Sunday, June 13, 2010

THE TOP 10 GHOST MOVIES (a guest post by Billy Bitterman)

(today's post is brought to you about BJ-C's other half, since she's too busy to write a post of her own)
Hello, my name is Billy. Some of you may know me a bit better as BJ-C's zombie boyfriend. As a child I was orphaned, and was raised on a moisture farm by my aunt and uncle. Okay, that last part is a lie. I make movies, or at least I attempt to. When I’m not making movies I’m watching movies, or writing about movies, or reading a book…about movies. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of movies.

This may come as a shock to any of you, but I’m a big fan of horror. One of my favorite sub-genres of horror would be that of the ghost story. I’m a bit of a ghost nut, so I eat these stories up with a spoon. So I’ve decided that today I’ll be bringing you all a list of my 10 favorite ghostly tales. A couple things first though: 1) I’m very much a student of new-school film. I mean no disrespect against the films of yesteryear; I have a couple on here. It’s just what I’ve been around. 2) It should be clear who my favorite filmmaker is once you clear the top 5. If you guess who it is, I’ll give you a candy! 3) With all that out of the way, let’s get started:


Vincent Price. Do I even need to explain this any further? It’s a bit of a B-movie, sure. But it really is quite the gem. It does a great job of balancing jump scares (look out! An old woman on a skateboard!) with atmosphere. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with the aura of mystery that surrounds it all. And as if the movie isn’t proof enough that William Castle knew how to scare an audience, just talk to someone who was around when the movie came out. Have them tell you about how they shit their pants when the fake skeleton flew over their head.

This movie is actually a recent addition, and is all about the execution. This is probably one of the best-done ghosts I’ve ever seen. It makes noise, it opens doors, you see shadows, you hear footsteps, but it isn’t constantly popping out from behind a corner screaming, “BOO!” And it reveals itself gradually; the back-story isn’t even known when everything gets started. But that is exactly what you want to do with a movie like this. But once everything starts coming out, things seem to get more and more sinister. Just writing about it makes me want to watch it again.


Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that there was a time where M. Night Shyamalan was actually good at what he did. But there was, and this film remains as a reminder of what once was. This film was not a bright and shiny walk through a field of petunias. We knew that these people were dead, we knew that it was not a pleasant experience when they died, and we knew that they had no idea they were dead. And on top of that, little Haley Joel Osment wanted nothing more than for them to go away. And even more on top of that, the man who was trying to help him turned out to be a ghost all along (spoiler alert)! It’s a very tragic movie, but as it moves along more and more is revealed, and to this day when I watch it, I still try and look out for little clues here and there. Seriously, what happened to him? So much promise and he threw it all away.


This movie is sooooo good. Catherine Zeta-Jones is hawt, and Owen Wilson is TOO FUNNY! Now that you’re busy planning my slow and painful death, I would like to inform you that I was kidding. My first experience with The Haunting did come from the remake, though. A few years later I saw the original, and totally realized just how much of an abomination the remake was. I think the true beauty of The Haunting comes from it being left open for interpretation. Were there ghosts? Or was it all just a manifestation of paranoia? Of course, moviegoers don’t like to see things like that, so a showdown with one of those big CGI fuckers at the end was used instead. Man, I really hate that movie…


I had to put it on here. What kind of a list would this be if I didn’t? It is the standard by which all ghostly comedies are judged (nice try, Ghost Dad). Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Harold Ramis running around with unlicensed nuclear accelerators on their backs? An evil dog living in a refrigerator? Mr. Stay Puft? Sign me right the hell up! The one thing I’ve always found fascinating about it though is how the ghosts look. Apparently when I die I’m going to turn into a cartoon character. Not that I mind, it seemed like they were having a hell of a time. Just a little odd is all.


This one is just a total classic. How could anyone NOT love this movie? I saw it when I was a bit younger (as I’m sure everyone my age did), and I thought it was creepy then. I’m 21 now, and I’d say it actually still holds up pretty well in that department. I don’t consider it a terrifying movie, but there are moments genuine creepiness sprinkled throughout. I think what gets me about it is how child-like it all feels. It makes me feel like a kid again when I watch it, and I love that. But at the same time, it’s sort of unsettling. I mean, a guy peels his face off, a little girl gets sucked into the spirit world, a little boy gets attacked by a clown/ almost devoured by a tree, and Zelda Rubenstein was just off-putting in general. Of course this is excluding the scene where the corpses pop out of the pool. The whole movie is built of the stuff nightmares are made of. But it has an innocence to it that just scares the shit out of me.


