13 Best Scary Movies for Kids

13 Best Scary Movies for Kids

Some people like to be scared. It’s the reason why horror movies have been so successful at the box office since the beginning of cinema. And it’s not just adults who love them. Kids do too!

It can be hard for parents to find age-appropriate scary movies for their kids to watch. We’re talking about kids who are no longer toddlers, but not yet teens. This age group can be tricky: the “scary” movies for little children are probably not scary enough, but the scary movies for teenagers are too intense.

So, if you have a youngster who likes nothing more than to be on the edge of his or her seat, here is a list of films that hit the sweet spot for kids roughly ages 7 to 12. Scary, but not too scary. 

  1. Arachnophobia
  2. Beetlejuice
  3. Coraline
  4. The Dark Crystal
  5. Ghostbusters
  6. Goosebumps
  7. Gremlins
  8. Jaws
  9. Labyrinth
  10. The Neverending Story
  11. Tremors
  12. The Witches
  13. Wizard of Oz

Keep reading to learn more about Halloween movies for kids and how to watch them anytime. 

Arachnophobia (PG-13)

A 1990 throwback, Arachnophobiais high on tension but low on gore, body count, and violence. The “bad guys” are some Venezuelan spiders and the good guys are the very funny Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, so there’s a good dose of humor in there for the parents as well.

Beetlejuice (PG)

It’s a little surprising the 1988 dark comedy Beetlejuice is rated PG because there are some fairly intense scenes. The movie follows a couple as they wrestle with a new family that moves into their house after they die. It’s a tale the whole family can probably enjoy, but it comes with a warning: if you are younger than 10 years old, watch at your own risk!

Lighten the mood after a scary movie binge with something funny. Relive some of the best Looney Tunes Characters and their catchphrases

Coraline (PG)

Coralinethe cartoon is one of the scariest movies on the list, so the kiddos who like to be scared will love it (and so will the parents for that matter!). It’s about a young girl who discovers a parallel world of her own, filled with temptation and desire. She quickly learns, though, that it is full of darkness and evil.  

The Dark Crystal (PG)

The Dark Crystalis one of those Jim Henson movies that tells an epic adventure story and keeps viewers glued to their seats with thrill after thrill. If you have the time, it would make a great double feature with Labyrinth.

Ghostbusters / Ghostbusters II (PG)

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II is a pairing that largely depends on the kids in your family because they are movies that are definitely targeted at adults, which means there are some adult situations, strong language, and the humor might go over children’s heads. That being said, there are lots of both scary and funny parts that won’t go over their heads, so this could be a real one-two punch for some kids.

Goosebumps / Goosebumps 2 (PG)

Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2 is a pairing that is perfect for kids who want to be scared and have outgrown movies for little kids but who aren’t quite ready for, say, Beetlejuice or Ghostbusters. These movies, based on R.L. Stine’s book series of the same name, are adorable with just a few scares. Also, if your kids like these movies, the 1990s TV show by the same name is one to look up as well. 

Gremlins / Gremlins 2 (PG)

The Gremlins and Gremlins 2pairing skews more toward the older end of the spectrum because things get a little gory when the titular gremlins wreak havoc on an unsuspecting town. But the gremlins’ mischievousness keeps these movies from truly being horror films.

Jaws (PG)

Jaws is a classic because it is incredibly intense without actually showing much violence or gore. But because of that, it might be a little slow for kids this young. Still, some kids are going to fall in love with Jaws and if they do, there are three sequels (of decreasing quality) they can enjoy afterward.

Labyrinth (PG)

Another Jim Henson romp, Labyrinth follows a young girl on an epic quest to rescue her baby brother from Goblin King David Bowie. He really is incredible in this and there’s music to boot. But there are also some pretty scary parts, like the oubliette, the fireys, and the bog of eternal stench.

The Neverending Story / Neverending Story II (PG)

Speaking of bogs, perhaps the single most traumatic scene on this list is when Bastian (Barret Oliver) loses his horse, so if that is too sad for your children, skip The Neverending Story. That scene is heartbreaking! But if your children can handle that, its sequel, The Neverending Story II is a thrilling quest with plenty of kid-friendly intensity.

Tremors (PG-13)

If you’ve never seen this hidden gem, you are missing out. Tremorsis an incredibly funny and also scary monster movie starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire. There are some F-bombs and just a little bit of gore, so if that concerns you, skip this one. But this is one of the best scary-but-not-too-scary entries on the list.

The Witches (PG)

Roald Dahl wrote some excellent children’s books and The Witches is one of the best adaptations of one. It stars Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, the leader of evil witches who masquerade as everyday people. One young boy and his grandmother must do everything they can to stop them.

The Wizard of Oz / Return to Oz (PG)

Sure, The Wizard Of Ozis a delightful musical, but people tend to forget how downright scary some of it is — the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton), the apple trees, the flying monkeys. And if your kids like the 1939 original, the 1985 sequel (which is not a musical) really steps things up in the scare department. Return to Oz is much more in line with L. Frank Baum’s books and is quite scary for kids.

Get DIRECTV today so you can gain instant access to kids movies to keep the whole family engaged. 

The content is featured on is editorial content brought to you by DIRECTV. While some of the programming discussed may now or in the future be available affiliates distribution services, the companies and persons discussed and depicted, and the authors and publishers of licensed content, are not necessarily associated with and do not necessarily endorse DIRECTV. When you click on ads on this site you may be taken to DIRECTV marketing pages that display advertising content. Content sponsored or co-created by programmers is identified as "Sponsored Content" or "Promoted Content."