Welcome to The A-Z of Horror – an alphabetical window into the horror genre. Over the course of 26 days, I’ll be taking a look at horror in all its facets and forms, offering up suggestions of what to watch, should you be in the mood for a real good scare.

Today: K is for Kids’ Stuff

On The A-Z of Horror we’ve had out-and-out scares, political commentary and Roseanne Halloween specials. Now it’s time for something a little different.

Horror doesn’t have to be just for adults – in fact, there is a whole subgenre of horror dedicated to the younger members of the family.

Whether its Scooby-Doo (2002), The Addams Family (1991), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) or Ernest Scared Stupid (1991), there is much to love about family-friendly horror. But don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t a few scares along the way, because while the likes of, say, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) may seem all smiles and laughs, there is always a dark underbelly at play.

Below are my top three picks for Horror-lite – movies aimed at kids, but with a little more bite than you might expect.

The Hole (2009) – Directed by Joe Dante (he of Gremlins (1984) fame) is a fantasy horror about a group of kids who unleash their worst nightmares. The movie is filled with jump scares and dark moments, but the real terror comes in the shape of a jester puppet, guaranteed to give kids (and big kids) nightmares a-plenty.

Goosebumps (2015) – Based on the children’s horror novels by R.L. Stine, Goosebumps is a spook-filled movie featuring some of Stine’s most famous creations. The creepy moments are kept to a minimum, but as stated in the title of the movie, there are times when you are sure to get goosebumps.

Casper (1995) – The ‘bite’ in Casper doesn’t come from scares, but rather from the emotional trappings of the movie – emotional trappings that you simply don’t expect. Casper has a real heart, which shines through with every viewing and it is guaranteed to produce a tear when you least expect it. Oh, and yes, Caspar isn’t horror per se – it’s a supernatural comedy – but it’s another example of the genre expanding into different territories to push the boundaries of what ‘horror’ can offer.

While the above movies are aimed at a younger demographic, never simply dismiss a movie simply because you think it’s for kids. That path leads to far too many missed opportunities. Waaaay too many.

And, should you want more family friendly(ish) horror, then why not check out Hotel Transylvania (2012), The Watcher in the Woods (1980), Frankenweenie (2012) or ParaNorman (2012).

Next week: L is for…