Introducing Kids to Horror Movies: Lessons Learned and SEO Tips for Parents

Introducing Kids to Horror Movies: Lessons Learned

Just like my dad did when I was a kid, I’ve spent the vast majority of my kids’ lives trying to get them into movies, and it’s safe to say I’m making some progress. My wife and I make a big deal out of “Friday Family Movie Night” and try to keep things on the theme, which is especially exciting with Halloween quickly approaching at the time of this writing.

Tailoring the Scare Factor

With my kids of different ages, tem,peraments, and levels of obsession with Halloween (my son checks on the outside decorations every Day before and after school), I have to think of multiple action plans to introduce them to horror movies. What might be too scary for my 3-year-old is too dull for my 7-year-old, and what’s too tame for one is too extreme for the other.

I’ve been gauging the situation with something light like Hocus Pocus or Ernest Scared Stupid to know where my kids stand with what some would consider classic Halloween movies. Then, I go from there and work around their respective schedules. However, this isn’t a problem for my son because he’s a horror hound in the making.

The Unexpected Obsession

Speaking of my son, he became obsessed with Killer Klowns from Outer Space after seeing animatronics based on the classic B-horror movie at Spirit Halloween at the start of the season. It was all he would talk about for a couple of weeks before I decided to show it to him. It was PG-13, so I thought it wouldn’t be that extreme.

Let me tell you, PG-13 movies from 1988 are much different than those in modern times. There’s the scene where one of the alien clowns punches a guy’s head clean off his shoulders, pies melt humans into piles of bones, and people are wrapped up in cotton candy cocoons. He loved it, but now I’m questioning my parenting choices.

Preparing with Previews

Some people prefer to go into a movie completely blind, having not watched a single trailer or clip before diving into some classic horror movie. That doesn’t fly when checking out some beloved horror flick with the youngins. I’ve been going into these movies with a game plan involving trailers and movie clips to see if my kids can handle what’s coming their way.

As much as I would love to throw them into the deep end with Day of the Dead’s zombie walk opening sequence, I need to prep them with clips and trailers. We tried this out with my son before Killer Klowns from Outer Space, which helped us set expectations. I won’t do this for something like The Sixth Sense or other twist-heavy films, but you get the picture.

Daylight Scares

I know this goes against the conventional wisdom of watching horror movies in the dark of night to add to the experience, but we’re talking about kids here. We’re talking about the same folks who aren’t upset when you purchase tickets to Sing Two only to find out it’s a screening where the lights never go dim. If my kid is going to enjoy some mildly terrifying movie more in the Day and not be a mess at night, this is the route I will take.

However, you could live your life dangerously and turn on a marathon of all the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies at sundown and see how long it takes for your room to fill up with terrified kids thinking Freddy Krueger is in their closet or under their bed. This could happen with something as harmless as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Halloweentown as much as it could with Night of the Living Dead or Hellraiser, so be careful.

Patience and Empathy

Patience and empathy have been critical to this experience, much like parenting. I’ve had to start, stop, and start multiple movies in the past couple of years for one reason or another. Whether it’s because one kid is too scared, an other is bored, or too much sugar in their bloodstream causing all kinds of hyper ness, an 80-minute horror movie can quickly turn into a three-hour epic before you know it.

I’ve had straight up to turn off a handful of movies over the years because it was too much for the kids, resulting in me holding off until they go to bed to finish. When I get frustrated, I remember that little boy (me) who had his first asthma attack because of the It miniseries back in the Day.

The Impact of Childhood Horror

As a kid, I watched many movies, but I have many memories of staying up way too late on a Friday or Saturday night with various horror flicks with my older brother. Candyman, Pumpkinhead, the Child’s Play movies, and others like The Lost Boys were constantly rotating, especially during Halloween when channels ran hellacious marathons all month.

In trying to find horror movies to watch with the kids, I’ve been looking back on my childhood and wondering what kind of effect spending my nights with classic horror villains at such a young age had on me. The jury is still out on this one.


All in all, it has been a fun and educational experience trying to figure out which scary movies to watch with my kids, one that I’ll continue to fine-tune in the months and years to come. I have to get them ready to see an upcoming horror movie in an actual theater at some point, right? Time will tell.

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