Tag Archives: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Halloween Movies to Watch With Your Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

Like almost everything else about 2020, Halloween is going to look a little different. The CDC has released its guidelines for HalloweenDía de los Muertos, and Thanksgiving to help protect individuals, families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. Based on these recommendations, many families and communities are looking for Trick or Treating alternatives this year. 

One timeless tradition is to get your scare on through a Halloween-themed TV show or spooky movie. Here are a few age-based suggestions to help you make Halloween 2020 memorable for all the right reasons.

Ages 4+

Super Monsters Save Halloween (2018) – Netflix

The Super Monsters are preschoolers whose parents just happen to be the world’s most famous monsters. In this 30 minute Netflix special, they show preschoolers how the holiday’s scares are mostly make-believe by explaining the tricks behind haunted houses and spooky decorations.  Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween is another fun option. 

Room on the Broom (2013) – Netflix

Based on a book by Julia Donaldson, Room on the Broom features a friendly witch who’s quick with a smile and kind to the animals who ask her for a ride on her broom. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) – Amazon Prime Video/HBO Max

Kiki is a good witch who uses her broom and her flying ability to start a delivery service. It’s from Studio Ghibli, so you know it’s beautifully animated.

Ages 7+

The Addams Family (2019) – Amazon Prime Video

The adorably kooky family moves to the suburbs where Wednesday’s friendship with the daughter of a local reality show host causes problems. There are plenty of jokes for both children and adults to keep everyone entertained throughout the film.

The Worst Witch (2017) – Netflix

Mildred Hubble lives an ordinary life until the day that Maud Spellbody crashes her broomstick into their balcony. Maud introduces Mildred to Cackle’s Academy – a school for young witches where under the watchful eye of friendly headmistress Miss Cackle and scary deputy Miss Hardbroom, Mildred begins her training. But no matter how hard she tries, her spells have a habit of going badly wrong, causing chaos. Will Mildred always be The Worst Witch?

Hotel Transylvania (2012) – Amazon Prime Video/Hulu/Netflix

Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective dad mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenaged daughter.

The movie is from the POV of the monsters, and they’re the good guys. Plus, if your kids love this one, two sequels follow.

Ages 10+

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? The world may never agree, so feel free to start watching Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, attempt to bring Christmas to his friends on repeat from now through December 5.

Corpse Bride (2005) – Amazon Prime Video

When a shy groom practices his wedding vows, he accidentally marries a ghost. Written and directed by Tim Burton, the movie is exactly the style you’d expect from a Tim Burton film. Sweet, macabre, and fun for kids and adults alike.

Halloweentown (2004) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney Now

After learning she is a witch, a girl helps save a town full of other supernatural creatures. It’s cute and all-around wholesome entertainment, and a Disney Channel Original Movies classic, as any 90’s kid will tell you. 

Hocus Pocus (1993) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

Max and Thora’s family moves them to Salem, where they struggle to fit in. Max accidentally awakens a trio of diabolical and slightly goofy witches who were executed in the 17th century. There’s a reason this Disney classic is at the top of so many must-watch lists. 

The Witches (1990) – Amazon Prime Video

Netflix is promoting a remake with Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, but she’s got big pointy shoes to fill as Angelica Houston is magnificent in the 1990 original. Luke and his grandmother Helga stumble onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.

Ghostbusters (1988) – Amazon Prime Video/Disney+/Select theatres – check local listings

IMDb describes Ghostbusters as “Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service,” which may be the lamest description of a classic movie I’ve ever heard. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Sigourney Weaver helm one of Hollywood’s biggest hits. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Holiday Movies to Binge with Your Kids

By Tracey Dowdy

The New York Times recently published an article titled How Many Christmas Movies Is Too Many Christmas Movies? There are nearly 100 new releases in 2019 alone the Hallmark Channel has added to their annual Christmas movie roster by 20% over the last two years. That’s nothing compared to Lifetime that has more than quadrupled its output and Netflix has doubled its number over that same time period.

Whether or not you think we’ve jumped the shark with holiday titles like Santa’s Little Helper featuring WWE superstars The Miz and Paige or the straight-to-DVD A Christmas Story 2, the good news is there are thousands of great holiday movies to binge with your kids when the weather outside is frightful.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure isn’t a full-length movie but a short featuring everyone’s new favorite snowman – sorry Frosty – Olaf, from Disney’s Frozen. When Anna and Elsa discover they don’t have Christmas traditions, Olaf takes it upon himself to find the best traditions and save this first Christmas for his friends.

Author Ezra Jack Keats’ charming picture book The Snowy Day comes to life in this animated holiday special. Young Peter goes on a magical, snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. Along the way, he meets his friend Layla and chats with friends and shopkeepers in his neighborhood.

There are three options for the Grinch, and really, you can’t go wrong with any of them. The original animated version from 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, of course, a classic, narrated by none other than Boris Karloff. Jim Carrey’s wacky How the Grinch Stole Christmas from 2000 has become a modern classic, and 2018’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch helmed by Benedict Cumberbatch has already become a family favorite.

Arthur Christmas, Santa’s well-intentioned but ridiculously clumsy son, sets out on a mission with his grandfather to get a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than two hours. It’s got an all-star cast of some of your favorite UK actors and both you and your kids will love its madcap humor.

Based on Chris van Allsburg’s book of the same name, The Polar Express follows the story of Hero Boy who sets out on a magical adventure to the North Pole on Christmas Eve via the Polar Express, and along the way learns about friendship, bravery, and the true spirit of Christmas.

There’s Old School Will Ferrell, but there’s also Elf Will Ferrell. Thank goodness for that, because Elf is certainly one of the funniest holiday movies that both you and your kids can enjoy. When he suddenly discovers he’s human, not an elf as he grew up believing, Buddy the Elf decides to leave the North Pole and travel to New York City in search of his real father.

No holiday list is complete without Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and just like with the Grinch movies, you have options. The Muppet Christmas Carol featuring Michael Caine as Mr. Scrooge is a staple at my house. Jim Carrey’s version uses motion capture technology, and of course, you can introduce your children to the old black and white version with Alastair Sim, though some of those ghosts may be frightening to small children.

A Christmas Story is one of those movies that not only sparks nostalgia but is highly quotable. From “You, ’ll shoot your eye out” to “I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!” there are countless moments in the movie that will have the whole family laughing.

If you’re a fan of Halloween and Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the holiday movie for you. When Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion among his friends and neighbors.

I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Jim Henson, and Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is among my favorites. With a “Gift of the Magi” vibe, Muppets – including Kermit as narrator, and singing woodland creatures, it doesn’t get much sweeter or more nostalgic than this.

Well, that is unless you’re talking a Charlie Brown’s Christmas or one of Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday specials. In fact, did you know that 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running special on television? Well, it is! This is the year to introduce your kids to your friends Frosty, The Little Drummer Boy, Jack Frost, and Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.