Guillermo Del Toro didn’t direct this one, but he sure as shit produced it, and I’ve now decided that putting his name on a project in any way, shape, or form automatically means that it’s going to be phenomenal. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but that didn’t disappoint me at all. It really isn’t a terrifying movie, though there are moments (the ghost are all children. Scary. One of them wears a sack on their head. FUCKING SCARY). But a lot of what I said about The Devil’s Backbone can be said about this film. You could tell that Del Toro’s involvement wasn’t a name-only deal because of how the unknown was treated. He adds such a beauty to these things that would normally scare us. It’s as if you look at them in a completely different light. It’s absolutely wonderful. I’m getting pissed off again.


The horror community seems split with this one. As you can probably guess, I’m on the half that thinks it’s awesome (or as I like to call it, the correct half). People say it wasn’t scary, people say it was boring. And I say: God forbid a movie tries to scare you with atmosphere rather than with shock value. I loved it because it realized that fear is an emotion rather than an action, and knows that you don’t have to jump out of your seat to experience it. Did it have its weak points? Of course it did, every movie does. But to me, it was all about the scares, and boy did it deliver. This is also where I admit that I’m a bit of a ghost hunting nerd, I’ve read a whole lot about it and know a bit about how supposed real hauntings actually work. And this movie was pretty damn realistic. Which made it all the scarier for me...and leaving the theater and going home to a creaky apartment certainly didn’t help.


I’m not going to lie; this one almost slipped right past me. Like any good Kubrick film (so…basically any Kubrick film), there’s a lot going on in it. For some reason, it just never seems to click with me that a lot of it has to do with the ghosts that are hanging around the Overlook. But regardless, they’re around, and they are sinister as hell. I’m really not sure what I could write about this movie that hasn’t already been said. It’s just a fucking masterpiece.


There’s no doubt that this is my favorite ghost story. I am pretty much in love with Guillermo Del Toro as a filmmaker, and if I could deal with the unknown half as well as he does, I would be considered a goddamn master. I think one of the things I love so much about it is how it’s really more of a period drama than anything else, it just happens that the orphanage it takes place in is haunted by one of the best designed ghosts I’ve ever laid eyes on. And that’s what I love about Del Toro and his films, they’re based in a world that is very real, and he interjects these pieces of fantasy into them, and they compliment each other so goddamned well, and then they’re so layered. I’m thinking about how good of a filmmaker he is right now, and it’s just pissing me off.

I cannot tell you how hard it was to compile this list. But I’d say I did a pretty bang-up job. Agree with my thoughts? Like what I had to say? Want to call me a cockbag? Then come on over and visit my blog to see what else I have to say.

8 comment(s):

dfordoom said...

The Innocents is another great ghost movie from the early 60s. And there are loads of great Japanese ghost movies. Kwaidan (1964) is the greatest, but Immortal Love (1972) is also worth a look.

Anonymous said...

Good list, though I'm not a huge fan of some of the entries (namely The Orphanage and Poltergeist, not big on The Devil's Backbone either). Honestly, like you The Shining somehow doesn't come right to mind when thinking of ghost stories. I wonder why? It might be my favourite, though I could be missing something. I also liked Paranormal Activity. Scared me good. I'll agree with dfordoom that The Innocents is a real keeper, I'd recommend if it you haven't seen it. Another one that would have easily made my own list is The Legend of Hell House. I really need to finally get around to seeing The House on Haunted Hill :/

dfordoom said...

I'll second houseofmirthandmovies' recommedation for The Legend of Hell House.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

She might`ve only been 12 when she snuffed it but as far as i`m concerned Heather O`Rourke will always be the most gorgeous chick of all time.

Rabid Fox said...

To this day, I watch Poltergeist and think of it as a Disney version of a horror film. Do not care for it.

Glad to see Ghostbusters get a little lovin' on the list. And The Orphanage is definitely a damned good ghost story.

Can't recall Devil's Backbone though, so that's one I'll have to keep an eye out for.

the jaded viewer said...

Sorry dude Paranormal Activity is way to high on this one.

James R said...

What happened to Shyamalan? Simple. He finally had a hit after his first two films that no one remembers weren't hits, and decided that having another hit required him to follow the formula he'd latched onto. Meanwhile the rest of us are left wondering when he's going to do something different and stop the shark-jumping...

Anonymous said...

Love all the selections, though my personal favorite is - THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE.

Related Posts with Thumbnails