man. Runtime: 1 hour and 11 minutes.
  • Frankenstein. Runtime: 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • The Bride of Frankenstein. Runtime: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • The Mummy. Runtime: 1 hour and 13 minutes.

Since they’re all fairly short, you can easily run them back-to-back at a party as background atmosphere. But you’re pretty much guaranteed at least one kid will stop in front of the TV to watch the entire marathon. 😉

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy 1999 horror action movies

Action! Adventure! Comedy! Brendan Fraser! Finding someone who doesn’t enjoy The Mummy (1999) is like finding someone who hates cold drinks on a hot summer day.

The Mummy takes the spirit of the old Universal classic and updates it beautifully. It keeps the horror spirit alive while placing the audience on a fast-paced ride of special effects and elaborate action sequences. It’s no wonder that the actual ride, based on the movie, is one of the longest-running attractions at the Universal Studios theme parks!

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Monsters Inc 2001 cartoon monster movie

I was originally going to include Little Monsters (1989), mostly because my mom worked on some of the special FX, and I thought it’d probably be fine for kids since it’s rated PG. But then I really thought about it… And I’m honestly not sure who Little Monsters is for. The monster stuff is way too scary for little kids while the human stuff is too scary for tweens (for example, there’s a scene where the parents sit their two sons down to explain that they’re going to be separating, all while the little brother tearfully begs them to stay and promises that he and his sibling will be better kids… That’s so heartbreakingly sad! Yikes, Dude).

That said, the idea of monsters living under our beds or in our closets is a classic horror trope that deserves to be explored. And little kids are well-served by learning that they don’t need to be afraid to go to sleep — and even if there are monsters hiding out in their rooms, they’re probably pretty nice. Like Howie Mandel. Or… Mike & Sulley!

Monsters, Inc. is that magical movie where the monsters under your bed turn out to be more goofy than scary. It’s a heartwarming and chuckle-worthy adventure, perfect for kids and tweens. It has pretty much everything from Little Monsters (including getting to see where monsters live!), with zero discomfort. There’s plenty of laughs for adults too, and the computer animation still holds up shockingly well! Like, I know I said that earlier about Casper (1995), but it’s always a surprise to me when old CGI still looks great — just me?

Rated G. Runtime: 1 hour and 32 minutes.

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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

wallace gromit in the curse of the wererabbit uk childrens horror film

Wallace is an inventor, and Gromit, his silent but expressive dog, is always by his side. Together, they run a pest control business with a mission to protect gardens from veggie-loving rabbits. But when a mysterious “Were-Rabbit” starts munching on the town’s veggies, it’s up to them to crack the case.

Is it scary? Not in the slightest. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is perfect for kids and younger tweens. It’s a wild adventure, loaded with funny moments and just a dash of mystery. The British charm, the crazy contraptions, and the clever humor make it enjoyable for all ages.

If your youngster enjoys The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, they’ll be happy to know that it isn’t the claymation duo’s only jaunt into tween-friendly horror films! Check out A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008), a murder mystery where Wallace & Gromit need to track down a serial killer who’s offing British bakers!

Even as an adult, I love all of the Wallace & Gromit films. It’s not horror-related, per se, but I can’t talk about Wallace & Gromit without recommending The Wrong Trousers (1993). It’s my favorite short.

Rated G. Runtime: 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie 2012 horror remake

I’ll save you the trip to for this one: The dog dies. That’s THE major plot point in Frankenweenie and I don’t recommend it for any kids, tweens, or anyone else whose recently lost a beloved pet. If you’re still feeling raw with grief, don’t feel bad about skipping this one.

If you’re in a good place emotionally, you and your kids will enjoy Frankenweenie (2012), a cute stop-motion animated interpretation of the classic Frankenstein story.

Directed by Tim Burton, this kids horror film revolves around a young boy named Victor Frankenstein who lives in the suburban town of New Holland. Victor is a budding scientist who has a close bond with his pet dog, Sparky.

Tragedy strikes when Sparky is hit by a car and dies. Grief-stricken, Victor is inspired by his science teacher to harness the power of electricity to bring his beloved dog back to life. Victor successfully reanimates Sparky, but his secret experiment doesn’t go unnoticed.

As news of Sparky’s resurrection spreads, it triggers a series of events that involve other kids attempting similar experiments with their pets who’ve passed. This leads to a comical and chaotic climax where the town’s once peaceful existence is disrupted by an army of reanimated fur & scale babies.

Frankenweenie is a macabre, yet somehow heartwarming, tale about the power of love, friendship, and the consequences of playing with the forces of life and death. With its unique visual style and quirky characters, the film pays homage to classic monster movies while offering a touching and entertaining story that’s suitable for older children and tweens. And, if they absolutely love it, they can check out the 1984 live-action original of the same name!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Scooby-Doo (2002)

Scooby Doo 2002 still holds up

My husband loved all the old Scooby-Doo cartoons as a kid, but I don’t think there’s been a single Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I’ve managed to remain conscious for. I love their ideas, but something about the art style and pacing just puts me under. (Though that may be a handy tip if you’re looking for child-friendly cartoons to show kids who’re running wild on a sugar buzz after Halloween trick-or-treating!).

