Monday, October 20, 2014

Top Ten Kid-Friendly Horror Movies

You didn’t think that a Halloween season would go by without a list from Daniel P. Daniel, did you? As the little ones are finally getting old enough to enjoy the creepy awesomeness that makes Halloween the best holiday of in the history of ever, I have found myself in an odd dilemma that I’m hoping you can help me with: Exactly what age is it OK to have the kids watch “Cannibal Holocaust”? They are my kids after all, not some soft suburbanites that get scared whenever the dog farts too loudly. I guess now that we’re talking about it I’m not sure where they would fall on the zombie apocalypse survival scale. I’m shooting for somewhere between Mindy Macready (Kickass) and Isaac (Children of the Corn). So I look at scary movies as educational films, really. I mean, my parents thought that it would be a great idea to take a seven-year old DPD to the drive-in for a double feature of “Friday the 13th” and “Prophecy”, and I turned out fine…sort of…well, mostly…you know what I mean. However, I have Mrs. P. Daniel to contend with, and I don’t fancy sleeping in the garage for all of eternity. I have a feeling that I am going to have to wait a long time before we have a family movie night featuring “Re-Animator”.

In order to keep a balance between boring normalcy and deep psychological scarring I have taken the time to put together a list of kid-friendly(ish) horror movies. The movies that made the list are not Abbott and Costello era gems or the soft-cornered, Nerf-padded animated movies like “Frankenweenie”. No, these are modern films that have just the right mix of scary bits, comedy, and are shockingly devoid of gratuitous nudity {sad trombone sound}. Without any further ado I give you Daniel P. Daniel’s list of the top ten kid friendly horror movies (contains spoilers). Let me know if I missed any of your favorites.

10. House (1986): This movie is essentially a haunted house for your…um, house. I mean it’s like you’re watching a haunted house in your house…which is why it’s called House…ah, Fekk it. It’s the next best thing to actually going through a haunted house with the family. This one is just creepy enough to avoid being kitschy. Problem areas for the kids: There are a ton of the usual haunted house scares, and you have to avoid playing the Greatest American Hero theme in your head the whole time.

9. Firestarter (1984): I think there are probably a few other Stephen King movies that might be OK for the kids, but I think that Drew Barrymore makes this one more approachable. She’s at least 600 times less creepy than Gage Creed from Pet Cemetery, plus there’s no Achilles slicing {hork}. Problem areas for the kiddos: This is a Stephen King movie after all, and introducing the kids to pyromania could be a dicey proposition.

8. Critters (1986): Any movie that has horror movie icon Dee Wallace in it is bound to be good. This one is no exception. How can you go wrong with a massive ball of furry creatures from another world eating their way through a small mid-western town followed by intergalactic bounty hunters opposed only by militant townspeople? You can’t. Problem areas for the kiddos: This one has amped up intensity, but the people-eating is mostly off screen.

7. Arachnophobia (1990): This one is a simple thriller (I refuse to use the word thrillomedy) with an all-star cast and a lot jumping out of a box scares. To be honest I’m having a hard time writing this without my skin getting itchy. Problem areas for the kiddos: Um, effing gross arse spiders. What else do you need?

6. Monster Squad (1987): This movie is rated PG so there are no killings or gore to speak of, and all of the central characters are children. It’s essentially the Goonies of horror. Loaded with slapstick and monster mythology, this is a fun one to watch and connect the dots that are placed throughout the film. Problem areas for the kiddos: I guarantee that they will run around yelling, “The wolfman’s got nards!” It could be worse. They could be quoting Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones {shudder}.

5. Tremors (1990): Tremors has the right mix of action, suspense, Kevin Bacon, and comedy. Guilty pleasure #463 – Fred Ward. You can’t deny that you love him, too. Well, you can, but you would be wrong and I hate you. Problem areas for the kiddos: The only real problem area is when Walter Chang gets trashed into oblivion and sucked into a subterranean worm belly. You know, the usual.

4. Ghostbusters (1984): Admittedly this is more of a comedy than a horror movie. However, it is has just the right amount of ectoplasm and around-the-corner scares that it crept its way onto the list. This is the second film from 1984, and it isn’t the last. What the hell happened in 1984 that made the movies so effing awesome? Problem areas for the kiddos: Apart for some possibly suggestive adult comedy and a cliché music montage I can’t see anything worth mentioning here.

3. Gremlins (1984): Horror and humor combine seamlessly in this quintessential 80’s blockbuster, not surprisingly from Stephen Spielberg. The special effects are just bad enough that the creepy lizard-dog-predator-monkey monsters that will tear your shit up are not entirely soul scarring or threatening. Problem areas for the kiddos: 50$ says that they will ask you for a mogwai every day for a week. I guess watching gramdma shoot out of a second-story window while strapped to a chair isn’t too great, but she sucked as a person so she had it coming…Oh, and Cory Feldman.

2. Poltergeist (1982): There is nothing about this movie that is gory, and, in fact, nobody gets hurt or dies during the entire movie. There is no doubt that the film is full-frontal scary, which makes this a perfect addition to this list. Problem areas for the kiddos: The storm climax scene is particularly intense although it is mostly left up to the imagination in typical Spielberg fashion. However, I still think this entire movie is on par with LOTR or Harry Potter for on-screen intensity.

1. Jaws (1975): Rounding out the Spielberg trifecta Jaws is easily one of the best movies of all time, and it should be included on everyone’s list regardless of genre. Best romantic comedy? Jaws. Best documentary? Jaws. Best foreign film? MF’n Jaws. Problem areas for Kiddos: Really, the only problem area here is when Quint gets chewed up in a prolonged bout of blood spitting and screams. Spielberg does an excellent job keeping the rest of the gore off-camera.

So what do you think. Remember, I'm not responsible if your kids are scarred for life or if they take up residence in your bedroom for the next 18 years. You should know better than to take parenting advice from a guy called Daniel P. Daniel.