Tuesday, October 25, 2011

21 Haunted House Flicks



Title: The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror is one of my favorite of all haunted house films. This one has a real evil vibe to it, and just so you know it was one of those films that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. My dear old dad (gotta love that dude!) took me to see this in theaters when I was about 4 or 5 years old. This one has that “reality” vibe going for it because it’s based on a book that allegedly speaks of the real life experiences that the Lutz family had while living in 112 Ocean Avenue Amityville, New York. You see, according to the real life Lutz’s, a short while after they bought this house, supernatural events began to take place to them.  The book talks about (amongst other things) bleeding walls, spooky voices from beyond and red eyes looking at them in the basement. Was it all true? Doubtful; but when we really get down to it, its just a story the family told. They could very well have made it all up to try and capitalize on the story behind the house they bought. This was after all the same house in which a mass murder occurred just a year before they bought it. The murdered attributed his acts to demons. Ultimately, no matter if you choose to believe the stories or not, both the story and the film are pretty damn spooky.    

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When a priest goes to the house to bless it with holy water he begins to suffocate! Then, out of nowhere, thousands of flies begin to attack him! Think it could have something to do with Satan being “The Lord of the Flies”?


Title: Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

This is the one that tells the story behind the first film, it’s not really a sequel as the title implies, but a prequel. In real life, one year before the horrors that befell the Lutz family, the De Feo family lived in the house located on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. The De Feo’s were a highly dysfunctional family, everybody hated everybody. One day, while listening to heavy metal on his walkman, the teenage boy in the family ‘Ronald De Feo Jr.’ supposedly became possessed by the spirit of a Native American Indian Chief called ‘Rolling Thunder’ and murdered his whole damn family (mom, dad and two sisters) with a shotgun. According to a paranormal investigator, supposedly the house was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground! Sounds kind of like the plot for Poltergeist don’t it? I guess more than one film was influenced by this story. This prequel was based on the book called ‘Murder in Amityville’ written by a paranormal researcher called Hans Holzer. Of course, they changed the names around, for example the families name is now Montelli instead of the DeFeo’s, but it all stems from the real life story; creepy aint it?

Haunted For Sure Sequence: While listening to heavy metal, Sonny Montelli (the teenager in the family) begins to hear a spooky voice through his headphones that tells him “Why didn’t you pull the trigger? Why didn’t you shoot that pig?”


Title: The Poltergeist Franchise (1982)(1986)(1988)

My favorite haunted house movies have always been the Poltergeist films. Why? Because at the root of it all, what pulls the freaky Freelings together is the love they have for each other. But aside from that, the whole series is a great showcase of spooky moments and great special effects. The first and second films are a real showcase of awesome special effects! In this film ghosts really mess with your mind! Creepy clown dolls come to life!  Spooky looking trees come to life and try to eat you! Skeletons of dead Indians come out of their graves! Portals to ‘the other side’ will be opened! And that’s just the first film. The sequel Poltergeist II: The Other Side goes even further, actually taking us to the other side, where ghosts dwell! The third film is an interesting one; it kind of distanced itself from the visual effects avalanches that were the first and second films. For this third entry, director Jim Sheridan tried pulling off all the effects practically, and on camera, and he succeeded! I wonder why they haven’t made anymore sequels to these highly successful series of films? Could it be the supposed curse that hangs over these films?

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When a paranormal investigator decides to spend a couple of nights inside of the Freeling Home, one night he decides to look at himself in the mirror only to see his own face melting and rotting away before his very eyes!   


Titles: House (1986) and House 2: The Second Story (1987)

This one is a fun one. If you ever wanna see what a purely 80’s horror movie feels like House is the way to go! I mean, I’m sure when screenwriter Fred Dekker (the director behind Night of the Creeps and Monster Squad) decided to start writing this one, he was aiming to make a non stop roller coaster ride of spooky jolts and fun thrills. He achieved it if you ask me. House tells the story of Roger Cobb a man looking for some quiet time to write his memoirs of the Vietnam War in. Unfortunately, he chose to write his novel at his dead aunts’ house, and the house is super haunted! This one plays out like a more commercial version of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead in the sense that it’s a jolt a minute type of movie. It never stops, some crazy ghost or monster pops up every five seconds. Of course this being the Hollywood version of an Evil Dead film, it’s not as gory or graphic, but it’s still filled with lots of monsters, zombies, flying skulls with bat wings attached, dead zombie hands, fat witches, demon kids, you name it and its in there! We even got portals to other dimensions on this one! Don’t miss it if you’re in the mood for a spooky fun time. If you want to keep the ball rolling and have an innocent good time, then watch the sequel. The sequel isn’t really a scary movie, it has some elements of a horror film, like for example a zombie cowboy (the films main villain), it also has creatures, and zombies, and pterodactyl’s, but for the most part, the second House film is less horrifying (a lot less than the first one) and has more of an adventurous light hearted vibe going for it.

