Before I had kids, I used to spend Halloween eating pizza and watching a good horror flick while passing out candy to the five or six Trick or Treaters that stopped by. Now I’m out Trick or Treating with my kids. Which of course is so much fun, but I do miss my pre-kid Halloweens a little.
Ghost stories have always been my favorite of the horror genre. I enjoy more eeriness and mystery to shock and gore, and a good creepy ghost story can scare me a little more than a vampire or werewolf mostly because, I hate to admit it, but part of me believes that ghosts might exist. Embarrassing confession aside, ghost stories have always been my favorite Halloween picks. So I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.
I haven’t watched very many horror movies since I had kids (partly because I have to wait until the kids are in bed to watch anything scary and partly because for some reason my mommy brain has a hard time with the horror elements, especially when they involve children which surprisingly so many do), so this list is going to be a little dated.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are my favorite ghost movies.
Sixth Sense (1999)-I love a good, big twist, and a while back I wrote this post on how perfectly this twist is pulled off. This is one of my all-time favorite movies. The story is amazing and while it isn’t really scary, there are some truly creepy moments, but it is the characters that make this film so compelling.
Every character int he movie is in so much pain. Malcolm feels like he failed a former patient and needs to help someone to redeem himself. Cole can see ghosts which not only terrifies him but makes him different than everyone else, and he is afraid that if other people know, they will see him as a freak. It is the great characterization that makes this movie.
The Others (2001)-This movie also has a great twist ending. This movie centers around two mysteries of who are the intruders and what the mother did to the children that caused the rift between her and her daughter. Both of these mysteries are really compelling and kept me riveted throughout the movie even though it had a slower pace. Although like with Sixth Sense, this movie isn’t really scary, there are some very creepy moments, and the house itself and the darkness they must live in because of the children’s condition add to the eeriness of the movie. But once again it is the characterization that really makes this movie.
The mother is very conflicted, highly devoted to her children, there is no doubt that she loves them, but their condition has trapped her and isolated her. There is great pain there, and this all leads to a really compelling and heart breaking story that I thought was amazing. This story would have never worked without the complex characterization of the Mother and her children.
Poltergeist (1982)-This movie really freaked me out when I first saw it. I still remember it. I was about eight or nine at a slumber party, and I remember being so terrified once it was over that I couldn’t sleep. All my friends had fallen asleep, and I just kept staring at the dark stairs, and I swear I saw the scene where the white spirits descend the stairs. Maybe not, but I always had a way too active imagination.
But I think this was the first movie that every really scared me. I know it is a little old now, but I think it holds up pretty well as a scary story. There were a lot of freaky moments: like the clown attack and the vortex in the closet and the little girl talking to the static on the TV. I thought overall it was a good story although the house disappearing may have been a little over the top. Still I think it is a classic.
The Ring (2002)-This movie was pretty freaky, and I was in college when I first watched it. It had a creepy concept and lots of eerie imagery. But ultimately it was the mystery of what happened to the girl that kept me watching, and it did have a nice twist in the ending that wasn’t as big as The Sixth Sense or The Others, but still I liked it.
The Shining (1980)-Just the premise of this movie was freaky enough. The idea of spending a winter trapped in a huge, empty hotel in the middle of the wilderness is creepy all on its own. But there were some really disturbing elements in the movie like the little boy saying “redrum” in that creepy voice and the ghost twin girls in the hallway. And the father, who are supposed to protect their families, turning on the mother and the little boy in a murderous rampage truly made this story horrifying.
So there you have my top picks. Did I miss any good ones? Let me know, I’m in the mood for a good ghost story.