If Horror Movies Were Remade for Children

By  · Published on May 23rd, 2016

G-rated bedtime stories to prepare the kids for R-rated cinema.

Last week, Derek Faraci of called for more horror movies for children. “At some point, the world decided that we couldn’t scare kids anymore,” he claims while recalling stuff from his own youth like Gremlins, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Poltergeist. Given where the request was made, perhaps Blumhouse Productions could introduce a new arm of PG-rated movies. Like any successful brand, you have to hook the consumers while they’re young, right?

As it turns out, I’ve been thinking a lot about horror for children lately. My three-year-old son recently started asking for me to tell him “spooky stories” before bed, and having never learned any genuine campfire tales when I was young my immediate go-to plots have consisted of horror movie premises. Of course, none of them are appropriate for a little kid as is, so I’ve been reworking them quite a bit on the spot. The key is to just take out all the killing and see what’s left.

I wonder if this is one way to go for what Faraci’s calling for. Maybe not full-on remakes of horror movies with toned down content, but something similarly along those lines, as well as how Hollywood handled cartoons based on R-rated movies in the 1980s and how comic book companies are able to release different age-level versions of their superhero properties. Blumhouse could have some fun redoing The Purge, for instance, where it’s just kids allowed to be naughty for 24 hours.

No, I’m not making an attempt at comedy here. While possibly unfit for actual movie productions, the concept is something I’ve legitimately considered. Here are a handful of the movies (four of them rated R and one rated PG-13) I’ve already repurposed for my son’s frightful enjoyment:

Friday the 13th

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jason, who went to summer camp and had trouble making friends. The other campers were mean to him, so one day Jason’s mommy came and started popping out from the bushes or from behind a cabin and scare those not-nice boys and girls. And those kids were then sent home to their parents and were never seen at camp again.

The Shining

Once upon a time there was a boy named Danny, who went to live in a giant hotel with his mommy and daddy because his daddy was in charge of it while it was closed. One day, Danny spilled a whole bottle of cranberry juice in the elevator and his daddy got really mad and chased him all over the hotel and through the hedge maze outside. Eventually the daddy stopped and said he understood it was just an accident and went into the ballroom where he met a man who was actually… a ghost!


Once upon a time a spaceship landed on a planet and found a bunch of eggs. The crew took one of the eggs on board and when it hatched an alien popped out and ran off. The people on the spaceship looked around and around for the alien, but the alien was scared so he kept hiding. Sometimes he would be found and would scream because he was scared and then run off again. In the end, a woman named Ellen was able to talk to the alien and convince him that they were friends, and then they were all friends.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Once upon a time there was a ghost named Freddy. He could go inside the dreams of children to give them nightmares. One girl was mean to bugs, so Freddy made her have a dream where she was a bug. Another time Freddy went in the dream of a little boy who had been naughty and pretended to be Santa Claus. And then all of a sudden there were a lot of evil Santa Clauses and a reindeer pooped on the floor and the little boy got upset.

The Birds

Once upon a time, all the birds in town got together and took over the school playground. They took over the slide. They took over the swings. They took over the jungle gym. When the kids went outside for recess, the birds would try to bite them if they got too close. So the kids had to go back inside and do more schoolwork instead.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.