Top 10 Movies For Kids That Are Seriously Scary

Today sees the release of Eli Roth's adaptation of the children's horror novel THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS. It has been a while since a truly scary movie has been made for kids which got me thinking about the scariest movies ever made for children. Here is a ranking of ten of the scariest family friendly films that may not be as friendly as you think. If you think we missed one, let us know in the comments below.


Another movie from Disney's attempt to make films with mature themes, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES was adapted by Ray Bradbury from his own novel and is just plain dark. It may not have gore or anything too disturbing, but the entire plot and Jonathan Pryce's brilliantly unsettling performance as Mr. Dark make this one of the movies that I will never forget watching as a kid.


Tim Burton's movies have always teetered on a line between childlike wonder and nightmares. PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE has some of these moments but they are the entire conceit of BEETLEJUICE. This movie still holds up well but contains enough adult material that it makes me wonder why the hell we consider it a family film. Still, if you want to introduce your kids to horror, this could be a safe entry point but I would still anticipate sleepless nights.


It is baffling that Disney made this movie. It comes from the director of THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE and was filmed in some of the locations used for Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING. It tells the story of a pair of girls who team with an old woman to find a girl missing in the woods. The creepy movie features alien monsters and had to be reshot multiple times. The DVD release of the film contains all of the alternate endings and is great viewing...but not for kids.


Nicholas Roeg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel takes the surreal elements of the author's work and turns them into a hauntingly creepy movie. The witches themselves, with their wigs and nasty teeth are already scary enough but once you add Angelica Huston's performance as the Grand High Witch, you get one of the scariest villains from any kid's movie. As an adult, I still find many scenes in this movie unsettling, but I can only imagine how kids would react to it upon their first viewing.


I loved this movie as a child but it is chock full of disturbing imagery. If the Pixar film MONSTERS, INC. were live action, it would be LITTLE MONSTERS. And, it would be terrifying. The scenes featuring Howie Mandel and Fred Savage in the real world are funny but as soon as they descend to the monster world, things get really uncomfortable. Between Rick Ducommun's Snik and Frank Whaley's Boy, there are some really messed up visuals that have stuck with me for decades.


I love LAIKA animation, but they have some seriously scary shit in their movies. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS had that nightmarish ending and PARANORMAN is creepy in a good way, but nothing compares to the straight up hellscape that is CORALINE. The alternate family with their button eyes is enough to keep Tim Burton up at night. I still have trouble watching this movie.


Frank Marshall's ARACHNOPHOBIA was marketed as a thriller/comedy and they couldn't have been more right. It still holds up surprisingly well almost thirty years later and still has just the right about of scary to balance out the adventure and comedy. I still get anxiety thinking of the various scenes of spiders crawling slowly as a human doesn't see their impending doom near a teacup or on the curtain.


This may be the film on the list the fewest of you have seen, but Joe Dante's 2009 movie starring Teri Polo and a young Haley Bennett deserves a wider audience. While released in 3D, this movie still works very well as a traditional movie. Not aimed directly at kids, this is exactly the type of movie pre-teens and teens alike would have been flocking to theaters to see in the 80s. Sharing a lot in common with Dante's GREMLINS, this is a truly scary movie that you should check out this Halloween.


Gil Kenan's animated film may be the best use of motion capture for a fully CGI film to date. It is appropriate that this film was released under the Amblin banner as it feels right at home with similarly themed 1980s adventure films. Steve Buscemi's unsettling performance as Mr. Nebbercracker is creepy but the design of the house itself and the fairly violent ending make this movie far scarier than the trailers led on. I am sure a lot of families were caught off guard taking their little ones to see this when it hit theaters.


Some people were creeped out by the original WIZARD OF OZ, but the Wicked Witch has nothing on the fucked up events in this 1985 sequel. The fact this is a Disney movie is surprising as it features a child enduring electro-shock therapy, a witch who removes her head, screaming disembodied heads, and a nightmarish sequence with the melting face of the Nome King. Definitely darker than you would have expected.

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