Get PJ Media on your Apple

Klavan On The Culture

Scariest Movie Ghosts?

May 2nd, 2014 - 10:48 am
YouTube Preview Image

Enough politics for a while, let’s talk movies. And let’s talk ghost stories specifically, one of my favorite kinds of movies. I’ve noticed the scare genre is not doing as well at the box office this year as it did last. Last year, there were a couple of monster hits, so to speak, like The Conjuring and Mama — though 2012′s Sinister was the last one that really grabbed me. This year…  Oculus…  The Quiet Ones…  Haven’t seen them so I’m not commenting, but they’re not doing great business.

However… to celebrate their release, Movie.com put out a list by Jacob S. Hall of the “Ten Scariest Ghost Movies.” The list leaves out my favorite, The Innocents, and misses The Ring, Paranormal Activity and Lake Mungoall wonderful. But there are some definite good ones there: The Haunting, The Changeling, Poltergeist, The Devil’s Backbone  — can’t argue with any of those. The Orphanage lost me on plot, but it had some fantastic scenes: that hide-and-seek game was spectacular. The Pulse and The Eye were good; The Innkeepers, I thought started too slow and then relied too much on boo-scares.

But the two that really need to be discussed are The Shining and The Others. Both of these are routinely listed as classics of the genre and both of them are beautifully made movies. But both of them have one big ghost story problem: they are not scary. I’m sorry. They’re just not. If you remember The Shining being scary, watch it again. I saw it last Christmas. It’s basically a three hour long Jack Nicholson sizzle reel. I mean, how good is that guy at looking nuts and angry? But frightening, no. And The Others? Again, brilliantly filmed and acted, but I don’t think there’s really one good scare in it. And I don’t mean scenes that make you jump, I mean ideas that really send a chill up your spine.

The highest test of a ghost story, in the end, is not its depth and drama, and not its jolts and shocks. It has got to scare you, really scare you — scare you so that, even when it’s over, maybe especially when it’s over, it makes you shudder just to think about it.

A case in point: check out the above short film by the talented newcomer Michael Evans, 2AM: The Smiling Man, based on the story by blue_tidal. Brr.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I realize I am in the minority here, but I loathed Nicholson's "the Shining!" I was a big fan of the book, and King draws the Jack Torrence character quite well. You really feel for his decent into madness.

Nicholson was just a F***ing A**H**e for the entire movie! I couldn't wait for him to die!

Also I found "The Others" very scary.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a shocking one, but one I still remember vividly -

Scariest movie ever? 'Das Boot'... when seen in the theater. Just how does it feel to be trapped in a big steel coffin, listening to the "footsteps" (if you will) of people above you who will not go away until they find you and kill you.

I never thought of a war movie, where all sorts of people die, as being "scary". From 'Das Boot', and going into the U-Boat at the Chicago Museum of Sci & Industry, that I decided if I am 19 years old in 1942, I will sleep in mud under artillery fire for a year, but I am NOT getting into one of these things!!!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's absolutely no contest. The movie "America Be Will Be Fundamentally Transformed" staring Barack Insane-Hussein Obama is by far the scariest, and it keeps running and running and running and running. ...
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (72)
All Comments   (72)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞­۩ஜ
Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...

www.jobscs.com

۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞­۩ஜ
LET’S HAVE A PRODUCTIVE 2014
CLICK THE LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
And not quite a horror movie and not quite a fantasy, but somewhere between the two, Pan's Labyrinth was excellent.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457430/
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not only was The Shining not scary, it was boring beyond belief.

The last time a movie really scared me I was an adolescent. I remember The Sentinel, Gargoyles, and War of the Worlds (1950's version) scaring me. I saw the first two alone, which didn't help. I also remember being frightened by the opening sequence to The Outer Limits, but I was a child then.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought Room 1408 was genuinely scary with an excellent performance by John Cusak
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wanted to love it, I really did. Great premise, a creepy build-up, and some terrific claustrophobic camera work. By the third act, however, I was tired of the CGI moments and just wanted it to end. Cusack's performance was generally solid, although his douchebag personality always shines through in his performances.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, I dunno. While the film didn't entirely live up to its early promise, it was pretty good I thought. I still stop and watch whenever I encounter it. The denouement was clever.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I really liked the "The Woman in Black" remake with Daniel Radcliffe. It had the same vibe as the "The Changeling". Just a quiet movie. But his being in the house with the woman ghost and catching fleeting glimpses of her was creepy.

Also "Darkness Falls". The movie was dreadful, but the ghost dressed in flowing black on the broom hovering over the bathroom door was spooky.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're looking for schlock as well as shock, I recommend the Peter Fonda/Warren Oates thriller Race With the Devil.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's funny, I enjoy ghost stories, but they never scare me. The most I can hope for is an occasional chill or shiver, and that's pretty rare. I had high hopes of "The Blair Witch Project" but it was just boring, not scary. The only movie that ever really made my hair stand on end was "Silence of the Lambs" when Lector reveals just how he escaped. Yeowch! I'm glad he's a fictional character, I don't want any genius insane pure pragmatists running around for real. Other than Hitler...Lenin...Stalin...Mao...Pol Pot...oops I just scared myself. At least they're mostly dead, but their religion isn't dead enough to check the pockets for loose change just yet.

"The Sixth Sense" gave me a few frights, but not for myself; they were sympathetic scares. The movies on this list I enjoyed, but never felt more than a little ghost of a chill. I do hold out hope, though, to the point of watching lots of Japanese horror movies and being continually disappointed. One of these days somebody's going to really come up with something new.

24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought "The Sixth Sense" was outstanding. And I didn't see the ending coming at all.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neither are ghost movies, but the two movies that have gripped me the tightest are "The Exorcist" and "Night of the Living Dead."
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I realize I am in the minority here, but I loathed Nicholson's "the Shining!" I was a big fan of the book, and King draws the Jack Torrence character quite well. You really feel for his decent into madness.

Nicholson was just a F***ing A**H**e for the entire movie! I couldn't wait for him to die!

Also I found "The Others" very scary.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree. The book provided genuine thrills detailing the course of that descent, the movie none. And it was this performance (along with Jack's rendition of The Joker) that put Nicholson on a whole different (self-indulgent) path as an actor. Took him years to recover.

Also agree about The Others.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 Next View All