Best Family Horror Movies

Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

That most wonderful month of October is once again fast approaching, when stores begin to stock their most malicious outfits and decorations and movie channels run red with the blood of the living, and the dead. Most of us would gladly hunker down with some of the most gruesome and bloody slasher flicks the world of film has to offer, but what if the kids are still up? We can’t very well expect them to fall asleep after the sheer volume of sugar that Halloween provides, so the best course of action is to take a trip back to the family friendly horror movies you loved at their age. With this in mind, I’ll dive into some of the best family-friendly horror movies around, from old favorites to modern classics which capture exactly what kids want from the spookiest season of the year, without being too scary for younger audiences.


goosebumps family friendly horror movie poster featuring teens, monsters and a magic book

More than just a film, Goosebumps has been one of the forerunners of children’s horror since 1992 with the groundbreaking Goosebumps children’s book series, and the hair raising tv series of the same name beginning in 1995. In addition were two more recent Goosebumps films and some noteworthy comic and video game adaptations. I indulged in plenty of the Goosebumps literature at a young age, particularly the ‘choose your adventure’ titles as something about making the wrong choice resulting in someone dying horribly was all the scarier. That being said, I remember being frightened witless at just as many moments in the television series. Slappy’s original design from Night of The Living Dummy still lives bored into my mind as one of my earliest jumpscares, and his sinister smile still chills me to this day. That episode also featured another sentient doll which held her owner hostage and threatened to kill her entire family (yes, this show was aimed at 7 year olds). I blame Goosebumps as a franchise almost entirely for my love for, and discerning taste in, all things horror.

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

A show known only to me as ‘Canadian Goosebumps’ at one point in time, the equally creepy Are You Afraid of The Dark aired from 1991 to 1996, with one revival show airing from 1999-2000 and another beginning in 2021. The most recent revival has been met with a great reception, though the early-90s original was not without its charms. All adaptations centre around a group of kids who called themselves ‘The Midnight Society’, who meet up ritualistically in spooky places in the dead of night to tell scary stories. Each episode, these stories are shown to the viewer as blood-curdling short films, which often bleed over into that character’s reality in some way.


Tim Burton is a name that will likely pop up a number of times in this article, as he is one of the few who truly understands the balance between dark scares and childlike wonder. To be told that Frankenweenie is Burton’s best film in a long time should be encouragement enough to watch it, and that is exactly what the general consensus is. In this alternate timeline, a young Victor Frankenstein is a scientist and outsider at school with one true friend; his dog Sparky. When Sparky is tragically killed, Victor takes the advice of his science teacher and reanimates his companion. When Victor’s classmates steal his work and attempt to use it on their own pets however, things go horribly awry. Burton pays homage to plenty of classic horror movies and returns to his roots with blazing success with Frankenweenie, a flick not to be missed by horror fans young and old.

Monster House

Monster house kids horror movie animated poster featuring three kids and a scary house

It took me a criminal amount of time to finally watch the brilliant animated family horror Monster House, though better late than never. This clever little tale centers around two friends who discover that their creepy neighbor’s even creepier house is far more monstrous than it looks. When the house itself begins eating people on the run-up to Halloween, the boys must try to convince an adult of what is going on before the ultimate smorgasbord of trick-or-treaters file up to its ravenous door! Featuring an all-star cast of voices, and some bone-chilling animation including the evil house’s twisted transformations, Monster House is a modern classic which blends family-friendly humour with a tangible and at-times terrifying threat.


Coraline was adapted from the 2002 Neil Gaiman book of the same name, and is an utterly skin-crawling experience, albeit one packed with heart and nostalgia. 11 year old Coraline finds an alternate, and rather ideal, version of her own home within its walls, though before long she realizes that the place holds a dark and insidious secret. While remaining appropriate for children, Coraline features some truly chilling concepts and hair-raising stop-motion animation that is kept raw to utilize the unsettling effect stop-motion can have. Neil Gaiman always manages to capture the hearts and minds of his audience, especially given his penchant for horror, so one can only be thankful that Henry Selick had the directorial prowess to take it to the big screen.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

You’ve seen the merchandise, you’ve heard at least one of the songs, though if you haven’t actually sat down to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas yet you’re missing out in a big way. This 1993 Burton classic paved the way for many animated films that followed its staggering popularity. The story focuses on Jack Skelington, King of Halloween Town as he one day stumbles upon the neighboring Christmas Town. When he becomes obsessed with Christmas culture he attempts to bring it back to his own people, to great confusion and uproar. Jack’s is a unique tale with a solid moral compass, one layered with catchy songs and lovable voice acting throughout.


