The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers (and another 13+ worth watching.)Posted: January 7, 2013 Filed under: *Macabre Media, Courting Creepy Posts, Ghosts & Hauntings, Movies & Films | Tags: ghost, Ghosts & Hauntings, Halloween, haunt, haunted, haunting, horror, horror movies, Renae Rude, Stephen King, The Paranormalist 216 Comments
NOTE: Thank you for visiting one of the most popular articles at The Paranormalist. Occasionally, I will add a link, which may of particular interest to ghost lovers, to this area of the post. Also, please note that this list is updated frequently to reflect developments in the genre. This page is being updated in August, 2015…a bit at a time.
The Ghost Story Genre:
In case it’s somehow possible for you to not know it, this is my favorite sub-genre of horror. Herein are the movies that most effectively creep-me-right-the-hell-out.
This is the genre that takes its time with me, the one that subtly builds eerie, evocative worlds, then populates those worlds with unforgettable characters. I remember the sly little thrills that glimmer in the corners of these films far longer than I remember the pulse-pounding chases of other sub-genres. (I am particularly vulnerable to a figure glimpsed in a mirror, or skulking through the frame, or simply manifesting quietly behind the main action.) I love the intimate scale of ghost stories. An entire tale can unfold in the space of a single room, on a single night, for a single person.
This genre’s slow and gentle approach seduces me into believing it all, even if only for a few moments. I am addicted to the escalating sense of dread provided by these films and I’m eager to share the best of the best with you.
You’ll see I’ve departed from my strict 13-best formula a little, I had to – there are just too many gems I would have had to discard if I’d remained faithful to format. It is also likely that you’ve seen many or most of the movies on the top 13 list. (Good ghost stories tend to do well at the box office.) I expanded the selection of recommendations here so there is somewhere to go after you’ve seen the blockbusters. As with all my Courting Creepy posts, I will update as I find even more great examples.
As always: Please let me know if I’m hitting my targets squarely, and feel free (even compelled) to make suggestions for inclusion.
[Click the linked titles to see each film’s IMDb entry.]
The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers:
The Innocents (1961)
– Though the actual ghosts in this story are eerie, it’s the living who will unsettle you – especially the child Miles and the governess, Miss Giddens (played by a gorgeous Deborah Kerr.) That said, there is at least one chilling manifestation, near the lake, that will stay with you for a long time. It was watching this movie, back in October of 2011, that set me on the path toward Courting Creepy, though I didn’t know exactly what I planned to do at the time.
The Haunting (1963)
– Special acknowledgement for being the movie most likely to make one think twice about holding hands with someone in the dark. If it weren’t for The Changeling (below) I might list The Haunting as the best of the best. This is a classic for so many reasons. Be prepared for a leisurely pace and subtle effects.
Paranormalist-approved review, by The Angry Scholar, here.
The Changeling (1980)
– Best. Ghost. Movie. Ever.
This film’s effectiveness comes from the fact that the haunted protagonist is a smart, pragmatic, mature, manly man – John Russell – who is played beautifully by the great George C. Scott. If that’s not enough for you, there’s that creepy wheelchair too.
The Shining (1980)
– Special acknowledgment for implanting into my mind the ghosts that I’m most likely to hallucinate when patrolling the ever-so-long halls of the hotel on the night-shift: The Grady Girls. Despite Kubrick’s emphasis on Jack’s mental disintegration (rather than the haunts of the Overlook Hotel) the effectiveness of the ghosts themselves is not diminished. Stephen King wrote creepy ghosts, period. The key, I think is in the mysterious nature of some of the dead – one finishes the movie wanting to know more details about why the spirits roam the Overlook.
Lady in White (1988)
This movie has a passionate, loyal following, and for good reason: it’s a clean, classic ghost story, well told. As a bonus, it’s beautifully atmospheric. I mean, come on, how could it be anything less than awesome, considering it begins with an appealing little boy being locked into a cloakroom, where he witnesses the appearance of a mysterious apparition, on Halloween, 1962. (If you are looking for more movies set on Halloween, check out: 13 movies – set on or around Halloweentime – to watch in the 13 weeks before Halloween.)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
– Is there anyone alive who hasn’t seen The Sixth Sense? There’s still some fun to be had if you view it again with the intention of pin-pointing the exact moment when you SHOULD have figured out what was going on. Better yet, find a young relative who isn’t a movie buff and watch him/her experience it for the first time. (They are easier to find than you think they’d be – my son watches no television and few movies. It’s all about gaming and the internet these days … says the old woman.)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
– I know, I know. Once a movie has been parodied as much as The Blair Witch Project has, it’s hard to take it seriously. Scoff all you like, then tell me where you’re taking your summer camping trip. I’ll be sure to drop by and leave a little arts & craft project dangling from a nearby branch. We’ll see how silly this film is then. Shaky-cam be damned – this is a scary film.
The Others (2001)
– Nicole Kidman. Elegant. Understated. Refined. Creepy as hell. And the movie is too.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
This is a special film. Though it’s set in a glaring, arid desert, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, this movie evokes a mood that is dark, lush and timeless. Mysteries and secrets hide in every shadow. The characters are compelling, and we understand the very human emotions and motivations behind their actions. It’s beautiful too. (This film is in Spanish.)
The Ring (USA, 2002)
– I preferred The Ring over the Japanese original, Ringu. The centerpiece of both films is a videotape, and it is the American version of this movie inside the movie that gets me.
The Orphanage (2007)
– By the time I saw this film (on DVD, in September 2012) I’d all but given up on contemporary horror and taken refuge in older movies. After watching The Orphanage, I gushed about it here. This is the film that made me realize that great horror is still being created, it’s just that you might have to look a little harder and further afield for it than you did in the past. (This film is in Spanish.)
The Awakening (2011) *new to top 13*
– This film has just edged The Amityville Horror out of the top 13. I worry that my modern sensibilities are making me demote films that I feel are are dated, but I’m soothed by the fact that this is an excellent period piece, set in 1921. Like many of my other favorites, it is a subtle, beautifully filmed story that unfolds slowly. This is especially fun for we paranormal folk, because the female lead is a paranormal investigator.
The Conjuring (2013)
I am not a big fan of the real-life Lorraine and Ed Warren. There I said it. ‘Seems to me they have a clear agenda, and that is to assign a demonic nature to the hauntings they come across. On the way to the movie with my husband, Ogre, I shared that opinion. (He’s not well-versed in paranormal studies, and had never heard of the Warrens.) AFTER the movie, he said, “Well it’s no wonder the Warrens approved the film, considering how the studio bent over backwards to …” be so complimentary. (I’m paraphrasing that last bit – I can’t repeat what he actually said. This is a PG-13 blog.)
But this list is about the quality of a MOVIE, not how closely it parallels true-life. For that reason, The Conjuring has rocketed into my top 13 – and I expect it to stay there. The cast is stellar, the acting superb. The production values are top-notch. It’s chock-full of effective scares. It will especially appeal to anyone who grew up in the 70s (or loves the era) – the details are dead on.
After you’ve seen this movie, do me a favor and go here: When would YOU get the hell out of the house in The Conjuring? to answer my one question poll.
~ bonus ghost movies ~
The Uninvited (1944)
– This is a much-beloved movie that reliably shows up on other best horror lists. Frankly, I don’t get it. It’s not even quite bad enough to make it to the campy list below.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
– A soundtrack consisting almost entirely of pipe organ music makes me crazy, but the uncanniness of Mary’s life after she survives a car wreak, takes a job in a new town, becomes obsessed with an abandoned theme park, deals with a smarmy fellow-roomer and repeatedly encounters a mysterious, threatening stranger, is strangely compelling.
Dementia 13 (1963) – *former top-13*
– The inciting story here is a bit trite and forgettable but – thanks to the much more interesting backstory about an estate’s pond – there are some killer visuals in this movie. ‘Probably most famous for being Francis Ford Coppola’s first Director credit.
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
– Special acknowledgement for most perverse ghost: Emeric Belasco. Richard Matheson adapted, and toned down, his own novel for the screenplay. Another reason to watch it: Roddy McDowell.
Burnt Offerings (1976) *new*
Karen. Black. That’s a good enough reason to watch it. Otherwise, I think it’s a bit of a slow mover with an unexpectedly shocking scene in a pool. (At least to me.) Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bloody or graphic film, but that one scene made me flinch and I still don’t like to think about it. Gotta love horror that really lingers in the mind.
