Sometimes all it takes is a scary movie in a darkened room (perhaps with a parent lurking behind the sofa) to make a Hallowe’en night they’ll remember.
Here are ten suggestions from Telegraph critic Tim Robey, guaranteed to be just scary enough.
Table of Contents
1. The Witches (1990)
With Robert Zemeckis’s remake freshly out, a reminder that Nicolas Roeg’s wonderfully mischievous version sets one heck of a high bar: for Roald Dahl adaptations and blackly comic kids’ entertainment. Anjelica Huston has the time of her life as the hideous Grand High Witch.
2. Monster House (2006)
Just don’t tread on his lawn. Mr Knebbercracker, your ultimate nasty neighbour, is voiced by Steve Buscemi in this shivery animated fun-ride. But the true villain of the piece is his house, which awakens from slumber in a state-of-the-art digital fury to come after a trio of pesky kids. It’s a dizzyingly intense variation on Scooby Doo.
3. Return to Oz (1985)
Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) begins this astonishingly creepy sequel receiving electroshock therapy in an insane asylum. Then nearly drowns. Further terrifying aspects include her best friend having the noggin of a particularly sinister pumpkin; and a witch called Mombi, who switches heads and keeps a variety of them in glass cabinets. Yes, it is for kids.
4. Coco (2017)
Pixar venture to the Land of the Dead, but succeed in making it one of their most giddily colourful realms, thanks to the heady borrowings from Mexican “Diá de Muertos” tradition. Stuck on the wrong side, 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) needs the help of long-lost family members and all the musical talent he’s inherited to get out.
5. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
A giant vegetable competition comes under threat from the ravages of a mutant bunny: who else but Aardman? Purists prefer the shorts, and that’s fine, but the company’s most beloved characters surely deserved this outing, too. It became the only stop-motion film ever to win the Animated Feature Oscar.
6. Coraline (2009)
Adapting Neil Gaiman, stop-motion expert Henry Selick also springs off Alice in Wonderland, complete with dancing mouse circus and fat-spinster vaudeville. First the saucer-eyed 11-year-old Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret passage in her home, leading her into a too-good-to-be-true version of her daily life.
7. Labyrinth (1986)
A glam-wigged David Bowie, as the Goblin King, is the king of all weirdness in this Jim-Henson-directed cult favourite – a flop on release, now cherished as the most Eighties fantastical folly in a decade full of them (Dune, Legend, The Dark Crystal). Roll the dice and get lost in the mad maze.