Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stabford Deathrage's Top Ten Haunted House Movies

I had the night off, so I decided to have a mini-marathon of haunted house movies, and by "mini-marathon" I really mean "drag out a bunch of DVDs and then only watch two of them because I started them late and spent more time eating boxes of Tastykakes and Instagramming scary movie clips than actually watching movies". A friend of mine (yes, I have a couple of friends) said I should make a list of the haunted house movies I would watch in a marathon, and here they are.

I'm kind of a stickler about the term "haunted house movie", and assembling this list was remarkably difficult. As much as I love old, dark, spooky houses, to be included in this list the house must have at least one ghost haunting it, so The Old Dark House is out. I am not including films that involve ghosts but where the dwelling is not the main event or where the ghosts don't seem to be attached to one particular dwelling, so The Sixth Sense and The Eye are out. I am not listing movies about haunted things, just haunted houses, so Ringu is out. I am not including comedies, and if it's a horror comedy it should be more horrific than comedic, so Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, and Abbott and Costello's Hold That Ghost are out. And again, the film has to have at least one ghost in it and not something paranormal that has ghost-like qualities, so The Amityville Horror, House, The Evil Dead and The Entity are out. And lastly, the ghost can't be a living person pretending to be a ghost, so The House On Haunted Hill or any episode of Scooby Doo is also out. There are no remakes on this list. You should still watch all the ghost movies in this paragraph I left out, because they're all great. Yes, even Scooby Doo, but just the first season.

I'm listing them in alphabetical order, because I don't like math; but I do like lists and creating posts just so people will click on my blog and view them, and people seem to click on Top Ten lists. Don't expect any big surprises. There's a reason these movies end up on lots of Top Ten lists, and it's because they're pretty great.

My own criteria often got the best of me. You'll be just fine.

I'm not going in depth reviewing each one. It's just a list. Relax already.

Stabford Deathrage's Top Ten Haunted House Movies By Stabford Deathrage

The Changeling

I've always liked this George C. Scott film where a composer moves into a haunted house. I'm a sucker for things that moves around on their own, a creepy attic, and EVPs. 

The Devil's Backbone

An orphan sees ghosts during the Spanish Civil War in this early Guillermo Del Toro film. There are too many great ghostly moments to list in this beautifully-shot, complex and terrifying film, so just watch it.

The Haunting

The granddaddy of all haunted house movies, The Haunting still holds up after 30 or 40 viewings. Primarily using sound effects to scare, it's still remarkably effective.

The Innocents

Probably my favorite haunted house film, Deborah Kerr stars as a governess who moves into a haunted estate to babysit two creepy children. Even after more than a dozen viewings, I still get goose-bumps from this film.


OK, so I broke one of my many rules. Kwaidan doesn't occur in a stereotypical haunted house, and it isn't mentioned very often in lists of ghost movies. That's a shame, but I guess 3-hour long Japanese ghost stories aren't very popular. That's also a shame, because Kwaidan is very lovely and you can see where the current style of J-horror ghosts with long black hair originated from.

The Others

Nicole Kidman waits for her husband with her two children in this chilling film. There's a twist, and it's great.


A suburban family has things go bump in the night, during the day, and out in the swimming pool in this Steven Spielberg produced film. I once dressed my children up as the clown from Poltergeist, and had them hand out candy one year for Halloween. We didn't give out much candy that year.

The Shining

A jerk becomes the caretaker of a haunted hotel in this meditative film by Stanley Kubrick. I recently watched the documentary Room 237 hoping to get some new insight into this enigmatic film, but that didn't work at all. In fact, I nearly left this film off my list, as the ghosts seem to take a backseat to the mental unravelling of the Jack Nicholson character. 

The Uninvited

Siblings move into a haunted house near a cliff in this melodramatic ghost story. The Uninvited hasn't aged as well as the other films on this list, but I still like it.

and finally...

 The Woman In Black

Children die upon seeing the Woman In Black in this gothic British television movie. There doesn't seem to be a trailer, but here's a clip that's the least spoileriffic.

Sorry, but I didn't care for Paranormal Activity or Ju-On. If you like them so much, put them on your own list.

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