The Sentinel (1977)
– Because the beginning scenes in this movie are so wooden – so reminiscent of 70s porn – my finger had half-pushed the make-it-stop button … then Burgess Meredith showed up with a cat. I set the remote aside. Several intense elements stand out in this otherwise mediocre film: the introductions of the weirdly interesting and disturbing neighbors, a quick visit from a truly terrifying apparition, and a freaky crowd scene near the end. All that said, I do like the plot of this movie – I just wish it had been made better.
The Haunting of Julia (1977) aka Full Circle *new*
– Mia Farrow stars in this haunted flat movie. Her waifish appearance and neurotic manner is perfect for the role of Julia, an American housewife who separates from her husband and moves to London after accidentally killing her own daughter in the horrifying first few minutes of the film. The unfolding of the back-story of the London ghost(s) she encounters is both puzzling and engrossing. There is a lot of (not gory) cutting and breaking going on in the movie, and I believe the ending would have made more sense to me if I had been paying closer attention to that particular motif as I watched. Part of the effectiveness of this movie comes directly from the soundtrack, by Colin Towns.
The Amityville Horror (1979) *former top-13*
– Special acknowledgement for most successful warp-age of a harmless farm-animal into a terrifying demon-creature: Jody the Pig. Not the best writing, not the best acting. But those windows! That hip-shaped roof! This film is replete with so many images and ideas that have become horror tropes that it’s a must see.
Ghost Story (1981)
– John Houseman, Melvyn Douglas, Fred Astaire, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. – This film is worth watching if only to marvel at the ridiculously appealing cast of aged leading men. They make the young actors in the film almost invisible, even despite the full frontal nudity.
Poltergeist (1982) *former top-13*
– Like The Amityville Horror, this movie has become canon. Toby Hooper and Stephen Spielberg teamed up to give us a ghost movie extravaganza of special effects – which is cool, if you enjoy that sort of thing. As for me, though, I have nightmares about a simple and subtle effect — those damned kitchen chairs.
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon. And who doesn’t love bacon? Seriously, this is a pretty good film which I’ve firmly wedged into this list’s sister post: 13 unsettling films – for psychological horror fans – at Halloween (or anytime.)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
– This movie stars two actors I like: Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. It’s directed by Robert Zemeckis. I remember seeing it in the theater. I’ve just read the IMDb synopsis and watched the trailer. Yet I still can’t say that it made much of an impression on me.
Session 9 (2001)
– I added this film to the list upon the suggestion of a reader. I’m still not entirely certain it belongs here, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. The question, of course, is: Does a ghost haunt this abandoned mental institution? This is an eerie, unsettling movie, and well worth watching.
Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
– I had a terrible time following the plot of this time-shifting movie, but I didn’t care – because the visual scares were just brilliant. Wonderful use of mirrors and peripheral vision shots. I can’t tell you my favorite scene of all without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen the movie, but I will tell you that it involves a bed and the direction of attack. I have not seen the American remake, The Grudge.
– A ghost movie with the star power of Halle Barry, Robert Downy Jr., Penélope Cruz and Charles S. Dutton. Very smooth and professional treatment. Both pretty and scary, but not particularly memorable.
– Special acknowledgement for creepiest ghost that we also feel sorry for: The Mechanical Girl.
The Skeleton Key (2005)
– A voodoo ghost story, set in a decaying plantation house, in the bayou outside New Orleans. This movie was made for me. (I have a thing about New Orleans.) The stand-out in this film is Gena Rowlands as the eccentric and unpredictable plantation owner. She deftly switches from charming to menacing and back again throughout the movie.
White Noise (2005)
– Not a great movie for me to watch this month as I prepare to do my first EVP recordings at the old hotel, in rooms 107 & 217. This is a decent movie – though probably not as scary for some as it was for me. The EVPs heard in the opening credits are purportedly genuine.
– The axe Jack Nicholson used in The Shining has a cameo in this movie. John Cusack stars in this film which is based on a Stephen King short story. You’d think I’d adore it, but it’s a little too special effects-heavy for my taste. I love reality bending in books, but it’s hard to portray it well on film. There is much to know about this film though – after you’ve seen it, read through the IMDb trivia page for lots of fun stuff.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
– This movie has some flaws, including characters that are hard to identify with or even like, and some well-parodied special effects. (Ouija board.) Despite that, I still get the willies when Katie watches Micah sleep.
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
– I have dreams in which I find rooms I didn’t know existed attached to my home. In this movie, there is a locked room in the basement that reminds me of my dreams. The Haunting In Connecticut brims with make-you-jump-out-of-your-skin moments, but I have a little trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to really enjoy it – I can’t help but wonder what good mother would allow her sick, vulnerable son to choose the creepy basement room for his own when there are several perfectly good bedrooms upstairs. (Maybe there is an element, too, of being a bit freaked out, in a not-good way, by a ghost story that shows a teenage boy being tormented. My son is 17.)
– A great all-around thriller with an involving plot, spoiled slightly by the bizarre decision to go with a Darth Maul-like makeup. Like Annie, from The Pact, this family tries to do the sensible thing when things go wonky, which makes one want to root for them.
The Innkeepers (2011) *new*
– A good movie that takes a fresh approach to about half of its content. (It’s a strange blend of familiar, even tired, haunted-location tropes combined with innovative characterizations.) Sadly, I never really connected emotionally with any of the characters, so I wasn’t drawn in as much as I should have been. That said, it was great fun for me to see a haunted hotel film. Because of this movie, I wonder about the intentions of certain obviously single guests that check into my paranormal hotel. The movie was filmed at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, in Torrington, Connecticut, which is open for business.
An American Ghost Story (2012) *new*
– This is a micro-budget ($10,000) independent film, and it shows the love its creators have for it in every shot. There is nothing new here — in fact there is at least one very old trope — but I love it anyway. No blood. No gore. Lots of creepy atmosphere, even though it’s set in a modern house. You can watch this film with anybody except, perhaps, a very young child.
The Woman in Black (2012)
– I found the last third of this film to be a bit of a let down, but that’s only because there was so much to love in the first two-thirds. Lots of wonderful atmospheric stuff, beautifully shot.
– A solid spooker, with some great imagery and a building sense of menace. To me, it feels very traditional, though it has its own flare. Turns out, “Writer C. Robert Cargill got the idea for the script from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring.” And that explains my perception, I think.
The Pact (2012) *former top-13*
– Special acknowledgement for the most kickass, yet entirely believable, female lead in a ghost story: Annie, played by Caity Lotz. Unlike so many films, where you find yourself thinking “what kind of idiot would actually go down those stairs,” it’s hard to fault Annie for her decisions and actions.
Mama (2013) *new*
– I have always been fascinated with feral children. The twist in this film, of course, is that the two very young children who must survive without human companionship are raised not by a wolf or a baboon, but by a non-corporeal entity. I wish the movie had spent more time on how the children lived alone and the way that effected them once they were recovered. The story of how Mama came to be is interesting, but then the movie takes a somewhat cloying turn at the end. Jessica Chastain does a fantastic job of showing character development in this movie as she reluctantly transforms from a happily childless rocker to a responsible parent.
~ campy fun ~
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
– Vincent Price. A vat of acid. A scattering of genuinely creepy scares. If you haven’t seen this William Castle classic, make the time.
13 Ghosts (1960)
– Another William Castle production. This one was screened with special glasses that allowed a theater-goer to “see” the actual ghosts.
The Fog (1980)
– Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh. Oh my.
Try the New Daughter, not a bad movie..
The New Daughter – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0951335/
Wow, this one was nowhere on my radar. Kevin Costner, South Carolina … yep, looks promising. Thanks for the heads up.
A few movies that I enjoyed were Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Crowhaven Farm (1970), The Other (1972), Nightmare aka Voices (1973), Ghost (1990), Haunted (1995), Haunter (2013), Premonition (2007), After.Life (2010), and many more…almost as many as I’ve listed here if anyone is interested.
You have good taste 🙂 I’ll have to look into Crowhaven Farm.
The Innocents is such a wonderful, beautiful and absolutely scary film. Love love love it! Watched Paranormal Activity with the kids and scared ourselves silly laughing and screaming. And of course you have to love The Woman in Black. We had a party of kids to watch that – again a lot of screaming and laughing – a wonderful old fashioned ghost story. Great list. I need to catch up on my movie viewing (and another excuse for a movie party)
Ghost stories are perfect for movie parties and sleepovers. I kinda miss those days with a house full of screaming kids. (Never thought I’d say that.) 🙂
[…] Fantastic list and more fun than a bathtub full of zombies! […]
Awesome AWESOME list! There are several on there that I’ve got on my own list and am doing the potty-dance waiting to see (I haven’t seen The Changeling yet—WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??). I agree with you on The Ring. The American remake just hits all the scare-centers we have as “westerners”. If you want a really good Japanese ghost movie, I’d recommend One Missed Call. NOT the American version. The Japanese one.
