Halloween Movies For The Whole Family

The Athenaeum
Not-so-scary Halloween flicks for all to enjoy
By Laura Ciarolla
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This Halloween, you might like to take a break from all of the thrills and chills of horror movies. The holiday offers the option of a “trick” or a “treat,” so why not treat yourself to some lighthearted and simple Halloween films that won’t leave you casting paranoid glances over your shoulder all night?
Here are three suggestions for some nostalgic Halloween movies you may remember watching as a child. But whether you’ve seen them or not, they’re still enjoyable today.

“Hocus Pocus”
It’s Halloween in 1993, and Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is the new kid in town.
Max is having trouble making friends since his move from California. Most of the small-town Salem, Mass., children don’t relate to him, and some even taunt him with clever nicknames like “Hollywood.” He immediately clashes with the local small-town students in a class discussion about a town folklore, as he ridicules them for their belief in it and their interest in Halloween.

According to the legend, the three Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), were accused of witchcraft and hanged by the Salem townspeople 300 years ago. But before their demise, the sisters cast a spell that would allow them to be resurrected on a Halloween night.
Later that night, Max decides to visit the Sanderson sisters’ home while trick-or-treating with his little sister Dani (Thora Birch) and classmate/crush Allison (Vinessa Shaw). Scoffing at the local legend, Max lights a black candle he finds in the house and consequently sets off the spell and resurrects the three witches.

This sets the three kids off on a night-long journey to put the Sanderson sisters back in their graves. Joined by a child-turned-cat, Thackary Binks (Sean Murray), from the sisters’ time, the group chases the witches around town and forms a lasting bond while working together.

If you’ve never seen this movie, or even if it’s just been a while, be sure to make some time for it this Halloween.

This Halloween flick is a personal favorite of mine. It’s a Disney Channel Original Movie, so of course the acting isn’t superb, but it’s a beloved classic with a certain charm of its own.
In the beginning of the movie, Marnie Piper (Kimberly Brown) and her mother, Gwen (Judith Hoag), are incessantly arguing about celebrating Halloween. Marnie wants to attend a holiday party, but her mother won’t allow her. In fact, her mother discourages her and her siblings from celebrating Halloween at all.

While Marnie is still trying to garner a reason from her mother for her restrictions, Marnie’s grandmother Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) arrives as she always does for her yearly visit. She immediately showers the children with Halloween goodies and stories, much to her daughter’s dismay.

But the grandmother’s visit also unearths a family secret. While eavesdropping, Marnie learns the truth of her heritage and her mother’s ill feelings toward Halloween: she is from Halloweentown, and Marnie and her siblings are witches.

With her brother, Dylan (Joey Zimmerman), and sister, Sophie (Emily Roeske), Marnie follows her grandmother back to Halloweentown to receive her training as a witch. However, when she arrives, she learns of “the bad thing” that has been plaguing the town and causing the disappearance of grandmother Aggie’s friends and neighbors.

When Aggie is taken by “the bad thing,” it is up to the Piper children to harness their powers and complete the spell to save the town. This leads them on a delightful journey throughout the town for the potion’s ingredients that includes a visit to a vampire’s dentist and a ride from a skeleton with a really bad sense of humor.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad
This movie was also made directly for television, as an ABC Family Original Movie, and shares similar themes with the first two films.

Danny Walker (Joe Pichler) has recently moved from Chicago to the much smaller Walker Falls, named for his family’s history in the town. He moves in with his eccentric grandfather (Christopher Lloyd), who insists on being called “Uncle Fred,” while his father (Tom Amandes) pursues dreams of reopening the family’s chocolate factory.

While attempting to celebrate Halloween, Danny discovers the Sheriff taking down his decorations. Although most of the town refuses to talk about it (or even mention the word “Halloween”), Danny finds out from his classmates the reason for everyone’s negligence.

Twenty years prior, there was an outcast named Curtis Danko (Brendan McCarthy) who attended the local middle school. He was quiet, pale and obsessed with art, which frightened and intimidated the students.
According to the story, Curtis was working on a mysterious sculpture for the school’s art class for nights on end. He worked on it after school hours by the light of fireflies and kept it covered during the day. After working on it on Halloween night, Curtis was found dead the next morning with a message warning that if anyone in the town ever celebrated Halloween again, he would come back to “destroy them all.” His sculpture was deemed too evil for the human eye, and it was buried along with him.

Like Max Dennison, Danny doesn’t believe the town’s legend. But when his “Uncle Fred” refuses to adhere to the rules against celebrating the holiday, he causes the dead to rise from their graves.

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