Spend a Haunting Halloween With These Ghost Movies

As many of you know, Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (it’s Gaelic and pronounced SAH-win).

The Celts believed that between October 31 and November 1, the boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds were weak and could be breached. That meant that the dead, fairy folk and even monsters could cross into the human world at this time.

The Celts left offerings for the Sidhs, or fairies, outside their villages and in fields. They also dressed up as animals and monsters to fool the fairies into not kidnapping them.

For this Halloween, I thought it might be fun to breach the walls between the world of the living and the world of the dead. How about watching a few movies about ghosts while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to arrive? If you’re interested, I have a few recommendations for you.

My list is in no particular order. Some of these are older movies and/or classics. They are among my favorite horror movies, and they all bring the chills. (Please note that I haven’t included more popular movies such as The Sixth Sense or Ghostbusters.)

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

1. Stir of Echoes (1999) 

Kevin Bacon is excellent as a phone lineman who starts seeing the ghost of a teenage girl after he is hypnotized by his sister-in-law. He becomes obsessed when he learns it may be someone who disappeared from the neighborhood a few months ago.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by one of my favorite authors, Richard Matheson (he also wrote I Am Legend).

The movie is available to stream on The Roku Channel (with advertisements).

2. The Changeling (1980)

A famous music composer (George C. Scott) moves to Seattle after his wife and daughter are killed in an accident. The mansion he rents turns out to be haunted by a particularly ill-tempered ghost. No, in this case it’s not just the pipes. This Canadian movie has since attained cult status. Atmospheric and chilling.

The Changeling can be streamed on Tubi (with ads).

3. Gothika (2003)

Halle Berry stars as a psychiatrist who blacks out after almost hitting a woman with her car. She wakes up in the mental hospital in which she used to work and finds herself accused of her husband’s murder. She discovers there may be a connection between her husband’s death and the ghost she sees at the facility.

4. Ghost Story (1981)

Four elderly men gather weekly to tell each other ghost stories. Members of the group start dying. Their deaths may be connected to something from the past. The movie stars Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. AND John Houseman.

The movie was adapted from the novel of the same name by horror writer Peter Straub.

5. The Others (2001)

A woman who lives with her two children in a remote country house in the Channel Islands fears her home may be haunted. The movie stars the luminous Nicole Kidman.

You can’t beat the pervasive aura of dread in this Spanish-produced and directed haunted-house movie. I had nightmares after watching this flick.

6. The Woman in Black (2012)

This Gothic horror movie is set in early 20th century England. A recently widowed lawyer travels to a remote country mansion situated on marshland to retrieve legal documents before the sale of the estate. He realizes the home is haunted by a vengeful ghost, and his own son may be the ghost’s next victim.

This is one of the highest-grossing British horror movies. It starts Daniel Radcliffe.

7. What Lies Beneath (2000)

A woman has eerie experiences at her lakeside home after her daughter goes away to college. This haunted-house movie is classy, and it features one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen. The view is to die for.

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer are great as the haunted couple.

8. The Awakening (2011)

A writer who debunks paranormal phenomena investigates an alleged haunting at a boy’s boarding school in post-World War One Britain.

I particularly like horror movies set during this period. Perhaps it’s because so many of my favorite Gothic horror writers, including M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, wrote at this time.

This movie is all about atmosphere and quiet horror. It’s available to stream on Tubi.

9. The Messengers (2007)

A man moves his family to a rural sunflower farm where he hopes they can start afresh. His daughter (Kristen Stewart) starts having frightening experiences, but she finds her parents don’t believe her.

This movie has quite a few jump scares, and who can resist sunflowers?

10. Half Light (2006)

Successful murder mystery author Rachel Carlson (Demi Moore) is stricken with guilt when her young son dies in a tragic accident caused in part by her carelessness. She leaves her husband and holes up in a remote cottage on the Scottish coast to finish her book. She starts seeing the ghosts of her son and others.

Eerie, with the bonus of lovely settings. The movie is streaming on Crackle, Tubi and The Roku Channel.


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