In the realm of horror, located somewhere between the goblins, monsters, serial killers, and deviants, you’ll find the ghost. These spooky spectres pop up time-and-time again, to terrify and terrorise unsuspecting victims, often with careless abandon.
And because ghosts are so common in horror, there are lots and lots of great horror movies about these haunting figures. From to Stir of Echoes to The Fog, and from The Changeling to Casper, these ghost movies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours, ensuring there is a spirited movie for everyone.
Want a list of the best ghost movies? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Below you will find a rundown of the greatest ghost movies around. These are the films which stand head and shoulders above the rest, and (in most cases) are likely to give you a scare or two!
First up, state-of-the-art special effects, strong storytelling, and some genuinely creepy moments (yes, THAT clown) come together for this supernatural horror classic from the early ‘80s. The film – from director Tobe Hooper – follows the story of a young family who become terrorised by dark spirits in their own home, and is one of the most iconic ghost movies of all time.
Next up, dark, disturbing, and filled with shocks, Insidious is an excellent supernatural picture about a boy who becomes a vessel for paranormal entities. Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, and Lin Shaye star in this superb horror, while James Wan directs.
Annabelle: Creation (2017)
In Annabelle: Creation, the origins of the dangerous doll are explored, as a malevolent force terrorises a group of young girls. David F. Sandberg directs this spooky story, while Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto appear amongst the cast.
In comedy-horror, Beetlejuice, a recently deceased couple return to the mortal world as ghosts, only to discover new owners have moved into their house. Keen to remove the offending humans, the sweet-natured couple call on the services of a bio-exorcist to carry out the job.
The Changeling (1980)
Next up is The Changeling – a magnificently atmospheric haunted house picture, about a recently bereaved composer who moves into a mansion, only to discover a ghost stalks the halls. George C. Scott takes the lead in this spine-tingling movie about loss and the afterlife, from director Peter Medak.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
In this pulse-pounding found footage movie, things go bump in the night as a young couple find themselves encountering some disturbing paranormal activity. Keen to get to the bottom of the phenomena, they set up cameras in their home, in order to catch the ghost(s) in the act.
Produced on a very low budget, Paranormal Activity was a sizeable success upon release and a critical hit! And all these years on, the film still remains a very effective ghost story, filled with frights.
Candyman is supernatural horror slasher, about a chilling urban legend who can be summoned simply by repeating his name five times in a mirror. Based on the novel, The Forbidden, by Clive Barker, Candyman stars Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen and Xander Berkeley.
A bit of a change of pace for this next movie – an Academy Award-winning romantic thriller, about a deceased lawyer who remains on Earth following his sudden and untimely death. Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg star in this much-loved movie about the afterlife, which is occasionally haunting, but mostly hilarious.
Based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name, Casper is a family-friendly treat, which tells the story of a paranormal therapist and his daughter, tasked with exorcising four ghosts from an old manor house. Three of the ghosts are extremely mischievous, but the fourth is kind, caring, and very lonely – and all he really wants is a friend!
Ghostbusters is a rip-roarin’ supernatural comedy, about a group of scientists who try their hand at catching spooks. Directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, the film is one of the best-loved comedy horrors of the 1980s and gave the world Gozer, Slimer, and of course, Stay Puft the Marshmallow Man.
The Frighteners (1996)
In The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox takes on the role of a psychic and faux-exorcist, who tricks unsuspecting clients into believing he can exorcise spirits for a fee. But he soon finds himself caught up in a murder investigation, in this spritely comedy-horror from director Peter Jackson.
The Crow (1994)
Directed by Alex Proyas, and based on a comic book by James O’Barr, The Crow is a haunting superhero picture, about musician Eric Draven, who returns from the grave to avenge his death, as well as the murder of his fiancée. Brandon Lee takes on the role of Draven, in this superb supernatural movie, guaranteed to pull at the heart strings.
Ghostwatch is a British TV movie, about a BBC camera crew who set out to investigate a supposed haunted house in England. The investigation is presented as part of a fake live TV special, which aired on Halloween night in 1992.
