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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 »

  • Pete Krolczyk said

    The Changeling starring George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere, The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, The Legend of Hell House starring Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall, and The Innkeepers starring Sara Paxton, Paty Healy and Kelly McGillis

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  • yash said

    you missed one movie “THE GURDGE” & “DEATH SILENCE”

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  • mimideyi said

    u all should put some thai horror movie in the list

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  • Vamsi Reddy said

    well where is grudge and exorcist and exorcism of elimy rose

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    • David said

      THE EXORCIST and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE(although, they are two great movies) are NOT ghost stories, they are movies based on demons- not ghosts, which this article is about…. GHOSTS! GHOSTS and only GHOSTS!

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  • Ozrics said

    Just one comment for this list. It wasn’t too bad until you got to the No. 1. ‘The Shining’ is about as scary as a banana and less entertaining. How people rate this pile of somewhat pretentious crap I do not know. It is truly laughable – especially that bit at the end when Jack ends up frozen.

    Best choice – The Haunting. Quirky, original, intelligent and like nothing else on earth. Now that is scary!

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    • David said

      I couldn’t agree with you more… Although, I have somewhat of a guilty pleasure for THE SHINING, It is not really that great a movie. Why it is always overrated is beyond me… Perhaps it is mostly by those who either only saw the movie or they saw it before reading the book. I first read the book and then was ecstatic to find out it was being made into a movie. When I finally did see the movie, I left the theater feeling greatly cheated and very angry that such a great director could hack-up what the book was all about. The film does have some good moments but not even the acting from all the supporting players was worth defending, in fact it’s terrible. And as you’ve mentioned in your post, that ending was so laughable. I expected a huge explosion… we get a sudden up-close Jacksicle.

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  • pfftlecakes said

    Don’t Look Now is one of my favorite movies of all time. I never see it make lists like these! Seriously, if you like long movies, watch it. It may not seem like a long running time, but the film really takes its time to lure you in. Incredibly chilling. Ecstatic to see the author appreciates it too.

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  • mike said

    The Changeling. George C. Scott. Very unsettling.

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  • Eduardo said

    Great list. But how about the 1989 made-for-TV “The Woman In Black”?. I know very few have seen it, but it fits this category perfectly.

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  • Roger Smith said

    There is one Ghost movie that scared the Hell out of me when I was a young boy. Til this day I still can’t watch the Bedroom scene. It was a Movie called “Ghost Story” back in 1980-81, not really sure of the year..but it did have a cast of Great actors. Another one that was freaky was a movie called “One Dark Night”.

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  • Jerry said

    Insidious needs to be on this list……it just does

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    • David said

      I really like your conviction, Jerry! I was going to say that this was mainly a movie about astral projection and possession, but there ARE elements of ghosts and hauntings too. So, I was just about ready to say that INSIDEOUS doesn’t really belong on this list, but upon further “inspection” of it, I’d say yes, absolutely! “…. It just does”- lol! Thanks for that!

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      • Jessica Nicole Marsh said

        In my opinion you are both right and wrong here. Yes, it is a story about astral projection, but it was advertised even as a ghost/haunting story that was supposed to be original because it was not the house that was haunted- it was her son. It is firmly placed in the ghost story genre by such scenes as the little boy ghost that runs through the house, for instance, and by the fact that the dead people all want to come to life again by living inside the boy. And don’t forget the dad and the old lady.

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  • francine said

    Ghost Story

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  • BrokeDog said

    Fairly good list (with, in my opinion, The Haunting (original) being the best)! But, Dead Birds was a pretty good “ghost” movie that should’ve, at least, warranted some consideration(?) The original “The Fog” was great, also!

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  • Kryp44 said

    The Shining is King’s most over rated book. I have a lot of problems with his story telling in this one. Kubrick’s movie is a classic and improved on the novel greatly.

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  • Nabil Al-Murabit said

    Two films that weren’t added are The Legend of Hell House, which is old school scary and Ghost Story that had all of those old school stars in like Fred Astaire. Mama and Insidious were pretty good as well

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  • Jessica Nicole Marsh said

    I have to say, I’m not surprised that this one didn’t make the list, but Bag of Bones is a pretty decent one. I especially like finding out why the black lady was coming from the dead and what happened to her. It was very original, even if the thing about the tree was a bit cheesy.

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