And The Devil’s Backbone is superb!
One Missed Call – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0366292/
Excellent. I’ll make a point of tracking it down.
II’ve never equated excited anticipation with the potty-dance, but it’s an apt comparison 🙂 You make me smile.
I use this list as reference for building my cloud library of ghost movies, such a great resource! Thanks so much!
I’m also building a list of animation movies with a good spooky edge: Coraline, Igor, Monster House, Paranorman, Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Corpse Bride, Nightmare before Christmas and the haunted mansion (not animation bur still a must).
Now see? Here’s another great idea for a Courting Creepy movie list … I HAVE been thinking about doing one that consists of PG-13 films …
Okay. I’m off to queue up ANOTHER future post in my editorial calendar. You are a great resource of ideas! Thank you.
I thought I was the only person who liked Gothika! This is a great list.
Thanks! Doing the research was great fun.
Gothika totally rocks! I watch it several times a year!! My other all-time favorite is The Wicker Man, the original, extended version.
A very interesting list – The Shining wins for me, with the Blair Witch Project a close second. You MUST see the Devil’s Backbone though, I watched it recently and can thoroughly recommend it.
The Devil’s Backbone is turning out to be the big winner in the comments here. I can’t wait to see it. It’s not available on streaming, of course, but I think I may track it down in the next day or two, because I have some time off from work.
I loved the Blair Witch Project and the first two Paranormal Activitys, despite all the hate those movies got. Also, Asian horror films are really good. I love browsing Netflix for foreign horror, especially those out of Japan or Korea.
I don’t understand the Paranormal Activity backlash either. I think the one I saw is a solid scary movie. I still intend to watch at least 2 and 3. I saw someone say that the 3rd(?) was the best of the lot. I like the Asian ghost stories, but there are some out there (Audition) that are just too gruesome for me.
This is a great post!! Also – The Devil’s Backbone is – how do I put this – um – AWESOME!!
I’m already trying to figure out which of the top 13 movies is going to lose its place to The Devil’s Backbone 🙂
Great list! I still shudder at The Shining! I’m going to have to check some of these out.
I hope you find all sorts of good thrills and chills 🙂
Devil’s Backbone, Yes! Shutter? not so great.
I don’t even remember why Shutter is on my to-see list. Someone must have loved it. (That’s usually how films end up on the to-see list.)
As for Devil’s Backbone? I’m already debating which movie is going to fall off the 13 best so that Devil’s Backbone can go on. 🙂
The Skeleton Key was pretty good. Voodoo connection, New Orleans, how can you go wrong? And let’s not forget one of the scariest all-around movies, Pet Sematary. Gage may not have been an actual ghost…but he certainly wasn’t “alive” either!
Oooh, yes! I’d forgotten about The Skeleton Key. I’ll make that addition. I just saw that and loved it. Can’t give you Pet Semetary though, it just doesn’t seem ghostly enough to me.
That movie is tough to categorize, it deserves to be on a list, but which one? Oh, I’m planning one for ‘childless by choice’ folks. (Bad Seed, Children of the Corn, etc.) If nothing else, it can certainly go there.
Fantastic list! Thank you for reminding me about The Innocents. The Haunting is my favorite horror movie, but I’m so glad to see you gave mention to The Sentinel and The Changeling. You have to see Lady in White. The closet scene will chill your blood.
I think I have The Lady in White on my Netflix streaming list. I’ll try and find time to watch it while I’m off for the next few days.
Last year’s The Woman in Black is very good, too. Part of the return of Hammer Films.
I’m a little surprised to see one of the creepiest haunted movies in recent years not included here – ‘Session 9’ (2001). So much whacked out actual stuff was happening on the set (shot at the abandoned Danvers State Hospital) that the spooked out performance of the cast wasn’t just acting….
Scotch ‘The Others’ please – it was so ridiculously predicatable I was actually able to speak the dialogue a minute in advance of the actors the first time I saw it. Ditto w/ Gothika.
Now see, I LOVED The Others. I went in not knowing the twist at all, so I didn’t find the movie predictable. I’ll have to give it another watch to see if it holds up for me once I know what’s going on. I have to agree with you on Gothika, though – it’s a stylish film but not very original.
Session 9 is a fantastic movie, and I absolutely included it in another Courting Creepy list: 13 unsettling movies – for psychological horror fans. I don’t remember it as a ghost story.
I just went and read the synopsis, to double check myself. Now I’m thinking it could, and should, be included here. Thanks for making me think about it more deeply. I am intrigued by what you’ve said about the cast being spooked. I’m off to do some reading about the making-of.
This is a great list! I agree with many of your choices. The Ring still creeps me out to this day, and Gothika and Poltergeist are both great ghostly choices as well! I really like 1408, but I am very biased as it is based off of a short story by Stephen King who is one of my favourite writers.
I’m sure we could have many conversations about this! I have two blogs, but if you’re interested in horror then check out my new one: http://www.horrorlovers.wordpress.com I just started it, and I can always use great ideas from a lover of the genre.
Hmm. I had a different reply here – one welcoming you to horror blogging – but now that I’ve looked at you blog more closely I can see you aren’t new to this particular joy. I’m surprised we haven’t run into each other before now … I try to category search for horror blogs on WordPress periodically. I’m glad you found me 🙂
I’m glad I have too! I actually just started this blog a few days ago. I transferred all of my horror posts from my other blog to this one so I would have some posts to start with. I have been writing about horror for a while, but this is my first all horror blog! I love the horror genre so I thought it would be fun to have a blog where I can write nothing but horror. Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you find things that you like! If there’s anything you’d like to read let me know, I’m always open to new ideas!
The Ring and Shutter were two of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. I will see any remake of a Japanese horror movie. They have an innate sense of the terrifying that is truly, well, terrifying!! 🙂
I agree. There’s a different – but effective – sensibility there, most of the time.
My son and I watched both the American and Japanese version of The Ring on the same night. After we went to bed, we were treated to banging noises and mirrors flying off the wall.
Never again. 🙂
Sounds like the perfect evening 😉
Wow. This is an incredible list. I didn’t even know many of these existed.
I know you aren’t a huge horror fan, but there’s some damn fine films in here … and there are some nights that are just perfect for a good scare. I hope you pick up one or two and let me know what you think.
Just thought of some oldies, The Screaming Skull is a 1950’s b&w film that I was impressed with, though I can’t completely recall the story right now. And then there is an Amicus film The Skull, which I remember to be rather good, Lee and Cushing star in it.
The Screaming Skull (1958)
The Skull (1965) – Hmmm … story by Robert Bloch. Interesting.
I’ll keep an eye out for them. I’m ready for another good b&w.
[…] The The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers (and another 13+ worth watching.) (theparanormalist.wordpress.com) […]
[…] The The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers (and another 13+ worth watching.) (theparanormalist.wordpress.com) […]
Nice list. I might try to catch them all before Halloween 🙂
Well hi, Acadia.. Thanks for stopping by.
This is a very valuable list/discussion! Thanks!
I don’t see The Awakening mentioned, but you and your visitors might be interested. (See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1687901/ for more.)
I thought it was good. But not great. Frustratingly, justifying this would require terrible spoilers. It’s worth a look, though!
Oooh … British ghosts! Yes, I’ll absolutely keep an eye for that. I’m glad you enjoyed the list. I have a special fondness for this post because the comments are so helpful and informative.
I watched Stir of Echoes this weekend, and I thought it was VERY good. Bits of it reminded me of The Shining, but it’s based on a novel by the (recently deceased) Richard Matheson that was published long before Stephen King’s novel. I haven’t read the novels, but I wouldn’t be surprised if King was influenced by Matheson.
Ah! You found one I’d forgotten I’d seen. And one that absolutely bleongs here too 🙂 Excellent.
Just did some searching because I remembered including it one one of these Courting Creepy lists. Found it in the top 13 psychological horror films. But I’ll bring it here too, maybe this will become THE difinitive source for great ghost movies.
A very interesting list. I will have to check some of these out…
Have you ever seen an obscure British T.V. film from 1972, “The Stone Tape”. Written by the great Nigel Kneale (who also adapted the original 1989 version of ‘The Woman In Black’).
It’s one of the creepiest films I ever remembered, mainly due to its bleak, spooky atmosphere, tension and chilling soundtrack. I’m very keen on films that mix atmosphere without resorting to typical horror-style brutality, with engaging, intelligent scripts and characters.
