Horror for Kids: A beginner’s guide on where to start


If you have little ones taking an interest in the horror genre but you don’t want them watching gory films, perhaps they can start with one of these.

I often get asked at what time is it proper to introduce kids to horror? I mean ordinarily you wouldn’t plop a child down in front of the TV and flip on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I mean I guess you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You have to ease into that first.

But alas have no fear! When kids start to show an interest in the genre there are a surefire number of ways to introduce to them to the wonderful world of horror and the macabre without scarring them for life. This list is by no means the end all be all, and they are not ranked in any particular order. So let’s do this!

Tales from the Cryptkeeper (1993)

I distinctly remember watching this as a kid and I loved it! Tales from the Cryptkeeper was a spin-off cartoon series of the popular Tales from the Crypt on HBO. The series consists of half hour episodes usually introduced by the Crypkeeper and contained a moral lesson hidden behind the horror storyline. What was interesting about this show was the Vault-Keeper from EC Comics The Vault of Horror. With vampires, werewolves and a moldy Cryptkeeper this show is sure to scratch the itch of a budding horror enthusiast.

Ghostbusters (1984)

I have seen Ghostbusters so many times I can quote it verbatim. I used to torture my poor parents with watching this on an unending loop. The greatest movie to ever be made about paranormal investigation and elimination! Now I know what you’re thinking. Ghostbusters is not horror! And I won’t argue that with you. But what Ghostbusters does have going for it is the ghosts and monsters! The terror dogs, Slimer, when Dana turns into Zuul are all pretty creepy. Next time the kiddos want to watch something scary throw Ghostbusters on and relive your childhood!

The Monster Squad  (1987)

This one is just a given and is a must on every horror kid list. This was my Goonies. It had a bunch of kids running around getting into misadventures and oh yeah Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Creature show up! The Monster Squad is a classic that I still find as hilarious as when I was a kid and enjoy it just as much. Come on everyone say it with me, “Wolfman’s got nards!”

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

I don’t care what anyone says. This film is amazing and I watch it at least a couple of times a year. I remember seeing this in the theater and the trolls were terrifying but it was okay. Inept and lovable Ernest P. Worrell would stop the trolls before they could steal the children of the town. This family comedy is perfectly safe to let the kids watch when they start getting into monsters and horror.

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (2001)

When my daughter was little she used to love this show and so did I. Billy and Mandy tells the story of two kids who cheated the Grim Repear, known as Grim, in a game of limbo. Now, Grim is forced to a lifetime of unwanted friendship with the duo. The idea of kids being friends with Death is insane and hilarious. During the show, horror heavyweights Dracula (who only speaks in third person) and the Wolfman also show up from time to time.

Gremlins (1984)

I keep this film in the Christmas playlist every year. Yes Gremlins is a Christmas movie and so is Die HardGremlins tells the story of Billy and his mogwai  Gizmo. He is given a very clear set of three rules for taking care of Gizmo. Don’t get him wet, don’t expose him to bright light and don’t feed him after midnight. Pretty simple right? Well Gizmo gets wet and births a whole litter of mogwai. They trick Billy into feeding them after midnight and the cute mogwai turn into demonic little Gremlins and wreck the town in hilarious and mischievous ways.

Tales from the Darkside (1983)

This anthology series created by the late and great George Romero has one of the creepiest openings and endings to ever exist on television. The series ran from 1983 until 1988. The episodes covered a lot of the spectrum in horror. The dark side is always there, waiting for us to enter — waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight. If that closing isn’t unsettling I don’t know what is! After all you cannot have a good side without a dark side!

Critters (1986)

This horror comedy many claim is a rip off of Gremlins. But allegedly the script came out before Gremlins was even released. Critters tells the story of carnivorous furballs from outer space who land on earth. They take up residence on the farm of the Brown family. Hot on their heels are two bounty hunters hell-bent on destroying the “Krites.” They wage war against these little homicidal creatures on our planet and drag the Brown family into the middle of it. Horror icon Dee Wallace stars as the mom, and for fans of American Dad the character of Steve is none other than Scott Grimes who appears as the main boy in this.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990)

This horror anthology series ran for seven seasons on Nickelodeon. Every weekend I would be stoked to see what new horrors Are You Afraid of the Dark? would subsequently bring into my living room. Based around a group of kids calling themselves The Midnight Society, each week they would take turns spinning a yarn about some horrible happening usually involving other kids. Vampires, ghosts, magic, demons and even a clown were the stuff nightmare fuel’s made of. This would be perfect for a young horror aficionado.

Beetlejuice (Film and cartoon)

When it comes to Beetlejuice the film and the animated series are both up for grabs for when the horror bug strikes. The film deals with a lot of dark subjects that will probably go over most kid’s heads but the disgusting and hilarious Beetlejuice more than makes up for it! The cartoon of the same name gave our beloved Beetlejuice and Lydia further adventures. This time Beetlejuice and Lydia are friends and encounter many nasties from the Netherworld.

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So there you have it folks. Hopefully this very short list will give you somewhere to start when the kiddos want to watch something scary. Ultimately use your best judgement when it comes to picking what your kids watch. Tell me what you think in the comments! Do you agree with this list? Finally, did I miss any?