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What Lies Beneath (2002) by Gore Verbinski
Michelle Pfeiffer plays an emotionally fragile mother who starts seeing a ghostly figure that looks remarkably like her! She is the wife of a brilliant scientist and has given up her career for him and has just sent her only daughter to college. With plenty of time now on her hands she digs herself into neighborly spying and ghostly investigations. This movie touches a bit on possession and has a nice twist to it. What lies beneath doesn't stay hidden for long as it's got revenge on its mind. A good ghost story!
The Exorcist (1973) by William Friedkin
This is the best horror movie in my opinion. It is the only horror movie that I am still unable to fully watch by myself. And since you can't see what's going bump in their upstairs attic, this qualifies as a ghost story. Some ghosts are just more evil than others! This story is about the daughter of a divorced actress who has a little too much time on her hands and starts to play with the Ouija board with "Mr Howdy." Mr. Howdy however has more interest in her than sliding around an oracle and pretty soon all hell breaks lose with noises in the attic, objects flying around her room and eventually full blown possession. This is one scary film and not for the faint of heart!
The Others (2001) by Alejandro Amenábar
Like the 6th Sense, this movie holds some surprises for the viewer! Nicole Kidman does an excellent job in this ghostly film. Her husband is gone off to war, leaving her alone with her two children in a large mansion set in a remote location. Some house staff mysteriously appear and offers their services coincidentally days after the old house-staff up and walked out. The children start reporting strange visitors in the house that only they can see! This edgy thriller makes use of the fog, shadows, candlelight and other mood setters. A great ghost movie!
The Haunting (1999) by Jan de Bont
I like this movie for the house! If I were a ghost I'd make my home there too. Or if I were a visitor, I'd risk a night of chain rattling just so I could explore this phenomenal place. It's got some cool visual effects, interesting characters, and an unbeatable setting. A group of insomniacs are invited to this house under the pretense that they are being analyzed for their disorder, but the scientist conducting the experiment is really using them for his research on fear. Everyone has their own agenda, including the house which comes alive! While this movie did not scare me (it got low public ratings for this), it was visually very enjoyable.
The Gift (2000) by Sam Raimi
A struggling mother of two uses her powerful psychic gifts to support her family. The psychic is played by one of my favorite actresses, Cate Blanchett, who delivers a great performance, as always. A beautiful young woman turns up missing and Cate's services are reluctantly called upon by the police. With the help of a ghost and her psychic visions, she is lead to the gruesome murder scene on the property of man who has become her personal adversary. But are her assertions that the murderer is the town's rebel and wife beater (very well played by Keanu Reeves) or are there darker forces at work? This is a great ghost movie with strong actors, twists and a nice look at the life of a small town psychic.
The Changeling (1980) by Peter Medak
This is an older ghost movie but I like it for its atmosphere as well as George C. Scott, who I enjoy as an actor. His wife and daughter are killed in the opening scene due to a freak car accident. As part of his healing, he rents a mansion to work on his music composition. Although he thinks he's found the perfect place of solitude and quiet, it is neither! The house has someone intent on using him to help uncover a sordid past of murder and conspiracy!
6th Sense (1999) by M. Night Shyamalan
For the rare few that have not seen this, I don't want to ruin the great twists of this movie, but this flick illustrates the point I often make about how ghosts either don't know they are dead, or are stuck in this world because of an attachment to a horrible event in their life. Ghosts in this movie use a psychic boy to resolve issues that keep them haunting places and people. I found some scenes, like when one little girl pukes in the boys bedroom pretty darned scary. It did a good job of scaring you with subtleties like cold rooms, fleeting shadows of children moving around, and so on. Very well acted and produced!
