Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson this is the scariest ghost movie where you’ll never see a ghost. The suspense and fright is so well done you don’t need to. This one literally kept me up all night as a kid.
Best scene: When SOMETHING tries to get into the library.
2. The Changeling (1980)
Photo credit: Associated Film Distributors
Yet another movie about a ghost that you never really see, but it’s there alright. George C. Scott stars as a grieving husband and father who, as if he didn’t have enough on his plate, moves into a house with a ghost bent on vengeance.
Best scene: when the child’s ball slowly bounces down the stairs from the empty attic.
3. The Uninvited (1944)
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures
Considered to be one of the first movies to give a ghost a serious treatment rather than as a comedy vehicle. You actually do see a ghost in this one. A creepy English manse, a seance, a PO’d spirit, what more could you ask?
Best scene: when the spook finally materializes, literally giving an old boy a heart attack.
4. 13 Ghosts (1960)
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures / Warner Bros.
This kinda cheesy Castle film about a group of people locked in a mansion vying for a hidden treasure, dealing with twelve scary ghosts that can only be seen with special glasses, gave theater goers the choice of wearing the special ‘Illusion – O’ glasses and seeing the ghosts, and thus risk being scared to death, or leaving them off and missing all the fun.
A special film process made this possible. Remade in 2001, but the original is better.
Best scene: when the protagonist first puts on the glasses and sees a ghost.
5. The Ring (2002)
Photo credit: DreamWorks Pictures
As you might have noticed I prefer the more vintage movies myself but this one deserves a place in the pantheon. Let’s face it, parts of it are among the scariest you’ll ever see in filmdom.
Best scene: anytime someone watches, like a total fool, that super-creepy VHS tape.
6. Below (2002)
Photo credit: Miramax Films / Dimension Films
One for those lovers of both war movies and horror flicks, this WWII based story has a sinister atmosphere so thick it’s like being inside a U-boat. The crew of this sub has reason to believe they’re being haaunted by the ghost of the former captain, and he has a grudge.
Best scene: When the new captain inspects the old captain’s berth.
7. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)
Photo credit: Universal Pictures
If you’ve never seen this Don Knotts classic do yourself a favor and rent it. Ghosts, murder, romance and Knotts bugging his eyes out almost non-stop.
Best scene: When Knotts first witnesses the ghostly phenomena, which I won’t spoil. Pure humor.
8. The Evil Dead (1981)
Photo credit: New Line Cinema
I don’t know if this movie was intended to be funny or not but in any case it’s wildly hilarious. It’s also pretty scary, has a tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft, which is always nice, and some great special effects for the time.
Best scene: When Ash’s hand becomes possessed. The guy is a comic genius.