Ghost Story Movies

A Christmas Carol is a timeless ghost story
A Christmas Carol is a timeless ghost story

A Horror Buff Seeks A Good Scare

I admit it. I am a horror movie buff. I love a good scare. Sometimes, a little too much. Truth be told, sometimes I even scare myself so much, I can't stand to be alone in the dark. Yes, I am a grown adult who scares herself silly watching horror movies, reading Stephen King books, and other scary stories, to the point where I can't bear the darkness. I am not afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of what might be lurking there.

In all seriousness, I do love a good scary story or movie. This love of the dark and sinister has led me on a quest to find some of the best horror movies out there. It's a joint effort between my sister and I. We watch scores of horror movies and recommend the best of what we find to each other.

But, this hub isn't about the strange obsession with the macabre that I share with my sister. It actually started with my parents. They introduced us to the world of scary movies at a fairly young age. I think the first horror movie I remember watching was a classic slasher flick called, Motel Hell. It was bad, and wonderful all at the same time. Thankfully though, over the years she has led me to many of the best movies I have found. More on that in another hub. Maybe a "Terror Sisters Best of List". This hub, however, is about ghost stories. Three movies I have seen in the last year that have frightened me, angered me, disturbed me, and just plain gave me the creeps. One, you may be familiar with, the other two, maybe not. You might be surprised as to which ones I liked and which one I didn't.

Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Entity
Paranormal Entity

Paranormal Activity or Paranormal Entity?

There is a strange obsession with death that binds most people together, though some are less inclined to admit it. We all think about death, how we will die and when?, where we go after death?, is there a heaven or a hell? These questions run through all of our minds, so it's relatively normal that stories of ghosts and supernatural happenings should be a part of our culture. Ghost stories have been around since time began.

Unfortunately, the movie industry rarely does the genre justice. Two movies come to mind. Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity. I am sure you are all familiar with the former, but what about the latter?

Paranormal Activity got a great deal of attention with it's ads that refused to show the movie, choosing instead, to show the audience reactions. I am convinced, after having wasted good money seeing it in the theaters, that they only captured the reactions of the last scene in the movie. It was touted as the scariest movie in years, and "audience members" gave testimonials saying they were scared to death, and wouldn't be able to sleep. I watched it, was practically bored to tears, and slept fine.

Maybe all my years of scaring myself silly has left me slightly jaded. Maybe it wasn't that good. Both Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity follow the same basic theme; a house is haunted, strange stuff happens that is all captured on cameras set up in the house by the occupants. Similar in style to The Blair Witch Project. While The Blair Witch Project wasn't a great movie, it was ground-breaking in it's approach. It was a complete break with normal expectations of a horror movie, less seen, small budget, "real footage" found in the woods. They even posted a fake website, to make it seem as if all of it was true. Say what you will about the movie itself, it did break quite a few rules, and made quite a lot of money.

Paranormal Activity involves a woman (filmed by her oh-so-caring boyfriend) who herself seems to be haunted. The unlikeable characters left me rather disinterested as to their fate. He films what happens, sets up night vision and captures the strange things that happen. I won't ruin the movie by giving away too much. I will say that, like Blair Witch, the last scene in the movie is the only really scary part of the whole thing. I left the theater angry, feeling as if I had been ripped off, vowing to never waste my money seeing a horror movie in theaters again.

I hold to that. And, thanks to the wonderful DVDs that come in my mail box, and on my game console, I don't need to. A small fee every month, and I can watch horror movies until I swear that there is someone hiding in my closet ready to attack me with a kitchen knife, or a crazed madman lurking in the bushes with a chain saw. This is how I came across Paranormal Entity.

Scene from Paranormal Activity
Scene from Paranormal Activity

A Light at the End of the Dark Tunnel

All horror movies are not created equal, and media attention and a big budget is not always the recipe for a great horror movie. Similar in style and approach, Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Entity could not be more different. At last, a good movie to curb my insatiable appetite for the truly scary.

Paranormal Entity follows the same formula as the other movie, but it was done so much better. The scares were better, the story was better, and you actually cared what happened to the characters. The end was far more disturbing than I had ever imagined. Without giving too much away, or getting too graphic, think of the most disturbing scene in the movie The Exorcist, and you will be pretty close.