Although Ghostwatch was scripted, and the whole thing was a hoax, millions of people tuned in to watch and became convinced it was real. This caused the BBC a huge amount of controversy, and has stopped the organisation from re-broadcasting it since.
Directed by Mike Flanagan, Oculus is a psychological horror about a young woman, convinced that all her family’s misfortunes are the result of an antique mirror. The movie stars Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, and Katee Sackhoff.
In horror-comedy, House, troubled author Roger Cobb finds himself at the mercy of a haunted house, which previously belonged to his deceased aunt. Steve Miner directs, while the cast includes William Katt, George Wendt, and Richard Moll.
The Black Phone (2021)
Directed by Scott Derrickson and based on Joe Hill’s short story of the same name, The Black Phone stars Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, and Madeleine McGraw. The film tells the story of a kidnapped boy who discovers he can communicate with the dead via a mysterious telephone… that could save his life.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Master of the B-movie, William Castle directs this classic horror movie, about an eccentric millionaire, who invites five people to spend a night in his haunted house. If they survive the night, they will be rewarded with $10,000, but this is no easy feat.
The Orphanage (2007)
J. A. Bayona’s chilling Spanish horror, The Orphanage (aka El orfanato) is a mesmerising and expertly-crafted supernatural picture, chock-full of beautifully haunting imagery. The film tells a poignant tale about a woman and a spooky orphanage, and favours depth and emotion, over quick scares.
Lake Mungo (2008)
In this supernatural, Australian found footage horror movie, a family attempt to come to terms with the passing of their daughter, with increasing difficulty. Lake Mungo is written and directed by Joel Anderson.
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon takes the lead in this spooky horror movie about a telephone worker, who begins to experience a series of disturbing visions. Stir of Echoes is based on the Richard Matheson novel of the same name, with David Koepp on directing duties.
The Haunting (1963)
Another movie based on a novel, and this time it is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. The film is The Haunting – a hair-raising horror guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
The movie follows a group of people who are invited to stay in a haunted house, which they agree to do… much to their eventual regret. This bona fide chiller, which has lost none of its atmosphere over the years, is directed by Robert Wise.
In Mama, two children and a mysterious entity become the focus of this terrifying supernatural horror, which is based on a short film. Andy Muschietti directs, while the cast includes Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Guillermo del Toro directs this Spanish gothic horror, set during the final year of the Spanish Civil War. The Devil’s Backbone (aka El Espinazo del Diablo) stars Fernando Tielve and Íñigo Garcés.
Based on a novel by Kôji Suzuki, and directed by Hideo Nakata, Ring (aka Ringu) is a Japanese horror, about a cursed videotape. Those who watch the tape are destined to die, leading to some truly creepy sequences, that once seen will never be forgotten.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Based on Jay Anson’s book of the same name, which in turn is based on the supposed true story of the Lutz family, The Amityville Horror is a haunted house picture, about a family terrorised by unknown forces in their own home. James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger star in this ‘70s classic, which spawned a long-running franchise.
ParaNorman follows the story of Norman Babcock – a young boy who can communicate with the dead. Of course, no one believes him, but soon Norman’s unique skills proves invaluable in this delightful animated picture from directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler.
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Director Edgar Wright brings together a fantastic cast, which includes Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, and Diana Rigg, for this psychological thriller, set across two time periods. The film focuses on a young, would-be fashioner designer, trying to make her way in the world, while haunted by ghostly apparitions from the swinging ‘60s.
In Scrooged, Bill Murray takes on the role of miserly Frank Cross – a TV executive, who needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas. And what better way to feel the festive spirit, than by being visited by a collection of ghosts, including those from the past, present, and future?!
Based on the best ghost story of them all, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Scrooged is a dark, comedic fantasy from director Richard Donner. The movie stars Bill Murray and Karen Allen, alongside a cast that includes John Forsythe, Robert Mitchum, Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Alfre Woodard.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment star in this supernatural horror-thriller from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. The Sixth Sense follows the story of a young boy who claims he can see ghosts, and the child psychologist assigned to uncover the truth.
