I used 4 basic criteria to pick these movies. First it had to be about a haunted house, and the other 3 were on are: atmosphere, creepiness, and suspense. I think these are the most important factors in a haunted movie. We know what ghosts movies are all about. Ghosts stories have been told for 1000s or years, and ghost are the center of 100s of films, so it’s how well the story is told that does the trick. Each of these movie does well in one of our 3 criteria. Of course this is not a perfect list.
10. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
If you stay in the house for 24 hours, you will get $10,000 from Vincent Price. What a great creepy classic movie. Honestly, it was 1959, but it has that haunted house feel, that fearfulness that comes from long waits for ghosts to get you. There are some shocking, scary scenes, but it falls short in many places. It is a must see for horror fans. The movie is a piece of history.
9. Paranormal Activity
You get to watch the haunted house unfold on camera. There is scene where she stands over the bed, slightly swaying, that is a 10 on the creepy scale. Honestly this movie almost didn’t make the list because the day time creep factor is just not there. At night it feels like a scary movie, in the day it feels like a fraternity meeting. There are a few really good scenes. The sound of running at night is what pushed this one on to my creepy-enough list. It’s a good film, creepy, slightly suspenseful, but gimmicky.
8. The Conjuring
The Conjuring is a very good horror film. It has a lot of working elements that do their job, but I just don’t feel like it spends enough time building the suspense. It has the creepy factor in places, but the real scares aren’t always there. Either way, it is still good enough to make our list. I recommend anyone who loves ghost films see it, but when you watch it, you just can’t help feeling that they missed the mark is someway.
7. Stir of echos
This movie really has the creep factor, but some of it’s parts just aren’t their. It is still scary and a fun movie. It has elements that are fantastic. Kevin Bacon does a very good job. There are some really good jump scares, but it has a couple fatal flaws that keep it out of our top 5. I love this film though.
Directed by Tobe Hooper or maybe by Steven Spielberg, we don’t know. There is now and always has been a great debate about this film. It looks a lot like a Spielberg film but whatever. I love Tobe Hooper and he is a giant name in horror. He is a terrific director. There is a lot of atmosphere in this movie. It is creepy at times. It is suspenseful. There is also some terror, but this movie has what no other movie on this list has, it feels normal. It feels like a family going to work and coming home in the 80s. It’s not a creepy farm house or someplace that should be haunted. It’s football games, station wagons, and a group of disembodied spirits trying to take your child while you are sleeping. So much fun!
5. House of the Devil
If this movie had a little more haunt and a little less devil, it would be my number 1. This list is all about atmosphere, creepiness and suspense. This feels just like a late 70s early 80s film. It feels more like an 80s film than many 80s films do. It is masterfully put together. The suspense in the movie is amazing. You have no clue when or where things are going to come off the tracks. You know they will. You know it will be horrific, you know, you know, but you just have to wait. I love this film. It kicks off our top 5, but part of me feels like it should be 1 or 2.
4. The Changeling
This movie has a lot in common with our number 1 movie on this list. It is very creepy. It is full of suspense. It is scary at times, though if I’m honest it goes off the rails toward the end in someways, but it has George C. Scott. He is one of the greatest actors of all time, and he sells this movie with gusto. From his family being killed, to becoming obsessed with the story of the house, he is excellent. A lot of this movie gives me the creeps, the flashbacks, creepy locked up room and the wheelchair, are all at the top of the list. A lot of people have not seen this film, give it a watch.
3. Amityville Horror
As much as the creepiness, which is there, and the suspense, which is also there, this movie was a phenomenon. It set the country on fire. The family toured the day and night time shows convincing the country that ghosts really exist. The gory murders just before this. All of it added to the creepiness of the movie, so it makes my number 3. I like this movie. The flies are great. The priest having a fit in the bedroom is wonderful. I love so much of this movie, but there is a lot missing, and to be honest, it may not be as good as some of the movies on this list that come before it. But it’s Amityville for crying out loud. It has to make the top 10.
2. The Others
I about freaked the first time I saw the others. I managed not to see any previews, and the ending was so much more shocking. There are so many little quirks to this film, and I don’t want to give anything away, but Nicole Kidman keeping all the doors closed for her children is just unnerving. The children, the workers, honestly everything in the movie is just one long creep. It is also suspenseful because they sell you on the characters. It has atmosphere because it is a period piece shot in a big creepy house. I wont’ say anything else, but you have to see this movie.
Yes, I know this isn’t a haunted house movie exactly. It’s haunted hotel movie, but hey, they are living in it aren’t they? Jack Nicholson is amazing in this movie. Actually all the performances, the directing, it is honestly almost a perfect movie in so many ways. It has creepiness gushing out of its elevators. It has suspense in the scribbling of a madman and the haunting of a little boy. You know from the beginning something is going to go terribly wrong with this family. You can feel the sinisterness working.
In the end, this is not a perfect list, I know. If you want to tell me about how wrong I am or a movie I left off the list, tell me in the comments. I’m sure I’m going to hear it.