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Top 10 Creepiest Ghost Movies

5. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Ghost Movies Best - Top 10 List
Imagine if you will, an antediluvian filmic era. Before The Happening. Before The Village. Before Signs. Welcome to the golden age of M. Night Shyamalan, when The Sixth Sense briefly transformed him into the hottest new film-maker in Hollywood and he could deliver a twist ending that had viewers choking on their pop corn in surprise, rather than weakly sobbing at the lameness of it all. Starting a trend for chiller flicks featuring kids delivering their dialogue in loud whispers (which persists to this day) and a trend for movies starring Haley Joel Osmant (which proved to be far, far, far-shorter lived), The Sixth Sense attempted to establish a cogent relationship between the living and the deceased, without diluting the spiritual atmospherics.

4. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Best Ghost Horror Movies
Ah, I have to confess to a bit of con-job on this one. Because, rather than sitting here resplendently in fourth place on my list, Don’t Look Now should face technical disqualification on the grounds that there aren’t actually any ghosts in it. But! The elliptical story related by Man Who Fell to Earth helmer Nicholas Roeg suggests that grieving John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) is being stalked round Venice by a red coat-clad phantom version of his dead daughter – consequently giving Don’t Look Now at least a partial ghost film credit. And there is no shortage of creepiness in the central scenario, which culminates with one of the most heart-stopping finales in cinema, when Baxter discovers that the ‘daughter’ he has repeatedly sighted is a ***spoiler***. Sounds laughable on paper, bloody terrifying and terrifyingly bloody in practice.

3. The Others (2001)

Scariest Ghost Movies
It may have been penned way back in 1897, but Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw still seems to exert a sizeable influence over the motion picture ghost story. The literary original was successfully adapted as The Innocents with Deborah Kerr in 1961, and James’ narrative components of a young woman inhabiting a strange gothic property, a perplexing set of events which appear to be supernatural in nature, and kids conversing with the spirit world were all adopted by director Alejandro Amenábar for his Nicole Kidman-starrer The Others. Privileging a nebulous sense of anxiety over blaring great shocks (although the bit where Kidman finds her daughter has been replaced by a knobbly pensioner is certainly a jolter), Amenábar’s movie even manages to find a sinister purpose for British comedy veteran Eric Sykes, as gardener Mr. Tuttle.

2. Ringu (1998)

Scariest Ghost Movies
A second entry in the list for director Hideo Nakata and the movie that ensured we would spend the opening years of the 21st century being deluged with J-Horror and J-Horror remakes alike. Despite the plethora of imitators, Ringu remains a genre benchmark though, boasting as it does a highly effective marriage of tight, surprising plotting and evocatively uncanny imagery. Around the conceit of being able to sign your own death warrant without even knowing it, Nakata weaves a race-against-time dilemma and downbeat denouement, while Rie Inou’s herky-jerky moving Sadako instantly establishes herself of one of the most identifiable characters in modern horror cinema.

And here it is, the number one all time top ghost movie –

1. The Shining (1980)

Best Ghost Movie (Horror Movie List)
Much of Stanley Kubrick’s take on The Shining has undeniably become the stuff of all-too frequent parody; the Diane Arbus-inspired twin girls, the elevator of blood, the revelation of ‘REDRUM’ in the mirror, and Jack Nicholson’s manic cry of “Heeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”. However The Shining delivers so many moments of oddness that it still never fails to unsettle (the briefly-glimpsed guy in the bear costume and Joe Turkel’s sallow-faced bartender always succeed in putting a cold breeze up my flagpole). Kubrick’s Steadicam relentlessly glides the corridors of Overlook Hotel, trailing little telepathic Danny (Danny Lloyd) trundling round on his tricycle, searching out the spiritual malevolence that finally sends Jack Torrance’s booze-fuelled caretaker over the edge, and gives Nicholson opportunity to cut loose. With a really big axe.

Any scary ghost movies I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Also See: Top 10 Vampire Movies / Top 10 Werewolf Movies

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186 Comments »

  • Eabha said

    The list is good and well now i have plans for the days leading up to halloween. But I did lament the absence of “Secret Window”. As well as “House on Haunted Hill” (The remake)

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    • David said

      SECRET WINDOW is not a ghost story. The main character in this movie is psychologically impaired and the images he sees are the product of his own imagination. No ghosts here.