This film is definitely one to seek out, though may be a little hard to get hold of?
” I’m very keen on films that mix atmosphere without resorting to typical horror-style brutality, with engaging, intelligent scripts and characters.”
You’ve articulated that brilliantly – that is exactly what I’m looking for in a horror movie.
I will see what I can do to chase down “The Stone Tape”. (Which means I’ll set my husband to tracking it down … if anyone can get it into my hands, it’s Ogre.)
Thanks so much for the tip.
I too loved The Uninvited, probably because of the two lead actors and a weeping ghost, which for me is very scary. Atmospheric and dark. People love the original Wicker Man, but I don’t find that creepy at all and the Nick Cage remake is awful. Did I miss The Omen on your list? Thanks for these lists. I love horror but cannot find good ones. I just watched The Pact, which wasn’t bad. I love Korean Horror films like The Tale of Two Sisters. Rec is also creepy for a zombie movie. I too also loved Paranormal Activity 1-3, much more than The Blair Witch phenomenon.
The Omen. Does that have ghostly elements? It’s absolutely a favorite, but I don’t have it on any lists yet. Maybe I need to work up a Devil / Posession list soon – there’s such a fine line between ghostly and demonic events sometimes.
A Tale of Two Sisters – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365376/
That’s one I haven’t seen yet. Off to add it to my next-movies list.
OOps, sorry, got carried away with scary films and forgot which category I was in. 😀
Reblogged this on Renae Rude – The Paranormalist.
I love a good ghost story, I don’t think there are enough.
Probably true, but there’s an awful lot of good ones here. And I will continue my quest to find ALL the creepy ghost stories. 😀
Try “Dead Birds, an atmospheric subtle “western” Horror movie (2004) Love your blog!!!
Thank you! Dead Birds, huh?. Interesting. I am reminded of The Beguiled (1971). Not a ghost story, but creepy as hell 🙂
I just saw The Conjuring myself and agree, it ranks right up there. I do happen to be a fan of the Warrens, so it appealed to me even more.
When would I get out of the house? Actually, I’d still be there. I would love to find an old farmhouse with spirits frolicking about. (Frolicking, not possessing. If that were the case, I’d get out of there REAL fast).
In real life, the Perron family lived there for close to 10 years before leaving.
Yep. I’d love the haunting right up until I learned two things: 1) the haunt wants to hurt my family 2) the haunt COULD hurt my family. Then I’m gone.
I’m still debating if I want to buy the Criterion release of The Uninvited (coming out on October 22, 2013). I see you’re not a fan, Renae, and I was involved with the stage version — which seemed a bit ho-hum. In terms of SERIOUS ghost movies, though, I read that it’s historically important. Hmmm.
I just ordered The Changling, however, since I very recent read that it’s the “Best. Ghost. Movie. Ever.”
(And should anyone be interested in reading what I call “ghostly mysteries,” my series of short stories featuring Vera Van Slyke, a ghost-hunter from the early 1900s, is available for free download at http://timprasil.wordpress.com/.)
Buying ANY classic movie in the Criterion version is a good idea. If I could, I would convert my entire collection. I’m an INTELLIGENT commentary addict. (In order of prefererence, the commentary should be by a film historian, the writer, or the director. I’ve less use for producers and most actors.)
I don’t hate The Univited – I just think it’s flat. I hope you love The Changeling. As I was posting a video clip from it recently I was reminded by how dated it is. Let me know if it stands for you.
You’re timing on this comment was perfect – I was making a printable little reference booklet and wanted to include suggestions for new and upcoming authors I like. I’d read your ghost mysteries long enough ago that they’d slipped my mind. Now my booklet lists you, Hunter Shea, Johnathan Jantz, and Brad C. Hodson. It’s just by name in the printable, but I’ll link properly when I do a companion Halloween Countdown piece later this fall.
Love this list. Nice to see The Lady in White get a mention; It had a Spielberg vibe to it that was unexpected in something with such a tiny budget, and it has to be one of the few ghost stories to end on a heartwarming note. The one that isn’t on this list that I think could rocket to the top is an Aussie film called Lake Mungo. It’s hard to find, but for me it’s right up there with The Haunting. Here’s my review of it:
And in case you’re interested my review of The Haunting:
I have no idea how I missed this comment when it came in! Two months! I’m sorry. I have heard good things about Lake Mungo already, I’m off to read your reviews.
My wife likes ghost and haunted house movies best of all and since I own quite a few of the films it would seem that her introduction to horror will continue quite nicely.
I thought of these lists when I read your post about luring your wife into horror films. Almost posted the link, but I didn’t want to be pushy. Glad you found your way. 🙂
I would have never thought of it as pushy, Renae.
The Haunting of Julia (aka Full Circle), based on Peter Straub’s Julia, is also worth seeking out. A predecessor to his Ghost Story, the movie, despite not having the strongest of stories, has a cult following. The atmosphere is driven by both Mia Farrow’s spot-on performance and the movie’s wonderfully spooky soundtrack that surpasses The Changeling’s.
Found a link to Colin Towns’ theme for The Haunting of Julia – starts at 1:33.
All right. I’m entirely convinced.. I’ll try to see this this week. … Yep. Just checked. It is indeed available via Netflix streaming right now. I will make time. Thanks for the prod 😀
[…] the blogs I follow are recommending great movies for Halloween. I’m especially fond of the 13-plus suggested ghost movies post and its many comments on the Renae Rude — The Paranormalist blog. Instead of cinema, […]
Your description of “The Others” is fantastic – thank you for that.
“Sixth Sense”, the movie where I had switched on EVERY light in the flat halfway into watching it. Didn’t help though.
Ah! I’m glad you came here – when I saw your comment come in over at the Halloween movies, I knew this list would be most useful to you 🙂 There are a lot of good movies that HAPPEN to be horror … and most of them are here. Even non-horror fans deserve a good scare this time of year.
Ok. Time for a confession. You are writing to a person who went to see “What Lies Beneath”, partially because of Harrison Ford & Michelle Pfeiffer, partially because there was nothing else going on.
Part 1: My sister and me watch the movie, completely scared. After 20 minutes – scene with the ouija board – she pesters me to leave the movie. Ticket sales guy tells us how the movie ends because we were curious.
Part 2: Decided to see the movie again, this time with a sturdy-shouldered male friend. First 20 minutes are totally fine as the plot was already known. Minute 25 (scene with neighbor looking through fence) I scream louder than the rest in the cinema together and spill ALL my chocolate candy all over the place. Male friend gasps “CaveGirl, CaveGirl, what are you doing to me, I just had a heart attack some years ago, oh, I feel it again, oh, oh”. Me now in TOTAL PANICK, horror in real life bigger than horror on screen! He looks at me and has the laughter of his life, for me being so silly…
OK. Maybe there are some people who should not indulge in horror movies. We don’t want you to kill anyone!
Though I gotta say, I’d LOVE to go to a good creeper with someone like you. (I’ve got a strong heart.)
I have a hunch that – with proper supervision – you could be converted.
Warning – I am also a person who would then put a creepy hand on the shoulder of the person in front of me, just as Freddie Kruger gets up again after having been stabbed to his third death…
what about Sinister – the creepiest horror film I’ve seen in a while – very atmospheric and well worth seeing!
Ah! Another good catch by a reader. I’d forgotten about this film. Yes, it’s quite good and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!
I didn’t read through all the comments here but maybe somebody mentioned Lets Scare Jessica To Death ? This 1971 thriller has a couple of good jolts and effective scenes. Its a film about vampires and ghosts.
The original, made for TV , 1989 The Woman In Black deserves mention, particularly to fans of The Haunting, The Innocents and The Others. A classic and unforgettable film
You’ve brought me a challenge. I like that.
I’d heard of Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, but assumed (because of the title) that is was more of a mystery-thriller than a ghost story. Now, after reading the synopsis, I’m intrigued.
I’ll add Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067341/) to my to-watch list.
And this 1989 version of The Woman in Black is interesting. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098672/) The synopsis makes it clear that the 2012 version is a remake. Netflix, however, seems not to have it available, so I’ll just have to keep an eye on the bargain bins and hope I come across it.
Hi i Renae …yes in Lets Scare Jessica, the viewer is never certain whether the paranormal events are real or a product of the heroine’s deepest fears. As for The first Woman In Black film it is available for viewing on Youtube among other sites. Well worth checking out for some effective scare scenes. Also The Asphyx ( Spirits of The Dead ) from 1973, and Eyes Of Fire ( 1983 , about a group of early American settlers plagued by spirits of a previous colony and a witch ) offer some good atmospherics and jolts. Perfect viewing for a cold, dark November night.
