The Scariest Ghost Movies of All Time

Get Ready for Haunted Houses and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Many people consider ghost stories the scariest type of horror movie. A good ghost film tends to be part murder mystery, part supernatural horror and all-terrifying, the sort of movie to watch at night tucked safely under the covers -- next to your trusty baseball bat. Here is a list of spooky flicks worthy of taking a swing. These are listed in descending order, so the farther down the list you go, the scarier it gets.

Note: "Scariest" doesn't necessarily mean the best (although it usually does).

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'The Haunting' (1963)

The Haunting ghost movie
© Argyle Enterprises

This old-fashioned ghost story about experts investigating a haunted house delivers scares without the sight of a single ghost. Instead, director Robert Wise expertly manipulates sounds and shadows to convey the sense of being surrounded by malevolent forces. Even in black and white, ​"The Haunting" still manages to have an impact today -- much more so than the bland 1999 remake. Buy from Amazon »

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'The Baby's Room' (2006)

6 Films to Keep You Awake - The Baby's Room ghost movie
© Lionsgate

In this frantic entry in the Spanish TV movie series "Six Films to Keep You Awake" from cult filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia (​"The Last Circus," "Witching & Bitching"), a couple discovers that they can view ghosts in their new home through a baby cam.

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'The Conjuring' (2013)

The Conjuring ghost movie
© New Line

"​The Conjuring" is a haunted house pic in the classic tradition of "The Amityville Horror," "The Haunting" and ​"The Innocents": a low-key fright flick focusing on atmosphere more than dazzling effects or blood 'n' guts. It's also unusually emotional for a horror movie, even as it scares the pants off you.

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'The Sixth Sense' (1999)

The Sixth Sense ghost movie
© Buena Vista

Like "Lady in White," "The Sixth Sense" generates scares by putting you in the position of a helpless child who discovers that there really are monsters in his closet ... and under his bed ... and hanging from his ceiling. Its now-cliched "I see dead people" line and well-worn twist ending make people forget how many terrifying moments the film has: the tent scene, the boy who wants to show him his father's gun, the hanged ghosts, the angry closet ghost and more. Buy from Amazon »

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'Poltergeist' (1982)

Poltergeist ghost movie

It's easy to forget how scary this PG-rated movie about a suburban family's house haunting was in its day, especially to little kids with clown dolls in their rooms. Buy from Amazon »

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'Paranormal Activity' (2009) / 'PA 2' (2010) / 'PA 3' (2011)

Paranormal Activity
© Paramount

Part haunted house, part demonic possession, these "found footage" films uses recovered "footage" to document the haunting of suburban couples by an evil presence. The plot is minimal, but the visceral scares are potent -- at least, for the first three entries in the franchiseBuy from Amazon »

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'The Innocents' (1961)

The Innocents ghost movie
© 20th Century Fox

Based on the Henry James novella "The Turn of the Screw," this tale about a governess who comes to believe the two young children she's taking care of are possessed by ghosts mixes Gothic horror trappings with edgy, modern topics of sexuality and abuse while challenging viewers' perceptions of what a haunting is. But regardless of how you interpret it, it's got several genuinely scary scenes.

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'Insidious' (2011)

Insidious ghost movie
© FilmDistrict

A couple is tormented by ghosts that seem to be targeting their comatose son in this relentless throwback scare-fest.

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'The Changeling' (1980)

The Changeling ghost movie
© Associated Film Distribution

A recent widower (George C. Scott) moves into -- you guessed it -- a spooky old house that turns out to be haunted. In this case, the ghost is a young, sickly boy whose wheelchair and ball lend some classic scares as the man unweaves the tangled, tragic mystery behind the boy's death. Buy from Amazon »

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'The Amityville Horror' (1979)

The Amityville Horror ghost movie
© American International Pictures

This iconic haunted house flick was savaged by critics, but despite some over-the-top acting, it stands up well to contemporary supernatural fare like "The Omen" and "The Shining," aided by its eerie "moaning children's chorus" score and classic bits like "invisible friends" talking to kids, bleeding walls and disembodied voices yelling "Get out!"  Buy from Amazon »

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'Lake Mungo' (2010)

Lake Mungo ghost movie
© After Dark

This superbly crafted faux documentary peels off layer after scrumptious layer of supernatural mystery and is arguably as creepy and impactful as similarly themed fare like "Paranormal Activity" and ​"The Blair Witch Project."

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'Session 9' (2001)

Session 9 ghost movie

It's debatable what exactly the "presence" is in this movie -- ghost, demonic force, swamp gas -- but whatever it is, its impact is creepy with a capital CREEP. In the film, a group of hazmat workers cleaning up asbestos in an abandoned mental hospital encounter a malevolent force. One of the workers begins listening to audiotapes of psychiatric "sessions" with a former patient, and by the time he gets to session No. 9, every hair on your body will be standing on end. Buy from Amazon »

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'The Ring' (2002)

The Ring ghost movie
© Paramount

Perhaps the only Hollywood remake of an Asian horror movie so far to improve upon the original, "The Ring" haunts with jaw-dropping visuals (pun intended -- see the opening scene) and introduced America at large to the "yūrei" ghost figure that would be featured in dozens more Asian horror films. Buy from Amazon »

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'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

The Blair Witch Project ghost movie
© Artisan

Cheap and simple yet ingeniously executed (and marketed), "The Blair Witch Project" is a documentary-styled first-person account of the search for the legendary spirit of a witch rumored to haunt a forest in rural Maryland. The mind-numbing scares lie in the realism of the film, which features mostly improvised dialogue, natural lighting, shaky camerawork and spooky ambient noise that truly epitomizes the phrase "things that go bump in the night." Buy from Amazon »

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'The Shining' (1980)

The Shining ghost movie
© Warner Bros.

Almost every haunted house movie seems to have a scene in which the evilness of the building is touted in dramatic tones, but rarely do the manifestations of the evil live up to the legend. "The Shining" has no such letdown. Its iconic imagery, courtesy of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, is nightmare-inducing even if you haven't seen the film for years. Amazingly, it even rivals the Stephen King novel upon which it was based in terms of pure terror.  Buy from Amazon »