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  • Beth said

    While “The Exorcist” was scary, and “The Exorcist II” just plain stupid, “The Exorcist III” left me looking over my shoulder, and at people whose mental faculties weren’t ‘all there’, for quite a while. I’ve watched a lot of horror movies, but “The Exorcist III” takes the cake.

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  • Adam Mason said

    Going back to TV scares, 1992’s excellet ‘Ghost Watch’ on the BBC is utterly brilliant and worth a look.

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  • Matthew said

    I stumbled upon something last night that may have very well been the most nerve chilling thing I’ve seen in the 35 years of my life. True story. Polish Documentary.

    Google search: “anneliese michel english subtitles”

    (amateur translations at best)

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  • brittney said

    i think you should put amityville horror up there or the omen they werent all that scary but they had some pretty creepy things in them….

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    • Fossafun said

      Omen is not a ghost story.
      Amity’s “Jody The Pig” is a DEMON. The images of the dead are burped up from the demon in the book. I suppose Amity could be a ghost story because of those deaths being relived in the minds of leading characters. (In a sense they are “haunted” by them) but it IS caused by a demon.

      What say others?

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  • Sam said

    Blair Witch Project should probably be up there too. The way that movie was filmed was beautifully done. Still gives me chills.

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  • mairy said

    THE SHINING IT’S AWESOME AND THE RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • gd smith said

    Ghost stories are the only horror films that give me the creeps.
    The original The Haunting gets me every time. Everyone always mentions the banging on the doors, but for me the creepy thing is the way the film isolates its characters even when they are sharing rooms. Its a very unnatural sounding movie, too clear, too static, too empty.
    A very well plotted and magical ghost movie is Lady in White. Its not really very creepy, more like a kids film but it does use Bing Crosby singing “Did you ever see a dream walking” to very good effect.

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  • Bram Vereertbrugghen / Klaagzang said

    The Shining was a good movie, I agree, but not to be placed number one =/ You missed a few indeed, Dead Silence, very great movie which got even me scared lol, The Grudge just CAN’ T be missed in this list, the one at least, all the others suck…The Ring was, by my opinion, way better than Ringu.
    I’ ll come back to you when I remember some great ghostmovies again lol 😉

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  • syeda said

    it is a v good list….i liked it….thanxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  • Dennis said

    Does anyone remember “Ghost Story” with Alice Krige, Fred Astaire, Patricia Neal and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.? It came out in 1981 and is one of my favorite ghost stories……I love the way they figure out what’s happening. The Haunting is one of my favorites too but was also one of my favorite scary stories….it was first published by Shirley Jackson as “The haunting of Hill House” in 1959. I read it in 1970 when I was 11 and it scared the bejiggers out of me……specially when the main charcter was holding what she thought was the hand of the person she was sharing a room with only to find she is clear across the room……didn’t sleep good for weeks..lol..the 1963 movie has always been my very favorite “ghost movie.”

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  • pradeepta said

    this is very good list
    and i like horror movie very much

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  • exposure said

    i think not all of best scariest movie on this list.but after all this is great list and very help me when i want see a good horror movie.

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  • tckgentleman said

    Where is The Haunting in Connecticut? I believe that it is one of the greatest ghost movies to come out in the year 2009. This list, however, is really true. I agree with every movie in the list. The Innocents also was pretty eerie. (not the crappy 1999 one, but the original with Deborrah Carr). Hopefully, greater ghost movies will come up in this year. And M.R.James is simply amazing! I love that author. “Oh Whistle, and I’ll come to you, my lad”, “Casting the Runes” and so many other classics were thought up from that marvelous and incomparable author.

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  • Mahmoud El-Azzeh said

    I wonder where Paranormal Activity and Drag Me To Hell fits into all of this?

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      I believe neither were out when the list was written. Do you think they deserve places?

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    • Fossafun said

      They don’t fot at all. Neither is a ghost story. Both are about DEMONS.

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    • David said

      Nowhere! DRAG ME TO HELL(though, an awesome horror flick)is not a ghost story- it’s about demons and the devil. And, although very vague, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY- I feel- is a “posession” movie. Therefore, it is a movie about demons.

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