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Friday, October 20, 2023

Family Frights: 17 Gateway Horror Titles for the Whole Family to Stream This Halloween

Halloween is the time of year when horror appeals to all ages and backgrounds, but especially so for the young and young at heart. Luckily, there’s no shortage of family-friendly frights on streaming or network TV. If you’ve already grown tired of the familiar staples that include enduring favorites like Hocus PocusHalloweentownCasperCoraline, Don’t Look Under the Bed, Beetlejuice, and more, here’s the list for you.

This streaming guide is almost entirely dedicated to gateway horror titles released within the last decade, save for one deep-cut gem that’s finally found its way on streaming. Many of them are set on or around Halloween, ensuring proper spooky season viewing.

For those looking for brand new family frights to sink their fangs into this Halloween season, don’t miss these movies and shows.

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting – Netflix

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting

Set around Halloween, A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting offers a lighthearted, breezy, family-friendly fantasy horror movie aimed at a much younger audience. Based on the first installment of Joe Ballarini‘s popular scary book series of the same name, the story follows high school freshman Kelly Ferguson (Tamara Smart) as she embarks on a wild quest to save the kid she’s babysitting from monsters. Directed by Rachel Talalay (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), this gateway horror film is filled with inventive set pieces and visual flourishes that keep Kelly’s whimsical Halloween quest moving at a brisk pace.

Haunted Mansion – Disney+

Haunted Mansion review

Director Justin Simien and writer Katie Dippold carefully thread 999 happy haunts into a cohesive but densely packed storyline that brings every bit of the grim grinning ghost funhouse antics, mythology, and details you’d expect. But it’s Simien and Dippold’s poignant approach to grief and death that solidifies their Haunted Mansion as a worthwhile gateway horror for a new generation. Once a promising young scientist, Ben (LaKeith Stanfield) now drinks his life away when not leading ghost tours in New Orleans. Ben’s deep in the throes of grief, trapped at a crossroads after his beloved wife’s passing. One day, his empty routine gets interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the eccentric Father Kent (Owen Wilson), who offers a lucrative gig that sends him to the infamous haunted mansion.

Hocus Pocus 2 – Disney+

Hocus Pocus 2

Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Sanderson sisters are back! The candle gets lit once more in the long-awaited sequel, introducing a new generation to the enchanting world of Halloween witchery. Nearly three decades later, the Sanderson sisters still cast a magical spell, offering nostalgic callbacks with a modern take on sisterhood. Director Anne Fletcher, working from a screenplay by Jen D’Angelo, marries nostalgia with a modern story for a new generation. The sequel offers the familiar elements that made the original memorable while adding a few new layers to the Sandersons’ history. Iconic lines, song spells cast over unsuspecting Halloween partygoers, black cats, the fleshy spell book, and lovable zombie Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) all make grand returns.

Monster High: The Movie – Paramount+

Monster High Movie

Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris) struggles to find her place in the world as a half-human and half-werewolf teen. Feeling shunned by humans, Clawdeen decides to follow in Mom’s footsteps and attend Monster High, a school reserved solely for those with true monster hearts. But strange happenings threaten to expose Clawdeen’s human side and ruin her hopes of fitting in. Monster High: The Movie retreads familiar themes from high school musicals that came before, but the spooky twist adds a fun layer that could make for an excellent gateway to a budding monster kid. 

Monster High 2 – Paramount+

Monster High 2

Clawdeen reunites with besties Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen) to take on another school year at Monster High. This time, the students face a new frenemy in Toralai Stripe (Salena Qureshi) and a greater threat that may tear their friendships and lives apart. This sequel shifts its focus to Draculaura, setting up a line of sequel films that’ll give each Monster High student their time in the spotlight. More musical numbers, more heart, and more spooky fun- but only for fans of the first film.

My Grandpa is a Vampire – SCREAMBOX

My Grandpa is a Vampire

The exception to this list’s rules for a good reason; this gateway horror movie is a bit of a deep cut and, thanks to streaming, is now more accessible for discovery than ever. David Blyth’s 1992 film follows a kid as he’s sent to New Zealand to visit his grandfather, who happens to be a good vampire. The grandpa here is played by Al Lewis, who most famously played Count Dracula-lookalike Grandpa on “The Munsters.” While this might hit the nostalgic bone for the young-at-heart, consider this pic mostly for the really young.

Nightbooks – Netflix



Alex (Come Play’s Winslow Fegley) adores scary things so much that his birthday party looks more like a Halloween party, complete with costumes, décor, and candy. But when no one shows up, prompting a concerned but hushed conversation between his parents, Alex runs away. He quickly gets stuck inside the magical apartment and is forced to tell an evil witch (Krysten Ritter) a scary story every night if he hopes to live. Alex must team up with another prisoner, Yasmin (The Exorcist: Believer’s Lidya Jewett), to find a way to escape. It’s a whimsical horror fantasy movie produced by Sam Raimi, aimed at the horror-loving monster kid. It may not technically be set on Halloween, but it embraces the spirit all the same.

ParaNorman – Pluto TV, Roku Channel, Starz

ParaNorman zombie

In a small New England town, young Norman suffers ostracization and bullying for being different. He sees and speaks with ghosts, though no one believes him. Thanks to the town’s centuries-old curse, it’s up to Norman to take on ghosts, zombies, and grown-ups to save the day. This gorgeous stop-motion animated feature boasts a stacked voice cast, an immersive spooky atmosphere, and a smart script, making it an annual must-watch for Halloween. It’s also clear that writer/co-director Chris Butler is a horror fan, not just revealed in dialogue and visuals but in the snippets of Halloween’s score that are used within the film.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Hulu, Peacock, Prime Video

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Guillermo del Toro, Andre Ovredal

On Halloween 1968, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) and her two friends meet drifter Ramon (Michael Garza) while fleeing from bullies. They invite Ramon to explore a local haunted house, where Stella discovers a mysterious book containing horror stories that seem to write themselves in real-time. Director André Øvredal brings the nightmarish illustrations by Stephen Gammell and stories by Alvin Schwartz to life. Harold the scarecrow, the Pale Lady, the Big Toe corpse (Javier Botet), and the Jangly Man (Troy James) terrorize Mill Valley’s teens in this recent Halloween treat. It’s the perfect October movie full of chills for the older kid or kid at heart. Though maybe save this one for the older kids; it’s rated PG-13.

