As long as horror films continue to exist, there will be haunted houses. The basic premise is just too alluring to resist: Confine a group of people in a rickety old building, move furniture, and let supernatural terror unleash itself. Usually far removed from reality, haunted houses give filmmakers the freedom to go wild because any logical consistency largely depends on the creators. There are no limits.
Since the time of the 1925s The monster and 1927 The cat and the canary, people entered spooky buildings and scared millions of viewers. These films are often exciting, terrifying and creative, and here are the best haunted house movies already.
To note: Only movies about genuinely (or strongly implied) haunted houses will be included.
Amityville Horror (1979)
Somehow, the phenomenon surrounding the Amityville house has spawned a ridiculous number of horror movies. Most of these movies aren’t worth looking for, but the 1979s Amityville Horror has the distinction of being the first to tackle the reported haunt of the Lutz family. Although quite dated by today’s standards and acted inconsistently even for the time, Amityville Horror gets by on mystique, cheap thrills and a few flashes of horror sparkle.
Withdrawn from its real inspiration, Amityville Horror is an enjoyable, stereotypical haunted house movie.
The Conjuration (2013)
The first in a largely cohesive series, James Wan’s Conspiracy takes influence from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s paranormal investigations, which includes the horror of Amityville. The 2013 film focuses on the Perron family’s experiences on a Rhode Island farm, and ConspiracyThe power of s relies on its adherence to classic horror tropes. It is a film that could have been realistically produced anytime over the past 40 years.
Master of horror, Wan takes his time to set up Conspiracythe characters and story of, sprinkling nuggets of scares en route to an exhilarating and nightmarish final act.
The Others (2001)
With a solid performance from Nicole Kidman, Others leaves behind the special effects in favor of atmosphere, mystery and suspense. Grace and her two children live in a country house with a few participants, each of whom begins to witness strange incidents that indicate another family is haunting the residence.
Others moves at a fairly meticulous pace and rejects conventional storytelling tools such as jump alarms, choosing to allow characters to carry the narrative. It works.
Ghost watch (1992)
Showmanship is essential when it comes to horror movies, or really any genre. BBC Ghost watch could be the best example of presenting a project increasing its impact. Shot as a documentary and broadcast live on Halloween, Ghost watch follows three BBC reporters as they watch inside an allegedly haunted house.
Initially, reporters think this case is a hoax, a hypothesis that weakens as the broadcast continues. Realistically, inventively and terrifyingly shot when the horror really begins, Ghost watch is a work of art.
The Haunting (1963)
Not to be confused with the lower 1999 remake, The haunting is a classic psychological horror film set in a contender for the biggest haunted house of its kind. Hugh Crain’s Hill House is a Gothic masterpiece; a sprawling mansion defined by quirky furniture and unnatural architecture. Every room in this building has a tragic story to tell, and the film does an admirable job of making Hill House feel like a living entity.
Thematically, The haunting tackles depression, guilt, and latent sexuality, all risky subjects given the film’s release date.
Innocents is another haunted house fantasy movie from this era.
Not to be confused with the equally brilliant 1977 Japanese film of the same name, the 1986 House is a playful roller coaster ride that is more concerned with entertaining than terrifying audiences. An author moves into his deceased aunt’s property to write a book and possibly exorcise one or two inner demons; unfortunately for Roger, this therapeutic event turns out to be more literal than metaphorical.
Deliciously campy, lodge and its immediate sequel is fun for the whole family, something few horror movies can claim.
The Legend of Hell’s House (1973)
A physicist, his wife and two mediums come to the Belasco house in search of spirits and a salary. Once that’s all said and done, not all of them will come out. The house of the legend of hell is a quintessential haunted house movie, though it complements its chilling poltergeist fears with a useful mystery and plenty of tension between its human characters.
A crowd pleaser, The house of the legend of hell is a safe choice for any Halloween party, especially for those who have not yet experienced the terror of House Belasco.
Bringing together the talents of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg, Fighting spiritThe special effects that define the genre set it apart from its contemporaries when it was released. While the visuals hold up well, the story is where the film’s strengths really lie. Too many horror films fail to match their supernatural threats with human characters audiences really want to survive; Fortunately, Poltergeist does not have this problem.
The Freelings go through hell as their home explodes with poltergeist activity, culminating in an iconic final streak.
The Brilliant (1980)
Adaptation of Stanley Kubrick from Stephen King The brilliant follows Jack Torrance and his family as they move into the empty Overlook Hotel for the winter. The isolation begins to affect Jack, causing the father to gradually become more unbalanced and violent. Also, the hotel appears to be haunted, which doesn’t help Jack’s state of mind much.
Rivers of blood, ghostly bartenders and iconic twins aside, The brilliant keeps his supernatural events sporadic, leaving it up to the public to decide if Jack is hallucinating some of the hotel’s weirdness.
The Changeling (1980)
George C. Scott, a wheelchair and a gripping murder mystery, The Changeling is THE definitive Haunted House movie. The idea is simple: a composer moves into a mansion, strange things start to happen, and a disgruntled spirit must be avenged. The plot might not offer many surprises, but The Changeling stands out for one specific thing: Its protagonist, John Russell, brings a balanced maturity to the story that founds the supernatural incidents dotted throughout the film.
The ChangelingThe Victorian House is efficient and spooky, a perfect choice for haunted house decor.
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