The Woman in Black (2012)
Based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black is a gothic ghost story about a widowed solicitor, named Arthur Kipps, and his encounter with a vengeful spirit. Daniel Radcliffe stars in this genuinely terrifying British horror, that is guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine.
We Are Still Here (2015)
Vengeful spirits are the focus of this next movie – the creepy chiller, We Are Still Here. Written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, the movie stars Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig, as a couple who move to a new (haunted) house, following the sad death of their son.
In Sinister, a crime writer discovers a collection of snuff movies hidden in the attic of his new home, which lead towards a supernatural mystery. Scott Derrickson directs this frighteningly good movie, while Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Nick King, and Vincent D’Onofrio star.
The Others (2001)
Nicole Kidman leads the way in this beautiful and gothic ghost story, about a woman who is convinced there are strange, uninvited people living in her house. As the story unfolds, it appears that not everything is quite what it seems.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Based on a Washington Irving short story, Sleepy Hollow is director Tim Burton’s gothic horror fantasy, about a small town haunted by a deadly headless horseman. Sleepy Hollow is a blood-soaked gore fest, crammed to the rafters with deliciously dark moments and a devilishly good cast.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
One of the most iconic horror movies of the 1990s, and certainly one of the most profitable, is The Blair Witch Project – a found footage picture, which follows the story of three student filmmakers and the horrors they uncover. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez direct this low-budget movie, which is a masterclass in producing scares out of thin air.
The Night House (2020)
In David Bruckner’s psychological horror, The Night House, a widowed teacher begins to notice something rather strange in her home. Is this the ghost of her recently deceased husband, or is something else going bump in the night?
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Taking inspiration from the infamous Enfield haunting (a supposed real-life haunting in England), director James Wan terrorises his audience with some genuinely creepy spooks in The Conjuring 2. The movie follows the story of paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they head to the UK to uncover the truth behind a suspected haunting.
The Fog (1980)
In director John Carpenter’s spook-tastic horror, The Fog, the residents of a small coastal town become the unwitting victims of vengeful ghosts. Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Atkins star in this atmospheric chiller.
The Grudge (2004)
Directed by Takashi Shimizu, The Grudge is a supernatural horror starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, and Jason Behr. The film focuses on a never-ending curse, which is passed on from victim to victim.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
And finally, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this sinister supernatural thriller from director Robert Zemeckis. The movie – which feels heavily influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock – follows the story of a married woman who finds herself mixed up in a troubling and spooky mystery, connected to the house next door.
OK, so those are all of the best ghost horror movies, now it’s time for a recap. And to save you having to scroll back up, here are all the best ghost movies in one handy list.
- Poltergeist (1982)
- Insidious (2011)
- Annabelle: Creation (2017)
- Beetlejuice (1988)
- The Changeling (1980)
- Paranormal Activity (2007)
- Candyman (1992)
- Ghost (1990)
- Casper (1995)
- Ghostbusters (1984)
- The Frighteners (1996)
- The Crow (1994)
- Ghostwatch (1992)
- Oculus (2013)
- House (1986)
- The Black Phone (2021)
- House on Haunted Hill (1959)
- The Orphanage (2007)
- Lake Mungo (2008)
- Stir of Echoes (1999)
- The Haunting (1963)
- Mama (2013)
- The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
- Ring (1998)
- The Amityville Horror (1979)
- ParaNorman (2012)
- Last Night in Soho (2021)
- Scrooged (1988)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- The Woman in Black (2012)
- We Are Still Here (2015)
- Sinister (2012)
- The Others (2001)
- Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- The Blair Witch Project (1999)
- The Night House (2020)
- The Conjuring 2 (2016)
- The Fog (1980)
- The Grudge (2004)
- What Lies Beneath (2000)
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about the best ghost movies – I hope it has proved useful. For more useful posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.