Scooby-Doo (2002) takes the characters and core concepts of the original cartoons and breathes new life into them. It’s super colorful and thoroughly entertaining with an all-star cast giving their archetypal roles their absolute all!

Shaggy, Scooby, and the rest of the Mystery, Inc. gang (who’re having friendship troubles they need to work through!) get called out to a resort on Monster Island and they need to work together to figure out why the other tourists keep seemingly falling under demonic possession. Is it real monsters, or just a real villain…?

Scooby-Doo (2002) and its sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), are both great tween-friendly horror films. And live-action Velma is one of our favorite horror characters who wear glasses!

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 26 minutes.

The Munsters (2022)

The Musnters 2022 Daniel Roebuck horror films for tweens

I’ve been a lifelong fan of The Addams Family (the comics, the ’60s TV series, the ’90s movies, and Charles Addams even shares my birthday!) but, as with Scooby-Doo, I was more enamored with the IDEA of The Munsters than with the original show.

I seem to be in a minority on this one, but I liked Rob Zombie’s version of The Munsters! And not just because it stars Daniel Roebuck as Grandpa Munster (though he is the best!). I thought it was a lot of fun and that it was a near-perfect pilot episode to what could have been a really awesome new show. And, perhaps, it still could be if it were allowed to be its own thing!

Today’s tweens, much like myself, have zero emotional connection to the old show and can go into The Munsters (2022) with fresh, honest eyes. And I genuinely think they’ll enjoy it. It’s a live-action cartoon — a vividly-colored horror comedy with iconic characters acting out goofy scenarios. It’s fun.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 49 minutes.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Little Shop of Horrors 1986 best horror movie musicals

If your tween isn’t a theater kid already, Little Shop of Horrors might be the film that gives them the ol’ acting bug. Unfortunately, my 7th grade drama department didn’t perform this gem for an audience, but you can bet we were all singing its incredibly catchy songs for our own personal joy.

The 1986 theatrical version the musical based on the 1960 original film, Little Shop of Horrors is one of the absolute best horror movie musicals in existence and younger audiences have loved it since it came out, and still do. (Though it may make younger children afraid to go to the dentist. Speaking from experience!).

Rated PG-13. Runtime: 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Return to Oz (1985)

Return to Oz

Christi mentioned in the introduction of her own list of tween-friendly horror movies that Return to Oz gave her lifelong nightmares. Personally, Return to Oz has always been one of my comfort films. As a child, I would put rollerskates on my hands and feet and pretend to be a Wheeler. And who wouldn’t want a pre-made lunch from a lunch pail tree?

If your kid enjoyed The Wizard of Oz as a child, they’ll probably love Return to Oz as a tween. Dorothy returns to Oz, but its not as she left it. The yellow brick road has been reduced to rubble, her friends have been turned to stone, and the Nome King (the primary antagonist from the books) has taken over!

Sure, there are some intense moments (Princess Mombi is a menacing, headless woman who “wears” other women’s heads and threatens to add Dorothy to her collection), but this is a HORROR film! It may not have been billed that way (originally), but it absolutely 100% is a horror fantasy movie. And it’s awesome!!

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy gathered together a group of friends and faced off against the Wicked Witch. In Return to Oz, Dorothy gathers together a group of friends and faces off against the Nome King and Princess Mombi. Happy endings all around! To me, the only significant difference is the lack of singing.

Rated PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 53 minutes.

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Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

Ernest Scared Stupid 90s childrens horror

While Return to Oz teaches kids that the “incredible edible egg” is the weapon of choice when facing off against nomes, Ernest Scared Stupid gives rise to the “Got Milk?” era of monster fighting… or does it? Perhaps the real way to defeat evil trolls is through unconditional kindness! (A message even more relevant now, hmm?).

I haven’t seen Ernest Scared Stupid since I was six years old, but I remember a LOT of it. I remember a baby doll getting crushed in a trash compactor (as a doll collector then and now – horrifying!), Ernest being loud and overflowing with energy (the “living cartoon” actor of the ’80s-early ’90s before Jim Carrey took on the title), I remember the trolls (incredible rubber monster suits), I remember children being kidnapped by said trolls and turned into wooden dolls, and I remember that (most of) the trolls are even more lactose intolerant than I am!

I also remember that EVERYONE at my elementary school watched this movie when it came out. Those in my peer group were absolutely traumatized and many still are (I was very much in the minority when it came to six-year-olds virtually unscathed by the terrors of Ernest Scared Stupid, though my vivid memories of the film over 30 years later may speak otherwise). However, the “older” kids — 4th through 6th grade — absolutely LOVED it!

Rated: PG. Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

house on haunted hill william castle vincent price horror film

Have you introduced your tween to Vincent Price yet? If not, this is your sign. It’s time!