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Roger Cobb, the first films protagonist jumps into the backyard pool to save his drowning son, he ends up traveling back in time to the Vietnam War!


Title: The Shining (1980)

More than a haunted house, this one is actually a haunted hotel. And this isnt just any old horror movie, this one was directed by legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. That’s right my friends, this one was made by the man behind 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) so it’s special in that way. Not only that, it is based on a novel by the one and only master of horror Stephen King. So it’s a double whammy in that way. Story is all about Jack, a man also looking for some peace and quiet to write his masterpiece. So when the opportunity presents itself to watch over a gigantic secluded hotel that will be closed down over the winter, he takes it. Unfortunately, said hotel is crawling with ghosts! Will Jack be able to handle the ghost situation and control his own inner demons? A superbly directed haunted house flick, if you ever wanted to see a good one, this is it.   

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Jack encounters a naked lady in the bathroom, her back is revealed to be horribly rotten and scarred.


Title: The Haunting (1963) and The Haunting (1999)

The original The Haunting is is the granddaddy of all haunted house films! It takes place inside of Hill House, according to the story, one of the most haunted houses to ever exist. Dr. John Markway invites three distinguished guests to Hill House in order to hopefully experience and document supernatural events. One is an incurable skeptic, one is a psychic, and the other has had experiences with the supernatural. Will they witness something truly out of this world? Or will their imaginations play tricks with all of them? Is something truly evil roaming the halls of Hill House? Was this houses “born evil”? The coolest thing for me about this movie is how Robert Wise directed this film without ever showing us anything! We get spooked, but it’s our minds that bring home the scares! The Haunting is a brilliant horror film in my book. Robert Wise directed a film that was way ahead of it’s time, the camera angles and storytelling techniques have been imitated by many directors, including Sam Raimi in The Evil Dead series (1981). A remake was directed by Jan De Bont, but with that one De Bont went in a completely opposite direction than Robert Wise’s film by making turning this remake into a special fx fest. In my opinion, De Bont’s remake is a good haunted house film in my book, but for entirely different reasons. It shows you everything as opposed to Wise’s, which delights in not.  

Haunted For Sure Sequence: Eleanor thinks someone is holding her hand in the night, and she thinks its Theo, her new best friend. Bur when the lights go on, she realizes Theo isn’t next to her! So who was holding her hand so tightly all the time?


Titles: Evil Dead I (1981) and Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)

These two films are about a group of friends who decide to venture into a lonely cabin in the woods, for a night of fun and frolics. To their surprise, they find a tape recorder that has demon resurrection passages taped on it, when they play the recording, and the magical words are spoken, suddenly ghosts and demons begin to torment them! Will they ever send the demons back to where they came from? These films were Sam Raimi’s training wheals as a director, and in many ways, these two films remain his best films ever. Well, at least in this horror lovers heart they are. The Evil Dead is more of a straight forward onslaught of horror, while the second film Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn is more of a non stop rollercoaster ride of effects and a bit of humor infused into the whole ordeal. Evil Dead II was extremely influenced by Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963). Raimi even lifted entire sequences directly from Wise’s horror masterpiece. Raimi injected a bit of his own Three Stooges madness into these films, as a result, we get two extremely fast paced, gory, spooky and absolutely horrifying haunted house flicks. I didn’t include the third, because it’s not a straight forward haunted house flick, and plus, the film plays more like an episode of Hercules or Xena, but with the undead. Still, Army of Darkness (1993) is an extremely watchable and fun horror/adventure flick. 

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Ash is sitting on a rocking chair, trying to compose himself after all the madness he has just witnessed his dead girlfriends decapitated head falls on his lap and begins to laugh maniacally!


Title: The Others (2001)

This one tells the story of Grace Stewart, a woman who lives a reclusive life in her mansion. Her son and daughter are extremely sensitive to light, and so they must live a life in darkness, hiding away from the sunlight. I love this film because it’s so symbolic, and touches upon deep, important themes. Rooted within this films themes is a truthful commentary on religion. Should we be kept in the darkness as to the truth of it all? Or should we venture out into the light of the truth, however harmful the exposure to these truth maybe? But aside from the films themes, this is an extremely atmospheric and downright spooky film. This one cooks its scares in low fire…yet they crawl under your skin and stay in your mind long after you’ve seen the film. Highly recommend this one for Halloween night! Spooky to the max!

Haunted for Sure Sequence: When Grace sees a little girl playing in a room wearing a veil over her face, she thinks it’s her daughter beneath the veil, but when she lifts it, it’s the face of a decaying ghost!


