Best Movie Portrayals of Hauntings

I had a romance writing teacher who told me once that the most perfect example of a romantic storyline was “Pretty Woman.” I'm not sure I really agree with that one. Honestly, after he came up the fire escape with flowers, do you think they planned a wedding or did he rush them to the doctor for STD checks and a pre-nup agreement with him grilling her about her johns?

Kidding aside, that statement did make me wonder about if there is a movie that gives the best portrayal of what a real haunting is. I know the single best portrayal of a real haunting was most definitely “The Haunting” (1963 version—please rid your mind of the Owen Wilson/Catherine Zeta-Jones abomination).

Still, many good ghost movies have come along with an element at some point that gave me shivers. Here's how I spread it out as someone who grew up in a seriously active place:

Best apparition: “Death of a Ghost Hunter” when the little girl shows up in the doorway.

Best “it knows you're alone” moment: “The Haunting” when Nell and Theo saw the doorknob turning and pounding sounds.

Best invisible person only a child sees: “Amityville Horror” When the girl told her mom about Jody being in the room.

Best electrical interruptions/sabotage: “Amityville Horror” the telephone problems.

Best residual activity:
“The Changeling” sound of banging in the bathtub at the same time every morning.

Best evidence of a sensitive: “Sixth Sense” photos of the child with blebs in them.

Best portrayal of a psychic's inner world: “Stir of Echoes.”

Best portrayal of what the other side might be like: “The Others.”

Now, you know you're going to ask me the worst ghost movie and I seriously have to say the worst portrayal is “Ghostbusters,” but I still love it to death. It's adorable!


  1. such a very well thought out list, and please kick me... i did not know "the haunting" was a sequel... i knew that "13 ghosts" was, which i enjoyed both. i am just adding some of my favorites, not to sidestep your list. i just would like to mention them.

    ghost story - it creeped me out as a kid.
    poltergeist - poor carol anne and the lost souls of spielberg.
    beetlejuice - need for a sequel, his number has to be up by now.
    the shinning - jack is a dull boy.
    sessions 9 - just creepy.

    i just watched one, i cannot remember the name... please shed light. set in english 1960ish black and white film; two children get a new live in nanny and the children are possessed by the spirits in the house...

    have a fabo! day...

  2. What an absolutely brilliant list.

    I told my husband a long time ago when I say Stir of Echoes in the theater, that I did not think I could ever watch it again.

    It bothered me that much.

    It was like my own private world was not everyones knowledge. How could they all know? :)

    I thought (and know that I am) completely crazy :D when I talk about my sensing things....especially bad/unpleasant things....but that is my fault, I know.....was almost exactly like that movie. First time I saw it in the theater I did not believe it. Opened up a big door for me on trusting myself.

    The red in the brake lights comes to mind.....I seem to be at "theme" person (when I am paying attention) and a color.....especially a color...can turn up a lot in my life...awake or back of my mind. I know that is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

    Sorry, got distracted on myself as I always do. :) I beg your forgiveness. Thanks for sharing. And your comparisons/choices are extremely brilliant.

    Stir of Echoes in my collection....I think I need to go watch it again. :)


  3. I've seen almost all of them. Quality stuff!

  4. good list! also, did you change the site's layout? looks good.

  5. Jeremy;
    I have an enormous list of ghost movies--I'm a big collector, but I admit that ones like Poltergeist and Beetlejuice didn't really hit me as totally realistic and genuine haunting portrayals, but I still love watching them a lot. The one you were mentioning was Turn of the Screw, but the version you saw was probably "The Innocents." Suspenseful and atmospheric. God, I love the Brit's ghost stories. No one does it as good.

    Frog Queen;
    I got shivers during that movie too. I told my friends that I knew they had to have a psychic associated with either the writing of the book or the making of the movie because so few get it right about what it feels like. Shows like Ghost Whisperer are so "off."

    Great taste in movies, buddy! Hey, last night the Lonely on a Friday night goes all evening. People come and go, but I'm always on, so next time jump on and talk and I'll see your message and respond. Would love to have you hanging out if you're available.

    Thank you. The blog is under transformation. I am need of more assistance with the background and perhaps putting in tabs to make info easier to find. I hope to have it all in order in time for my first book to be released.

  6. The Amityville Horror book scared me a lot more than either of the movies did.

  7. Vapor;
    Same for me, as well as The Exorcist

  8. Best portrayal of what the other side would look like? That seems like an opinion but then again, I don't get paid for my thoughts, yet.

  9. Marduk;
    True. What do we really know about the spirit world? Other than the effects we run into in supposedly haunted locations, we're all just theorizing, which is probably why I have this blog, because nothing is written in stone. Seeing as to how all movies are fiction, we can only give them credit for effort in their portrayals. I would rather think the other side (if it exists) is probably not like Beetlejuice or Ghostbusters, but that's only a guess. If it is like those movies, however, I might fit in perfectly because I am a bit of trickster/spaz/dorky goofball.

  10. good list, the old ones are the best!

  11. Major.Mack;
    I agree. It's really sad because moviemakers could make terrifying movies nowadays with very little cost, no CGI team, little special effects makeup. They need to leave big blanks for our minds to fill in. I give Kudos to "Dead Silence" because it did pick up a vintage feel and the genuine creepy location, odd characters and scary music like "Silent Hill" that really works to give you goosebumps.

  12. Great list. I can't top that. As lighteners I might add "the Ghost & Mrs Muir" and "Blythe Spirit".

  13. Sucio;
    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is my favorite ghost story of all time. I might give that the "best portrayal of a ghost only one adult can see." :-)

  14. Great list & got me thinking! I also love the new layout!

  15. Thanks Becca. It's about halfway there. Can't wait to get it done.


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