Halloween isn’t all about pant-splatteringly scary horror movies. Sometimes, you want to go light on the frights and enjoy something that’s suitable for everyone in the household, regardless of their age or tolerance for jump scares.
On this front, UK streamers have plenty of family-friendly Halloween movies that are sure to keep the kids happy while delighting the adults too. With that in mind, we’ve gathered together a handy list of splatter-free spooky movies that’ll help you fill any lazy October afternoon.
Wrap up warm, it’s time to dive in…
Hocus Pocus - Disney+
Back in 1993, not much was made of Hocus Pocus. This Halloween fantasy about three witches with a thirst for children’s souls pretty much came and went with little fanfare while leaving critics cold.
In fact, movie boffin Roger Ebert only gave it one star, labelling it a film “desperately in need of self-discipline.” However, audiences have since come around to the magic, music and goofy mischief of the Sanderson Sisters and their quest to drink Salem dry.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in October
Cut to 2022 and Hocus Pocus and its witchy trio — led by Bette Midler’s Winnifred, Kathy Najimy’s Mary and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sarah — have gathered an unlikely cult following from horror fans and the drag world alike. These days, it’s considered a cosy autumnal classic and mandatory pre-Halloween viewing for many horror fanatics looking for something light. Ebert probably wouldn’t be keen to know that it’s available to stream on Disney+ - but we are, and that’s where you can find it.
The School of Good and Evil - Netflix
Directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, The School of Good and Evil is an adaptation of author Soman Chainani’s popular young adult series of the same name and hits Netflix on 14 October 14.
Story-wise, this one takes everything you know about familiar fairytale tropes — think evil witches, brave heroes and fantasy creatures — and flips them on their head in a colourful fantasy epic that comes complete with Feig’s trademark slick, loose humour.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in October
It follows Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), two pals desperate to leave their tiny village behind and start new lives at a magical school that trains heroes and villains. When their dreams are suddenly answered, they can hardly believe their luck, but things quickly take a turn that tests their friendship when their destinies are unexpectedly switched. A Harry Potter-esque fantasy with franchise written all over it, it’s fun for both kids and adults.
Hocus Pocus 2 - Disney+
28 years after the Sanderson Sisters were last banished from Earth, a new duo of unsuspecting virgins accidentally summon them back to present-day Salem where their thirst for eternal youth continues in Hocus Pocus 2. Directed by 27 Dresses filmmaker Anne Fletcher, this long-awaited sequel reunites Winnifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) for a sing-song-filled second outing that rewards fans of the original while treading new ground.
Joining them are some familiar faces — like Winnifred’s dusty-ex Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) — alongside new heroes Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and a guest appearance by Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham as the Sanderson Sisters’ old-school mentor.
For the most part, Hocus Pocus 2 is worth the wait and definitely the most eagerly-awaited family frightener of recent years. Head to Disney+ and you can enjoy a Hocus Pocus double-bill.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
As far as legacy sequels go, 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife had to be one of the most anticipated. 32 years after Ghostbusters 2 underperformed and five years since Paul Feig’s female-led Ghostbusters: Answer The Call lit a fire under the franchise’s most vocally unpleasant fans, Jason Reitman (son of original series helmer Ivan) entered the family business to deliver his own nostalgia-laced, fan-service heavy continuation of the story.
Read more: Everything new on Sky and NOW in October
Here, we meet Phoebe (McKenna Grace), a science-loving loner kid who embarks on a journey of self-discovery when she learns about her late-grandfather Egon’s neutrona wand-wielding legacy as a bonafide New York Ghostbuster.
Watch a trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife
After moving into his run-down farmhouse, she discovers that some ghosts still linger and must work with busters old and new to stop the demonic Gozer from returning to power. Unexpectedly emotional and packed with a ghost trap full of series Easter Eggs, you can revisit Ghostbusters: Afterlife on Sky Cinema.
Scooby Doo: The Movie - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
It’s easy to forget that 2002’s live-action Scooby-Doo was written by Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad helmer James Gunn. Thankfully, the filmmaker — likely best known for his earworm soundtracks and penchant for blue humour — keeps things happily PG-13 here while ushering Hanna Barbera’s most popular animated export into the real world, complete with everything you might expect, plus a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
Under the directorial eye of Home Alone editor, Raja Gosnell, and boasting a perfectly-placed cast including Matthew Lillard’s Shaggy, Freddie Prinze Jr as Fred, Sarah Michelle Geller as Daphne and Linda Cardellini as Velma, audiences are treated to a family-friendly adventure that’s as colourful and larger-than-life as its ever-popular after-school cartoon counterpart.
