Home Archives Bide One’s Time: Why Do We Enjoy Ghost Story Movies?

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Lee Prosser - Bide One's Time is Lee's bi-weekly column on the supernatural.I was recently watching the first one-hundred episodes of the television horror classic from the 1960s, Dark Shadows. What a delight, and what a treat to see the creative work of the cast as it developed intricate themes. Aha, the ghosts, too. Always the ghosts. What makes those ghosts special?

More importantly, what makes our fascination with ghosts in the movies so attractive? Why the interest in learning more about them in television programs and watching them in television movies? Could it be so direct an answer as to say, "We like them!" That would explain their enduring appeal. 

I have thought back on some of the numerous ghost story movies I have seen, and the feelings accompanying those movies afterwards. I still get those goosebumps recalling key scenes from those movies. Perhaps you will, too, for here is a sample listing. Think about the ones you have seen, and think about what feelings they gave rise to! Feel free to add to this list your own personal favorites. This list is an introduction to the ghost story movie genre, and I hope you find many thrilling memories from them.

The Old Dark House (1932)
The Ghost Goes West (1936)
Topper (1937)
Topper Takes a Trip (1939)
Topper Returns (1941)
The Canterville Ghost (1944)
The Uninvited (1944)
The Man Who Haunted Himself (1945)
Dead of Night (1945)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
House on Haunted Hill (1958)
Terror in the Haunted House (1958)
13 Ghosts (1960)
The Innocents (1961)
Carnival of Souls (1962)
The Whip and the Body (1963)
The Haunting (1963)
Web of the Spider (1970)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
The House of Seven Corpses (1973)
The Turn of the Screw (1974)
Burnt Offerings (1976)
The Changeling (1979)
Dominique is Dead (1979)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Inferno (1978)
The Fog (1980)
The Hearst (1980)
The Shining (1980)
Ghost Story (1981
Poltergeist (1982)
The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)
Jennifer Slept Here (1983)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Maxie (1985)
House (1986)
The Lady in White (1988)
High Spirits (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Elly and Jools (1988)
The Girl in a Swing (1989)
Always (1989)
Ghost (1990)
The Willies (1990)
Hamlet (1990)
Grim Prairie Tales (1990)
Truly Madly Deeply (1991)
Heart and Souls (1993)
Ghost in the Machine (1993)
Ghost Brigade (1994)
The Kingdom (1995)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
The St, Francisville Experiment (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
The Others (2001)
Route 666 (2001)
Rose Red (2001)
Haunted (2002)
Ghost Ship (2002)
The Ring (2003)
Gothika (2004)
White Noise (2005)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The Banshee (2005)

Have you ever compiled a list of ghost story movies you recall, ones that scared you or amused you, or simply entertained you? Think back on the ghost story movies you have seen, and recall them, relish the memory of when you saw the film and how you reacted to it. Then compare your feelings with the passage of time.

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