Ghosts and Spirits
In this installment of Let’s Talk Horror Movies we are going sneak a peek at ghosts.
Ghosts and spirits are arguably one of the most varied movie characters in their on-screen iterations. On one hand, you have the likes of Samara, Freddie Kreuger, and that thing from Paranormal Activity. On the other? Think Casper, Moaning Myrtle, and Patrick Swayze. As diverse as their representations may be, ghosts and spirits are part of the original horror arsenal and remain one of the most popular (and terrifying) cast members.
The common theme with pretty much all ghosts is that their spirits can never really leave this world because of some kind of unfinished business. Be it a curse, an untimely death, or just being downright stubborn – ghosts have an agenda. Even the word “ghost” can be traced back etymologically in different languages to mean anything from “rage”, “fury”, and “anger”. So, buckle up while we take a stroll through some of our favourite stories about ghosts and spirits…
Let’s talk about ghosts and spirits!
Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is a governess, a brand new one at that, too. Her first job is to look after the niece and nephew of a wealthy bachelor who seem…well…vastly uninterested in them, since their last governess dies mysteriously a year prior. Not suspicious at all. Slowly but surely, Miss Giddens comes to believe there is far more to the house and grounds of this manor than she first imagined.
The Innocents is based on the classic novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – and if you haven’t read that, you really, really should.
Adapted from the iconic novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting brought Hill House to the screens long before Netflix did. Hugh Crain built Hill House for his wife; however, their beautiful dream of a family life never quite came to fruition. As investigators come to study the paranormal happenings in the house, it becomes clear that the house, and its history, have other ideas.
There is a plethora of Amityville-related movies to pick from, and as tempted as we were to include the 2005 remake as an excuse to look at pictures of Ryan Reynolds, we thought we should stick to the classic. Based on Jay Anson’s book of the same name detailing the history of the infamous DeFeo and Luz families, The Amityville Horror tells the story of how Luz family move into the most iconic house in horror history…and just what awaits them.
Steven and Diane Freeling (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) live a normal life in California, in a newly built real estate development called Cuesta Verde. They are a picture perfect family; Steven is a property developer and Diane stays home to look after their three children. However, things don’t stay so peaceful for so long. We know trouble is coming as soon as we see pone of the most iconic horror movie scenes: Carol Anne and the TV static.
Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist, treating a young boy who “sees dead people”. Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy much to the dismay of his wife (Olivia Williams). Cole’s mom (Toni Collette) is at her wit’s end with what to do about her son’s increasing problems. Crowe is the boy’s only hope.
A remake of the 1960s original, 13 Ghosts tells the story of ghost hunter Cyrus Kritikos (F. Murray Abraham) and his crew on a mission to catch an unruly spirit called The Juggernaut. Not the X-Man, for the record. Armed with a pair of special glasses that allow them to see into the spirit realm, the team begin to hunt the spirit, but of course nothing goes to plan…now to find some of those specs on Amazon…
Grace (Nicole Kidman) retires with her two children to a mansion on Jersey, towards the end of the Second World War, where she’s waiting for her husband to come back from battle. The children have a disease which means direct sunlight can not touch them without being hurt in some way. They will live alone there with oppressive, strange and almost religious rules until she needs to hire a group of servants for them. Their arrival will accidentally begin to break the rules with unexpected consequences.
Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is a journalist investigating a videotape that may have killed four teenagers (including her niece). There is an urban legend about this tape: the viewer will die seven days after watching it. If the legend is correct, Rachel will have to run against time to save her son’s and her own life.
This is pretty much just the US remake of the 1998 original Ring by Hideo Nakata.
Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an American nurse, moves to Tokyo and encounters a vengeful supernatural spirit who is possessing its victims. A series of horrifying and mysterious deaths start to occur, with the spirit passing its curse onto each victim. Karen must now find away to break this spell before she becomes its next victim.
Let’s be real, if Buffy can’t defeat the spirit there is no hope for any of us!
I have seen a lot of scary films and beautifully crafted horror in my time, but I will readily admit that the first Paranormal Activity will always be one of the movies that continually scared the living daylights out of me. Sorry not sorry. Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are a young couple who, upon becoming suspicious of the unusual happenings in their home, set up cameras to try to catch the culprit. Boy, do they get more than they bargained for.
The first of what became a (multi-part) series, Paranormal Activity uses the classic horror trope of found-footage, pioneered by The Blair Witch Project.
Another found footage classic, Grave Encounters follows a group of paranormal investigators who lock themselves in an abandoned psychiatric hospital overnight hoping to catch any paranormal activity on camera. Y’know, as you do. As you would reasonably hope and expect nothing goes right for the gang, but man is it funny to watch.
Still reeling from the death of his wife, solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is assigned a job at Eel Marsh House in the creepy little town of Crythin Gifford. He soon realises he is not welcome in the town and is even encouraged to return to London, however, Kipps ignores the warnings and heads to Eel Marsh House. The house is of course haunted by a ghost of a woman, dressed all in black and is seeking revenge on the town.
Near the end of the 18th century, an aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) meets a struggling inventor by the name of Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). The two quickly fall in love and move into Sharpe’s dilapidating mansion – which is also inhabited by Thomas’ sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Once there, Edith slowly realizes that not everything is what it seems and decides to dig deeper, despite the growing dangers.
Time for some truth, Crimson Peak is visually incredible, is it a great film? Not so much.