I’ll check into YouTube. I am constantly amazed by how much stuff is out there that I’ve never heard of … even within this one niche of haunted stories. I’ll never see them all! But I’m gonna keep trying.
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Hello, the photo near the top of this blog article is loading a little bit odd to me? I attempted sending an e-mail however it bounced again.
I’m sorry about the photo loading badly. I’ve been having that problem for the last couple of weeks. It looks all squished, doesn’t it? It’s an intermittent thing … reloading might fix it. I’ve got to dig into why that’s happening all of a sudden.
What email did you use? As far as I know that has been working fine.
Okay, I have seen the Changeling once … ONCE and I will never ever have to see it again. It’s terrifying. The Blair Witch Project – best theater experience I have ever had. I have seen all the Paranormals, and the scene that creeps me out the most is in the 3rd one with the babysitter … I nearly wet myself.
I HAVE TO watch the Paranormal sequels. I’m glad someone else was as affected by The Changeling as me … creeped me right out. I may have to say the same thing about Blair Witch … it was a very memorable night. I’m glad I saw it early, at an art house-type theater.
That’s funny, I saw Blair Witch in an old art house theater too, and the crowd was perfect. It was opening night, and I went with 4 friends, 3 cynics, 2 fraidy cats, and 1 really really fraidy cat. It was so much fun.
You weren’t in St Paul, MN, were you? Sounds just like us. Though we were a party of 3 – me, best girlfriend, and new husband. He had to sit in the middle 🙂
Yes, The Changeling was a good one. Blair Witch I went to see as soon as it came out – I had not heard much about it yet, so did not know what to expect…went to see it alone on a weeknight, not many people in the theatre – and got just what I was wanting ! it really scared me!
I CAN NOT imagine seeing Blair Witch alone! You are brave!
Thank you for this list! I saw The Changeling in the theatre when I was 12 years old – an old mansion near my hometown played the haunted house. It was to be pulled down anyway so they allowed it to be burned down at the end. Still one of my all-time favourites. I haven’t been through all the comments so forgive me if this is a repeat, but I highly recommend this little-known Irish film that came out in 2009 called The Eclipse, starring Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjejle and Aidan Quinn. Gorgeous soundtrack, lush cinematography, and a very scary haunting with a totally original twist!
That is SO cool! Do you have memories of the house from before the filming? Was it one of those place that made you cross the street or run past because everyone knows it’s just gotta be haunted? Or, perhaps, was the a legend about it being really haunted?
The Eclipse (2009): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1346961/
Ireland and a horror writer and a haunting? Nice. I’m adding it to the to-see list. Thanks!
The house was definitely thought to be haunted. It had been vacant for a while. It was on Vancouver Island, if I remember correctly, a ferry ride from where I live, but I recall driving past with my folks a few times when we were visiting Victoria. It was filmed in Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, so in addition to scaring the pants off of us, we watch it to spot local landmarks! As for The Eclipse, I like it as it’s more than just about the ghost, it’s about losing your position in life, being replaced, and how difficult it is; hence the title. A lot of people didn’t get it, but as you say, triple-threat! 😀 Enjoy.
I love your taste in movies. I love creepy over slasher or gory. This is one of my favorite genres, but if you want to see the CREEPY version of the Woman In Black, watch the BBC miniseries version on Youtube. Much better background story on the ghost. I would add to your list “The Hearse” with Trish Van Devere. The Gift with Keanu Reeves and Katy Holmes, Black Sunday, The Awakening with Stephanie Zimbalist and Charlton Heston, House of Voices (a French horror film), the haunting of Julia, and the Hound of the Baskervilles with Basil Rathbone..
Oh, I am all over these suggestions! I just wish there was time to watch everything ever made!
The Hearse (1980) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080853/
I’ve seen The Gift (2000) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219699/.) It’s in these lists somewhere. I thought it was pretty good, but I got hung up on the way she used her cards … it was just so illogical to me, that it kept breaking me out of the movie.
The Awakening (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1687901/
The Haunting of Julia (1977) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074611/
are both in my Netflix queue. I have GOT to watch them; I keep hearing good things.
But, I just realized you are talking about THIS one, which I was unaware of: The Awakening (1980) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080402/ Intriguing.
House of Voices (2004) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367000/ looks wonderfully Gothic.
Do you mean Black Sunday (1960) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054067/ ? If so, that’s Mario Bava … nice pull. One I haven’t seen.
I completely agree about The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031448/
Basil is my favorite Sherlock.
If you liked The Uninvited, you should read the book,The Turn of the Screw…while I agree that the lake scene in the movie, with that dreadful image of Miss Jessel, was up there with creepy scenes, I thought the best scene in the movie was the governess’s first encounter with Quint, when he looks in the window – but one of the creepiest moments ever, in this story or any other, happens in the book, when the governess meets Quint in the middle of the night in the house, on the main staircase.
Another great ghost story is Peter Straub’s “Julia”. The book was awesome, and a pretty decent movie was made in the 70’s starring Mia Farrow, called “The Haunting of Julia”….any story with a child ghost is especially good, because one does not expect evil in children.
You’re right; I do need to read The Turn of the Screw. The scene you mention sounds chilling.
Reading Julia and watching The Haunting of Julia are on my to-do lists.
So many awesome things to sample and so little time.
Here are a few others I really liked –
The Girl in a Swing
And you MUST see this independent film I just rented called “Deadly Presence”…..if you like your ghost stories
understated, creepy, claustrophobic, try to see it….
Deadly Presence (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2343086/
I’m on it.
Any review on The Innkeepers? I’ve heard decent things..
Yes. I have seen it. Didn’t love it, but I will certainly review the IMDb entry and clips, then add an entry. Thanks for reminding me of it.
Incredible list, great job . I’ve seen every movie on your list.The Conjuring gives me the chills, Sinister, a second close. Though I am surprised at the mention of Sentinel, it was a lame movie. My list would have had ‘The exorcism of Emily Rose’ and ‘Lake Mungo’ too.
Thank you, Monica. It’s been a collaboration.
This afternoon I finally sat down and watched TWO of the repeatedly recommended movies, The Awakening and The Haunting of Julia. One was far better than the other, but they’ll both be making an appearance here soon. And my Ogre reminded me of a movie that needs to go in the campy fun section.
We looked for Lake Mungo, which is another popular suggestion, but we’ll have to order that on disc. Looking forward to it though. I THINK I’ve seen The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but I’ll have to review. Would you say that’s a ghost movie or a possession movie? (I don’t have a list of those crafted yet, but I think it’s coming due.)
Possession/exorcism movies are all the rage right now with American cinema… its own list would definitely be useful!
I’ve got a spiffy new “editorial calendar” and I’ve added the idea for a possession/exorcism list to the queue. I’m think I might do a post that makes the distinction between such movies and the poltergeist movies that often look similar on the surface.
Thanks for the feedback. I’m sorry it took a while for me to get back here.
Ahhh! The Changeling! When that ball comes down the stairs…
Ayup. Pretty sure I would have just turned around and run.
What Lies Beneath…that’s listed as a ghost movie? Egads! I really remember a lot of it quite vividly and it scared me and my friend witless, and it couldn’t be denied…it was a THRILLER!!!
I just don’t think a ghost is accurate. Now you are going to make me investigate…my curiosity will nag until I refresh my best recall. My focus was on that character of Ford…he resembled my sweetheart so much…esp. his voice, it freaked me out! We literally screamed — more than just once or twice — grown women!! I was SURE we’d be taken out of the theatre. Perhaps Ford overtook this movie too much for me to focus on the ghost, haha.
It’s absolutely a ghost movie! 😀
It’s very easy to get caught up in the mystery aspect, and Ford’s role in it, but there is a genuine haunting going on. To be refreshed about what the dead Madison does, you can read the synopsis of the whole film here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0161081/synopsis
When you read that, I think you’ll be surprised at how much of the movie is driven by paranormal events.
I get it, though, Ford was SO menacing.
Wow…guess I’d better see it again, haha! Thanks for that! 🙂
A couple of movies that I didn’t see listed here I think more people need to know about. One is “Grave Encounters”. This movie is amazing, especially for being so low budget. IMO mainstream horror movies suck in comparrison, its extremely rare that I come across a mainstream horror that is actually scary, or at least interesting and I haven’t figured out the ending in the first 10 minutes. Grave Encounters is definitely a movie everyone should see.
