10 Best Ghost Story Movies

Ten of cinema's spookiest haunted house tales, guaranteed to chill you.

Oculus Ghost
Relativity Media

This past weekend saw the cinema release of Winchester, the latest big screen spook-tacular from studio Lionsgate. Given that the film arrives in the wake of what is widely agreed to have been a major renaissance year for horror, and stars Oscar-winning screen legend Helen Mirren in the lead, audiences could be forgiven for expecting something more than your average haunted house flick.

Sadly, despite the high calibre casting and the fascinating location of the Winchester Mystery House (a real place which stands to this day), Winchester turns out to be little more than your standard, by the numbers ghost movie... of which, it must be said, we've seen quite enough in recent years.

Clearly audiences have had a taste for such material in recent years, given the huge success of the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and (above all in terms of box office) The Conjuring franchises; but isn't the routine getting a bit stale by now?

This creeping tedium is unfortunate, as ghosts have always been fantastic subject matter for fiction - and have, on occasion, given us some of the most striking and memorable horror films of all time.

Some films are guaranteed to come back to haunt you anytime you hear something go bump in the night.

10. The Innocents

Oculus Ghost
20th Century Fox

While we tend to think of 1960s horror as being dominated by the wonderfully lurid, Technicolor melodramas of Hammer and Roger Corman, the decade also gave us a number of the most genuinely chilling and sophisticated films ever produced in the genre.

The first of these is this 1961 adaptation of Henry James' classic novella The Turn of the Screw, which stars Deborah Kerr as an inexperienced governess hired to take care of an orphaned brother and sister in a remote country estate - but is disturbed both by the behaviour of the children, and an uncanny presence on the property.

Key to the success of The Innocents is its sense of ambiguity. Whilst it can be interpreted purely as a ghost story, the film is rich with Freudian overtones which are unnerving to this day, given that they largely centre on the repressed sexual urges of Kerr's governess, and overtones of sexual desire from the boy in her charge - who may, or may not, be possessed.

The Innocents is also a marvel of Gothic aesthetic, beautifully shot in black and white by Freddie Francis, with a chilling score by Georges Auric.

It's probably the finest film from director Jack Clayton, who later returned to Gothic territory with the flawed but compelling 1983 adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

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