As the wild year of 2017 draws to a close and families all around the globe gather to celebrate the holiday season, we horror fans are once again faced with a familiar conundrum. Surrounded by impressionable youngsters, distant relations and easily frightened parents, things can get rather complicated when the time comes to choose a harmless contender for family movie night (after all, what better family activity than one that keeps relatives staring at a screen together instead of arguing over religion, politics, and economics?).
While films like Black Christmas, Terror Train and even Schwarzenegger’s End of Days are all great choices for an end-of-year romp, not everyone appreciates the horror genre like we do, and it’s already difficult enough just convincing family members to not strangle each other over dinner, never mind agreeing on a scary movie. However, nearly everyone can get behind an animated flick to cheer things up, and, luckily for us, horror is no stranger to animation.
That’s why, in the spirit of the season, I’ve compiled this list of family-friendly animated horror movies, allowing you to share your passion for the genre without giving sweet auntie Eunice a heart attack. None of these films are actually related to the Holiday season, they’re just easily-digested by those who aren’t used to traditional scares. Just keep in mind that, once again, this is just personal opinion, so be sure to share your own personal picks below.
Now, whether you’re getting ready for a family gathering, hosting friendly reunions or just hoping to pass down your love of the horror genre to future generations, here are a few recommendations!
I never thought I’d be praising an Adam Sandler franchise on Bloody Disgusting, but life can take you to strange places. While this entry is arguably better suited for younger audiences, Hotel Transylvania is still a fun time, providing viewers with slick animation, memorable characters, and some surprisingly clever humor.
The second film is a lot less focused than the first, but might still be worth checking out if you enjoyed the copious amounts of homages and callbacks to classic horror movie monsters and tropes present in the first. And, with a third film on the horizon, fans of Sandler’s latest and least disastrous franchise can meet up with Dracula, Mavis, and all their monstrous friends again soon!
Directed by Gil Kenan, Monster House tells the story of a group of friends forced to deal with a seemingly sentient house with the nasty habit of eating innocent bystanders in their neighborhood. Honestly, the setup alone is enough reason for you to give this quirky little movie a shot.
It’s not exactly Pixar-level entertainment, but I’d recommend this movie to any fan of animation and haunted house flicks. And, having been produced by both Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis (who are basically royalty in the world of nostalgic blockbusters), it’s no wonder that Monster House is a thoroughly underrated romp that pokes fun at horror movie tropes while also managing to be a surprisingly effective thriller in its own right.
You could technically place any Tim-Burton-related stop-motion flick in this spot, but Frankenweenie stands out as the director’s heartfelt love letter to a bygone era of horror movies. Featuring beautiful animation, retro visuals and clever homages to our favorite movie monsters, this is a true family picture that is sure to be appreciated by both children looking for a fun time and nostalgic old-timers remembering the classic horror films that they grew up with.
The movie does tend to go a little overboard in its “Burtonness”, but, overall, it’s still a genuinely well-crafted flick. Purists might prefer the original live-action short over the animated version, but I believe both are definitely worth a watch.
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
My grandfather loves Scooby-Doo, my mom loves Scooby-Doo, and, hell, I love Scooby-Doo, too! It’s only natural that one of Mystery Inc.’s finest outings would be on this list, as no other franchise has been so hard at work introducing new generations to the horror genre since the late 1960s.
However, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island isn’t a run-of-the-mill mystery-of-the-week featuring masked scam-artists hoping to scare off tourists from hidden treasure, as this made-for-TV movie boasts a legitimately thrilling story, surprising frights, and ridiculously fun animation. It also spawned several other Scooby-Doo specials, which are all fun in their own right (I have a particular soft spot for Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost), though this is definitely the best of the bunch!
I’ve heard Coraline be described as a (mostly) kid-friendly Silent Hill, and while this Neil Gaiman adaptation has far more up its sleeve than that simple definition would suggest, it’s still a fair comparison. Following the eponymous main character in her misadventures as she explores a mysterious alternate world, there’s something for everyone here. The film revels in dark magic, monsters and even a bit of psychological drama while still ending on a delightfully positive message that’s sure to perk up any family gathering.
While ParaNorman, Laika’s other horror-related stop-motion masterpiece, might also be a great choice for family-friendly viewing, you might want to save that one for Halloween, as this is one film that benefits greatly from being watched on the spookiest of holidays.