Beetlejuice movie poster featuring a groom and bride and Beetlejuice on a house

This one might be a little bit of a cheat, as there are plenty of parents who wouldn’t want their young children watching Michael Keaton sauntering around making crude gestures and more innuendos than Austin Powers. But that is part of what makes this dark, wacky live-action headtrip such a quintessential Tim Burton classic. Sure, it’s not fully aimed at kids but there’s enough slapstick comedy and colorful integration of unnerving stop-motion (I’m looking at those sandworms) to entertain people of all ages. While it’s not exactly a musical, the placement of a couple of Harry Belafonte songs are particularly hilarious, and the overtly stylized look of the film combined with some brilliantly off-kilter performances are enough to warrant this film a cult classic. Keaton is a force to be reckoned with as the reverse-exorcist Beetlejuice, who promises to rid your home of the living should you simply say his name three times. No one would be that stupid though, right?

James and The Giant Peach

Things are getting personal now as we visit another early Tim Burton nightmare. One of my earliest memories of being terrified is of the hellish mechanical shark with its rotating layers of steel teeth, or the horror of the black rhino in the storm clouds. James and The Giant Peach is adapted from a Roald Dahl book and given a suitably dark and unsettling stop-motion style, blended cleverly with live-action as James crosses into a dreamlike reality of giant fruit and huge talking insects. On a voyage across the ocean and skies to New York, James and his band of oversized creatures must battle peril upon horrendous peril, while ultimately finding himself in the comfort of his friends. This adaptation catures the comic brilliance and surreal grimness of Dahl’s work perfectly, and makes for solid family viewing any time of the year.


Gremlins family friendly horror movie poster featuring a box with a gremlin monster in it

Fun fact: Gremlins was almost an R-rated gorefest of a movie before some studio head decided it was worth converting into the fun and exciting festive horror-comedy we know and love. The story centers around struggling inventor Randall Peltzer who is looking for a Christmas present for his son, Billy. When he wanders into an old bazaar in Chinatown, he encounters an old man who presents him with a cute, furry creature called a Mogwai. The man imparts upon Randall the few vital rules one must follow when owning a Mogwai, though Billy himself has a little trouble keeping to them. While it remains a cult-classic among many adults, Gremlins has enough laughs and cuteness from Gizmo the Mogwai to entertain children of all ages, even though those under 10 might find certain scenes of fantasy violence disturbing.



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Best Performing Sequel Horror Movies

Scary Movies and Series

Ranking The Best Horror Movie Sequels?

Horror movies are sometimes so good that they prompt follow up movies known as sequels.  It is no new news, however, that most horror movie sequels suck. At minimum, most of the horror movie sequels out there are simply no where near as good as the original movies. Still, even with the sea of terrible horror sequels, there are a few gems which have done pretty good, just as good, or better than the original movie.  In some franchises, it may just be the first and/or only sequel to perform well, while there are some horror movie franchises with several movies which do pretty great.  The next natural question to ask is “which horror movie sequels are the best?”  While something like “the best horror movie sequels” is very clearly an opinion, many fans can agree on most of the best ones (coincidentally also the most popular ones); and thus Horror Enthusiast has officially ranked the best horror movie sequels of all time!

The Best Horror Movie Sequels Of All Time

This is a ranked list of the best horror movie sequels of all time. Remember, sequel means “part two”, or subsequent part of a series, not “remake” (thus there are no remakes on this list).

A New Nightmare (1994)

A New Nightmare is one of Wes Craven’s greatest creations.  Arguably the best Nightmare movie ever made, although that is a rough call when taking the original and part III into consideration. Still, in terms of sequels, it is an original adventure that continues the story beyond the idea of simple, fictional, on-screen fear.

Saw II (2005)

Saw II is arguably more sadistic than the original by far, which is an interesting variable when ranking sequels.  Still, it is one of the best performing and most entertaining sequels there are in terms of horror movies.  Saw II took the winning concept of a trap room as seen in the original movie and essentially expanded it into an entire house.

best sequels for horror moviesFinal Destination 2 (2003)

The Final Destination franchise was cutting edge in terms of suspense-thrillers and also unique on-screen deaths.  The second movie was the response of the hype built up from the original, which many people loved.  Fortunately, Final Destination 2 stepped up to the plate, making a place for itself on the list of best horror movie sequels ever.

Scream 4 (2011)

Scream 4 came a bit late in the franchise, but it was nevertheless truly exhilarating to watch. Bringing movie goers back to the original town of terror, Woodsboro, they embark down Sidney Prescott’s decade’s worth of effort to move on from her traumatic past.  Scream 4 did a great job of reminding the audience exactly how scary Ghostface can be!

Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors (1987)

The third installment of the Nightmare series earns itself a healthy spot at the top of the list, as it embraced creativity, re-invented the idea of Freddy Krueger in a way that people enjoyed.  Giving the heroes the abilities to fight back in their own unique ways kept the Nightmare franchise rolling, full steam ahead!

Halloween II (1981)

One of the things that made Halloween II more terrifying than the original and more terrifying than many horror movie sequels, is the fact that it takes place largely in a hospital setting.  Hospitals are supposed to be safe havens, not bloodbaths! This true terror of a Halloween sequel is one of the best horror movie sequels of all time. 