Title: Insidious (2010)

Insidious surprised me because it’s a horror film that plays the current Hollywood game of ‘playing it safe’ with horror movies. By this I mean that modern horror films have gotten their nuts cut off and are currently a watered down bunch of sorry excuses for horror films. No blood, no guts, no glory. But Insidious is interesting because it plays by these new rules yet manages to create a very dreadful and frightening mood with its visuals and story. So kudos go out to director James Wan for making a horror film that scares without a drop of blood in display. The story revolves around a little kid who has an out of body experience, and his spirit stays wandering through the after life. Since his body is left unattended, evil spirits are looking for a way to posses his body and take over it so they can live again! A very spooky film, that’s a compilation of films like The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist. It’s not as original as its filmmakers would like you to believe, but it’s still an extremely spooky ordeal.

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Elise, the medium is talking to the spirit of the kid, the kid tells her he isnt speaking anymore because if they hear him, they'll hurt him. And when she asks who will hurt him he replies: "The man, with fire on his face"


Title: The Sentinel (1977)

The Sentinel is all about a young lady who is trying to live an independent lifestyle, trying to make it on her own in the big bad world. So she goes out and finds her own place to live in. After some searching, she finds a beautifully furnished apartment in Brooklyn, New York. According to the land lady, she along with a blind priest on the top floor are the only tenants in the building. Or are they? It’s not long before Allison begins hearing strange noises in the night, having strange surreal dreams and getting ghostly visitations in the middle of the night! Of course, her apartment ends up being a gateway to a very special place, but I’ll let you find that out when you watch the movie. Not a bad piece of haunted house cinema. The film was directed by Michael Winner, the director behind the original Death Wish! It’s a very eerie film that exploits Christian beliefs about heaven and hell…and demons! 

Haunted For Sure Sequence: Allison is supposed to be the only tenant living in her building, so why is the chandelier above her bed swinging left and right as if being moved by some ungodly invisible force? 



Title: Paranormal Activity (2009) and Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Paranormal Activity is this generations Poltergeist franchise. It does a lot of the same things that the Poltergeist films did. It places the typical American family at the mercy of ghosts and demons. It puts the family unit in supernatural danger. What it does differently than Poltergeist is the way in which it tells it’s story. For example, the first film is told from the point of view of a series of videos that one of the characters decides to shoot in order to prove to his wife that they are not being harassed by demons, and that it’s all in her imagination. Too bad for him, the demons turn out to be real! And he catches them on film! Pretty interesting premise, the second film goes a bit back into this families story and shows us what happened before the first film. The sequel is told from the point of view of the security cameras that are spread around the house. Paranormal Activity 3 should be hitting theaters this Halloween, and I look forward to checking it out. So far, this series of films hasn’t disappointed me. The re-watchability factor is extremely low on this one so try and enjoy it as much as you can the first time you see it. Sit on your living room couch, put that Ouija board next to you, turn off the lights, light a couple of candles and watch the spook factor drive you nuts! Enjoy! 

Haunted For Sure Sequence: The husband tries to contact spirits through a Ouija board, something his wife is deeply against. They have a squabble and leave the house. Unfortunately they also leave the Ouija Board on top of their living room table. Unbeknownst to them the Ouija board moves! And catches fire!


 
Title: Burnt Offerings (1976)

Burnt Offerings is a slow burner of a ghost movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one! In this film we meet the Rolf family while they are on their way to enjoy their summer vacation in a mansion they are going to rent out in the country. Everythings cool until weird things start to happen that brings the family apart. Suddenly it’s son against father, daughter in law vs. mother in law and then everybody hates each other! Could the house have something to do with it? Is their some supernatural force at work here? And why is the mother obsessing over this old house so much? This film comes to us from Dan Curtis, a old school genre director who made many contributions to the horror genre. This is a horror film which focuses on characterization and mood over special effects, so be ready for that. It has a star studded cast! Oliver Reed! Karen Black! Better Davis! And it was filmed in the same mansion they used for Phantasm! Oh and it has a hell of an ending.  

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Oliver Reed tries to run away from the house cause he is sure that the place is freaking evil, he drives his car at full speed, but suddenly, a tree falls on his path and doesn’t let him leave! When he gets out of the car to try and clear the path, plants come to life and grab him by his legs and pull him away!


