Thursday 18 October 2012

Themed Thursday: Ramping Up for Halloween with Horror101

It's Themed Thursday yet again and this week we tackle the topic of Halloween!

I've been having a Halloween extravaganza this month over on my facebook page and some of you have been asking me about when it's okay to let your kids watch scary movies.

Short answer: whenever the hell you want.

Hey it's your kid and you know them best.  If you think they're ready then they're ready.  I'm not one of those people who think that a little scary movie is going to a) scar my kid for life or b) turn him into a serial killer and that's because a) kids love the thrill of a good scare and are more resilient than we give them credit for and b) if your kid has that serial killer gene then not watching horror movies won't make a difference anyway.  In fact you should probably consider letting him watch "Dexter".

For Frick we decided last year, at age ten, was probably alright.

It's definitely my opinion that horror movies can be fun but you have to be careful about how you do it.  You can't just go barreling in with a Rob Zombie production.  You have to ease them in gently.  Test the waters, see how they react.

So in this post I will be providing some advice on how to handle initiating your child into the spooky world of horror.  This is Horror101.

Careful movie selection is key.  Choosing an appropriate movie is the single most important step in beginning Horror101. There are three criteria I look for when choosing a horror movie for my pre-teen son:

1) Humour.  If a movie can provide a good laugh to relieve the tension from a good fright then your chances of having to deal with night terrors are greatly decreased.

Shaun of the Dead

You can't go wrong with a good Rom-Zom-Com.

Army of Darkness

Hearing your child shout "This is my boomstick!" while running around playing with his friends is just so deeply rewarding.


Who wouldn't want a pet zombie?

2)  Older Movies.  There is a wealth of older movies that are just incredibly dated in terms of special effects.  The impact of the horror is lessened by how unrealistic it looks compared to modern standards.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Everyone loves a pie fight, even the undead.



This could easily have been directed by Tim Burton.  Even the soundtrack is reminiscent of Danny Elfman.

The Gate

Kids these days are too sophisticated to be frightened by a little stop motion animation.

3) Ghost Stories.  As much as I love horror, I actually have a weak stomach for slasher flicks.  There are a few I can tolerate but even those I have political opinions on (re: victims being largely female, topless and promiscuous and that sending entirely the wrong message about women etc. etc.)  I generally prefer ghosty-stories for their ability to deliver the fright with a minimum of blood and gore.  This can make these horror movies ideal for Horror101.

The Haunting (1963)

This classic was actually the first horror movie I ever saw and it still holds up today even though all it uses are camera tricks and sound effects.

The Sixth Sense

Can I tell how much fun it is to watch your kid watch this movie?  Mind.  Blown.



This was the movie that sparked my obsession with seances.  I even had my own Ouija board made by the mystical Parker Brothers.

Always preview any scary movie you watch with your kids.  Once you've made your selection it's a good idea to make sure it doesn't contain any nasty little surprises.  The last thing you need is to suddenly traumatize your kid with a scene you forgot/didn't know about.  

Periodically take their fright temperature.  After a scary part I like to ask Frick whether or not it's too much for him.  This is more to reassure myself than it is for him, honestly.  I offer to turn the movie off and put on something funny but he just laughs at me and begs for more.

Nothing gets me in the mood for Halloween more than horror movies.  As a child, my favourite part about Halloween (aside from the actual trick-or-treating of course) was being allowed to stay up, gorging on candy and watching a scary movie.  Naturally I was looking forward to my own children enjoying that experience.  It will be even better when Frack is old enough and we can make it a tradition for the whole family.  But right now, Frick and I are pretty happy that this is our own special thing.

And now for the other Themed Thursday bloggers (drum-roll please...)


  1. I've been pre-screening and letting the boy watch Goosebumps and The Haunting Hour for a while now (sine age 3.5). He NEVER thinks they're scary! I can't wait for the real stuff. I'm thinking A Nightmare on Elm Street for his first. So I guess he will have to know what S-E-X is, first... Maybe eight? ;)

    1. Or you could do what my parents did: send us out of the room/fast-forward any sexy parts. I can't tell you how many times we used to sit on the stairwell listening to a couple going at it on screen and shouting "Can we come back yet?" at Mummy Dearest.

  2. My then 11 year old and his friend wanted to watch Poltergeist during a sleepover. I was on the fence and finally said what the heck. It was hilarious to hear them freak out over some of it, but they were fine. It was like a rite of passage. ;)

    1. That's exactly what it's like! There's nothing that says "You're a big kid now" like being allowed to watch a scary movie.

  3. My 5 year old LOVES spooky stuff and I let her watch Monster House last year - which *I* thought was a little too realistic in the special effects of the evil house, but she was entranced and loved every minute of it. I think she watched it every day for a week or more.

    1. You're lucky! Sounds like you won't have to wait too long before you can watch a good thriller with her.

  4. I see dead people... ;)

    I remember watching The Exorcist at a sleepover when I was about 12. Scared the crap out of me. Watched it again when I was about 16 with the guy I was crushing on at the time, and I thought the special effects were really lame. Funny how that happens.

    Awesome post!

    1. That's very true. I recently re-watched my first horror movie (The Haunting) and while it still stands up as a great horror film, it didn't quite have the same paralyzing impact that it did when I was younger.

  5. This very sound advice! That being said, I allowed my daughters to be 'zombified' and film a zombie flick this summer. The Oldest (13) and Youngest (6) were feasting on the entrails of a good I have no stones to throw, since that clearly qualifies me as 'Mother of the Year', right?

    1. you are going to post a youtube clip of your kids as zombies, right?

    2. That is so fucking awesome. Totally need to see that!

  6. I love this blog! I started watching horror movies at age 5 (albeit I was hiding behind the couch to view Halloween). However, my parents found me, and we had "the talk". It's actors having fun, makeup, not real, etc. They told me that after someone dies, the director yells, "Cut!" and then all the "dead people" get up and laugh cause its such a great time to make horror flicks. Thus started my lifelong love of horror movies. Following along the same lines and pep talks as my parents, and much like you, I started my boys around the ages of 6. They've never had nightmares or been afraid, and they're still not showing signs of being serial killers. Instead, I got two awesome kids who will cuddle and enjoy horror movies with me.