Freddy Vs Jason (2003)

This movie is one of the most controversial horror movies of all time…but it is also one of the best sequels for two independent franchises (and one of the only of its type). Both franchises, the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, saw this sequel as a hit and an instant classic among fans.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

This Paranormal Activity movie is arguably the best of the franchise. The amount of ritualistic-style terror is off the charts and the, well, paranormal activity, is on a whole different level of scary.  This movie most certainly deserves a place on the list of best horror movie sequels of all time.

chucky is great in the sequelsChild’s Play 2 (1990)

A lot of fans argue about which movie is best: Child’s Play or Child’s Play 2.  Regardless, Child’s Play 2 is absolutely one of the best horror movie sequels ever.  It’s an adventure that created a bigger cult fear of Chucky than the original movie could have ever mustered alone.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Although it is technically a “prequel,” it is most definitely a follow up to the success of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (which could not make the list due to being classified as a remake, not a sequel).  The Beginning, however, helps the audience understand how Leatherface and family got to be so savage (definitely worth seeing)!

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20 is set (obviously) 20 years after the original movie’s release, and in the storyline, it is set 20 years later as well.  Laurie Strode is now trying to cope with her past and still struggles with the idea of being stalked by her murderous, mute, brother, Michael Myers.  He in fact returns on Halloween and the slayings continue, while Halloween H20 secures a spot as one of the best sequels in the horror business.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

There are a lot of Friday the 13th movies, but only some of them are good.  The Final Chapter is one of the best ones, if not the best one. Jason has been revived for (supposedly) one last rampage, making his way from the morgue back to his beloved Camp Crystal Lake.

28 Weeks Later (2007)

This sequel is staged 28 weeks after the original outbreak in the storyline.  With the plague-like virus that had everyone turning zombie supposedly eliminated, the US Army begins rebuilding life on the British Isles.  Unfortunately, the virus isn’t gone and it comes back stronger than ever.

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

It is no surprise that Jason has made the list again, as there are a lot of Friday the 13th movies, however, the second movie is definitely a gem. It is the first movie Jason is the killer, and showcases the most human-like Jason of them all. It’s scary because it seemed it could really happen.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Insidious is its own brand of scary. It showcases a fear that steps beyond the normal world, suggesting there are places we cannot see that exist all around us, all the time.  The idea that the supernatural can interfere with the real world in this way is a very terrifying thought!

The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)

The remakes of the Hills Have Eyes (in the 2000s) couldn’t make the list, but the actual sequel of the original movie, is absolutely terrifying enough to make the list. The storyline continues 8 years later, following the sole survivor of the tragedy, who ends up having to relive the horror.

horror movie sequels that are goodHellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Hellraiser is always scary but Hellbound, the second movie in the body horror franchise, is truly terrifying.  This movie gives the heroine residence in a mental institution, where she struggles to help her father, whom is trapped in hell, dealing with a number of horrifying demons.

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Jason has made the list another time with Part VI: Jason Lives.  This is the first time Jason has been very obviously considered supernatural by the writers.  The audience sees what they would further understand as an immortal Jason and a killer who is going to continue to return.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

So many fans like the fourth movie in the Nightmare franchise, despite an almost equal group of fans absolutely hating it.  It retains a really large following and showcases some pretty narly Freddy Krueger kills, making it a strong enough contender to be one of the best horror movie sequels of all time.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

The sequel to “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” is probably just as good as the first, if not better.  Although the cast changed, the actual murders were just as scary. The killer is just as good a mystery and the twist is pretty awesome.  This movie easily earns a spot on the list for its cleverness and creativity.

Psycho II (1983)

Norman Bates is a truly terrifying weirdo. In the sequel to the Psycho film, Bates has finally finished his run at the mental hospital and he’s back home, trying to adjust to a normal life.  The problem is, the voices haven’t stopped, and the murder spree needed to continue.

Scream 2 (1997)

Ghostface makes the list again as he wreaks havoc on heroine Sydney Prescott and her friends. This time, a parody of the event, a horror movie called “Stab” has been released, and the real killer is back again as the movie picks up steam.  A movie within a movie, need we say more?

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

The Purge franchise is a unique horror that brings the idea of killings into every day life.  Part of what makes this particular sequel so scary is its plot is so closely intertwined with the timeline of the actual election in the United States. Talk about tension!

Final Destination 5 (2011)

The second time Final Destination landed a movie on this list, the fifth movie in the installment does a great job of bringing back the fear.  Final Destination 5 reminded the audience what made death so scary to begin with, and it did so with flair and death scenes like never before.

Final Words On The Best Horror Sequels Ever

One of the best parts about horror movie sequels is there can be another at any time! A lot of franchises have begun from a movie that swore up and down from every angle it would be the only one.  There were many sequels which spawned from movies that were meant to only be a single story. Even fan-based sequels have followed masterpieces and done very well.  There will always be more horror movie sequels and this list will always be able to expand.  As of 2018, the best sequels are pretty clear though, and many of them have provided fans a way to further explore the worlds that they have come to fear in the original movies.



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