By Jack Rico
It’s the season to trick r’ treat and to bump into ghouls and ghosts on the streets. It’s Halloween today and many adults are looking for movies that will scare them off their socks. But many adults have kids and can’t enjoy these movies with them because, hey, “The Exorcist” scarred me for life when I was 7 too! That’s why I’ve compiled five animated halloween films safe for the whole family.
5) Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Plot: Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter.
Why see it: “Hotel Transylvania” isn’t necessarily the best movie from this list, but it holds some traits that are perfect for kids – it’s sugary, sweet, frenetic and visually colorful. The structure is presented in a comical way with many fast cuts and made for youngsters looking to laugh and have fun. Kids will surely enjoy the colorful variety of characters, the creative scenes, the infantile gags, the fast-paced action, and the wholesome message. As the film progresses, the better it gets and the animation by itself will give them enough to distract them.
4) Monster House (2006)
Plot: The teenage DJ is observing his neighbor Nebbercracker on the other side of their street in the suburb that destroys tricycles of children that trespass his lawn. When DJ’s parents travel on the eve of Halloween and the abusive nanny Zee stays with him, he calls his clumsy best friend Chowder to play basketball. But when the ball falls in Nebbercracker’s lawn, the old man has a siege, and soon they find that the house is a monster. Later the boys rescue the smart Jenny from the house and the trio unsuccessfully tries to convince the babysitter, her boyfriend Bones and two police officers that the haunted house is a monster, but nobody believes them. The teenagers ask their video-game addicted acquaintance Skull how to destroy the house, and they disclose its secret on the Halloween night.
Why see it: When this film was released in 2006 in 3D, the animation was considered by many fans to the best technology could provide at that time. The characters seemed almost real according to audiences. Although animated films have really made strides in graphics and special effects, this film still remains great for the typical 12 year old kids. Among the highlights of the film are its funny script, the surprisingly mature dialogue and the good blend of fear, suspense and humor. The scares are also there, but not to the point that children will have nightmares. This little gem was produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. Now how about that.
3) Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were- Rabbit (2005)
Plot: Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit, set out to discover the mystery behind the garden sabotage that plagues their village and threatens the annual giant vegetable growing contest.
Why see it: Oscar Winner for the Best Animated Film of 2006 and countless other awards, this hilarious and dark movie is excellent. The witty script, the animated set designs, the wonderful direction, it all seems to work in harmony. This British series is known for their stop-motion animation and its subtle wisdom. It’s hard not to enjoy the brilliant script and dialogue, with nods to old horror films of yesterday filled with werewolves or vampires. It is very amusing and will surely appeal to parents due to its double entendres.
2) Coraline (2009)
Plot: An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.
Why see it: This is one of my favorite horror movies, animated or not. When you think of horror, one really doesn’t think of animated movies, but “Coraline” delivers the goods. The film is not infantile. It blurs the age lines with much mastery and applies the full meaning of the horror genre to its maximum capacity. The atmosphere is bone chilling and one of the best I have experienced in animation. The film is made in stop-motion, which to me, is already a bit creepy. What director Henry Selick does best is develop great suspense with wonderful aesthetic. The vocal characterizations are strong and it’s almost impossible not to be absorbed in its petrifying and vivid universe. In my opinion, this is a masterpiece that you can not miss.
1. Frankenweenie (2012)
Plot: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
Why see it: Tim Burton hasn’t really been at the top of his game since “Big Fish” in 2003. Great creative minds usually slumps that can sometimes last a decade or even more. But as of late, Burton seems to be creatively flourishing again. His animated 3D movie “Frankenweenie” is pure excellence. Riffing off the classic tale of Frankenstein, this is a story he’s been devising ever since he was a kid. The result is everything that made you remember why Burton was one of the more respected directors of our generation. He desaturates all color from this film to concentrate and tackle the deep emotions a child goes through with friendship, death and moral responsibility. The animation is crisp and razor sharp and the 3D is crystal clear. When you think about a perfect Halloween film for kids, not too scary and with a great message, you will from now on think of Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie”. It was nominated for an Oscar nomination this year for Best Animated Feature.