Five by Friday: Top Five Ghost Films

Welcome to Five by Friday!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that the new, female-led Ghostbusters reboot blasts into theaters this weekend. We are all huge fans of the original, so in honor of the newest entry into the franchise, today we’re listing our favorite* films featuring strange noises in the middle of the night, feelings of dread in basements and attics, spooks, spectres, and ghosts.

Since this entire post is already paying homage to Ghostbusters, we’ve decided to take the original film out of the running for our personal lists. Rest assured we all consider it the pinnacle of ghost-centric filmmaking.


Five by Friday

Join us in the comments or on your own blog–we’ve even provided a graphic for you, which you can either save to your own space or link from tinypic using the following HTML code: <a href=””><img src=””><*/a> Just remove the asterisks, and you’re all set!

*Disclaimer: None of us really watches or enjoys horror films, so these lists should be… interesting.


5) Sleepy Hollow


Guys, I have learned something about myself today, and that is that I have really questionable taste when it comes to movies about/featuring ghosts. Even though there is definitely a part of me, somewhere, that is aware that Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is kind of disastrously bad, I can’t help but enjoy it when I’m watching it. It is campy enough that the horror elements don’t bother me, is gorgeous to look at and listen to, and is centered around a story that’s been one of my favorite creepy tales since I was a little kid. Every time I watch this movie, I think to myself, maybe this will be the time this movie ceases to amuse me, but nope, it never is.

4) The Others


Another thing I’ve learned about myself? I am a sucker for a “they were dead the whole time!” trope. The Others is a gothic horror film about helicopter parenting gone horribly wrong, in which Nicole Kidman plays a whispery mother whose entire life revolves around keeping her children away from light. It’s a slow burn of a movie that’s heavy on atmosphere and light on horror, yet has a significant creep factor that makes it hard to shake from your mind once it’s over.

3) Ghostbusters 2 (7)

I know, I know, I am supposed to hate Ghostbusters 2 for being a cheap and nonsensical knock-off of the original, but here’s the thing — no one told Child Me that. I grew up unashamedly watching both the original and Ghostbusters 2 over and over, and despite its obvious flaws, I still thoroughly enjoy this sequel. I mean, sure, Viggo the Carpathian and his baby-possession plot are only surpassed in ridiculousness by Peter MacNicol’s eccentric Dr. Janosz Poha, and the river of slime is gross, and the weirdly patriotic Statue of Liberty finale is strange, but… isn’t that all part of the fun?

(And I know we said we were taking Ghostbusters out of the running but HAHA NO ONE MENTIONED GHOSTBUSTERS 2. So this was a totally valid pick.)

2) The Muppet Christmas Carol



There have been many film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over the years, but none that I love as much as The Muppet Christmas Carol. This movie has been required Christmas viewing for me since my childhood, and I still love the songs, the jokes, the visual gag with Rizzo climbing over the gate and then casually walking back through the bars to get his bag of jelly beans. But despite the family-friendly lightness of this movie, it is absolutely about ghosts, and therefore totally deserves a place on this list.

1) The Sixth Sense

giphy (5)

My taste when it comes to ghost movies may be all over the place, but there was never any question in my mind that this film would be at the top of my list. I still remember seeing The Sixth Sense in the theater in college with my roommate. The movie went longer than we’d anticipated and we were running late for an appointment, so we almost left before the end, thinking that surely not much more was going to happen after Haley Joel Osment finally learned how to help the ghosts he saw. Fortunately for us, I’m really bad at leaving movies before they end, so we stayed until the credits rolled. Now, it’s almost hard to remember when the ending to The Sixth Sense was shocking, but back in 1999, I promise you, our minds were completely blown. Even once you know the twist ending, though, this movie holds up well on a rewatch, because then you can have fun picking out all little clues you missed the first time around. And trust me, there are a lot.


5) The Frighteners


This is the closest you will find to an actual horror movie on my list, as I am completely averse to horror movies in general. But The Frighteners toes the line between horror and comedy with such skill that I forget that it’s supposed to be scary until I end up jumping out of my chair in surprise. And while I fully acknowledge that it is not a GOOD movie, this “horror-comedy” manages to delight me far more than it scares me, which I’m fairly certain is mostly due to how much I love Michael J. Fox. 

4) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir


This is a movie I’m willing to bet most people have never heard of, and if you have then let’s be friends forever, okay? The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is the story of a young widow who moves to the sea side with her daughter (a young Natalie Wood!) and befriends the ghost of the sea captain (Rex Harrison swoon) who lived there before his untimely death. It’s a quiet ghost story; Captain Gregg only wants to share his story with Mrs. Muir, he doesn’t scare her or haunt her (but he will help run her in-laws off when asked). I won’t spoil the ending, but if you like your ghost stories with more happy endings than not, this is the movie for you.

3) Casper


This was a movie that we watched over and over again as kids, usually at slumber parties, definitely every Halloween. It’s an absolutely charming and sweet adaptation of the Casper cartoon, mostly thanks to Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman. However it still has its moments of real sadness; the story of how Casper became a ghost, the loss of Kat’s mother. But really, it all comes down to, how could you not melt into a puddle of happiness when Casper whispers, “Can I keep you?” during their dance as a real boy?

2) The Corpse Bride


If you haven’t seen The Corpse Bride, you are missing out on one of Tim Burton’s finest movies. It’s stop-motion in the same vein as The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s far darker and more macabre than that (by comparison) light-hearted romance. Based on an Eastern European folktale, this gothic and complex romance absolutely delivers on the dark and creepy that Burton does so well.

1) Beetlejuice


Beetlejuice is hands down my favorite Tim Burton movie. His whimsical and often odd interpretation of the supernatural gave us Michael Keaton at his finest. The story is delightfully irreverant, the soundtrack is upbeat while still haunting, and the cast is top notch, giving the world a movie that can be watched over and over again.

It also inspired a cartoon spinoff of which  I am completely unashamed to say I’ve watched every single episode.


5) Ghost Rider


This is not a good movie. I will admit this right from the get-go. Two things, though: I have never in my life let “objectively bad” bar me from enjoying a film, and this movie has Nicolas Cage in it. There’s just no resisting a Nicolas Cage movie in my household, and one in which his head repeatedly bursts into flames is always going to be a joy. I mean, the premise of this movie is bananas already: a stunt motorcyclist gives up his immortal soul in order to battle the son of the devil. Okay. I’ll roll with it. Nonsensical and full of CGI flames, this movie is two hours of pure, delightful cinema trash, and I love it.

4) Truly, Madly, Deeply


I watched this movie simply because Alan Rickman was in it and then I got attached, because I’m the kind of person that loves just about any romantic tearjerker film that is set in front of me, and one with Alan Rickman (terrible mustache and all) is just going to be a shoe-in to get classified under “things I’ll love with my whole heart.” This movie does not actually make it clear whether or not his character, Jaime, is actually a ghost, or if he’s just a figment of Nina’s grief-stricken imagination. It’s up to the viewer to make the call, but considering there’s quite a bit of poltergeisty behavior on his part I’m going with “yes, he is a ghost.”

3) Coraline


This movie is so weird and charming! Also creepy, but in that way that animated films can be, where it doesn’t leave you in a terrible mindspace that means you’re running up the stairs at full tilt and leaving all the lights on in the house because you’re suddenly terrified of serial killers hiding in your basement. Coraline finds a mysterious door and goes inside, where she finds another world in which people have buttons for eyes. She meets another family, and they offer to let her stay in the other world forever, if only she would have buttons sewn on her eyes like everyone else. Horrified, she tries to leave, but then she is imprisoned in a mirror–where she meets the ghosts! Previous victims of the Other Mother, they help her escape and go back to her real family. Featuring prominently in her escape, they absolutely classify Coraline as a ghost movie.

2) The Nightmare Before Christmas


Of course a movie about the Pumpkin King from Halloweentown is going to have ghosts all over it! My favorite is Zero, Jack’s trusty ghost dog sidekick, but Halloweentown also features a classical quintet of singing ghosts who appear for musical numbers. If you’ve ever had “This is Halloween” or “Making Christmas” stuck in your head, you’re probably hearing these guys! While the ghosts (even Zero) play only a supporting role, the fact that they’re a featured part of the songs, which are arguably the most memorable parts of the movie, means this movie is ghosty enough for me to include it on this list.

1) Ghost


Hahaha, I told you earlier that I am a sucker for tearjerky romances, and it looks like the “lover dies and comes back as a ghost” trope is a favorite! I saw this movie for the first time as a teenager and then promptly watched it five million more times, because Patrick Swayze was a dreamboat and that pottery scene… Ahem. Anyway, this movie came to me at a formative point in my life, making it one of my favorite romantic movies of all time, and absolutely my #1 favorite ghost movie.

Leave a Reply