House on Haunted Hill (1959) is a classic horror film directed by William Castle. The plot revolves around an eccentric millionaire named Frederick Loren, played by Vincent Price, who offers $10,000 to anyone who can spend the night in a supposedly haunted mansion. Loren invites a diverse group of guests to the house, each with their own motives for being there.

As the night progresses, eerie events occur, causing tension and fear to mount among the guests. They begin to suspect that some of their fellow visitors may not be who they appear to be, and the house itself seems to come alive with malevolent forces. The film cleverly plays with the audience’s expectations, keeping them guessing about the true nature of the supernatural occurrences.

House on Haunted Hill is a fun, atmospheric tale of suspense, with twists and turns that’ll keep young viewers on the edge of their seats. The film’s iconic ending adds a final shocking touch and will give you an opening to discuss the fun gimmicks William Castle used to make his movies stand out back in the day!

If your tween loves House on Haunted Hill and/or Vincent Price, I recommend showing them The Tingler (1959) next!

Not Rated. Runtime: 1 hour and 15 minute.

Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Mad Monster Party classic kids horror

Mad Monster Party? is a stop motion animated Rankin/Bass holiday special with some of the most adorable renditions of the classic movie monsters you’ll ever see.

Much like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party? is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery mellow. Perfect for unwinding with, or as an end of the night monster-themed treat for very small children. It won’t give them nightmares or keep them up past bedtime. And it has a few cute songs, one of which is sung by Boris Karloff!

Not rated. 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Any of the Monster High Movies

Monster High Haunted

The photo above is from Monster High: Haunted (a personal favorite, since I love ghost movies), but all of the “old” (2010-2016) Monster High films are a lot of fun.

  • Monster High: New Ghoul @ School. Runtime: 23 minutes.
  • Monster High: Fright On! Runtime: 46 minutes.
  • Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love? Runtime: 46 minutes.
  • Monster High: Escape from Skull Shores. Runtime: 46 minutes.
  • Monster High: Friday Night Frights. Runtime: 46 minutes.
  • Monster High: Ghouls Rule. Runtime: 1 hour and 11 minutes.
  • Monster High: Scaris: City of Frights. Runtime: 1 hour and 1 minute.
  • Monster High: 13 Wishes. Runtime: 1 hour and 13 minutes.
  • Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action! Runtime: 1 hour and 13 minutes.
  • Monster High: Freaky Fusion. Runtime: 1 hour and 13 minutes.
  • Monster High: Haunted. Runtime: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Monster High: Boo York, Boo York. Runtime: 1 hour and 11 minutes.
  • Monster High: Great Scarrier Reef. Runtime: 1 hour and 11 minutes.

I started out collecting the dolls (because they’re so darn cool!), and then became aware of the cartoons. If you’re coming at it from the other way around, you may end up needing to buy your kiddo some new toys after they view these. Fair warning!

SHORT: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Disney Halloween short

Included in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), the short segment “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a Halloween Disney classic. It’s the animated story of the headless horseman!

Not Rated. Runtime: 34 minutes.

VERY SHORT: “Trick or Treat” (1952)

Trick or Treat 1952 huey dewey louie duck halloween

I prefer the Carl Barks comic book version of this story, but there’s no denying how great the song “Trick or Treat for Halloween” by The Mellomen (featuring Thurl Ravenscroft AKA Tony the Tiger!) is. It’ll be stuck in your head for weeks after you watch this, and you won’t even mind.

This short film is so short, I’m not going to bother describing it other than to say it’s about Huey, Dewy, and Louie Duck making friends with a witch named Hazel. Check it out!

Not Rated. Runtime: 8 minutes.

A Note Before Diving Into Any Horror Films…

please don't traumatize your children with horror movies they aren't mature enough for yet - find age appropriate horror movies - kid friendly horror films - tween friendly horror films - what horror movies are safe for kids and tweens

Please don’t traumatize your kiddos!

As I’ve mentioned in my post “Are Horror Movies GOOD for You?,” it’s generally not recommended to expose children under five to the horror genre — their brains aren’t developed enough to distinguish reality (scary!) from fantasy (fun!) and they may end up truly terrified by what’s shown on screen.

Of course, in the end, YOU know YOUR child(ren) best! You’ll always be the best judge as to what will (or won’t) scare the crap out of ’em! But seeing as I’m not a parent myself, nor will I ever be, my opinion on what’s good/safe for kids & tweens definitely needs to be double-checked by a real parent. Please do your due diligence to ensure your kid/tween has the absolute BEST time! 🙂

Have a great time and feel free to share YOUR favorite kid and tween-friendly horror picks in the comments!


Images were purchased via MovieStillsDB, CineMaterial, and iStockPhoto.

About the Author

Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner of, a formerly super-respectable multiple award-winning website for freelance writers that's now just a wacky place where she tries to cheer people up any way she can. Lauren's also's primary founder/owner! Lauren grew up in the horror industry (her parents did practical special FX work for many of the horror movies you love from the '80s and '90s) and she basically created this site so she could freely gas on about creepy stuff and stop having to pretend to be normal. o_O

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