Spirit Halloween: the Movie – Shudder

Spirit Halloween Movie trailer

Memes continuously riff on the largest Halloween store pop-up rising yearly in the remnants of vacant retail space. That long-closed and abandoned Sears? Prime real estate for a Spirit Halloween come September, only to empty once more in November. It’s this precise concept in which Spirit Halloween: The Movie sets its premise, creating a novelty, family-friendly Halloween tale that’s more likely to inspire a shopping trip than anything else. When a trio of friends sneaks into a Spirit Halloween store to stay the night, they find themselves dealing with an angry spirit that possesses the store’s animatronics.

The Curse of Bridge Hollow – Netflix

The Curse of Bridge Hollow

Director Jeff Wadlow (“Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” Cry Wolf) makes the most of the Halloween concept that sees Halloween décor spring to life to terrorize a town. The Howards have just moved to the quaint town of Bridge Hollow, just in time for Halloween. That’s excellent news for teen Sydney (Priah Ferguson, “Stranger Things”); her keen interest in the supernatural means she’s excited to see the entire block decked out with perfectly themed Halloween lawn displays. But when Sydney accidentally frees Stingy Jack’s ghost, which creates an army from holiday décor, she’s forced to team up with dad, Howard (Marlon Wayans), to save the town. It’s difficult not to fall under this movie’s spell, thanks to its commitment to capturing the essence and importance of Halloween.

The Munsters – Netflix

The Munsters teaser trailer

Rob Zombie’s reboot of “The Munsters” charts the Transylvanian family’s trajectory from a meet-cute romance to a transatlantic move to an American suburb. It’s also rated PG, which means that technically, this technicolor vision counts for gateway horror, especially when factoring in Halloween. While the subject matter and its director may seem unconventional for gateway horror, the sitcom humor and narrative structure combined with the vivid cartoon style ensures it qualifies.

We Have a Ghost – Netflix

We Have a Ghost netflix

We Have A Ghost. (L to R) David Harbour as Ernest, Anthony Mackie as Frank, Jahi Winston as Kevin in We Have A Ghost. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022.

Writer/Director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Freaky) evokes the family-friendly Amblin movies of yesterday for his latest. Wearing its formative gateway horror influences on its sleeves, We Have a Ghost blends nostalgic family adventure-induced charm with Landon’s distinct ability to render authentic characters to an affecting degree. David Harbour stars as the eponymous ghost haunting the Presley family’s new home. When the haunting makes them go viral, it sparks a larger-than-life journey for the family and teen son Kevin (Jahi Winston).

Wendell & Wild – Netflix

Wendell and Wild

WENDELL & WILD – (L-R) Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) and Sister Helley (voiced by Angela Bassett). Cr: Netflix © 2022

The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick makes a long-awaited return to the realm of spooky stop-motion animated features, this time for a film Selick co-wrote with Jordan Peele. The story follows an orphaned teen, Kat (Lyric Ross), as she’s sent to a new Catholic school nestled in a small town rocked by turbulent times. That gets complicated when Kat’s return awakens her powers as a Hellmaiden, putting her in the crosshairs of demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele). The bumbling but ambitious pair hope Kat will help them get out from under their father, Buffalo Belzer (Ving Rhames), and make it big on their own. While a bit overstuffed, it’s a lively, entertaining treat for Halloween.

“Curses!” – Apple TV+ (October 27)

Curses! Trailer

Larry (voiced by James Marsters), Stanley (voiced by Rhys Darby), Russ (voiced by Andre Robinson), Sky (voiced by Lyric Lewis) and Pandora (voiced by Gabrielle Nevaeh) in “CURSES!,” premiering October 27, 2023 on Apple TV+.

In this upcoming series from DreamWorks Animation, “when a generations-long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven to stone, it’s up to his two kids, Pandora and Russ, and his wife Sky, to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good.” “Curses!” was created and executive produced by Jim Cooper (“DreamWorks Dragons”), with A Quiet Place director John Krasinski serving as executive producer. Look for horror icon Robert Englund to voice a critical role here.

“Fright Krewe” – Hulu

Fright Krewe Exclusive Clip

The historic city of New Orleans also happens to be one of the most haunted and rich in supernatural folklore. That makes it the perfect setting for “Fright Krewe,” an animated gateway horror series from creators/executive producers Eli Roth and James Frey. The 10-episode inaugural season charms for its adolescent spin on Voodoo, folklore, and a demonic ancient prophecy that’s never quite as scary as high school. Five young teens get tasked with folkloric powers in their bid to save New Orleans from an evil demonic prophecy.

“Goosebumps” – Disney+, Hulu



Through TV series, books, and more, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps has delivered no shortage of gateway frights over the years. The latest iteration, a new series for Hulu and Disney+, reworks Stine’s stories for a new generation. Five teens accidentally unleash supernatural forces in their town and must band together to stop it. While still ongoing and unexpected in its color palette, look for this series to introduce new fans to the world of R.L. Stine while still packing in the references for the diehards.

The post Family Frights: 17 Gateway Horror Titles for the Whole Family to Stream This Halloween appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

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