As children, it’s safe to say that besides bees, icebergs and dying alone (just me?) most people’s first fear was ghosts. Ghost movies stick with you. Ghosts are haunting, lingering, ominous and, besides Casper and Patrick Swayze, they’re not typically considered adorable. Also, there is a 99% chance that ghosts AND all the movies made about them are 100% real. That’s just some science that I made up because it’s gotta be true.
Whether you like the jump-scares, gross-out haunting tales, or slow-burn ghostly thrillers, there is currently something streaming just for you. Here’s our guide to some old classics, new frights, and future favorites that you can check out or revisit from the comfort of your couch. Or recliner. #NoJudgements
Odd Thomas (Netflix)
Odd (Anton Yelchin, who is great) is a small town line cook who happens to see dead people and demons. It’s a gift he uses to help the local sheriff and his father figure (Willem Dafoe) explain crimes. When his seemingly normal town is besieged by soul sucking spirits, Odd takes on a task way bigger than flipping pancakes.
High Spirits (Amazon)
Peter Plunkett (Peter O’Toole) pretends his hotel is haunted to try to garner some publicity and save it from being repossessed. Sounds like a great plan until the real ghosts come out of the woodwork and the bankers daughter shows up to debunk his claims.
This is the first scary/funny movie I remember seeing as a kid. As a huge Steve Guttenberg (he plays one of the guests) fan, I was really excited. Beverly d’Angelo and Daryl Hannah playing his wife and ghostly love interest didn’t hurt either, I’m sure.
The Woman in Black (Amazon)
Vengeful spirits, a macabre isolated town, and Daniel Radcliffe playing a disturbed lawyer with a recently deceased wife were enough to make this period based thriller a hit in 2012.
Come for Harry Potter and stay for a good ghost story and Ciarin Hinds, who is always a welcome sight.
The Sixth Sense (Netflix)
The Sixth Sense is the sad, morose story about a lonely boy (Haley Joel Osment) who seeks help from Bruce Willis’ solemn child psychologist. He also sees dead people all around him. This story is dark and eerie and its famous twists are what made M. Night Shyamalan a household name (that used to be seen as a good thing).
I proudly brag that I guessed the ending from the previews. I also haven’t stopped telling people about it since 1999.
Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is a petty criminal placed on house arrest and forced to live with her pleasantly eccentric mother, who insists the house is haunted. She’s pretty suspicious when things start to get weird. Is she going crazy? Are the spirits are real? Worst of all, is she becoming her mother? She’s not allowed to leave the house so her only option is to fight.
The Haunting (1999) (Netflix)
Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) brings a group of patients to a giant mansion with a dark history to perform a sleep study. It’s hardly a surprise when things start to take a wicked turn. Catherine Zeta Jones, Lili Taylor, Bruce Dern, and Owen Wilson round out the cast of doubting subjects who can’t decide if they’re in danger, going crazy, or a little bit of both.
Every top ten list needs some Bill Murray! Since his most famous ghost movie isn’t available for free streaming, it’s a perfect time to remember Scrooged. The updated Dickensian Christmas story lets Murray play a sleazy television executive who receives visits from three sad, creepy, and hilarious ghosts.
The Babadook (Netflix)
A single mother (Essie Davis) and her troubled child find a sinister children’s book. It is so much creepier and so much better than you think it’s going to be. This indie horror movie showed up on not one, but two Uproxx best of 2014 lists.
Frighteners (Rent on iTunes)
Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) is a swindling “ghost hunter” who uses the real ghosts he can actually see and hangs out with to get the job done. When a particularly murder-y ghost starts terrorizing his town and bringing up old memories, Frank needs to solve the mystery while trying not to become one with his ghostly pals. Amazingly, Peter Jackson’s effects hold up to the test of time and it still looks awesome.
Ghost Cat (Netflix)
Easily the most important movie on this list, Ghost Cat follows Natalie (Ellen Page) and her father as they move to a new town into an old house haunted by the previous owner’s dead cat. This is definitely a family movie and it’s fun to see Ellen Page just before her breakout role in Hard Candy.