Paranormal Entity follows a family; mother, son and daughter, about a year after the death of the father. The mother tries to make contact with the deceased father, only to make contact with something far darker and more depraved. The events start out fairly tame, and escalate from there. The story is disturbing and chilling. Far better than I had hoped for. Truthfully, I expected the same crap I got from the other movie. I was never so happy to be wrong. As I said, the ending is very disturbing. A bit more than even I cared for. It left me chilled to the bone, and I don't scare easily. In a way, I love movies that do that. They remind me of how precious life really is, how fragile it all is. I know none of it is real. I know it's all a story, but having seen some of the things I have seen, a part of me will always believe in ghosts, even if the ghost I see in the film is a fake.

Paranormal Entity: Family meets with a paranormal investigator
Paranormal Entity: Family meets with a paranormal investigator
Death of a Ghost Hunter
Death of a Ghost Hunter
Carter Simms
Carter Simms

True or False?

The most recent ghost story movie I have seen is a strange one. It left me questioning the truth of it. The movie is called Death of a Ghost Hunter. Again, like the first two, it is somewhat of a "filmed by those it happened to" sort of movie. Though they do involve external, obviously camera crew shot scenes. It is touted as a film depiction based on the journal of a real ghost hunter who died during a paranormal investigation.

The ghost hunter, Carter Simms, along with a camera guy, a journalist, and a member of the family's church, assemble at the Masterson House in Queen Creek, AZ, to investigate the existence of paranormal happenings after the tragic deaths 20 years prior of the entire Masterson family.

What first intrigued me about the movie was the location. I know someone who actually lives in Queen Creek, and the house in the movie is very similar in style to their house. I kept looking at it, trying to tell if it WAS their house. But, I quickly gave that up, and got sucked into the story. The story is very compelling, chilling and very entertaining. The acting isn't great, but the plot and scares make up for a lot of that. It is a fairly typical ghost story, something tragic happens in the past, the energy stays in the house, causing bad things to happen in the present. But, it's a good story. It has a few twists and turns that you don't expect, and the main character exudes the passion that carries the movie quite far.

Like I said, the movie was supposed to be based on the journal of a real ghost hunter, investigating a real haunted house. Sadly, none of it is true. No such person existed, the house isn't real, and while the story is similar to several accounts involving potentially real haunted houses, it is a work of fiction. Queen Creek is a real, and very beautiful place, but there is no Masterson House. I checked. I checked online, and even talked to my friend. It is a clever trick to make a movie seem more real, more believable, and give a better scare. All, in all, still a better movie, and I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg, sit in a theater with jerks who can't stop talking on their cell phones, and got to watch it in my pajamas. I still stand by my vow. I will never spend good money to see a horror movie in the theaters ever again.

© 2010 Anna Marie Bowman

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Comments 17 comments

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Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

r0dpe2c-- Thank you for the comment, and yes, I do love horror movies. I agree, a lot of them now are terrible. I hated "The Village". It started out ok, and you are right, would have been a great movie. I thought the twist at the end was a bit far fetched.

r0dpe2c 4 years ago

I just started reading your articles and I am impressed with your writing and your authentic zeal for horror films.

I feel horror movies absolutely stink nowadays except for very few exceptions. As you and other posters mentioned, the trailer and the marketing is where the emphasis is put, not the actually the movie! Also many times the concept of the movie is great, but the actual movie stinks; case and point the movie "The Village". Here we have people living in a village on the edge of the wilderness presumably around the first half of the 1800's. There are creatures that live in the woods and the village elders and the creatures have an "understanding" that as long as the people in the village do not enter the woods, the creatures will leave them alone, but if any of the villagers breaks this agreement and enters the woods there would be horrible consequences for all the villagers. Again, great concept by M. Night Shayamalan for a movie, but the movie could have been better. I think he sacrificed/abandoned the concept of the film half way through the movie in order to make sure everyone appreciated the “twist” to the movie. This hurt the film, unlike when he wrote and produced “Sixth Sense”. In “Sixth Sense, Shayamalan still had a twist at the end of the movie, but never abandoned the concept of the movie about a boy having the “Sixth Sense” to see dead people and how he had to deal with this ability. Maybe the current horror writers/producers should heed the old adage “Keep it simple stupid” when writing their scripts.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 5 years ago from Florida Author

JenPsych-- I saw it in theaters, as well. The audience issue was different. People laughing, and talking, and acting like idiots. I guess that helped diminish the effect of the movie.

