In celebration of our official Ghosts and Hauntings day, here’s a list of some of our essential movies in the genre:
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Based on a true story, which always sounds hokey, the Amityville House is actually still standing, and currently inhabited by a family that has no problems with its gory past. The movie follows a pair of newlyweds who unwittingly move into the Long Island home, oblivious to the house’s bloody history of murder. Strange events, including inverted crosses, house blessings gone bad, swarms of flies, devilish voices ensue. It’s not the best horror movie out there, but it certainly is an iconic film–and definitely worth watching.
Stephen Spielberg strikes again! Poltergeist is a truly frightening film (hello, scene in the little boy’s room with the creepy clown!),
documenting the haunting of a suburban tract home, primarily through the fixation of poltergeist energy around the young, blonde daughter Carol Anne. Pure brilliance.
The Haunting (1963)
Don’t get this confused with the crapfest that was the 1990s remake. This is probably THE greatest haunted house movie ever made. Loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hell House (the definitive haunted house novel), the movie follows four guests who spend the night in a New England mansion, hoping to disprove the rumors of hauntings. Eleanor, our protagonist, struggles as the movie progresses, losing her grip on sanity with each successive ghostly encounter. This is a psychological horror film and one that every fan should have in their personal libraries.
The Haunted: One Family’s Nightmare
A TV movie from 1991, this is one of Thea’s favorites for sentimental value. Based on a book by journalist Robert Curran documenting the true haunting of the Smurl family in their West Pittston, PA home, The Haunted manages to deliver a good amount of horrific scares, especially for a TV movie. It’s a scary, touching look at a family that cannot escape the ghosts that haunt them. If you can, try to get your hands on a copy (netflix or online ordering); I’ve seen it on cable once a couple of years back as well!
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Though this film is markedly different than the novel (which everyone should read!), it is fantastic, and better for its deviations from the source material (really, the maze is far scarier than the topiaries–or hedge animals. Need we say more?!). A Kubrick classic, and Jack Nicholson delivers one of his most memorable performances–The Shining still terrifies, years after hitting theaters.(Ana says: the twins at the end of the corridor? *shudders* Scariest shit ever)
A husband, wife and their young boy decide to rent out a summer house–only to find that the home is haunted. From a possessed swimming pool, the spirit of an old woman, and other ghostly events haunt the family. This is a wonderfully made, expertly shot film.
John Russell, a widower, moves into a large mansion, and soon realizes that he is not alone–the ghost is of a young boy, murdered in the early 1900s. John dedicates himself to solving the mystery. This is an intelligent, highly atmospheric movie, dedicated to slow creeping scares as opposed to jump-around-a-corner shocks. George C. Scott does a phenomenal job as John Russell–making this one of Thea’s all time favorite haunted house films.
Another movie allegedly based on a true story – that of Carla Moran, a woman constantly tormented by an unseen entity that attacks her sexually. After being raped twice by the invisible being, Carla seeks the help of a psychiatrist thinking she is developing a mental illness; but after one of these assaults is witnessed by one of her friends, Carla seeks the help of a team of parapsychologists leading up to a showdown with the entity who becomes sort of corporeal – an event witnessed by her own psychiatrist. There is a book with the same title, by Frank DeFelitta which provides a more detailed account and it is highly disturbing. The movie states that Carla carried on suffering the attacks.
Lady in White
Lady in White is an 80s movies where a small boy , on Halloween night is locked at his school and ends up witnessing the ghostly replay of a young girl’s murder that took place 10 years before. The murderer has never been found and the ghost of the young girl, the Lady in White of the title, is still seeking for her daughter. The one scene where with the empty rocking chair and the Lady In White standing outside the window is possibly the reason why Ana will not sleep with the curtains open.
Lady in White is a great movie not only for its scare factor (High!) and atmosphere but also because it is highly emotional – who wouldn’t pity a mother desperate to find her daughter?
The Sixth Sense
The movie that established M. Night Shyamalan as the master of the Twist endings and bumped him into stardom. Bruce Willis plays the child psychologist who helps the frightened nine year old Cole to find a purpose for his gift of …talking to ghosts.
Who saw the twist coming on this one? (*Ana raises hand*: I did! I did!)
(Ana had to sleep with the lights on for 6 months after watching this movie. )
(Thea thought it was quite good too, but not nearly as scary as she would have liked *ninja*)
A psychological, atmospheric horror movie by Alejandro Amenábar, with Nicole Kidman playing widower Grace Stewart. She lives in a country estate along with her two children who suffer from photosensitivity. Little by little, odd events begin to occur and Grace starts to think that they are not alone – her daughter draws pictures of people that she sees around the house, a piano plays from inside a locked room when no one is there, doors open and close and they start to think that there are Others. But who are these Others?
Again, did anyone see the twist coming? (*Thea raises her hand*: I did! Blaaaaaah Nicole Kidman annoys me.)
So, these are some of our favorite (Hollywood made) ghost movies – what are yours?