The Uninvited (1944) by Lewis Allen
I just love this old ghost movie! It's a sweet story about a man by the name of Roderick Fitzgerald and his sister Pamela who move from London to enjoy the country setting of a mansion on a cliff overlooking the sea. As they soon find out, there are uninvited guests already living there! Roderick meets a lovely young girl who lived there in her youth, pines to live there again, and he and Pamela realize that she (Stella) may be more attached to the ghost than any of them know. It's a mystery that needs to be unfolded before Stella quite possibly loses her life to one of the ghosts. This is a very good black and white classic ghost film.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002) by Mark Pellington
This is an interesting ghost/entity movie because it's supposedly based on actual occurrences. I saw this movie in the theater and it scared the heck out of me! It’s got a great "creepy" factor going with bizarre sound effects and hiding more from the viewer than showing in order to create decent suspense. It's based on the rumors of a "moth" like entity that would appear right before disasters. A reporter (played by Richard Gere) loses his wife who oddly enough saw this mothman entity right before her accident. After her death, he finds her journals filled with drawings of this frightening being. Through no conscious power of his own, he finds himself literally on the doorsteps of a town that is reporting sightings of the mothman entity. He is then pulled into his own investigation about this phenomenon and proceeds to warn the town of what is most likely an impending disaster.
The Ring (2002) by Gore Verbinski
Be afraid. Be very afraid..." I'm always tickled to see a good thriller come out that works the angle of mystery versus relying on gory thrasher scenes, and this film is one of them. This movie is about a videotape, when watched, results in a horrible death seven days later. After local teenagers view the movie and all die within this week, a reporter feels she's onto a good story. She tracks down the movie, watches it, and now her own life is unraveling with the sound of the same death clock ticking away her fate. This movie is about a ghost who is evil pure and simple. Not the kind of evil that grows through hate, but evil that is timeless and born that way. As a hint to its scariness, a friend of mine said someone made a dash from their seat in the theater and ended up "barfing all over the last seat and a few people." So I would venture to say viewer discretion advised! The only reason I didn't give this five stars is that I would have liked to have seen stronger acting from Naomi Watts (something rivaling Nicole Kidman in The Others).
The Shinning (1980) by Stanley Kubrick
Anything with Jack Nicholson is going to be good. He plays Jack Torrance and I personally think he was nuts before he took the job at the hotel and started seeing ghosts but that's just my opinion. Jack integrates himself with the many ghosts that haunt this grand hotel including obliging bar staff with a murderous past, a nude hotel guest that shares a kiss then some flesh, and two little girls who are macabre to the senses just standing in the hall looking at you! Jack's psychic son Danny can see these ghosts too as well as the gruesome past of the hotel and a not so attractive future. He and his mother realize that Jack has lost it and wants to bury the ax in more ways than one. This is a must see for any horror/ghost fan.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) Scott Derrickson
This movie ranks up there with the Exorcist in terms of fright factor. It's intelligent, suspenseful and well... scary! Emily is a virtuous young girl who goes off to college for the start of a promising life. What she ends up with is a demonic ghost intent on possessing her. She fights this demon with her trusted priest and unfortunately it is too much for Emily and she dies a horrible death. This may sound like I'm giving the whole plot away, but you know Emily is dead pretty much in the first few scenes because this movie is about the trial of the priest who is accused of causing her death through negligence. There isn't an actor who fails in this movie. They are all good! This story also has an interesting spiritual moral. It's about how sometimes good people suffer in order to bring awareness to this planet and subsequently explains why "God allows bad things to good people." The other moral to this picture is that the supporting characters know that integrity weighs more than the power pressures from bosses and churches.
An American Haunting (2005) Courtney Solomon
In 2006, in Red River, Tennessee, a teenager has frequent nightmares. Her mother reads an old letter from 1817 written by her ancestor, Lucy Bell. After a dispute of lands judged by the church, her husband John Bell is cursed by his opponent Kathe Batts, who has a fame of being a witch. From this moment on, an entity threatens John and her daughter Betsy Bell, attacking the girl during the nights. With the support of Betsy's school teacher Richard Powell, who tries to find rational explanations for the manifestation; her brother John Bell Jr.; and their friend James Johnston, who unsuccessfully tries to exorcize the entity from the house, the family does their best to protect Betsy in the haunted house.
Flatliners (1990) Joel Schumacher
What if you could stop your heart to simulate a temporary death, and then be revived so you could describe your near-death experience to others? The mysteries of life -and the afterlife- compel five medical students to experiment with their own mortality, and what they discover has unsettling psychological implications. That's the intriguing premise of this neo-Gothic horror thriller. The movie borders on silliness at times, and the near-death recollection of memories results in some repetitious scenes, but the dynamic young cast takes it all quite seriously, which is what keeps this gaudy thriller on the edge.
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