My Top 30 Halloween Favorites: Ghosts
Okay, I'll admit, despite the potential locked in the idea of this movie, the story came off as pretty boring. And because motion capture technology was still in it's early stages, the people ended up looking stiff and very "wooden, despite the advanced leap in the amount of pixels per image.
But still, at the time of it's release, the visuals were really something to behold. For me, this was a major stepping stone that would eventually lead to some of the most high tech images we are seeing not just on movies screens today, but also, in the crossing over of video-game technology.
So, depite all this, plus the fact that this first Final Fantsay flick isn't very Halloweeny, I'm still including it this ghost list just because it still has the spirits within.
The boy's a ghost. And thus begins a tale of redemption from beyond the "other side".
The Invisible (or Den Osynlige, in it's original Swedish title) is yet another fine example of a "foreign" film that got went largely ignored here in the United States because Hollywood decided to produce an inferior remake instead. And of course, in this remake (also called The Invisible, BTW), they eliminated most of the distinctive elements of the original and replaced it with the standard tricks that are supposed to help make the movie a success at the box office.
Which it wasn't.
Gotta love those formula flicks, huh?
But I'm not gonna lie (not that I have so far.....it's just that, well.....I'm not gonna start now.....), there are only a couple of reasons that have nothing to do with ghosts as to why I like this movie so much.
And both those reasons have to do with Adrienne Barbeau.
"cleaning out" an old abandoned mental state hospital, where the walls have a tendency to whisper out your name and old patient session tapes that reveal the darkness that lays not only within those same walls, but also the darkness that dwells within your soul.
But if you already are a ghost who hasn't yet developed the haunting chops needed to muster up a flight fright,
who ya gonna call?
Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!
A year before they brought Batman as a dark knight to the big screen for the first time, director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton teamed up to bring this freaky film full of fantom foible and fear-themed farts.
Oops, I meant farce. Fear-themed farce.
For those of you may like your festive foreign films to have a bit of an edge (like the kind of edge you might find at the end of a large bladed scythe-like object) to 'em,
y'all may want ta check out "Saint" ("Sint" in it's original Dutch title.....don't know why Listal has it listed as "Saint Nick" in it's english translation, but whatever.......).
Not only does star a "Bad Santa" of the darkest nature, it even features a few Black Petes, although why they're called Black has nothin' to do with their skin color. It's more about what these guys and their jolly ol' leader do on when they're out on their slayrides than anything to do with the controvesy of their tradition.
It's horror fantasy for young readers and as a film, it's a fine modern update of the Alice In Wonderland theme, with it's mixed ingredients of creative psychodelica, slightly edged childlike wonder, along with a nice dash of horror, but just enough to gurgitate a lump of fear in the throat of the kiddie audience within its targeted age. But not so much that it would scare any of it's viewers to the point of absolving their parents of any responsibility for any trauma that might lead 'em up to the top of a building with a sniper gun, later on in life.
Now even though everyone and their mother (and father, and cousins and aunts and uncles) has seen this movie, I won't be able to get into the whole ghost aspect of it since it occurs near the end and would probably cause me unleash a spoiler upon that one hermit who hasn't seen it yet (and with my luck, is a member of this site). Suffice to say that, if you were watch only the last climatic scene of RotLA, you'd almost think for sure that the rest of it was a horror movie. And a pretty damn good one, too.
However, one of the rare Disney backed features that qualified for the list was this one, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Their telling of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow contained enough fright in it's climax, that every year during Halloween, after it aired on TV, I would find myself curled up with the sofa cushion for security against the goosebumps that resulted with every watch.
And as kid who loved horror-related material, that's what it was all about.
To be honest, I wasn't really sure if this movie fit into this list. In a interview with the director of Lights Out stated that the supernatural creature of this story, named "Diana", did start out as a "ghost". And when I first watched this film, which was before I read that interview, I didn't even consider "Diana" to be a ghost. I mean, sure, she was originally a human being who died and then became "Diana", but in her supernatural form, she doesn't quite have the attributes of a ghost. To me, she comes off much more as nocturnal entity of darkness that is all her own.
But still, since I know that many who watch Lights Out will catergorize it as a "ghost film", I will include on this list, but as an entry with an asterix attached to it.
Following the runaway success of The Blair Witch Project, a slew of low-budget films took on the formula of the found footage genre in order to cash in the popular and easily accessible process of making a movie. And just like most overnight fads, the majority of the end results of these efforts fall short of the movies that originally made the trend so trendy.
However, within the vast sea of these film failures, one or two of 'em, just out of the odds of the numbers, stand out as an above average effort. For me, Atrocious is one of those few.
A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again?
A moment of pain, perhaps?
Something dead which still seems to be alive?
An emotion suspended in time.
Like a blurred photograph.
Like an insect trapped in amber.
That's what I am.
Guillermo Del Toro's tale of how an orphanage-turned-temporary safe-haven begins to show signs of a haunting after one of the orphan boys disappears (can you see why I stressed the comparison to Del Toro on my Orhanage entry?).
A story that may seem somewhat simplistic at first,
but when combined with the background dramas of both the lead characters, along with those hinted at of the supporting characters, along with the blatant "not-so-blatant" metaphors that are the director's strong-suit (that is, it's his strong-suit only if he isn't directing a Hellboy movie),
The Devil's Backbone turns out to be a satisfyingly rich movie that goes more for creepy metaphysical melodrama than it does for in-your-face scare tactics.
Three stories, all written by manga artist extraordinaire Katsuhiro Otomo, of Akira fame (another of my anime faves).
For the purposes of the theme of this list is the first story, "Magnetic Rose".
The crew of The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter, heeding a distress signal, find themselves in an outer space "Sargasso", trapped in a nightmare of memories and a magnetic vortex, all at the hand of a spiritual succubus.
I know that this semi-popular children's favorite may not be everybody's otherworldly cup-of-tea,
do I really need to explain why Casper's first outing into full feature movie has a semi-sentimental spot in my heart?
I mean, other than the fact many a ghost-themed movie list wouldn't be complete without this kiddie-driven staple of the genre.
there is absolutely nothing that I find terribly frightening about a television set. I mean, sure, at the time of this movie's release there was growing concern by many a household that their children were evolving from human being to a more vegetable-like organism by all the time they spent in front of the boob-tube, but that's a fear that's has been transferred to the internet since then.
So, even though I have enough warm memories of piling into a car with five other of my then high school buddies to go to the theater and watch this Spielberg-scribed supernatural-thriller, the truth is, I don't consider Poltergeist to be that all that high on the hierarchy of horror flix as most film fans do. Nor do I consider it in Steven Spielberg's top ten.
All that said, I still do enjoy the high quality approach to it's premise and the fact that it's still a worthy pause when flipping through the channels late at night whilst behind a big bucket of popcorn.
I ain't 'fraid no ghost.
Especially if it takes on the form of a dirty dancing roadhouser like Patrick Swayze.
Ghost is a romance film whose supernatural twist plotline pulls at not only the right heart-strings, but also at the same time, at the just the correct amount of logistical levers of suspended-believibility that are required when entering into the world of cinematic escapism.
Swayze plays the perfect polarly opposite straightman to Whoopi Goldberg, who fills up the screen with her comedic charisma, while Demi Moore exudes the same effect, but with her angelic beauty. All this combined with a story that provides just enough Hollywood-scripted plausibilty to a plot-idea that hovers in implausibilty.
For me, all this was just the right mix of ingredients to allow my otherwise jaded hairy pimp-ass to sit still thru the entire run of this blatant but high quality chick-flick (which for me, is usually a rarity).
Oh, and if you're wondering why such a romantic girlie film is on this list,
think about it.....
isn't the idea of having this movie on any list kind of a scary thought?
As the story unfolds, secrets begin to emerge, from the servants, from the family, and from the house itself.
Saying to much else risks the chance of revealing spoilers, which, are apparent as the nature of this movie is one that is already widely known.
Taking advantage of Nicole Kidman's old skool natural beauty (obviously, this is before her face became hidden under layers of plastic surgery), The Others is a New Millenial film that presents itself as a classic gothic horror that writers like Edgar Allen Poe could only dream of as coming to life. Suiting itself as the background for a ghost tale in which the old formulas of Victorian style designed manors set in foggy English countrysides set the tone of leading, then misleading the viewer, this is a piece of cinema that manages to provide the kind of shakes and shudders that have been the tradition of spooky stories for so many centuries.
As if living in war torn 1980's Tehran wasn't enough of a nightmare scenario, now a single mother must try to protect both her daughter and herself from mysterious spirit demon that has made the top of their aparment building it's home.
This is yet another one of those horror flicks in which the audience has to decide whether there truly was some kind supernatural evil entity antagonizing the protagonist or is it just that the protagonist is just suffering from some kind mental delusion inducing disfunction that's makes it seem like there is a dastardly apparitional demon stalking about. However, as frustrating as those type of plot themes can be, Under The Shadow is an excellent one, utilizing the real life situation of the Middle East to enhance the "shadow" from under which the premise is set. And it is done without any compromise to either the direness of the reality of Iran's conflicted setting or to the thrilling tension required to enjoy such a stratified styled spine-chiller.
In most cases.
But there are a few situations wherein it's because they possess a sixth sense.....
in which they can see dead people.
The fact that, as this movie's title indicates, the lead character of this story has a "Para" prefix to his name, makes it pretty easy to guess which one of these cases Norman belongs to.
"If you love ghosts so much, why don't you marry one?"
Which, as you can probably tell by the title, is what this movie is about; exchanging vows with the spirit of a deceased one. Which, of course, sounds like a morbid idea for an animated flick geared towards the younger of living, but in the hands of Tim Burton, it's just another good reason to get behind the director's chair. A whimsical tale of lost love and the desire to mend a broken heart (even if that heart has been dead and buried for many years), Corpse Bride is a good example of why, for my money, Burton's preference for spookish cinematic subject matter is a perfect marriage with stop-motion animation and tends to come much more alive than when he tries to film it in live action.
A film that's so Guillermo-Del-Toroesque, that it comes off almost exactly like a Guillermo Del Toro film. And surprise, surprise, even though it was neither written or directed by Señor Del Toro, he did pick it up as producer (the script was from the hand of Sergio G. Sánchez and the film was directed by Juan Antonio Bayona). However, let it be known that making such a comparison is not any kind of accusation of imitation, but more of a compliment to all those involved in making this creepy entertaining ghost tale which gears itself towards those viewers who are armed with an attention span.
Here's a film which is fearless in it's commitment to combine it's fantasy /horror element with the horrors of real life for children in the urban streets of Mexico. Following along the lines of the cultural beliefs of "magical realism", Tigers Are Not Afraid depicts Purgitorical spooks as ghosts who are not afraid to haunt anyone anywhere. Even those areas of the city already racked with terror from the results of massive drug wars that have been deeply embedded within the societal structure south of the border for generations.
Uncompromising when it reveals the kind of traumatic events that leads children down the path of street orphans without sacrificing the dark spiritual angle that we expect to see from such spooky spectre-filled scare-fare.
While I really like the style that Burton has to his movies, for my money, they usually seem to lack the substance to back up the strength of the uniqueness of their look. Sleepy Hollow is the exception. The idea of this movie wasn't one that had any real appeal for me, but in the end, I found it to have more in terms of story and character than I would've initially expected. I think Mr. Burton's work, though still considered somewhat as visually "avante garde" (I mean, y'know... as far as a mainstream director is concerned...), would be held in much higher regard if he could flesh out his stories, as well as he did for Sleepy Hollow.
Even tho the animation in this film doesn't have the chance to get as creative as other comp.-animated movies of this generation and that focus on non-human subjects, this movie does very well with what it has. The facial expressions are choice quality and the movements during the action sequences are both smooth and dynamic. While there have been many animated films that have come along that look "better", this one for me, is one of the rare ones that have the whole package. The story is does not insult the intelligence despite being based on a child-based fantasy genre,
the characters are distinguishly engaging,
and the action scenes are very high in the area of thrill.
Monster House flows with the same roller-coaster ride that was felt with some of those high quality Spielberg-ish action flicks of the 80's.
Ghostbusters is a fun, 80's summer-blockbuster defining sci-fi comedy that not only features Bill Murray at his sharpest and Sigourney Weaver at her sexiest (even though at one point, she does turn into a dog....), but also cool specials effects, a couple of proton packs, sliming goblins, a key master, a gatekeeper, streams crossing, cats and dogs living together, not to mention one really big "Twinkie".
Oh, and also, a really crappy theme song. Let's not forget that really crappy song.
The main plot of the story is that the dead are starting to rise on the streets of New York. Well, more-so that usual that is. And at the center of it all, is the head ghost demon known as Gozer The Destructor. Who, even in marshmallow form, is still a destructor. So when ol' Goze decides to start gigantically rampaging down through the crowded avenues of the Big Apple, the obvious question to arise is,
"Who you gonna call....? "
The phrase "Here's Johnny!" wouldn't be a very scary line at all if it weren't for Jack's maniacal mug peering thru the door's craggled "peephole", freshly smashed thru by the axe-wielding author who suffers from writer's block and a possessed spirit, not to mention from a severe case of "redrum" on his mind.
First of all, I couldn't care less how over-hyped this movie was. Anyone's whose opinion of this movie was as an adverse effect from this, it's their fault for giving it any attention in the first place. No hype, no matter how well-founded, should ever be believed.
Secondly, as kid, sure, but as an adult, I really can't get scared from movies anymore. Especially, if there's a monster or a Jason/Freddy/Michael Myers involved. The minute I see any of these guys on the screen wearing some kind of fright-enhancing mask or wielding a sharp object with a screaming Abercrombie & Fitch-looking teenager's name all over it, I am instantly reminded that I'm watching a movie, and thereby negating any chance of suspending my belief enough to being frightened anymore. However, Blair Witch tried to bring the horror of cinema as close to the real world as any fright flick could since Night Of The Living Dead (IMO, that is), thus making it seem like this situation could actually happen in this frame of reality. Plus, a major part of the fear-factor for this story's premise is that the lead characters, or even the viewers themselves, never actually get to see the witch in question. And as it has been stated many times over centuries, "The unknown is one the greatest fears to the human mindset".
So while it still didn't scare me, TBWP probably came as close as it possibly can come to at this point in my life. As far as I can remember, I've never had any real inclination to go out on a camping trip of any sort.
But now, because of this film, sleeping under a tent overnight in the middle of the woods, is a situation that I can definitely say that I will never expect to try and initiate.
And for me, The Blair Witch Project earns a couple of extra points just for that.
saying that this is M. Knight Shyamalan's best film (by far) may sound overly obvious (by far),
it is (by far).
A very good from-the-beyond-yarn that starts out by depicting the debilitating effects that may result from being able to percieve ghosts. Then, almost completely, turns it around to show how this paranormal ability can be more of a help than a hindrance, if we just gave the spooky spectres a chance.
Maybe seeing dead people ain't so bad.
Though when I think about it,
if I had to deal with any kind of communication with lost spirits,
I'd rather just stick to commiserating online with all of my fellow "Listalolites" on this site.
Your body filled with a dreadful chill,
Stared at your desk, and the white old quill.
Windy night, the quill moved slight,
You turned the switch, seeking light.
No light came, the bulb was dead,
You thought of going back to bed.
Suddenly noticed, quill moved slight,
You approached, with all your might.
Not the wind, window was closed,
Heart raced, a message exposed.
You read in horror, ink was red,
"Not the wind, go back to bed!"
39. The Ugly
38. The Haunting of M
37. Ghost Town
35. Ringu (1998)
34. Shutter (2004)24.
33. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
32. The Sentinel (1977)
31. The Echo (2004)
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