Best thing about ghost movies is you can watch them any time of the year. Ghosts and haunts will never go out of style and you do get extra points for watching in the dark, alone. Below is a list of my faves. Let me know some of your favorite ghost thrillers are in the comment section.
12. The Haunting
Based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this is the original haunted house movie that set the bar for all others. Directed by Robert Wise of West Side Story and Sound of Music fame, Mr. Wise made good use of camera tricks and special effect devices to achieve the claustrophobic feel and distort images. Truthfully, this should be number one, but it’s always on all the top ten lists of favorite horror films. Just trying to mix it up today.
11. Lady in White
Lukas Haas plays a bullied new kid in school who accidentally witnesses a ghostly murder of a little girl, who haunts him until he helps her solve the mystery of who killed her. This classic ghost story is based on a real urban ghost myth of the Lady in White in Rochester New York. Perfect for Halloween time.
- The Orphanage
Guillermo del Toro helped produce this creepy tale about ghost children haunting a woman after her own child disappears in her old childhood home. Lights out, subtitles on, trust me you’ll be hiding under the blanket.
- Paranormal Activity
Take one yuppie couple, one yuppie California track home, one yuppie camcorder, and mix in a bad spirit, it’s scary goodness for those who don’t watch Ghost Hunters on a weekly basis. There are a few genuine freak-you-out moments that will stay with you long after the movie is over.
- The Devil’s Backbone
Another brilliant Spanish language thriller from Guillermo del Toro. This isn’t necessarily a horror story so much as it is a drama with horror elements. Set after the Spanish Civil War, the film has lush cinematography, great acting and a unique story about greed, lust and revenge, topped off with things that go bump in the night.
- Stir of Echoes
Even the undead can be connected to Kevin Bacon, who plays a man haunted by the ghost of a young woman after being hypnotized by his sister-in-law. Instead of asking to be re-hypnotized to forget everything, like normal people, this guy decides to go in search of the mystery that is plaguing his mind. Careful what you ask for. This story will scare the pants off anyone, but mostly homeowners.
- The Others
Nicole Kidman hides her photo-sensitive kids in the dark while waiting for her husband to return home from WWII off the coast of England. Strange noises and occurrences are only the beginning of their troubles. This is a classic ghost story with brilliant cinematography and a unique twist. Ms. Kidman even garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.
Not as scary as the others on the list, this blockbuster directed by Tobe Hopper and produced by Steven Spielberg, lays down the classic laws of all house hauntings and manages to send a strong socio-political message as well. Don’t f*** with Native American burial grounds. The tragic untimely deaths of several of film’s young stars in years following its release, only cemented Poltergeist’s spooky legacy.
- The Sixth Sense
This movie put M. Night Shyamalan and his trademark plot twists on the map. By now, everyone knows the twist of this one and that’s a shame, because it’s a damn fine ghost story if you overlook the gimmicks and allow yourself to be invested in the relationship between the characters. Seeing dead people has never not been scary.
- Session 9
Remember all the movies David Caruso made after leaving his brilliant-on-fire TV career? Neither do we. He did make one hidden gem, however, and this is it. Abandoned mental institutions are not places to screw around with. They’re filled with otherworldly rage, sadness, violence and pain. If you decide to take job pulling out the asbestos in one, make sure you’re in good mental health, or you never know what else you might pull out.
- Ju-on a.k.a. The Grudge
This might be my favorite on the list. Ju-on or ‘curse grudge’ is basically the belief that when a person dies with a deep and powerful rage inside them, a curse is born. The curse doesn’t stay in one place, instead it spreads by killing anyone who encounters it. That’s right, a never-ending ghost story. You can watch either Ju-on, the Japanese version, which is told out of chronological order and might be slightly confusing, or the American version, The Grudge, with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar. Both are equally terrifying because filmmakers brilliantly decided to use the same actors to play the vengeful spirits in both films. There are sequels and such, but only the first movie lives up to the hype.
- The Shining
What evil weird things happen in creepy hotels, stay in creepy hotels—for like, an eternity. This is perhaps the greatest movie to show that there’s a fine line between the supernatural and insanity. It’s very, very thin line. Luckily, if your kid has a psychic gift, a.k.a., the Shining, you’ll know when to bail on room service before you get checked out for good. From the lush cinematography to its wildly metaphorically indulgent story, Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece is my pick for the scariest ghost story ever presented on celluloid. Good to watch with friends or all by yourself, if you dare. It’s a MUST watch in the dark.
Blair Witch Project – Before there was paranormal activity in the suburbs, there was paranormal activity in the woods.
Audrey Rose – Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins and reincarnated children. Creepy.
The Changeling – George C. Scott and an old spooky haunted house. Nuff said.
The Entity – Barbara Hershey can’t escape this sadistic ghost, based on real events.
Trick ‘r Treat – Trick r’ treat demon reminds us of the real spirit of Halloween, which includes of course, a lesson in not messing with the dead.
The Eye – The reason against reusing other people’s perfectly nice organs. The original Japanese version is much better than the American version.
1408 – Another haunted hotel, this time with fancy special effects and the always dependable John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson.
Ghostbusters – Not scary, but totally funny and it does have lotsa ghosts. A real fun time.
Thirteen Ghosts – If you like ghosts who cut victims in half, this is the movie for you.