There are all sorts of things you’re supposed to ask a real estate agent when you’re house hunting. Any flood damage, property costs, any leaks, blah blah blah. But the number one thing you should always remember to ask is: “Is this house haunted?” Seriously, you’ll thank us. The Conjuring starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson hits theaters today, and it centers around a couple who didn’t ask this all important question. And as a result, they’re getting the crap scared out of them hardcore. But they’re hardly the first to have forgotten to ask the golden question. Read on to check out our list of the 10 scariest haunted houses in movie history!
10. The Others staring Nicole Kidman (2001)Grace Stewart (Kidman) settles into a home with her two children, Anne and Nicholas. Anne and Nicholas are photosensitive and cannot come in contact with direct sunlight. Oddly enough, that turns out to be the least of their problems. Their new home is inhabited by “the others.” Strange things happen in the house—whispering and crying, thuds from empty rooms, Ann and Victor “seeing” people walk around their house. Grace, initially punishing her children for “lying” unlocks the dark and even scarier truth.
9. An American Haunting starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland (2005)Any haunted house movie can be scary. Add in the fact that it’s based on true events? That’s a whole different ballgame…An American Haunting, based on a local folklore legend, tells the story of the Bell Family from Red River, Tennessee and their home that was allegedly haunted by an unknown presence. Creepy occurrences like small sounds around the farm, sightings of a black wolf with yellow eyes, and spirits slapping and beating family members resulted not only in the psychological torment, but also the death of a family member. To date, this is the only recorded case of a death caused by a spirit—way too creepy!
8. The Shining starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall (1980)You think you’ve got a hotel horror story? This grand secluded retreat might be cool with there are other guests to hang with, aside from the pair of creepy twins and beautiful (but dead) body in a tub.The bar service is pretty nice, until you realize that he’s probably a ghost (or at least a delusion). Much like the (slightly) less scary Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
7. Beetlejuice starting Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin (1988)
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice…Perhaps the most classic, yet unconventional haunted house movie on the list. Unlike other haunted house movies, Beetlejuice portrays this unusual white mansion to be haunted by the living. Ghosts Adam and Barbara Maitland seek out Beetlejuice to get rid of the Deetz family, who recently bought their home. He agrees, and “it’s showtime.” Beetlejuice’s efforts include appearing as various creatures in different parts of the house and startling the residents. Maybe a little old fashioned, but still gets the job done.
6. The Legend Of Hell House starring Roddy McDowell (1973)Emeric Belasco, a six-foot-five- millionaire and supposed murderer, disappeared after a massacre occurred at his home. What did he left behind? A house haunted by the numerous spirits of the victims of his sadistic and perverse desires. A physicist, his wife, and two mediums attempt to survive this hell house to investigate survival after death. That would be an incredible discovery—if they can survive the crashing chandeliers, gas explosions, jumping black cats, and various personalities inhabiting the mansion.
5. What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer (2000)Imagine after years of what you consider a loving, dedicated marriage, you find out your spouse had an affair. That’s rough, right? Well, it could be worse… You could be Claire Spencer. After the inexplicable dropping picture frames, faces in the bathtub, and strange noises plague her family home, Claire seeks answers and discovers her husband’s biggest mistake—having an affair with a woman who committed suicide. After hurting herself, she wants to hurt Claire and Norman. And, she does a pretty good job. Her ghost inhabits their home and, ultimately, inhabits Claire—making her someone she’s not.
4. The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (2004)When Karen Davis moves to Tokyo, she settles into a modest home. Unbeknownst to Karen, this house is haunted by “the Grudge.” Those fatally cursed by the grudge die and pass on the curse, like a virus, to all those who enter the house. When Karen steps into this home, she enters a growing chain of horror. As clichéd as it is, the strange creature lurking in the closet and staircases in enough to give anyone the chills. Picture hands coming out of your head in the shower, inexplicable footsteps and scratching noises, strange phone calls—this barely skims the surface of the horror that resides in Karen’s house.
3. Insidious starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne (2011)A classic beginning to any horror film: A small suburban family moves into a seemingly quaint, old home. Not so classic? The house is haunted by supernatural demons attempting to inhabit the body of Josh and Renai Lambert’s comatose son, Dalton. Cue the inexplicably moving rocking horses, unknown noises from a baby monitor, and strange men lurking outside upstairs windows. Insidious transforms a house that is, on the surface, so normal into something extremely paranormal.
2. Poltergeist starring Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams (1982)“The house looks just like the one next to it, and the one next to that, and the one next to that…” So the all of the houses on the block have furniture flying around and flickering lights? We don’t think so. One of the scariest of all fictional haunted houses, the house in Poltergeist is haunted by ghosts who connect with little Carol Anne Freeling through a dead channel on the television set. At first seemingly harmless and amusing, these ghosts start to terrorize the Freeling family with murderous dolls and flying trees and kidnap the little girl. The family learns they are dealing not with a haunting, but a poltergeist. If a poltergeist includes hallucinations of tearing off your own face, hearing the pounding footsteps of some inexplicable force, and unknown laughter reverberating around the room, we certainly don’t want it.
1. The Amityville Horror starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder (1979)
In most haunted house horror films, the family moves into a superficially serene and humble home, having no idea of the terror they’ve gotten themselves into. In the case of Amityville Horror, however, the Lutz family should know exactly what they got themselves into. George, Kathy, and their three children move into a house that was the site of a horrific murder the previous year. So is the presence of a demonic force, George’s weird hallucinations of “coming apart,” Chelsea’s ability to see people, crashing windows, and swarming bugs shocking? No. But is it scary? Absolutely. The scariest part? It’s all allegedly based on a true story!
Also by: Katie O’Brien