I think all of us horror movie lovers probably know the big haunted house movies like; Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, The Haunting, The Entity, Legend of Hell House, House on Haunted Hill, The Shining, Watcher in the Woods, and The Changeling. I’d like to introduce you to some you might not have known about. I’m putting them in order from my favorite to least favorite of the top 5. Once again, I use some words (italics) that help you to decide what movie you might be in the mood for:
The Stone Tape (1972): Dark, original, 50s sci-fi feel, British.This one was very hard to find online, but when I did it only worked on the computer and not the DVD player, so be prepared if you buy it from England. This is one of my classic favorites because of the theory they handled in this early 70s movie. The concept of stones holding and recording events and haunting a place by releasing the events again and again. This was a theory I've felt since I was a child and visited other haunted sites--a kind of soup for recording events or perhaps for conducting ghosts like electricity can be conducted with water. In fact, even TAPS often quotes the concept of stones holding events or creating a haunted place, such as in The Stanley Hotel in Colorado. This movie is about a team of researchers to enter an old Victorian Home to work on a project for recording things into stone only to be haunted. It's very original, lots you haven't seen in other movies. I can't believe no one tackles this in haunted house movies anymore--what's wrong with moviemakers???
Something Evil (1972): Atmospheric, mysterious, emotional. Another made-for-tv, but very well made. Anyone who’s heard of this, might not realize this was one of Spielberg’s first forays into directing. A very Pennsylvania Dutch haunting in a farmhouse type of movie. Stars Sandy Dennis and Darren McGavin (two 70s staples). It felt like a real look into people staying in a haunted house. It had some original haunting features which I won’t give away, but will definitely give you chills.
The Evil (aka “The Evil Below” in the UK) (1978): Creepy house attacking. I just recently added this one to my movie collection. I kind of feel obligated to have all the haunted house films, but this one evaded me in 1978 when it came out. Perhaps it wasn’t a big release. I was surprised to see Richard Crenna do horror, but he does it well. The house is amazing and I'm crazy for movies with good settings. The premise is that a couple move in and have their friends help them fix up the house. They run into vengeful ghosts, however, and eventually discover the devil in their basement. It’s pretty standard mid to late 70s horror, but it is very good if you like a “house attacking you” and trapped feel.
Crowhaven Farm (1970): Moody, historic, mysterious, twist ending. A family moving into a creepy house. Hints of past witchcraft. A troubled marriage… This movie was actually pretty unique. It was a made-for-TV genre and has that definite 1970 TV feel, but it’s still quite moody and mysterious.
Knocking on Death’s Door (1999): Ghost hunters with equipment, unseen forces, contact with ghost. This one is easily missed and not too bad. A husband and wife team of paranormal investigators investigate a house for ghosts. They interact with the ghost of a young man who seems rather lonely and confused. It spends a fair amount of time on the couple and their issues, but then when stuff happens—it’s very much like a genuine haunting. It’s one of those movies you watch again and again just for those few moments of genuine creepiness and haunting feeling like you're being watched.