Poll: How old are your children? (select as many as apply)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

About this Blog

During October 2010, I'll be featuring the top 31 family-friendly Halloween films from my research. I'll start with film #31 and we'll count down to #1 each day, so, in theory, the films we're watching together will get better and better (although you'll see that's not always true). For each film, I'll tell you why it got its ranking, give you the recommended minimum viewer age, and tell you what you might want to watch out for.

Along the way, I'll also feature some of the lists I've used in my research, some other kid-friendly goodies, and other sites that may be of interest to those looking for Halloween family film fare.

I hope you'll follow along, and I invite you to comment and participate. Use our RSS feeds to get the latest posts and comments.

It's going to be a fun month. There may be some surprises along the way, but that's all part of the fun. Come back October 1 for the start of our countdown!

Methodology and criteria

I didn't just come up with a list of movies all by myself. Oh, no. My methods are all very pseudo-scientific and use a very precise set of rules. After all, why leave my family's Halloween movie nights to chance?

The Lists

Let me explain. I have as my first criteria a set of recommended movie lists to get my list of Halloween-themed movies that are generally considered to "family-friendly". Yes, I realize there are lots of possible lists I could use as a basis for my compiled list, but I only want to include those that genuinely seem to have kids' interests in mind. For example, the site Scary For Kids has in its list of Top 20 Scary Movies For Kids no less than 4 R-rated movies. Hardly what I'd call family film fare. One wonders whether the web site owners even have kids.

Old lady in a noose = not exactly "kid-friendly"

On the other hand, I chose not to include lists from places like Associated Content, which "enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic". I could just as easily ask my next door neighbor for a list of films.

No, what I wanted was to include lists from sources that at least have some credibility. As the month goes on, I'll introduce you to some of these sources. No doubt, there will be some that I haven't included. Please feel free to let me know what those are. I'd love to read them.

The Count

OK, so I've got a bunch of lists. What then? Simple: I count how many times each film is on the lists. Then I know which films are the most highly recommended. Great, I've got my sorted list. That's half the battle.


Just because a bunch of people think a certain film is great family-film fare for Halloween doesn't at all mean it's appropriate for all ages. Quite the contrary. And you can't be too careful with potential nightmare fodder.

So for each film, I consult with experts to determine the appropriate recommended minimum age. After all, I don't want my almost-five-year-old to watch something that's not even OK for my seven-year-olds.


But it doesn't stop there. So maybe a film is considered to be great for Halloween, and I know it's OK for my kids to watch, but is it any good? Don't worry, my friends, we've got you covered there, too. I've got a system that compiles ratings from several family-friendly sources, with a dash of Rotten Tomatoes for good measure, to give each film a quality rating.

Other Measures

I like to think that my kids will enjoy a film more when they can relate to the main characters. If my 7-year-old son is watching a film in which the main character is a boy of a similar age, I assume he'll be engaged more, possibly imagining himself in place of the character. Is that true? Who knows, but it's just another criteria I use. You know, for what it's worth.


Family Movie Nights

In my house, we have movie night once a week. My kids always look forward to this end-of-the-week ritual, and I look forward to introducing them to new films and videos. I do a bit of research while deciding whether or not a video is appropriate for my two 7-year-olds and 4 1/2-year-old. Normally, it's not too big a deal, since there are plenty of kid-friendly films out there.

I found that it becomes a bit more challenging in October, though, when I want to show my children some Halloween-themed movies and videos they haven't already seen (my rule is, if they've seen it already, it's fair game for them to watch whenever, but Movie Night is strictly for things they haven't already seen). Not wanting to make a mistake and scare them away from anything even mildly spooky or scary, I have to choose carefully. The last thing I want is for my child to wake up in the middle of the night, after I'd shown him a video that was not appropriate for his age, and that I hadn't bothered to research a bit.

The Blob

Like the time I let them watch "The Blob". Really, what could be more innocuous as far as monster movies go? It's a mass of stuff that oozes around, occasionally scoring a victim. Who'd be scared of that?

My kids had seen that I'd DVR'd it, and kept asking about it. Really, one reason I DVR'd it was so that I could watch it and see if it would be OK to let the kids watch. So they kept bugging me, and I kept saying no, until the time I said yes. I warned them: if it gets too scary, let me know, and I'll turn it off. When it seemed like the Blob was about to get his first victims - Doc Hallen and his nurse - I paused it and asked if anyone was scared. No, they all replied, all wanting to find out just what would happen. Actually, they already knew, having heard the audio to "The Blob"'s trailer many times on one of their Halloween CDs I'd made. I continued, but it wasn't long before it was time for bed, about halfway through the movie.

The Aftermath

After I said good night to my sons, one of them called me and said he might have dreams about blobs. I told him that he'd seen scarier things than that. "Like the wampa?" he asked, and I told him, yes, the wampa actually attacks people. The blob is just a silly old, well, blob. All he does is ooze around. Besides, he knows it's all pretend. I told him that if he did end up having a nighmare about a blob, we wouldn't watch the rest of it, because it might be too scary for him. He'd had a few bad dreams that week already. In reality, I hoped he wouldn't have a nightmare about blobs because I knew my wife would kill me. Fortunately, he didn't, a fact he proudly mentioned in the morning. A few days later, he mentioned to me that he maybe didn't want to see the rest of the movie.

As my youngest was going potty before bed, he reminded me that he's "only four" and maybe shouldn't be watching that kind of movie.

And so it sits on the DVR, unwatched and unloved. I never did finish watching it. I suppose I will one of these days - by myself.

What I Learned

The good news is, I learned my lesson from that little experiment. I started compiling a list of kid-friendly and age-appropriate movies that would make for good Halloween Family Movie Night viewing. The result of which is this blob. Er, blog. I've spent months doing the work so you don't have to. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Tune in every day in October and enjoy the countdown of the top 31 family-friendly Halloween movies. There may be some surprises on the way - but hopefully not in a bad way.

Blogger Templates by Wishafriend.com