The second movie is VHS. While this is not exclusively a ghost movie its shock value is so powerful you’re left in complete awe at the end and will definitely test you mettle about sleeping without the light on.
Both of these movies have sequels. Unfortuately however due to the amazingly high standard the first movies create, the sequels fall short of the amazing effects the first movies have.
Thanks so much for the heads-ups on these two … VHS has been hovering somewhere in the middle of my to-see list for a while, but I don’t think Grave Encounters was on my radar.
Can I add one to your list? Shadow People, 2013. Messes with your mind.
Oooh: “A struggling late-night radio host and a skeptical CDC investigator research nighttime sightings of shadowy figures and subsequent sleep fatalities. Are these paranoid hallucinations, or are the victims literally being scared to death by something?” (Netflix description.)
Nope, but I just added it to my Netflix queue 🙂
Here’s the link to Shadow People (2013).
Great list and comments thread, all of my favorite ghost movies were covered (and I found a bunch to hunt down myself, thanks).
Two ghost flicks I found on Netflix that were somewhat memorable are Fingerprints (creepy little kid ghosts), and Confessions of a Ghost Hunter (hauntings and some weird kinky dark secrets too). Neither are classics but both deliver on creepy atmosphere and story.
I saw VHS was mentioned; the last clip in that is a neat haunted house bit, but if you want a very cool ghost story, skip the first movie and go right for the first clip in VHS2. The rest of the movie is great fun too and gets quite insane.
Oh yeah, a 70s classic not on your list is Burnt Offerings, with Karen Black. It’s more a haunted house movie than a ghost movie – you’ll see what I mean if you see it!
Thank you, Jordan. I’ll keep a look out for Fingerprints (2006) I’m not having any luck finding a movie called Confessions of a Ghost Hunter, though there are apparently several books by that title. Is it, maybe, Death of a Ghost Hunter? I did find that on Netflix. VHS / VHS2 aren’t high on my to-see list but they are there — they just keep getting bumped by more alluring stuff … one of these nights!
Special thanks for reminding me of Burnt Offerings! I did see that sometime last year and forgot to add it to the list. I’ll do that now. (Not top-13, IMO, but definitely great for the additional list.) I know I had a hard time watching the scene in the pool.
Thanks for an interesting list, I’m always curious about finding great movies I have missed! A movie I quite like, except for the last 90 seconds or so, is “Haunted”(1995), with, among others, sir John Gielgud, Kate Beckinsale and Anthony Andrews. Set in an old house in the countryside in 1928, it has good acting, nice environments, and a nice plot with a lot of creepy feeling to it!
Hi, Patrik. You’re very welcome. I checked Netflix for Haunted (1995) but they don’t have it yet. I’ll keep an eye out for a cable listing or a DVD in the bargain bin. Thanks for the the heads-up … it sounds like a great cast.
I believe that I saw Haunted in its entirety on youtube
You can find Haunted (1995) on Filmous.com, great site/source. Haunted is one of my favorites. The Debbie Wiseman score alone! I think it will make your list!
Thanks Patrik for reminding me of it. Another WONDERFUL movie is Dreamhouse (2011) with Daniel Craig.
Thanks for the list, it’s very comprehensive!
And a campy B, that I can’t ever turn off is the Hearse…and the star was George C. Scott’s wife! (I am also a Changeling fan!)
Audrey Rose should be on the list! It is on YouTube.
May I suggest “An American Haunting”? Stunningly effective and scary with no big budget effects. In fact, the did some awesomely creepy effects with the ghosts wearing sheets!
Wow! I can’t believe I missed this one – I love both Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek. The IMDb listing is here: An American Haunting (2005). It looks like it’s available from Netfix on DVD. I think I’d watch it tonight if it were streaming. I have added it to my list of to-sees though. Thanks for the heads-up.
Actually, though American Horror Story is good, I meant An American Ghost Story! Just now realized my mistake! Thanks for the list. So hard to find good ghost movies. Horror now tends to lean toward slasher or psycho-drama, and I only like ghost stories, for the most part. Getting hard to find things I haven’t seen!
It’s not often I get a good two-for-one by total accident. 🙂
An American Ghost Story (2012) ALSO sounds good. …checking Netflix… Oh, score! That one is streaming. I know what I’m doing tonight. 🙂
A very good list and comments on here. I’ve discovered many new ghost films. Thank you.
I am just sitting down tonight to watch the bluray of the new Hammer productions ‘The Quiet Ones’. I hope this first new Hammer film will lead to many more Hammer films, which along with the TV show were a great part of my childhood growing up.
The TV production of Hammer house of Horror on Sunday nights was directly responsible for me not wanting to go up my long dark stairs at home to the loo as a small child, where the landing light switch was at the top of the stairs.
I’ve only recently found the entire Hammer house of Horror TV shows, but have yet to re-watch them.
I’m glad what we’ve got going here has been useful to you.
I used to sit up late and watch Hammer House of Horror. One of my friend’s and I would be on the phone together the whole time. Sometimes we’d talk about the movie or whatever, but often we just watched and breathed.
I’ll have to have a look at The Quiet Ones (2014).
How come nobody mentioned “The Haunting of the Seacliff Inn”? Maybe it’s a TV film, no idea. Comes close to the Changeling, mood-wise. I love it.
This must have slipped through the cracks; thanks for finding it. From the description at IMDb, it sounds like The Haunting at Seacliff Inn (1994) would be great for a lover of beautiful old homes or anyone with dreams of starting a B&B..
awaesome list of ghost movies . i like the conjouring most……
Thank you! I love what we’ve all managed to create here. I hope you find more good stuff to watch.
Great list. Bookmarked quite a few to watch. Two pretty good movies not on here are: Oculus (2013). And Haunt (2013). Haunt is a ghost story. Oculus I’m unsure of… Oh, and Haunter (2013). That’s also a good one! It is also a ghost story. 🙂
Oculus (2013) looks intriguing … I can see why you say it’s on the line, but I think it totally fits into this category … based on the synopsis at IMDb.
Someone must have mentioned Haunt (2013) to me at some point, but I haven’t seen it yet. It is available on Netflix streaming right now though, so I added it to my (oh so long) to-watch list.
Haunter (2013) was already on my Netflix list … Lord, I’ve got a lot of watching to do.
Thanks for all the leads 🙂
I watched a film years ago called The Haunted. Was a tv film based on a true story made in 1991. It’s available to watch on you tube.It’s about a family called the Smurls who move into a house that is occupied by evil spirits. A bit dated i grant you but still okay on a cold night watched with the lights out and the fire on.
It sound like a perfect way to pass an autumn evening. I’ve done a little prowling around to find out more about the picture. Apparently Sally Kirkland was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. I might have to give this one a watch.
One of the best ghost film list I’ve seen. You basically covered everything worth covering. I wish you would watch ‘Whistle and I’ll Come To You’. It’s a ghost film if there ever was one. You can buy it on Amazon under the incorrect title of ‘Whistle and I’ll Come For You’. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Jesse!
Whistle and I’ll Come To You looks perfectly moody. I hoped it would be on Netflix, but it doesn’t look like it. I did find it on Amazon, as you said. Perhaps I’ll budget for it. I know that sometimes these more obscure titles are the best.
The copy I just bought doesn’t play on my dvd. If you do purchase a copy you may be wasting your money. It is on youtube though : ) http://youtu.be/2FUQzd-7dn4
Good heads up, Jesse. Thanks for coming back to let us know. I’m sorry that happened, btw, and I’m glad you’ve got a way to watch it even so.
You tube has this… and the 1989 version of Woman in Black!
REALLY enjoyed your list and recommendations — I worked my way through all of them!! Wanted to mention two that aren’t here that I’ve found to be REALLY good — The Dark with Maria Bello and Sean Bean and Rose Red, the Stephen King Miniseries — WOW!! Happy Ghost Hunting & cheers! Sparrow from Marin County.
I am impressed! Thanks for the kind words.
I can go ahead ahead and add Rose Red (2002) … I clearly need to expand the list to include some TV movies / mini-series and that’s a great place to start. (It’s available via TWO discs on Netflix, btw.)
The Dark (2005) looks interesting. I’ve added it to my disc queue at Netflix.
Great list and great blog! I’m not a ghost/paranormal believer, but I’m a huge fan of ghost stories in just about any form, particularly in a great horror movie. I loved your recommendations!
Thank you, Mary. I hope you find some gems that are perfect for you.
I am trying to remember the title of a movie that I wanted to watch the other evening, after watching “The Others”. It’s plot is very similar to “The Others”, in that at the end of the movie, the family realizes that they are dead.
