Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adam's Horror Film Picks For Kids

Can a kid watch a horror film? Hell yes! It is perfectly legal to take your kid to an R-rated film. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older). Every kid is different, though. You need to know your own kids and what they can and can't handle. Some kids can't handle much. That's fine. There is no media I have found yet that will undo good old-fashioned parenting.

So until your kids can sit and watch The Exorcist without crapping their pants, here is a good solid list most kids should be able to handle.

It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. This is not a film but if you don't start here, well, you might want to reevaluate why you had kids in the first place. Peanuts in any form should be the cornerstone of any serious child-rearing a parent embarks on.

Wallace & Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. This film is a masterpiece pure and simple. It is my favorite Wallace & Gromit film and also the most clever work created by Aardman Animations. The film operates on multiple levels, able to satisfy both adult and child side-by-side with finely-honed humor. Criterion should seriously consider this for inclusion in their catalogue. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is the Cadillac of holiday films. Tim Burton's masterpiece is a Halloween film that blends in Christmas as holidays collide. This film was a classic the moment it came out. No childhood is complete without this film.

Monster House. This is one of my all time favorite seasonal Halloween films. I never seem to get enough of this film and it's one of the few from this batch I'll watch year round. The story, humor, animation, style, music, and acting is all exactly my taste and I'll be singing this film's praises till the day I die. We need more films like this. 

Coraline.  I read the novel to my son when it came out. Once the film came out we were all over it. While book and film do not perfectly mirror one another, they are both above par works that should both be experienced. 

Paranorman. This is a good solid Halloween film for kids. It borrows heavily from The 6th Sense, but that's fine. It retools the basic premise enough that it stands on its own as a fun-filled kids spook film. 

Corpse Bride. This film is many notches below Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas but it is still a good fun film. 

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. You should be showing your kids Abbott and Costello. At the very least, show them this. This is a good film to begin to cross the threshold from kids' horror to young-adult horror. The fact that it is old and black and white with dated special effects will help any kid enter live-action scary/horror/spooky films. 

Ghostbusters. Eventually everyone must watch Ghostbusters. If you are 13 and you have not seen it yet, sit your parents down and ask them why this has been omitted. 


E.T. and Poltergeist. It's rumored that Speilberg directed both of these films at once. It does not feel like Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist. They seem shot in the same area of California, too. E.T. is the space-kids tear-jerker. Poltergeist is the safe-suburbia haunted house film. These are both for sophisticated kids. Try 7 years old and older for E.T., depending on your kid. 10 and older for Poltergeist. I was 12 when I saw it because that's when it came out in the theaters. 


Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. These films are both very much a tween/teen films. The humor is sophisticated and the films will lag for younger kids even though they are not particularly terrifying. If other Burton films have been tackled then these are both a good next step. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes. I love this film. It is dated now for sure and may land softer with today's kids as a result. Still, it can be genuinely scary and should be administered with caution to only older kids. 

The Birds. Hitchcock needs to be fed to a teen at some point. This is a great place to start. Unfortunately there is so much character development going on here that today's kids might be bored to death. I suggest this film be administered with the lights out and no distractions. A family night to introduce a more sophisticated type of film. Once someone is fed Hitchcock properly they will always be the better for it. 

Carrie. The original only. Stay as far away from the ChloĆ« Grace Moretz 2013 version as you can. It's horrible. The original is raw. The original has teen nudity, back before this country became afraid of its own shadow. A whole host of famous actors are in this too. Sissy Spacek and John Travolta. Piper Laurie too! This is graduation. Once you see this you get your diploma. For sophisticated mature teens only.