JenPsych profile image

JenPsych 5 years ago

I saw Paranormal Activity in theaters before all the hype and absolutely loved it for one simple reason: I saw it with a committed audience. Witnessing it in a context where people actually were screaming and leaving the theater crying made for a phenomenal and quite terrifying horror movie experience. (It also makes it easier to believe that it WAS real footage).

However, when I convinced my friends to watch it with me later in the comfort of my living room, I realized that the movie, on its own, falls flat. This movie is designed to be experienced in theaters and not at home. My friends were not going to enjoy the same sensations as I first did because the scary atmosphere was compromised by loud critics, familiar surroundings, and a small screen.

This is why I love seeing horror movies in theaters - the film becomes something else entirely when you're surrounded by gasping strangers.

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Nick B-- Yeah, it bothers me that in an effort to get people to see their movies, they put all the best parts in the trailers. Kinda ruins the movie. That's why I usually don't watch movie trailers anymore. A friend of mine started doing that a few years ago, and I just picked up on it. I avoid watching movie trailers as often as I can.

qwark-- First off, you are more than welcome. As for horror movies, I thank my parents. They let us watch horror movies, usually cheesy ones, and even then, they made us cover our eyes during the really gross stuff. And, at age 11 or 12, I found a copy of IT by Stephen King in the garage. I have been hooked ever since.

qwark profile image

qwark 6 years ago

Hi Anna:

Aight! Great "hub!"

I've loved 'em since I was a kid and still do.

The scarier the better!

Thanks for becoming a "follower." Much appreciated!

Nick B profile image

Nick B 6 years ago from Normandy, France

Nice to know that there are other nutters like me out there who like a good ghost story!

Good to know that you're honest too. I have seen many movies where all the good bits are in the trailers and the rest bores you to tears.

Great hub, thanks

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

mythbuster-- I love watching a few scary movies in one night. I guess I love scaring myself a little too much. I hear ya about the house groans and such...gets to ya after a while.

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mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

I saw both movies reviewed here - in the same evening. Bad mistake! lol Neither Paranormal Entity nor Paranormal Activity were extremely scary but they were psychologically agitating. That's the best I can describe them... they were unnerving and I watched cartoons after the movies so I could forget about 'em before I went to sleep lol I just kept hearing squeaks and house-groans 'cos I live in an old house and the whole combination of movies, hours just past midnight and house settling noises meant that bugs bunny rocked at 3am lol

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

swapna-- There are quite a few really bad horror movies out there, that end up being more funny than anything. I think I might work on a list of those as well.

swapna123 profile image

swapna123 6 years ago from India

I enjoy horror films.I generally watch them at day time and then get scared at night :) There are few so-called horror flicks that make me ROFL while i watch but then come back and haunt me when i am alone at home!

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Minnetonka-- It will be published in about a week. It's coming along nicely!

Chris-- Horror movies aren't for everyone. I agree, though, the people who made Blair Witch were geniuses. The marketing they did! WOW! As for the cowboy hat lurking in the shadows...I'll watch my back!

cindy-- Nightmares from the Ghost Whisperer? I don't recommend that you watch any of these movies, then. I love movies of all kinds, and maybe I will publish another hub on other movies that I love that people have probably never heard of. There are some great movies out there that I had never heard of.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

I get too many nightmares, my imagination is too vivid. Had to stop my daughter from putting on the Ghost Whisperer as it was giving me nightmares!

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

I haven't seen any of these, but then I don't watch a lot of horror movies. I'm not sure why. The Blair Witch project, probably the greatest scam ever pulled on the American public, but man what viral marketing. There are books about how they did it. I guess why I stopped watching them the scary part so often depended upon the actor doing something stupid, like going up the stairs when You know they should go upstairs. I have seen some good ones that I liked though. About your fear though, if you ever see in the shadows a cowboy hat, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 6 years ago from Minnesota

Can't wait for the best/worst list. I'll be watching for it. Thanks

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Minnetonka-- Thank you!! I love getting a little info about a movie before I watch it, too, or at least a recommendation. That's why my sister and I constantly call, text, whatever about movies we have seen. I'm working with her right now on a list of the best and worst movies we have seen over the past years. We have a lot to draw from.

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 6 years ago from Minnesota

Thanks for a really interesting hub. I have always loved horror movies since I was a kid. I always appreciate getting feedback about a movie before I watch it. You wrote this article very well. Up and Useful and fun too

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