By sticking closely to the formula and visuals that made the series such a beloved hit, Gosnell and Gunn deliver a movie that’s campy, creepy and a perfect fit for those rainy October afternoons.
Goosebumps - Netflix
Odds are, if you grew up in the early 90s, you owned a Goosebumps book. These starter-kit horrors — penned by the young-adult genre’s answer to Stephen King, R.L. Stine — provided an entry point for an entire generation into a darker world of more sinister stories.
While it may have taken more than 20 years for Stine’s spine-chilling tales to reach the big screen (thankfully there was an ace TV series to keep us going in the meantime), the end result delivered on everything that made this novella series so great while taking an unexpectedly meta-twist.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in October
Here, Jack Black plays a fictionalised Stine who fiercely guards his manuscripts from prying eyes. When his daughter and a neighbourhood friend sneak a peek, they unwittingly unleash a host of fantasy frights into the real world and must work together to lock them back up in the pages of Stine’s books before their town is overrun. Frightful, enjoyable and funny to boot, 2015’s Goosebumps is a great move to get you in the mood for 31 October.
Monster House - Netflix
Written by Community’s Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab and frequent Tim Burton collaborator Pamela Pettler, and directed by Ghostbusters: Afterlife’s Gil Kenan, 2006’s Monster House is perhaps one of the more underrated animated Halloween movies of recent years.
It’s also notable for being one of the first films to rely on motion capture technology to aid and improve its animation, bringing a realness to its characters and their environments — a creative choice heavily influenced by its producer Robert Zemeckis.
The process makes for a feature filled with eerily accurate performances, created by inviting its primary cast to act out their scenes and dialogue before they’re inputted into the computer and rendered digitally. As we watch the film’s trio of teens discover that the creepy house on their street is more alive than it seems, we’re served an original and darkly funny take on the traditional haunted house tale.
Find it on Netflix this October.
Muppets Haunted Mansion - Disney +
They’ve filled us with Christmas cheer with The Muppet Christmas Carol and embarked on an adventure on the high seas in Muppet Treasure Island, so it was surely only a matter of time before the Muppets embraced their darker side for a Halloween-themed film.
Available to stream on Disney+, 2021’s TV special Muppets Haunted Mansion puts Gonzo The Great and Pepe The King Prawn’s bravery to the test when they’re invited to spend a night in a spooky haunted house. If they can’t hack it, they’ll be forced to stay locked inside forever.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in September
While featuring appearances from all your favourite felt faces — including Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam Eagle and many more — it wouldn’t be a Muppet movie without a few big-name cameos.
Will Arnett, Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Trejo and the late Ed Asner all appear throughout this family-friendly haunted jaunt, in a movie that, at just 49 minutes, doesn’t outstay its welcome. All in all, it’s ideal viewing for young kids and parents who still have a soft spot for Kermit and co.
Frankenweenie - Disney+
No stranger to adapting the work of others, 2012’s Frankenweenie saw Tim Burton reimagine one of his own stories that he had originally created when he was working for Disney in 1984.
Back then though, both audiences and his bosses weren’t quite ready for the darkness of his directorial output, with Disney firing Burton shortly after his Frankenweenie short was released amid claims that he’d wasted company resources and created something unsuitable for their audiences.
However, as movie history has happily shown, Burton was simply ahead of his time, and once at the top of his game, he decided to revisit his old short and give it the big-screen, stop-motion treatment. Shot in monochrome and featuring voice work from Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder, this Frankenstein spoof follows a young boy who reanimates his beloved pet pooch after it unexpectedly bites the dust.
Delightfully dark, you’ll find it on Disney+ this October.
A Series of Unfortunate Events - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
2004’s A Series of Unfortunate Events once again sticks Jim Carrey under a hefty coating of make-up to help him deliver one of his more memorable character performances of recent years.
Based on the first three books in Lemony Snickett’s literary series of the same name, it sees Carrey star as the sinister Count Olaf, a wannabe actor who begrudgingly adopts the recently-orphaned Baudelaire siblings after their parents perish in a mysterious fire.
Despite claiming to be a distant relative, we soon learn the real reason why Olaf took the trio into his home: they hold the key to a hidden family fortune and he’s determined to get his hands on it by any means necessary.
Featuring an all-star cast spanning Billy Connelly, Dustin Hoffman, Timothy Spall and Meryl Streep, Carrey amps up the crazy as a murderous count in a fairytale world that’s part-Roald Dahl, part-Tim Burton and all unique.
It may not be strictly Halloween-themed but it’s definitely one worth revisiting this month.
Watch: Jamie Lee Curtis talks to Yahoo about Halloween