We’ve all had the same experience. You’re all alone, it’s the middle of the night, the lights are out, and then… there’s a noise. Maybe it’s a small noise, maybe it’s a loud bang, but what you know for certain is that you did NOT make that noise and it only makes logical sense that SOMEONE is out there, and since you’re the only person in the house there’s only ONE logical explanation: ghosts, and they’re PROBABLY out to get you.
The idea of a haunted house goes back about as far as houses themselves, and horror filmmakers have been toying with the idea since 1896, when French director Georges Méliès released his film The Haunted Castle, a short film that some consider to be the very first horror movie. As the horror genre grew to become a cornerstone of the entertainment industry, haunted house movies have continued, going in and out of fashion periodically over the decades, with great haunted house movies – and quite a few bad ones – earning enormous amounts of money and entertaining (read: terrifying) audiences over and over again.
It’s been a good year for haunted house movies already, so it’s high time to take a serious look back at the history of the genre and highlight The Top 50 Best Haunted House Movies. It might surprise you to learn that two films from 2017 made the list. It might not surprise you to learn that modern master of horror James Wan has a whopping four films on the roster as well.
But before you go any further, take note: We are being very forgiving with our definition of “haunted house movies”. Some of these films don’t take place in houses at all, but rather in haunted mental institutions, hotels and – in one bizarre case – even a health spa. In some of these films we eventually learn that the culprit wasn’t a ghost at all, but the story plays out as if it might have been, so we’re letting that slide.
So, for the purposes of this discussion: If it plays like a haunted house movie, it counts as a haunted house movie, even if the details are a little unusual. With that in mind, pull the covers up over your head, put a flashlight under your chin, and take a peek at our terrifying, funny and sometimes tearjerking picks for The Top 50 Best Haunted House Movies!
Top Photos: A24 / Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.