If you’re looking for family Halloween movies to watch, there are a few classics that the entire family will enjoy. Whether you are looking for Halloween movies that have very few scares or a film that’s spooky without the frights, there’s a family film out there for everyone to enjoy. While many seek horror movies during Halloween (like this reporter), it’s always nice to take a break from the hockey masks and chainsaws to enjoy a family-friendly treat.
Though this is difficult to find on VOD, several local stores keep the DVD and Blu-ray handy during the Halloween season (and it is well worth the trip to the store). Co-written and directed by the movie’s co-star, Gene Wilder, this film features an ensemble cast: Gilda Radner (The Woman in Red), Dom DeLuise (The History of the World Part I), Jonathan Pryce (Glengarry Glen Ross), and Peter Vaughan (Remains of the Day).
A spoof of horror movies from the ’40s, Wilder plays radio actor Larry Abbot, who is engaged to fellow actor Vickie Pearle (Radner). Ever since their engagement, Larry has been suffering from bouts of fear that affect his speech, and often he’s affected during his live performances. For the wedding, he takes his bride to be to the castle where he grew up. It is there that Larry’s uncle, a doctor, decides he can cure the actor’s fear by scaring him “to death.”
This 1986 family comedy is a nod to the classic Abbott and Costello movies where the duo faced the Universal monsters (The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and the like). Slapstick comedy is often hit or miss, but with Wilder at the helm, the wit of Haunted Honeymoon hits the mark. DeLuise portraying Aunt Kate is nothing short of laugh-out-loud funny, and the one-liners provided by Radner often steal the show.
There are moments in this Halloween gem that may be too creepy for some kids, but with a happy ending and many laughs between the mild scares, children should have no problem sleeping at night (and will probably want to revisit this family film several times over).
If you’re in the mood for more Gene Wilder, and you’re looking for Halloween movies on Netflix that everyone can enjoy, then look no further than Mel Brooks’ iconic film from 1974. With a stunning critics’ score of 93 percent, and an audience score of 92 percent, Rotten Tomatoes provides the premise for one of the best family movies of all time.
“In this spoof of Mary Shelley’s gothic tale, the grandson of Victor Frankenstein, a neurosurgeon, has spent his life living down the legend of his grandfather, even changing the pronunciation of his name. When he discovers his grandfather’s diary, he begins to feel differently, and returns to the family castle to satisfy his curiosity by replicating his ancestor’s experiments. In the process, he creates one very unique monster.”
This hilarious film features a classic character seen every Halloween, Frankenstein’s Monster. Though many actors through the years have portrayed the Monster, including Boris Karloff and Robert De Niro, none have done it quite like Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond). In fact, this is the only Frankenstein-themed film past ’74 (alongside Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) to receive positive reviews from most critics.
Joining Boyle and Wilder is an all-star cast that deliver sidesplitting moments: Marty Feldman (Silent Movie), Madeline Kahn (Clue), Cloris Leachman (High Anxiety), Teri Garr (Mr. Mom), and Gene Hackman (The French Connection). The quotable one-liners in this Halloween movie are almost countless, and the routine between Frederick and the Monster performing “Putting on the Ritz” is considered, by many, to be one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history.
If you enjoy movies by Mel Brooks and you have never seen this must-watch Halloween film, or if it’s been years since viewing it, it’s perfect to revisit with the entire family.
Arsenic and Old Lace
This 1944 comedy is currently available across all major VOD platforms. If there was ever a film to prove that comedy from the ’40s can compete with modern movies, it’s Arsenic and Old Lace. Cary Grant is a legend in the film industry — starring in iconic movies like North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief, and Notorious (among many others) — but this family film is one of his more overlooked titles.
Co-starring Raymond Massey (How the West Was Won), Josephine Hull (Harvey), Priscilla Lane (Saboteur), Jean Adair (The Naked City), and Peter Lorre (The Man Who Knew Too Much), this comical feature is based on the play of the same name by Joseph Kesselring. With an impressive score of 8 out of 10, IMDb describes one of the best family movies for Halloween.
“Mortimer Brewster is a newspaperman and author known for diatribes against marriage. We watch him being married at city hall in the opening scene. Now all that is required is a quick trip home to tell Mortimer’s two maiden aunts. While trying to break the news, he finds out his aunts’ hobby; killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar…”
Grant was known for his sarcasm and wit, and they are both as sharp as ever in this Halloween gem. His chemistry with Priscilla Lane leaps off the screen, and watching Peter Lorre in a comedic role is a nice change from his norm. This reporter remembers laughing hardily during the film as a kid, and it still has the same effect on me over 30 years later. If you’re a fan of classic movies but missed this underrated hit, then take time to visit the hilarious tale with your family for Halloween.
OTHER HALLOWEEN MOVIE ARTICLES FROM THE INQUISITR
With a pair of Gene Wilder films and a Cary Grant Classic, enjoy this trio of Halloween movies that the entire family is sure to enjoy.
[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox]