6. Lady in White (1988)
Not to be confused with Wilkie Collins’ 1859 novel The Woman in White, Lady in White is told as a flashback: In 1962, a 9-year-old (little Lukas Haas, awwww!) ends up locked in a school closet by a pair of bullies and unwittingly witnesses the ghost of a girl who had been murdered years before. Though this vision leads to the arrest of the school janitor for the crime, of course there’s more to it than that. Scary, but not just because it’s from the ‘80s, aka the decade of teased hair and acid-wash jeans.
7. The Shining (1980)
Of course The Shining would have to be on this list. Though Stephen King famously hated Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel, there’s no denying that this is one creeptastic film and the pinnacle of haunted hotel stories. Jack Nicholson? Terrifying. Best watched during a blizzard. And hey, if you’re up for a trip, why not go to Colorado’s Stanley Hotel? It’s where King got the inspiration for the whole tale and serves as the blueprint for the Overlook!
And just for kicks, here’s a hilarious recut of the trailer that makes it seem like a totally different movie:
8. Paranormal Activity (2007)
If The Blair Witch Project was responsible for getting the found footage genre into the mainstream, Paranormal Activity was responsible for revitalizing it. True, the franchise may have gotten a little “eh” in recent years, but the first one was a surprise hit. See? You don’t need a huge budget to scare the pants off of people! Bonus: There are a couple of different endings to this one. Oooo.
9. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
You know, Asian horror was all the rage for a while, but I find Spanish horror to be both more chilling and more thought-provoking. This one comes to us from the brilliant Guillermo del Toro, who has said that it’s one of the most personal projects he’s ever done. Like Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone uses the Spanish Civil War as its backdrop, and not unlike The Orphanage, which del Toro produced, it features an orphanage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film closely examines danger and death; however, the definition of death itself may not be what you think it is.
10. The Innocents (1961)
We started our journey into the world of freaky ghosts with something partly inspired by The Turn of the Screw, so let’s finish up with something inspired by it as well. The Innocents takes its title from William Archibald’s stage adaptation of James’ novella, and like all good ghost-y films, it relies on lighting, music, and what we are and aren’t allowed to see more than on shock value. Haven’t read The Turn of the Screw? Shame on you! Go do so immediately! It’s the be-all, end-all of untrustworthy narrators. Then go watch the movie. And be sure to cuddle up with a pet, stuffed animal, or significant other while you do so.
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor. She used to write a column about creepy things. Check it out if you like to scare yourself as much as she does.