The movie starts with a family (father, mother and just one son, if I remember correctly) heading up to a house that they bought, driving a Jeep Cherokee (again, if I remember correctly) and they show the road as treacherous, then they are living in the house, something happens, the end of the movie is a crash scene where their car is pulled from a ditch or something.
Hi Dave! Okay, that sounds familiar, and very intriguing. I’m adding your question to the M&M Media post that will go up on Monday … maybe one of my regular readers will recognize the plot. Cross your fingers 🙂
Sounds like an Outer Limits episode… Check out TV Tropes “DEAD ALL ALONG”?http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeadAllAlong
You might find something in the Films or Live-action TV folders
OH! What a resource! I should have thought of TV Tropes!
My 19-year-old son has an amazing grasp of pop culture, considering that he rarely actually watches TV or movies, and it’s because he went through a phase of reading TV Tropes voraciously.
(Yes, watching him during that phase was a little like watching an alien to our planet study humanity.)
Thanks for the link, TRIALNERROR 🙂
Possibly your talking about cold creek manor but it also has a little girl Kristen Stewart.
I’ve seen most of this list, but I will definitely check out the few that I haven’t seen. I totally love Gothika and The Shining, can never see them enough!
Thanks for leaving a note, Dave. I always appreciate that.
Dave, Did you ever find the movie you were looking for? It sounds similar to a movie that I saw that had two different names..”Nightmare”, also known as “Voices” from 1973.
Dave, Or..if it is a newer movie, could it be “The Haunting of Winchester House” from 2009? I am quite curious to know what movie it was anyway. Sounds like my kind of movie.
KAIRO (2001: “PULSE” by Kurosawa – not THE Kurosawa!). Again, don’t go for the 2008 American rehash directed by Wes Craven.
I am intrigued.
IMDb lists it as Pulse (2001). Netflix does have it on DVD.
Not sure if this “counts” since I believe it was a “made for t.v. movie”–but I really enjoyed it. “The Legend of Lucy Keys.” Good, old-fashioned ghost/mystery. Thanks for the fantastic list!
The Legend of Lucy Keys (2005). I’m cool with made-for-TV horror. (In fact, I often prefer it, because it can’t be as bloody.) It looks like I can get this one via Netflix if I’m willing to wait for a DVD. I’ll add it to my list. Thanks for the tip.
Renae, thanks for posting a “like” on my haunted hospital post, https://lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/haunted-hospital-for-sale/. I visited your website, thinking “well she had better have “the Haunting” on her fav’s list, and of course I’m happy to see that your do. I pretty much agree with your other choices, short of two omissions and one disagreement: It looks like you missed “the Omen.” which sure scared the patooties out of me. Also, what about “the Exorcist?”…unless you’re excluding satan themes from your list (or even Rosemary’s Baby, another satan theme).
Finally, I have to disagree with your critique of “the Uninvited.” For a movie produced while WWII was still raging and high tech wasn’t very high, I thought it was great. The scene where Ray Milland and his girlfriend went to the upstairs studio where their little doggie had just retreated from was understated but very well done. If you recall, Ray went from being carefree and optimistic to depressed and sullen after being in that room for only seconds. Also as I recall, a rose died there instantly. Classic evil.
Anyway, other than those nits, I agree with your other critiques, and think your website is very well done. Keep up the good work!
Hi Paul! I know lots of folks love The Uninvited, but for some reason, it just leaves me cold. Perhaps I need to give it another shot. (Maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched it for this list.)
As for your thoughts about The Omen, The Exorcist, and Rosemary’s Baby, you are spot on, of course. All fantastic movies. You’ve put your finger on the issue, though. I don’t see possession / devil movies as the same kind of thing as ghost stories. I haven’t made a Satan/demon list yet, but those films would absolutely take three slots.
Thank you for the kind words about the blog 🙂 I hope your haunted hospital sells, and gets turned into a great haunted attraction.
Renae, thanks for responding. Every time we of the 21st hyper-century sit down and watch an old B & W from the ’40s, the first thing we have to do is slow our brains down! We just process differently from the previous generation, and are not used to slower-paced media.
Yeah, give the Uninvited another chance.
Also, there is an interesting but subtle connection between demons and ghosts, who sometimes hang out in the same places. Traditionally, the religious (perhaps like the Warrens) blamed all paranormal activity on demons. That is the same position you would get from the Catholic Church today.
Finally, demons seem to be in fashion with today’s ghost hunters who are discovering more and more of them co-mingled with their ghosts. Those damn demons are cluttering up da joint!
The haunted hospital, methinks, will ultimately become the only “Haunted Hospital Museum” in Colorado, if not the region. It will just take the right buyer with the right imagination and a little bit of cash.
Wonderful post. I remember being so scared at the 13 ghosts back then. How movies have changed since then.~Julia
Thank you, Julia. I was freaked out by The Bride of Frankenstein when I was young. In some ways, I think the older movies are just effective and more interesting.
Oh yes, and how about the Abbot and Costello that were scary? The one with the wolf man with sound of “ch ch chukkkkkk” when the coffin was opening. . . Good shows.
Does Audrey Rose fit in anywhere/on any lists. Do you have lists other than ghost stories?
Ooh. Yes. I loved Audrey Rose (1977) when I saw it, but it was MANY years ago. And it IS a ghost story. I’ll have to re-watch it, to decide if it belongs on the top 13 list, or if it should be listed among the alternatives.
Okay, just checked. NOT available on Netflix, not even on DVD! (That surprises me.) You can add it to a save list, for whenever it does become available, so at least they are acknowledging it. I may go ahead and add it to the alt section without the re-watch. I do remember it being good.
I have several themed movie lists. You can find the index here: Courting Creepy
Thanks for responding. I also must say that the changeling is the scariest ghost movie ever. I was excited to continue reading after I saw you had that in your list. When I worked at Hollywood video, it was always one of my top picks. Also being a classic black and white movie lover, I’m very happy to see the Uninvited, Arsenic and Old Lace, the ghost and Mrs Muir and the Hound of the Baskervilles as well as all the universal monster films mentioned on one list or another-all great movies. Looking forward to more lists.
I’m pleased you’re pleased. I try to give a good cross section, from all eras. (I have to admit the TRUE classics, like those you mention, are usually my favorites.)
I have seen about all there is to see…. And many of the scariest ghost movies are already mentioned. So here is some rare ones (from television, but greats)
If you can find it, watch:
Ghosts (BBC series 1995) Especially the Episode “Three Miles up”
The Stone Tape
Shades of Darkness
And, as I am from Denmark, Lars von Trier’s “Riget 1”
Now we’re getting deep into the list 😀
Thank you so much for providing links to IMDb for these. (I edited your comment so that the links are embedded in the titles. It just makes it easier to read.)
Sadly, I just checked Netfix and found NONE of them available. (Not even on DVD.)
You’re at least the second person to suggest The Stone Tape. I’m going to have to expand my search.
Have you seen The Unseeable? It’s about a thai woman who goes out trying to find the father of her unborn child, and ends up at his other lover’s house which is very very haunted. It probably doesn’t make the top 13 but something about it has stuck with me.
I haven’t. A ghost story from Thailand. Cool.
The Unseeable (2006) “Pen choo kab pee” (original title)
Was The Exorcism of Emily Rose too scary to make the list? What about The Entity??
Ah. You’ve touched on a sort of thematic gray area. I keep thinking I’m going to make a separate list of demonic / possession films, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. The line between the two genres, if there is one, is often really thin. (One could argue that Amityville is demonic for example.)
Both The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Entity are great … and yes they are deeply scary. (The demonic movies are always more frightening for me.)
Does anyone remember a movie (title unknown obviously) that had a scene of a woman awakening in the middle of the night and walking over to a mirror on the wall and seeing a foggy vision of people hanging someone and then turning and looking her way… this is a movie I watched as a small child and it left an impression on me and I may be off on the details – but I remember it as being in black and white. Anyone?
The movie isn’t familiar to me, but it certainly sounds intriguing.
I’ve been away from blogging for the last few months, because we got caught up in moving across country, but I’ll look into this.
That would be awesome to finally find this movie again,… I accidently posted as a reply to another thread below… so here it is again in case you want to delete that unrelated reply.
Here is a possible new lead for you: http://backpackerverse.com/haunted-arcadia-the-ghost-of-taco-lita/
And someday I would love to tell you about an experience I had as a child…. very creepy in a spiritual sense. I’ll type it up someday soon and try to find a place to post it.
watch crimson peak beautifully made movie
Yes, I need to rent it. I’m sad I didn’t make the time to see it in the theater.