Titles: The Gate (1987) and The Gate II (1990)

The Gate is one of the coolest little horror movies out there. It’s all about these kids who open up a portal into hell right in their backyard by listening to heavy metal records backwards, amongst other necessary rituals. What makes this one special are the special effects which were pretty freaking cool for their day. We have demons coming out of hell, we have zombies, we have these long demon hands coming out from under the bed, it shows us the kind of things we’d be afraid of when we were kids. Aside from that, the story kicks ass as well, I mean, it’s not every day you have demons pouring straight out of hell and into your living room. The film has a very eerie vibe going for it, it all feels like one big spooky dream, and it actually gets kind of apocalyptic towards the end. Sadly, this awesome movie was followed by an ultra crappy sequel. The reason why the sequel is so bad is that even though it has the same director, and one cast member returns, the film went down in the quality of the special effects. While the stop motion animation on the first film was awesome, the same cant be said for the stop motion animation on the second one. Plus, the story is generic as hell. This sequel always makes me ask myself how the same director can make one truly awesome film, and then go and make a shitty sequel like this one. But if you want to have a spooky good time, the first film is the way to go.

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When the kids try and use their phone to get some help because demons are crawling all over the house trying to kill them, the phone explodes and melts away right on the wall!


Title: Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

This film is a remake of the old William Castle flick of the same name. This flick is the king of flashy editing films. Films with flashy editing are films in which the filmmakers love to fast forward images and edit sequences with lots of quick cuts and flashes of light; some refer to this as ‘MTV style’ editing because it makes the film look like a music video at times, but whatever you want to call it, this film is the king of that. They do it all the time, every time a ghost appears. Thir13en Ghosts tells the story of a family that inherits a mansion that looks like the lament configuration from the Hellraiser movies. Basically, the house is one giant portal into hell! You see the homes last owner wanted to own “the eye of hell”, an artifact that makes you ultra powerful, unfortunately, you have to go to hell to get it. In order to open the door to hell, you need the energy from 13 Ghosts! And of course, this new family that inherits this hellish home knows nothing about its past, they just think it is a cool looking house. The art direction on this film is top notch, the house looks beautiful. The slickness of the production is not surprising since it was produced by Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis. It consists of a series of glass doors and windows, with magical words written on them to keep the ghosts trapped. The film stars Tony Shalhoub as the father of the family, and major hottie Shannon Elizabeth as his daughter. Matthew Lillard plays a psychic with a special affinity for communicating and seeing ghosts, some find his performance the most annoying thing about the film. But to compensate for the that we also get F. Murray Abraham playing the villain. But it’s the make up effects works that really stands out in this picture, you see, the ghosts are a series of macabre looking creatures created by the guys at KNB effects. This is a fast paced ghost movie, with lots of screaming, quick editing and loud noises. The story is beyond simple, but this films main interest is in keeping things fast and entertaining and it achieves it for the most part. Not the most memorable ghost film ever made, but still quite fun.

Haunted For Sure Sequence: When Kathy decides to check out the ultra modern bathroom of the house and opens up the water in the bathtub, blood starts coming out of it instead of water!

And before I leave you guys, I'd like to remind my dear readers (that's you) that this coming friday the 28th will be a special event here at The Film Connoisseur! Thats right my friends, on this day I will be posting a gigantic MONSTER BLOG POST centered around 20 films dealing with the supernatural! This mega blog post will include films chosen by four amazing bloggers: Neil Fulwood of The Agitation of the Mind, Shaun Anderson from The Celluloid Highway and Brian Bankston from Cool Ass Cinema! And of course, I your faithful narrator, Franco from The Film Connoisseur will be joining in on the fun, so dont miss it! It's going to be a gas! 



5 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

Quite the round up! I watched Haunting in Connecticut last night. Okay, not super, but okay.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Yeah, I liked that one. I mean, it could have been a heck of a lot worse. I liked that effect that looked like a handkerchief was coming out of the kids mouth. That I guess is the films most unique visual.

I didnt include some films on this list that will be discussed this coming Friday the 28th on the big MONSTER BLOG POST on Films Dealing with the Supernatural. It will be special! Dont miss it!

Caffeinated Joe said...

Cool! Sounds interesting. And yeah, the "ectoplasm" was interesting.

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Am I the only person who thinks the original AMITYVILLE HORROR is a truly awful movie? The only good thing about it is the excellent soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin. The second film is far superior, so kudos for mentioning that one Franco. I'd also nominate THE INNOCENTS as being an important one. It's more of a haunted grounds/estate movie than specifically house, but its excruciatingly creepy. The relatively recent THE ORPHANAGE was very impressive. A great post mate, with lots of interesting selections. I'm looking forward to your supernatural Halloween party on these pages on the 28th :-)

The Film Connoisseur said...

@Shaun: I love Amityville Horror, I find it so creepy, I dont think I'm alone on this one either. I like the solid performances James Brolin is awesome on this one, and Margot Kidder was looking so beautiful on this one, that scene where she's dancing on leg warmers in front of the mirror, yowza!

I do agree about the second one being awesome, and yeah, I often times think it is superior. I think I will be reviewing that one next week.

The collaboration is ready to go! All I have to do is press "print!" It turned out rather well, with a very interesting selection of films, I hope readers will enjoy it!

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