Friday, 12 October 2012

The Chill List #1!: Haunted Houses!

Reader Kit asked if I would post a list of some of my favorite scary movies for the Halloween season.  

A simple top ten list is kind of passe, so instead I'm going to pick a category of scary movie, and post some notes about my favorites.

Today it's all about my....


The Changeling. (1980, director Peter Medak).

One of the best films of the Canadian "Tax Shelter" era. George C. Scott plays a successful composer who tries to recover from the death of his family in an accident by returning to his home town to teach music at a university. He rents a big empty mansion hoping for peace and quiet, but discovers that he's not alone. The house has a ghost, and that ghost is pissed, and to end it Scott's character must solve a 70 year old mystery.

Is the film perfect? No. The ending is a bit rushed, but that's probably caused more by the film's limited budget than any weakness in the narrative.  However, it is still a damn scary movie with genuine frights and a general sense of unease in every scene.

It also shows you don't need oceans of blood and gore to make a scary movie. There is extremely little on-screen violence and it doesn't take anything away from the film's effect.

The Legend of Hell House. (1973, John Hough). 
Most. Unsubtle. Poster. Ever.

Adapted by horror legend Richard Matheson from his own novel, it's been cited as being similar to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, but aside from the basic premise it goes into its own direction.

A physicist, his wife, and two psychic mediums enter the most haunted house in the country. The physicist thinks haunting is an electromagnetic phenomenon, but discovers that there's more to it than that. Roddy McDowall's performance as an emotionally crippled medium is very well done, and the scene where he loses his shit and flies into a rage in the face of the supernatural is one of my favorite ghost story scenes.

The Shining. (1980. Stanley Kubrick). 

Why settle for a haunted house when you can have a haunted hotel?

My only beef with the movie is that you really can't buy that Jack Nicholson's character was ever sane, but it's still one of my favorite fright films.

Those are some of my favorite haunted house movies, what are yours?


  1. Great list! Have not seen The Changeling yet, but it's been added to the Netflix queue.

    One of my favorites is (1981), which, while not as good as the book, featured some great performances by veteran stars. Plus, I've always been a fan of Craig Wasson.

    Have to admit I'm a big fan of both versions of House on Haunted Hill as well. The original was great, campy fun. The remake had a decent premise, as well as a great performance by Geoffery Rush, who was channeling John Waters. Also...Ali Larter! And Famke Janssen!

  2. *Ghost Story (1981). Bah.

  3. The Innocents I think is the name of the brother and sister possessed by spirits.


  4. As a haunted house aficionado, I must say that you did not pick the most stellar films. Changeling is greatly weakened by a factor which I will not mention lest I spoil it more than it already spoils itself. The Shining? Legend of Hell House? Please.

    I would submit instead, the far superior HOUSE, THE HAUNTING (not the remake), THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, JU-ON, THE UNINVITED, and TAMAMI.

  5. Oh yeah, also THE BEYOND, THE SENTINEL, THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS and more. The Shining indeed. Pfui.

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