With Halloween less than two weeks away, some of our movie tastes have taken a more macabre turn. All Hallows’ Eve is the time for thrills and scares. It is the time for haunted houses and creaky stairs. If you are staying in for the next few nights, nursing your pumpkin latte and putting finishing touches on homemade Halloween costumes, we’ve got a movie list featuring the best ghosts in film to keep you in the trick-or-treat frame of mind.
Did you ever wonder why some people love scary movies and other people can’t stand them? I endure most scary movies with my hands over my eyes, but there is no denying that scary movies are incredibly popular. Professor Sparks studies the effects of horror films on viewers’ physiology at Purdue University. He has found that the more afraid a younger male was while watching a film, the more proud he was at the end of the movie. Professor Sparks says, “There’s a motivation males have in our culture to master threatening situations. It goes back to the initiation rites of our tribal ancestors, where the entrance to manhood was associated with hardship. We’ve lost that in modern society, and we may have found ways to replace it in our entertainment preferences.”
Ghosts in films aren’t always scary. Usually they are simply beings with unfinished business in need of help achieving their goals. See? Nothing to be afraid of…
20 of the Best Ghosts in Film:
Don’t we all have a favorite movie ghost? I am partial to the secondary ghosts in Beetlejuice and all of the melancholy ghosts within a Harry Potter film. They make us scream or they make us laugh … as long as I am not getting slimed I say, bring on the ghosts!
1. The Baseball Players from ‘Field of Dreams’
Everyone always thinks of Field of Dreams as a baseball movie, but it’s also a ghost story. “If you build it, he will come.” WHO will come? A ghost, that’s who.
2. Beetlejuice from ‘Beetlejuice’
There are so many ghosts in Beetlejuice it is hard to really pick a favorite, so I went with the main guy since he seems the type to hold a grudge. (But how great is the caseworker ghost and all of the ghosts in the waiting room?
3. Casper from ‘Casper’
I’ve always been a touch suspicious of Casper … sure he is the “friendly ghost,” but how do we know that isn’t all an act? I think his “aw shucks” attitude is part of a bigger game. But I could just be over-analyzing him.
4. Flying Dutchman from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’
This is one ship you never want to see on your travels! The ghost ship is able to sail on the sea and underwater and creates terror in all of those who cross its path. It gets major spooky points.
5. Sam Wheat in ‘Ghost’
Sam was a pretty powerful ghost. I don’t think there is a person who sits down at a pottery wheel and doesn’t think of him. (By the way, this movie’s bad guy is why I have a really hard time relaxing into the love story on the TV show Scandal.)
6. Grace Stewart in ‘The Others’
I am not a fan of scary movies, but creepy movies usually grab my attention. The Others is one of those films I had to watch several times before I fully understood what had even happened. It’s such a great film that I have no complaints over the repeat viewing. The character of Grace is, well, for lack of a better word, haunting.
7. Frank in ‘Ghost Town’
Greg Kinnear is a riot as an obnoxious ghost trying to get Ricky Gervais to do his bidding in Ghost Town.
8. Gusteau in ‘Ratatouille’
Chef Gusteau has a big secret that makes the ending to this movie pretty great. As a ghost, he is kind and warm-hearted and generous with advice. What’s not to love?!
9. Dad in ‘Ghost Dad’
idney Poitier directed Bill Cosby as a ghost in this comedy about a workaholic. It has been widely accepted that this film is a flop, but the fact that it was such a huge flop makes it so bad it’s good.
10. Slimer from ‘Ghostbusters’
He’s nothing but ectoplasm, but Slimer from Ghostbusters had me at hello when I first saw him in the movie. The special effects! HE WAS GREEN!! And holy cow! You could see right through him while he was eating food!
11. Mary Plunkett Brogan in ‘High Spirits’
Daryl Hannah plays an Irish ghost who falls for American tourist Steve Guttenberg. Because, well, of course she does … it was the ’80s. You should see this film because how can you pass up the opportunity to see Steve Guttenberg and Peter O’Toole chew the scenery together ?
12. Elizabeth in ‘Just Like Heaven’
I completely related to Reese’s ghost in Just Like Heaven. If I was in the same situation, I would be a cranky and annoyed ghost as well. Unfinished business seems to be the number one reason behind a ghost’s attitude problem.
13. Kate in ‘Over Her Dead Body’
Eva Longoria is not a happy ghost. And let’s face it, we all would be unhappy too if we were this close to walking down the aisle with Paul Rudd and then became a ghost. Not cool.
14. Antoine in ‘The Sixth Man’
Antoine is the most athletic ghost on the list. He helps his brother Kenny and their basketball team get to the national championship.
15. Little Girl in ‘Child of Glass’
I watched this film AGES ago (probably during one of its reruns on TV in the mid ’80s) and am still spooked by the little girl ghost who called out to Alexander for help.
16. The Four Ghosts of ‘Heart and Souls’
Four ghosts take over the body of Robert Downey Jr. in order to finish their life’s work before they move on to the afterlife. Each ghost has a bit of a Wizard of Oz character overlap, and I always thought that was so special.
17. Jamie from ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’
I am listing Jamie from Truly, Madly, Deeply because my mother will be furious at me if I do not. This movie is still on my “to watch” list, which is ridiculous as I have watched countless clips from the film and know I will love it. Whenever I bring up the movie and I confess I have not seen it, I get a lot of, “oh but you MUST!” I know. I will! Promise. It’s Alan Rickman, so of course I will.
18. Dr. Malcolm Crowe in ‘The Sixth Sense’
oh. right. spoiler alert. HA!
19. Moaning Myrtle from ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’
There are so many great ghosts within the Harry Potter stories, but Myrtle is my favorite. She is so dramatic, so over the top, but she does the best she can do with spending eternity in the girl’s bathroom at Hogwarts. I developed a soft spot for Myrtle the moment she revealed: “Nobody missed me even when I was alive. Took them hours to find my body — I know, I was sitting there waiting for them.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
20. The Ghost of Christmas Present in ‘A Christmas Carol
The Ghost of Christmas Present is my favorite ghost within the Dickens’ classic. He simply presents the here and now with no judgement, and then he fades away when the day is done.