Thanks for this list!
Here is a possible new lead for you: http://backpackerverse.com/haunted-arcadia-the-ghost-of-taco-lita/
And someday I would love to tell you about an experience I had as a child…. very creepy in a spiritual sense.
I love ghost movies and have enjoyed most of the titles on your list. Some “less horror” ghost movies I have enjoyed:
*High Spirits – comedy with creepiness
*Beetlejuice – comedy with creepiness
*The Amazing Mr Blunden – a BBC movie I can’t find on DVD for region 1 but watched on tv and loved as a child because I had FIRST read the book, The Ghosts, which I also loved! I really hope one day this will be remade by an American or BBC studio with a big budget. Please pass that along if you have any useful connections 😉
*From Time to Time – another kid friendly ghost movie that makes you cheer and cry. Maggie Smith. I need say no more.
*Housebound – I’ve watched this movie a dozen times or more and I’m always looking for someone who hasn’t seen it so I have an excuse to watch it again. Comedy with creepiness some cringe worthy violence and LOTS of plot twists.
*The Babadook – this one is a different, more real kind of horror. Metaphorical.
*Paranorman – pretty profound for an animated movie.
I love housebound too. Always on the prowl for paranormal movies I have not yet seen. Running out of movies now. All suggestions gratefully received.
If you haven’t seen the movie case 39, give it a try. I liked it best, there is super natural in it , and also psychological horror. And I liked the ending too.
A big favorite of mine is” something wicked comes this way”.
Something for the weekend, i think. Thank you Nancy.
Try the British made Horror film Woman in Black 1989…Much better https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black_(1989_film) Yes, The Changling is #1 with me also Thank for you all you do! Karen
One movie I grew up loving was Disneys “Child of Glass”…it is on Youtube, though worth owning. I know Crimson Peak was previously mentioned, but I have to add, I loved it.
Did anyone mention The Haunting with Liam Neeson?
And Ghost with Swayze & Moore…
Check out Lurkers 1988 film.. different but creepy!
Really Excellent list! I’d add
3 really ancient films
Old Dark house
Dead of Night
Vampyr (Silent sort of…)
This is a great list I have all those movies in my collection one that almost got by me but my son turned me on to it was shutter. I saw this TV movie of the week in the 70s about a couple that somehow captured a ghost that was Haunting their place and they tied it up with ropes and they kept it captive it was a really weird cool movie I can’t remember the title I wish I did I would buy it I thought it was called the visitor but it was so long ago and apparently I was wrong oh and by the way can you love a good ghost story you gotta check out 100 feet with Michael Pere. Everyone I told this movie too loves it
I am not familiar with the 70s movie plot you described. I’ll keep a watch for it. It’s always possible someone reading the comments will know though! Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll add 100 Feet to my to-see list. 🙂
What a wonderful list! We love ghost films and there are a few on here we haven’t heard about and look forward to watching. And I agree on The Changeling – I first saw it on TV in 1982 and think I’ve seen it 100 times since. Thank you for posting this!
Thank you and you’re welcome 🙂
I am so happy I found this site. All those movies my type. !! And lots of them I never watched, planning to watch those I missed one by one. And have you seen conjuring 2? Did you like it?. I liked it better than the first one!! Wanted to ask you one more thing, how do you like the movie mama? I found it intriguing !!
But I can never believe people don’t give Michael per’e love for 100 feet a great movie about a woman who killed her abusive cop of a husband and gets house arrested only to find that his abusive ghost is there in the house it is tormenting her and beating on her it’s really a good ghost story you gotta check it out
Just checking that one out. Thanks for the title.
I’m pleased you find the list useful. I haven’t seen the Conjuring 2 yet, but I am looking forward to its arrival on Netflix streaming. I really liked Mama, though I think it got a bit hokey at the end. The early part of the movie was the best for me. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Thank you for the reply Renae. Just finished watching Gothika. I liked it. Really!! That Anima sola tattoo reminded me of the tatto in red dragon. And watched Witches of east wick too. That too I liked. The ladies open communication in it. Like you mentioned in your list.
I do like horror movies ending in a happy note. ie feel good movies. Rather than feeling depressed after seeing. Because of that I didnt actually like The grudge series, even though they are too good horror movies.
I recommend case 39, if you havent seen it yet. It IS psychological horror and DO have paranormal entity in it. I really liked that one.
And, you may like conjuring 2, I guess. Coz you have asked people to vote regarding Conjuring 1, about when exactly should they get out of the house. Rather than putting up with all the shit happening. In conjuring 2, they actually got out of the house half way into the film. That part I liked. The demon nun still give me chills!!
Case 39 looks intriguing. Thanks for the heads-up on that one. I really have to get back in the habit of watching a couple of movies a week. I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Conjuring 2.
Please help me find an old movie I watched on tv. It was the late 60’s early 70’s. The movie was about a family, two parents and a teenage son. They vacation in a cottage near the ocean or bay. The son gets blamed for messing up the house after the resident ghost have a flour throwing plate throwing fight in the kitchen. The parents think the kid is acting out I get attention. He meets a local girl that helps him deal with his anxiety. An actor that plays the kids uncle shows up with his yacht in which the female ghost drowns the uncle after falling in love with him.The uncle was a pompus chubby guy and I can’t remember his name either . I do remember that it was a funny ghost story. I have been wanting to try to find it to add to my ghost story collection of movies. I know this isn’t much to go on but I am hoping you will know what movie this is. Thank you!!!!!
I’m afraid nothing comes to mind, but I will mull it over and keep an eye out. Meanwhile, it’s possible someone reading comments will have your answer 🙂
Back here after watching stir of echoes. Liked it. Thumbs up Renae. Rather than asking him to dig all over the place, she (the ghost) could have just suggested the exact place. Now planning to watch the awakening.
Back here after watching ‘the awakening’ and ‘fragile’. Liked both. Very much indeed. Thank you for mentioning those here. The mechanical girl crept me out. The the period setting of the awakening is excellent.
And have you watched the movie ‘the orphan’ ?. It is not a ghost movie. But I liked it. The evil child genre.(well. not really a child, in this case). Like ‘the bad seed’ and ‘good son’.
Do you mean this one: The Orphan (2009)? There are a few movies by the same title out there, but this one sounds closest to what you described. I haven’t seen it, but it does look good.
Yes, that is the one. Worth a watch.
I can also Recommend:-
Crooked house (2008 made-for-television British movie)
Ghost watch (1992 – Another British tv Drama – filmed ‘Documentary’ style)
‘When the lights went out’ (2012) another British film – based on a true story
Another of my fav films is ‘dead silence’ (2007) – its fun, low-gore, pacey, campy – has creepy dolls, abandoned theatres, scary old-lady-ghosts, jump scares etc etc!
Crooked House (2008)
Ghost Watch (1992)
When the Lights Went Out (2012)
Dead Silence (2007)
Oh my. These all sound great. Now I’m off to see what’s available and where. Thank you!
Edit: Dead Silence is available right now on Netflix here.
Id also highly recommend
The Mill at Calders end, very well produced animated (puppets) shortish ghost story!
The Skeptic, Dominique is Dead, Watcher in the Woods, always a mystery aspect that keeps the viewer wondering.
Also, Night of the Scarecrow.
I think this is as flawless a list as I could imagine. There was a 1960s movie I recall titled something like “Seance On A Wet Afternoon” that you might like. I would also consider “Don’t Look Now” a ghost movie, because the ghost (even if never seen on film except by the blind woman) is certainly a driver in the story. My personal favorites are the unforgettable ghosts in “The Innocents” and the clever take on what a ghost is from “Carnival of Souls,” “Sixth Sense” and “The Others.”
When I was 21, I watched a faintly-glowing something walk down a hallway and descend a staircase in my parents’ house. The impression the thing left for me (beyond the original shock) was of melancholy and frustration — I felt some empathy. That’s why I’m drawn to stories of ghosts who are troubled, confused: I think I’d very much like the new “Ghost Story” movie with Casey Affleck.
Greetings from 2018!!
I’m with you on the horror genre. Slashers just piss me off for the most part, mostly pointless and stupid gore porn that leaves me wanting to wreak horrible revenge on villains that don’t exist. Spooky ghost stories all the way!
If you haven’t already seen “I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House” then go check it out! This INCREDIBLE ominous slow burn uses the entire movie to set you up for just a single all-out ghost sighting at the end that just blows your mind because of all the buildup. If you like creepy and atmospheric, or seeing a story-within-a-story unfold, you won’t be bored waiting. 🙂 BEAUTIFULLY composed movie.